Striped bass continue to swim northward at an earlier than usual pace. Keeper-size bass have reportedly been caught at the Cape Cod Canal, on the south coast of Massachusetts, and on over to Rhode Island and Block Island Sound. Water temperatures are pushing into the upper 40s now, and with the magic number of 50 degrees and above almost here, and no drastic cold fronts imminent, things are looking real promising for an early season.
The best lures for taking early-season bass are DaddyMacs, Crippled Herring, and Ava jigs with a green tail. Of course, live lining a herring or a mackerel is always a good idea. Don’t forget: you must use a circle hook when bait fishing.
The Provincetown fleet of charter and party fishing boats are putting on finishing touches and getting ready to begin taking clients out. Capt. Rich of the Beth Ann is already doing whale watch charters while waiting for the fishing to get going. Capt. Russ of the Lisa Z, Capt. Nico of the Cape Tip’n, and Capt. Dave of the Ginny G are all looking at a Memorial Day weekend start, and the Cee-Jay will begin fishing trips on Saturday, May 15.
It’s very encouraging to see how many codfish are beginning to show up in the usual spots where bottom fish are found and caught. Haddock fishing up on Stellwagen Bank is off to a good start, with many charter boats catching the limit, according to their reports.
A large number of right whales have been feeding off Herring Cove and the Race, close enough to shore that you can easily see them from the beach. These highly endangered whales are on their way north to the Bay of Fundy and other areas. But when we get our usual spring plankton bloom in the bay, as is occurring now, the right whales stop for this highly nutritious feed. You can always tell when the plankton bloom occurs in Cape Cod Bay, as there is a very strong smell of melons when the wind comes in off the water.
Due to the presence of right whales, there is 10-mile-per-hour speed limit for all boats in the bay until the whales depart for the north, which typically occurs by mid-May. Right whales are not nearly as fast moving and agile as fin whales or humpbacks, so boat strikes can easily occur; hence, the lower speed limit. Lobstermen are eagerly awaiting the whales’ departure so they can put their gear in the water. The ongoing heated discussion about lobster gear tangling with and causing deaths of right whales continues to rage, despite the data suggesting ship strikes are more responsible for right whale mortality than lobster gear.
Covid safety protocols for the upcoming season on whale watch boats, party fishing boats, and charter fishing boats have yet to be determined, but the hope is the current vaccination programs will be effective and the rules for this year will not be nearly as strict.