We take three steps forward and two steps back, which is an old story with fishing.
Things were going very well, as striped bass fishing was consistently solid and bluefishing was at least occasionally good. Water temperatures were almost too high, as our inner harbor took on that not-so-appealing milky green it gets when it really heats up.
I recorded temperatures of 74 degrees in the harbor and 64 to 68 degrees everywhere else. The mackerel did not like the heat and departed, looking for cooler water, which they found down the backside around Peaked Hill Bar. But the other fish were eating aggressively, as the warm water ramped up their metabolism.
And then along came the three-day Fourth of July nor’easter, bringing colder temperatures along with wind-driven rain. We watched the water temperature free fall through the 70s and 60s to the mid-50s. The bass and bluefish hung in and stayed put, but their feeding backed down considerably. Then, on July 4, with the winds still howling out of the northeast, we measured the water temperature in the high 40s, and the bass and bluefish were pretty much gone from our area.
Cape Cod is in a tenuous geographical area when it comes to water temperatures. If the winds blow the right way, we are mainly influenced by the Gulf Stream as it passes by us to the east and bends towards England. If the winds blow the wrong way, we are more influenced by the much colder nutrient-rich waters of the Labrador currents to our north. Here we sit, right in the middle of two major diametrically opposed ocean currents, which explains the manic swings in our waters.
The economic impact of a significant multi-day easterly storm — which has now occurred on both Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends this season — on our waterfront businesses cannot be overstated, especially on top of last year’s pandemic-ridden summer.
We will need at least a few days of south and southwest winds for our waters to warm up again. Until that happens, I am afraid, fishing is going to be pretty slow and any kind of bay and ocean swimming will not be recommended.
We saw our first fin whale of the season feeding between Herring Cove and Race Point this past week, and it was an exceptionally large one. Keep an eye out over the water if you find yourself in that area, either from land or in a boat.
The number of seals currently living in our harbor is higher now than ever. That’s my unofficial observation as someone who is out there every day. Meanwhile, great white shark sightings seem to be significantly fewer so far this season. It doesn’t add up, but time will tell as the summer season progresses.