The waterfront looked very much as it did in pre-pandemic days for Monday’s Fourth of July celebration, as both wharves were packed with cars and people waiting for the fireworks. Boats were jammed into the inner harbor as well, and charter boats were bringing customers out on fireworks sunset cruises. It was a sight for sore eyes, indeed. The fireworks show, I thought, wasn’t as robust as some in the past — but, hey, at this point, anything that resembles normalcy is very welcome.
The striped-bass fishing remains white hot. This is shaping up to be a better-than-usual season, and if the bass don’t do their disappearing act or their not-wanting-to-bite thing, as they sometimes do in July, this summer could end up being epic.
Large numbers of fish are camped from Wood End to the National Seashore ranger station at Race Point at depths from 20 to 150 feet. The ticket to catching them has been fresh bait — which has presented a challenge, because the mackerel that are typically found in the harbor and at Wood End have been out on Stellwagen Bank and haven’t budged. This means that if you want to bait fish you first have to make the run up there to get your bait. Five-dollar-a-gallon gasoline makes that task a bit hard on the checkbook and, for charter and party fishing boats, on the bottom line.
Trolling has been less effective than using live bait, but the real disappointment has been an inability to catch bass consistently with swimming plugs or jigs. It’s been just one here or there.
Bluefish have pretty much left the area for now, except for a few being caught down past the Pamet towards Billingsgate shoals. There is an abundance of small bluefin tuna around, however. These fish, in the 30-to-80-pound category, have been seen just north of the Race on up to Stellwagen Bank. We got into them one day on the CeeJay and hooked two but lost them both.
National Marine Fisheries has now closed recreational bluefin tuna fishing for all fish over 73 inches for the remainder of the year. Those fish can now be taken only by those with commercial licenses.
There are a lot of whales around, as of this writing. Fin whales have been seen feeding from off Herring Cove all the way to the Peaked Hill bar on the backside. One day we counted seven fin whales in that area — a nice bonus on a fishing trip. There are also a lot of humpback whales on the southern part of Stellwagen Bank, feeding on the enormous numbers of sand eels and mackerel there.
I’ve always said summer goes by in three blinks of the eye: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. We have had two blinks, so now is the time to get out there and enjoy the great fishing and whale watching available to us before that third blink.