Striped bass fishing was a bit spotty last week. They seem to be cruising north to south in the bay. From the Pamet to south of Billingsgate Shoals are where they were located most of the week. Our windy and cool weather made getting out and looking for them challenging, but in the short window of opportunity the weather gave us, some good catches were reported. The fish seem to be of the smallish size and skinny, but given our new slot limit that’s actually a good thing.
Speaking of the new limit, a striped bass emergency ruling imposing a 28-to-31-inch slot put in place without so much as a public hearing, the state of New Jersey Marine Fishery Council, whose member representative was the only one to vote no on the new rules, did not have a vote on the matter.
That’s because the council made a motion to have its striped bass advisory committee meet in June to review the data based on a mandate passed down by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. That body requires all member states to approve the measure or be found out of compliance. And the consequences of being noncompliant could result in a moratorium being placed on the fishery.
In all, I don’t like the fact that this was done as an emergency measure, bypassing public comment and therefore not providing an open and fair process.
Now, the states have until July 2 to come into compliance, though we have not heard from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. With a July 2 deadline approaching and our best bass fishing occurring typically in June, the slot limit is almost a nonevent for us on the Outer Cape in terms of its effect on our peak fishing season.
From what I understand, the decision to implement this smaller size limit in theory will protect the 2015 year-class of striped bass, which is reaching the plus-31-inch size right now, to meet a 2029 stock rebuilding goal that was set in 2018.
Flounder fishing is very good at the south end of Billingsgate Shoals now. The fish are big and fat and healthy looking as well. We used to have excellent flounder fishing right behind our breakwater in Provincetown Harbor. But the explosion of the cormorant population has changed that. Their big numbers currently residing on our breakwater have all but wiped out the flounder. Now we have to travel south to catch them. Mother Nature giveth, and Mother Nature taketh away.
The seals have arrived, as have the great white sharks. The passengers on a Dolphin Fleet boat witnessed predation during one of their whale-watching trips last week. I also noticed a very large group of seals hauled out on Long Point the other day. Here we go again — and the beat goes on.