Spring has been a very confused season so far. As I write this, snow is falling in the western hills of Massachusetts as well as my winter home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Here on the Cape we have been pummeled by stiff southerly and southwesterly winds for days on end.
One of the quirks of high winds coming from that direction is, if it blows hard enough, waves and strong currents the wind creates deposit massive numbers of sea clams on the beach. Walking the beach, you can easily fill up a pail with these large bivalves, which make excellent baked stuffed clams. They’re also good for chowder and there are plenty of locals in town with great recipes. I love eating the two abductor muscles, located near the opening to either side of the clam, either raw or marinated.
It is important to make sure they are alive before you cook and consume them. Consuming a dead clam can make you very sick, and they are highly perishable. A simple tap on the shell will make them close up tight and confirm they are alive and well.
The question of the hour remains: how are we going to do the things we love to do out on the water safely in these times of social distancing?
As of this writing, the whale watch boats are on hold until at least May, and I will certainly not be running the Cee Jay on its normal schedule in early May. My best guess is we will have to lower the number of people we take out on our boats and mark spots at the railings to keep passengers at the suggested safe distance of six feet apart from each other.
I am not convinced, however, that this is a workable plan. The smaller six-person charter boats are even more challenged then the bigger whale watching and party fishing boats, as their space is significantly smaller in proportion to the number of passengers on board. Going to the beach is a little less restricting compared to being on a boat and probably easier to pull off under the current social distancing guidelines.
In preparation for the big spring run of striped bass at the Cape Cod Canal, towns have marked off parking spots six feet apart and are encouraging fishermen to fish only in front of their cars. Good luck with that! Either way, this is going to be a season on the waterfront unlike any other and is truly going to be a work in progress as we all try to figure out life in the new normal of Covid-19 World.
Meanwhile, the striped bass are continuing their migration north towards our waters with an earlier than usual arrival expected. There are no signs of bluefish south of us yet, which is unnerving, as we have gone five years without any consistent bluefish presence in our locale for reasons unknown.
It is important to know that the fishermen of our beleaguered commercial fleet, who already have enough headwinds to fight in their day-to-day lives, now do not have many markets to sell to, with some restaurants closed entirely and the rest open for take-out only. But necessity is the mother of invention. You can get beautiful fresh local seafood either delivered or put together for contactless pickup from Cape Tip Seafood in Truro and Holbrook Oyster in Wellfleet. Please give them a call and support them with your purchases. It could be the difference between staying solvent or going out of business for the fleet in these trying times. Thank you, and stay safe.