Hi Folks ! Sorry that it has been so long since I offered a fishing report. I have been flat out doing charters since the last one. My day usually starts around 4 am to do the 2 charters that I go on each day in the season. By the time I get home at 7-7:30 each night, there are 4-5 phone messages and a half dozen charter related emails waiting to answer while I am cooking dinner. So it has been a bit difficult to get to the fishing reports.
There are still fish scattered to the east of Chatham, but there are smack dab on the bottom and if you want to catch them you had better use the wire. There are plenty of blues and dogfish to contend with as well. If you can get through the dogfish with the sluggos and light stuff, then you can get a bass or two but it will be hard work and plenty of active jigging technique to keep the dogs off the baits. The alternative is to head to the rips at Monomoy and if you can use the light gear and fresh sand eels you will get a limit, but it too will be tough going through the boats and the limited amount of fish there. There are however, some consistent decent fat bass to be had at the rips farther to the south and east. I have been recomending a 7 hour trip instead of the five hour trip to my customers seeking stripers to allow for the increased travel time.
The catching has definatly been off this year from what we have been used to. My first 5 years of chartering we averaged about 18-20 fish per trip twice a day. This year it seems that average has dropped to around 10 per trip. I am not sure what the reasons are yet, but I have already started hearing the usual rumours that it is because of the commercial season in Massachusetts. I don't believe that or we would see a plethora of only under 34 inch fish and a scarcity of the commercially legal sizes. Besides, the commercial season has been strictly limited and static over the last 10 years. With recreational effort and growth increasing at the rate it has been over the last 20 years I wonder if I am responsible, or ....Is it you ? All I know is that not too many folks throw back big fish or take only one for dinner. The usual response from many customers when I ask "how many fish do you need? " is " Whats the limit ? How many CAN I take?"
There are those that believe we have a couple of fish stock groups here in Massachusetts. Those that are inshore and readily accessable to the majority of anglers, and the one that is predominatley offshore and not accessable to most anglers. I have caught 30 pound bass on my tuna gear in 330 feet of water 45 miles away from Chatham. I have seen dead stripers floating on the water as discards from the cod draggers in the Great South Channel. There were stripers galore in the bait this summer off the Crab Ledge in depths of water from 90 to 140 feet. If this is true - will we overfish the inshore group so much that there are only plentiful stripers in the offshore spots ? Should we distribute the effort more equitably over the groups ?
I guess we will know more later, but when there is an off season, every one starts questioning the managment and effort impacts we put on these fish.
Bruce & "Miss Jillian"