Things are beginning to look a little more normal on the waterfront. More and more boats are starting to open up and operate. The Bay Lady began sailing tours, and both high-speed ferries, the Provincetown III and the Salacia, began service from Boston, albeit with much reduced passenger capacity.
Six-passenger charter fishing boats are all operating now, as well as the Cee-Jay party fishing boat. Meanwhile, we all await the next phase, hoping it will kick in on July 6. With the continuing downward trend statewide in virus infections, it is looking good for the whale watch boats to resume operations at a reduced capacity soon. That will put our waterfront at 100 percent operational.
It was sad to see a much-subdued Portuguese Festival and Blessing of the Fleet weekend, compared to the usual revelry. We hope next year we can get back to normal with this.
Fishing this week dramatically improved, as the bigger striped bass we have been waiting for finally arrived. A few really big fish were caught, including a 44-inch bass on the Lisa Z and a 46-inch monster bass hauled in on the Cee-Jay. The Beth Ann, Cape TipN, and Ginny G also reported fish in the high 30-inch category hitting their decks.
With the new recreational striped bass regulations in place, we can keep bass only in the range of 28 to 35 inches. That means all these big fish went right back in the ocean after a quick photo was snapped, much to the dismay of the customers who caught them.
Now, I understand the theory behind releasing big fish back into the water, as they produce a large number of eggs. But some of these bigger, older fish ovulate only every few years, so it seems to me the smaller, younger fish that make fewer eggs but ovulate more often would be more beneficial to maintaining sustainable numbers of fish.
Time will tell if the current plan is effective or not. What I can tell you is we have an abundance of 15- to 25-inch fish in our waters right now. These are two- to five-year-old fish, so it’s evident these were enormously successful breeding years.
The striped bass have moved into all the usual spots from Race Point to Beach Point. Trolling umbrella rigs and bunker spoons have been effective, but fishing live or dead mackerel has been the ticket for the most consistent catches. Swimming plugs have been oddly ineffective lately, as the fish seem to be on the bottom and reluctant to come up towards the surface to hit the plugs. Mackerel are virtually everywhere in our waters from the harbor out to Race Point. A few bluefish are also beginning to show up and be caught.
Flounder fishing off the Pamet remains good, and yet hardly anyone is targeting this action. With the tremendous number of pogies (menhaden) currently in our waters, and particularly in our harbor, it was just a matter of time before giant bluefin tuna found them, and this past week it happened. We had tuna in our harbor and one was even caught just off the Long Point bell buoy.
We were delighted to see a solitary humpback whale feeding on huge schools of pogies around Race Point all week, and just offshore of it were a pair of finback whales feeding on herring in the deeper water. We were also treated to a minke whale sighting in the shallow waters off the cottages at Beach Point the other day while bass fishing.
Still no sign of squid under the lights at night around both wharves in town, and it looks like year six of no fluke (summer flounder) is all but a foregone conclusion.
It was a quiet week for great white shark sightings, but I believe that is more a by-product of lightly populated beaches than anything else.