This Fourth of July on the waterfront was certainly different than any other I have experienced in all my years here. The vibe was low-key, and it was very sad not to see the spectacular fireworks display the town puts on before the thousands of people who line both wharves as well as Fishermen’s Memorial Park between the wharves.
Sitting on my boat in the marina that night, it was surreal to hear how quiet it was and see the parking lots half empty. Let’s hope this is a one-year ordeal and we never have to see this again.
Timing is everything. The whale watch boats finally began to operate, at 50 percent capacity, on Monday, July 6, and right on cue the whales showed up in our local waters. Numerous humpbacks made an appearance along the stretch of water between Race Point and the Ranger Station, and a few finback whales were also seen cruising and feeding in the waters off Wood End Light to Race Point Light.
Fishing has greatly improved for striped bass and bluefish. Striped bass are filling in nicely in all the usual spots from off the Cottages at Beach Point to Wood End Light and on out to Race Point. There are also good numbers of bass down the backside beaches all the way to Long Nook in Truro. There is a significant number of fish in the 25- to 27-inch range, which of course makes them a “short” and so they must be thrown back. The high number of this particular size fish, which vary in age from five to seven years, suggests that the reproductive years of 2013 to 2015 were outstanding. This bodes well for the future of the species, as stocks of harvestable-size fish should steadily increase beginning next year.
When you catch one of these shorts, please remove the hook carefully and release it back into the water as quickly as possible. Also, remember that only circle hooks are allowed for bait fishing now, and gaffs are not to be used on any fish that appears to not be in the keeper slot size.
The stripers have been lying near the bottom, so bait fishing and deep wire line trolling have been the most effective methods to catch them, along with vertical jigging. Top water plugs have been mostly ineffective. This can, of course, change in an instant.
There is plenty of bait around for striper fishing. Mackerel are entrenched in our harbor from Long Point to the Horseshoe Cove, herring are thick on the deep-water side of the Race Point rip, and schools of pogies are seemingly everywhere. Look for huge dark circular patches on the water, which come from the pogies swimming in such tight formations.
Bluefish can’t decide if they want stick around or not. One day they are in thick, and the next nowhere to be found. These bluefish have been the smaller ones, in the two- to four-pound category, and are mostly found wherever striped bass are.
Pogies continue to attract giant bluefin tuna into our harbor and on out to Race Point, and a few have been caught and released by local fishermen. Lastly, flounder fishing off the Pamet in 40 feet of water remains good on days when you can get a slow drift going over the water. Small pieces of clam, mussels, and sea worms work best.