Fishing this week was solidly good for bluefish, striped bass, and tuna. Water temperatures are rising to extremely warm levels for this part of the world, however. I recorded temperatures of 78 degrees in the harbor all the way out to Long Point and 74 degrees along the bayside beaches.
Fortunately for those of us who want to catch striped bass, there is a thermocline. A thermocline is a boundary line in the water column that separates warm surface waters from much colder, denser waters below. The bass have been mostly entrenched below the thermocline in the cooler water, and those who have presented bait or lures in that zone have continued to be successful catching stripers.
Trollers are also doing very well, as they can present lures right on the bottom. There seems to have been a rather large school of shorts who have come into our area as many boats reported catching 24-to-26-inch fish. After a long stretch of catching fish outside the slot limit because they’ve been too big, now we’re talking about fish outside the limit because they’re too small.
Bluefish are here in big numbers. Wood End to Herring Cove has been consistently hot, with big hungry fish hitting everything from jigs to poppers to swimmers. Catches of recreational-size bluefin tuna have been good mostly in the Peaked Hill area, but I still haven’t seen or heard of many giants coming into Provincetown.
These unusually high water temperatures are worrisome, and not only because of the effects they will have on marine creatures who are used to much cooler water. Even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting El Niño will develop this summer, which can suppress Atlantic hurricane activity, if a tropical system does develop on the East Coast and move into our area, these water temperatures would contribute to its further intensification. That is something that does not typically happen here; we count on our cool New England waters to weaken tropical systems.
With Florida reporting areas with 90-degree water temperatures, this could be a very different tropical storm season along the entire East Coast and right up to our neck of the woods.
The Atlantic great white sharks are now here in full force and beach closures are, predictably, beginning to take place. Last week, Head of the Meadow, Newcomb Hollow, and Coast Guard beaches were closed from time to time after shark sightings. The beach at Great Point in Nantucket has been closed until further notice after five instances of sharks preying on seals there.
A recent study of great whites around Cape Cod by scientists with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has determined that as many as 900 white sharks come to our outer shores in a typical season, making us the area of the world with the densest white shark population.
And with seal colonies continuing to grow — have you seen Long Point lately? — and no plan to cull or manage the population, this issue is only going to get worse. I just don’t get it. We have managed deer, moose, and wolf populations for decades to keep the balance of predators and prey in check, yet we are indifferent to the situation here with the seals. It does not add up, and the economic impact of beach closures and water quality problems will eventually be felt by all if we don’t do something now.