The Question on Every Saltwater Fisherman’s Mind | Columns
If you insist on limiting your saltwater fishing opportunities, I imagine yours is the same one I’ve been asked a dozen times this season: “Are there stripers or schoolchildren? “
Well, Bob Lewis saw a Facebook post from Vineyard surfcaster Abe Pieciak who said he caught a “migrating striper” on Monday. Abe included a photo of the fish’s tail, which had sea lice on it, a sign many people typically use to distinguish a fresh arrival from a remaining sea bass.
I have heard discussions about the remaining fish that sometimes move into the open waters of salt ponds, rivers or estuaries where they overwinter, thus picking up sea lice, so you may not necessarily be counting on the presence of these copepods as a sure sign of whether an early season sea bass has just appeared in local waters. Frankly, I used to be wrapped up in that distinction, but now that I’m older, and supposedly a little wiser, I don’t care; he’s a striper and that’s good enough for me.
Bob also spoke to Charlie Richmond, another member of the Osterville Fishermen’s Club, who in turn had spoken to another member of the club, George Noonan, who guards his boat at Green Pond in Falmouth. Apparently George was working on his boat last weekend when another boat arrived and reported it had caught a few bars, including one that fell within the limit of the 30-inch slot.
As a guide, the size limit for striped bass is again governed by a slot limit of 28 inches to less than 35, while the catch limit remains at one fish per angler per day.
Bruce Miller of Bait and Tackle Canal in Sagamore said there had been the usual April reports of schoolchildren in the Weweantic and Agawam rivers, as well as in Buttermilk Bay and Onset, but apart from a few fleeing herrings, the Big Ditch is always calm down. Shallower areas with a darker bottom are usually the first to see bass activity this early in the season, and the channel certainly doesn’t fit that description.
Many people associate a water temperature of 50 degrees with the magic number when the bass begins to become more active and feed in the spring. As of noon Wednesday, the water in Cape Cod Bay was about 46 degrees; Buzzards Bay and Woods Hole were about 49; and outside of Waquoit Bay it had reached 52.
Jim Young of Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth was surprised he didn’t see squid boats in the sound. At this time of year, he noted, he would usually have seen a few on his way to work. Besides the water temperature, the presence of longfin squid, the type we see in the sounds and around the vineyard and Nantucket at this time of year, is a pretty good sign that the water scene salty begins to “occur”.
Andy Little’s word at Powderhorn in Hyannis is that May 1 is the magical date that squid boats, as well as rental boats in his area, become active. I was interested in the date of May 1, because I, like Jim, got used to seeing squid trawlers in late April.
Recreational jig fishermen for squid, some using their catch for fried squid and other favorite recipes, while others share their Loligo between meals and bait, taking special care to conserve all the ink and other juices before freezing for use later in the season. .
Frankly, the idea of coating the Katie G with ink and other squid giblets is enough to give me the courage, and for those like me who shudder at the thought of putting their boat up on Google, to many local fishing shops specialize in buying squid from trawlers, packing and freezing it for sale as “local squid”. Based on past experience of working at a local tackle shop, it is in high demand, so if you want it, buy it when you can.
Christian Giardini from Falmouth Bait & Tackle at Teaticket also had an interesting note on squid, in this case how another species might impact their population this season. One of his clients was heading to Edgartown earlier this week and saw an incredible number of scup feeding on the surface. Admit I was wondering about this information – I guess it’s the fisherman in me to question the veracity of the reports – but Christian assured me that this individual wouldn’t have identified them as scup unless to see them clearly. This report from a large number of scups had made Christian fear that they might break the squid schools when they finally showed up, making them harder to target.
Speaking of scup, the recreational season is open year round, with a size limit of nine inches and 30 fish per person per day. Remember, if you are fishing from a pleasure boat, the maximum limit per boat is 150 with five or more fishermen on board.
Typically, the best tautog fishing around the Upper Cape is in Buzzards Bay and again Jeff Hopwood of Maco’s in Buzzards Bay and Monument Beach provided a good example of the importance of temperature. Last Sunday he set off in search of tog towards Wareham, but with the tide flowing west of the canal, bringing cooler water from Cape Cod Bay, the water temperature was about about 44 degrees. Jeff and the crew managed to manage a few very small fish, under 12 inches, and he ultimately decided that if it was too cold for the tautog, it was too cold for him.
A couple of other fishermen he knows went out on Monday and got better results, this time on the East Current; the water temperature had risen to 46-47 degrees and they had managed to deal with some legal fish. One of them had set off from Hen Cove and the other from Phinney’s Harbor, so Jeff suspected they were fishing in the Wing’s Neck and Scraggy Neck areas, although there are plenty of structures to choose from in the upper section. of Buzzards Bay.
At the Sports Harbor in Hyannis, Amy Wrightson had news of a large 6.5-pound bill caught on a large minnow; she said he had a big belly and agreed with me that he was probably bigger than most of the early-season schoolchildren who will be caught in the next few weeks. The happy fisherman would only say he caught it in a local pond, but Amy also spoke of a 3.5-pound big mouth that was caught on a Rapala bait in Mashpee-Wakeby.
Regarding Largemouth Bass, AJ Coots suggested three categories of lures for early season work: Chatterbaits, Jerkbaits, and Rattletraps. These three elements can be worked slowly, which is important in cold, early season waters. Hanging Jerkbaits can be picked up and then stopped, at which point they’ll hold up to the depth they were worked on, keeping them facing a hungry, but lethargic bass. Chatterbaits are very versatile and can be paused, like hanging jerkbait, as well as being swam or jigged. Rattletraps are another slow-recovering bait and are particularly productive in ponds that serve as spawning grounds for migrating herring.
Although not many people target them, AJ added that most bigmouth ponds are home to a good number of pike, some of which reach impressive sizes.
One of the problems faced by freshwater anglers who prefer to keep their feet on dry land is the amount of shore available depending on the water level. AJ said it wasn’t a problem this year with so little rain; in fact, he laughed, pointing out that some of the litter areas he liked to fish in the past aren’t even underwater right now.
Cape Ponds are also home to a number of toad species, including crappie, and they may require a large, powerful pot, as was the case with the 1.9 pounds Christian G. weighed in midweek. . Lots of people fish for toads and panfish with jigs and even with small insects on a fly rod, but in this case the fisherman was using a minnow which is a good way to target larger fish, advised Christian.