Chatham striped bass & tuna report
My first real report of the season is not good. We have had a cold spring and the majority of waters east of Chatham are cold. Folks that have been calling and asking for early season striped bass trips are being referred to the guys fishing in Cape Cod Bay, where the water is much warmer, and they will have a more productive trip. I am not in the business of taking folks fishing when they’re not expected to have a good trip. My usual rule of thumb as for when the stripers show up in my area (the Rips at Monomoy) is Father’s day. My first trips of the year will be next weekend to that area.
Although the Chatham area is slow to start, due to the cooler ocean water temps, we are blessed with having optimum water temperatures throughout the latter summer months when Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound areas are way too warm for good striper fishing. When these areas get warm, the bass move to cooler waters and bluefish are the main attraction. The cooler waters east of Chatham, and the sand eel congregations there, attract vast schools of striped bass and bluefin tuna throughout the months of July, August, September and into October. But for right now its tough to see the trailerable skiffs posting pictures of nice stripers caught from areas not accessible to me and my less mobile 35 foot down easter. Hang on though, soon enough the tables will turn !
As for Bluefin tuna, the cold water has affected their presence as well. It seems the overcast skies and northeast winds of the first couple weeks have really slowed the progresses of increasing water temperatures offshore as well. The warmest water i have found was a 1 mile oval pocket of 54.7 degree water. Most of the areas on the tuna grounds are 53.6 to 54.2 degrees in the last two weeks. My last tuna charter was Saturday, and we did mark 4 different bluefin, and the bait and whales were very abundant, but we did not receive a bite. I did see a post on Facebook of another reputable outfit sharing some pictures of a couple nice bluefin they did catch. I have a pretty good idea they were to the south of me a considerable distance. Its a good sign that they are moving into the area and the bait show was incredible and will bring the fish close to us very soon. On our last trip we had at least 30 whales around us bubble feeding and showing through out the morning. The clouds of bait marking red on the screen were as good as it gets, but the fish just were not there yet I guess. I am not worried though, within a week they will be here in force and the fun will start.
The recreational bluefin tuna bag limit was increased this year to 2 fish for the recreational anglers, and for the charter boat category, we are allowed three bluefin tuna. Of these bag limits, the recreational guys can take one fish from 27” to 47” and one fish from 47” to 73”. The Charter head boat category is allowed two fish from 27” to 47” and one fish from 47” to 73”. All fish over 73” in the charter head boat or angling categories are classified as “trophy” fish and the limit is one per year. If you plan to sell any fish over the recreational sizes you must obtain a permit from NMFS to do so. You also will be required to maintain safety equipment specifications for a “commercial” vessel once you enter into this category. The usual mandatory reporting methods also apply. Instructions to report landing can be found here:
Be safe and good fishing to you all.
Capt. Bruce & “Marilyn S”