Striped bass fishing dramatically improved this past week, with huge numbers of mixed-sized fish moving into the area between Wood End Light and Race Point. Most of the fish ranged from 26 to 32 inches, but every now and then a 35-to-40-inch fish was caught, as reported by all the charter boats as well as the Cee-Jay.
The lack of big bass in our immediate locale has made a notable difference in the presence of the commercial striped bass fishing fleet. They have to catch fish of at least 35 inches to sell them on the commercial market. I can assure you there are very few fish of that size or bigger in our waters at the moment.
The best method for catching them remains drifting live or dead mackerel, although trollers using umbrella rigs and Jig-N-Eels had a good week, too. This past Saturday afternoon the bass bite was extraordinary, as all the charter boats from Provincetown limited out. At numerous times on the Cee-Jay that day, we had four and five people fighting fish at once.
Mackerel have been inconsistent: here today, gone tomorrow, and back the next day, but the Horseshoe Cove and Long Point seem to be the best bets. There are a lot of squid all along the edge where the shoal water turns deep in the west side of the harbor. Bluefish have also done the here today, gone tomorrow routine around Herring Cove, off the Pamet, and south to the path off Wellfleet.
Our ocean water temperatures took a nose dive when that northerly cold front came through. It got as low as the low 50s, but has since climbed back to the mid and upper 60s.
Whale watching remains a tough gig. Still no fin whales in the stretch of water between Herring Cove and the Race Point ranger station, as we’ve come to expect. And Stellwagen Bank has not been very fruitful lately. There were a few whales seen in and around Peaked Hill Bar, but they didn’t stay long, despite there being massive amounts of food in the water for them.
I was running a whale watch charter on the Beth Ann the other day, and the southwest corner of Stellwagen was teeming with life. Big schools of mackerel were chasing even bigger schools of sand eels, and tuna were chasing both. But no whales were seen in and among them.
The number of seals here has grown exponentially over the last two weeks and, to no one’s surprise, great white sharks are now being reported at beaches including Head of the Meadow and Race Point.
Last Sunday, the Blessing of the Fleet was subdued compared with its usual pomp. Boats were blessed at their docks instead of in the usual procession of boats going by the bishop at the end of the pier. I really hope next year we can get back to normal and have a Portuguese Festival and a Blessing of the Fleet that are more like the ones we had for years and years before the pandemic.