The dog days of summer are certainly upon us, and summertime fishing and whale watching are in full swing.
Striped bass have been biting despite the July heat, which typically sends them into deeper waters with not such great appetites. The best fishing has been in the Race Point area, as well as off Beach Point in North Truro. These fish continue to be on the smaller size, and with the minimum for keepers at 28 inches, the high number of 27-inch fish in our waters is frustrating fishermen no end. The good news is that all these fish will be keepers later on this season or next — and there are a lot of them.
The other day I had a Div. of Marine Fisheries person out on the Cee-Jay doing a fish survey. They used to count, weigh, and measure all the fish that were caught on the trip. Now they just pick two or three people at random to survey. The problem I have with this is the boat caught 22 bass on that trip, four of which were keepers. The rest, of course, were shorts and thus released back into the water. But the two people who were chosen for the survey caught nothing. So when the surveyor inputs the data into the database it looks like a fishless trip, when in fact it was a very successful trip.
These data, in part, determine what the catch rules and regulations will be going forward. But the data aren’t very credible because of the methods used to collect them. In just the same way, the gigantic body of bass outside the three-mile limit were not counted in the population survey database last year because those fish were not in a legal catch area.
My unscientific take on the status of the striped bass population here is that the species is in great shape, judging from the significant number of shorts around. There might have been a reproduction hiccup for a year or two, but that was followed by two seemingly banner reproductive years, as evidenced by the large number of 23-to-27-inch fish. Once again, for the third consecutive year, the bigger commercial-size bass appear to have bypassed Cape Cod and have been mostly in the waters off Boston and the South Shore.
There have been a large number of fin whales feeding off Race Point all week. What started out as a whale or two has grown to a pod of five to seven whales charging around the Race. They can easily be seen from the beach; a pair of binoculars enhances the viewing. Better yet, hop on a whale watch boat to view these magnificent fin whales, the second biggest animal on the planet after the blue whale, up close and personal.
Great white shark sightings are being reported a little more lately, with most occurring on the backside ocean beaches around High Head and Head of the Meadow. The seal population at Long Point is growing by leaps and bounds. Something has to give eventually. I counted over 100 hauled out on the beach at Long Point; last Sunday the area was packed with boats and people, with some swimming among the seals, who seem very comfortable with the human presence. I shudder to think of the possibilities for a tragedy.