Hi Folks !
Its pretty tough to be cheery about things these days with this Corona virus stuff affecting every aspect of our lives. We will get through this, but it is going to try the patience of us all. Most of my business is vacation and leisure based, and since many of us are not working now due to shut downs, the charter bookings for the upcoming summer and fall months have shut off. No one is reserving dates until we know when we can safely go to work again. Massachusetts’ Governor Baker has given an order of no recreational for hire fishing until May 18. Most of the May fishery is on head or party boats that cater to customers from the bigger cities and target scup and sea bass. There really isn’t an effective way to “safe distance” individuals on these boats. Considering that most of these customers are individuals and not families, I could see where this might be prudent. However, there needs to be some consideration or discussion for the smaller 6 pack charter boats, that take a different type of customer. Most, if not all, of my customers are families, workmates and friends already in close contact with each other. We are limited in the size of the group at less than 6 people. Our boats are large enough to enable social distances, and with masks, there is not a high risk factor at all. We shall see how things develop over the next 2-3 weeks. By June I would think these restrictions should subside or become more reasonable. Lets hope.
I will tell you that the fish don’t care about Corona virus, and they will be here and in good abundance even more than usual, because there will be less effort on them as they migrate into our waters. I can assure you, I personally (and with a few friends) will be headed back to a few sea bass spots within a week of putting the boat back in the water. I love sea bass ! I think it the best eating fish in the ocean, and a great fish for ceviche.
MA Fishing Regulation changes for this year are as follows:
Bluefish Regulations for 2020
Recreational; anglers from shore or private vessel - 3 fish per day
Recreational anglers from for-hire vessels (charter) - 5 fish per day
This is a reduction from the 10 fish limit previously imposed.
Striped Bass Regulations for 2020
There is a “Slot Limit” : Only striped bass measuring at least 28” and less than 35” (total length) may be retained. Recreational anglers may harvest and possess one striped bass per day within this slot limit, year-round.
All recreational anglers for striped bass must use “in line” circle hooks when fishing with whole or natural bait. These are not “offset” circle hooks. There are some exceptions though. This does not apply to for hire vessels, or when a recreational angler is using bait on a trolled or casted and retrieved artificial lure. Gaffing of striped bass is prohibited for recreational anglers.
On the commercial side of things, the open fishing days are Monday and Wednesday. The size limit is that all fish taken must be 35” or more. I do think that the new recreational slot limit will basically exclude a charter guy to be able to sell stripers. It is unfortunate and a travesty that MA DMF continues to allow non residents into our state to catch our very limited resource with issuance of non resident commercial licenses, but now will deny a duly licensed MA taxpayer and traditional and historical fisherman access to that same resource ! To add insult to injury, many of these non resident fishers come from states that do not allow the commercial harvest of striped bass. MA DMF has really screwed over the traditional MA commercial striper fisherman with their ridiculous open access policies. (imo)
On Bluefin Tuna for 2020
As of April 16, the recreational “trophy” category in the Gulf of Mexico is closed. As of February 20 the “southern area” recreational trophy category was also closed. The southern area is the area south of 39°18’N lat. (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ), outside the Gulf of Mexico. Trophy bluefin tuna are those measuring 73 inches or greater.
Of the smaller bluefin, the recreational bag limits are as follows: For Private vessels with Angling permit, you are allowed 2 school bluefin tuna at 27” to 47” AND one large school tuna at 47” to 73”. For for hire (charter) vessels with Charter/headboat permit; you are allowed 3 school tuna 27” to 47”, AND 1 large school tuna. 47”-73”. I personally think these bag limits are too high, and it is due to the charter lobby down south.
On the commercial side, the 2020 bag limit has not been posted as yet. Last year they opened with 3 fish per day, and flooded the market. They (NMFS_HMS) then reduced the bag limit to one fish but by then the damage of early over harvest of limited quota and poor price had been done. Many tuna fishers would have preferred opening at one per day to see how things went. The January sub quota was closed on February 24, with a harvest of 123.9 metric tons, which is a 15 metric ton increase over what they got last year, and a significant increase from what they have historically caught annually over the years. Commercial fishermen down south landed 544 fish which is 20 fish less than they landed in 2019, BUT the fish averaged 77 pounds more at 502 lbs average weight per fish. It seems that NOAA is working towards reallocating a resource traditionally caught in the northeast down to the Carolina fishery. That may be great for them, but those fish are being reallocated from Cape and Island fishers that have historically caught them in October and November.
I will post more information as it becomes available. You can always email me with questions you may have. If you wish to reserve a date and time I am taking reservations, via phone or email. I suspect we may be limited in June, but the latter summer weeks and the fall fishery should be fully open.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org The phone number is 508 237-0399.
Bruce & Marilyn S