Fishing Report: Striped Bass off Chatham
If you look east of Chatham this morning you will see a large fleet of mixed boats just inside the 3 mile line. There are small skiffs and 40 foot custom tuna boats. The commercial bass season is now in full swing on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays and it appears that this area off to the east is where they are working. Yesterday I counted over 100 boats all jockeying for position in this area. This spot is absolutely loaded with bluefish and dogfish as well, yet I saw a large percentage of guys drifting live eels to try to catch the stripers. At a buck apiece per eel, that can add up the bait bill really quickly ! The talk on the radio yesterday was that there are about 10 short striped bass to every one keeper sized one for the commercial guys, not really great fishing in anybody's book. As a "sportie", a recreational boat, we can catch our recreational limit and have some fun doing it. It took me a little while, but I finally did figure out how to consistently produce striped bass from this area, with less blues and dogfish. Yesterday's trip ended with lots of bluefish, a limit of bass for all on the boat and a couple for me to sell for gas money too. There is plenty of fish and bait in the area, and as long as the water temperature and the bait stay, the fishing should hold for a while. The crowd of boats is what makes it a less desirable spot to fish. There are stripers in the rips too, but its just another 5 miles away to the south. The rip fishing is usual summer fishing, where after you take a fish or two off an edge, you move over to another edge and take one or two, and then move back etc. One must work around the boat traffic, be observant and fish where there hasn't been a boat for the last 15-20 minutes.
As for bluefin tuna fishing, it has been spotty, with one day they are jumping next to the boat, and then the next not to be seen. I have not had many tuna trips this year, and the last one I had to reschedule to make a repair to the boat. The bolts to the cutlass bearing had come undone and I had to take the boat out of the water to repair and reinstall them. I am very lucky that the repair was done within one day and I was back in the water the next. There is a good bait supply west of the "BC" buoy where we fished a couple years ago, and that would be where i would look as long as I had good visibility. I have not heard from my friend that fished the Regal Sword area yesterday, but I did hear him say it looked good on the radio before I lost contact with him. My thinking is that the tuna are where there is a decent food supply and not many boats. I know there are fish in the inshore spots, but with all the bass/bluefish/dogfish/small boats competing with them for a meal, I am leaning towards fishing in the areas that have much less pressure. The Regal Sword area has had very little pressure because its 25 plus miles away. It is situated on a travel corridor of the bluefin. If there is bait in the area, there will be tuna fish there. The key is having a long enough scheduled trip to get there and leaving early enough in the morning to have a decent morning bite !
With the economy off, my charter bookings are off. I have no charter today. I had last weekend off with not one booking. Folks that call are not asking about the boat or the tackle, or the fishing, or where the boat is, but merely price shopping, looking for the less expensive boat. I found out yesterday that one of the better charter guys offering charters in my harbor has reduced his rates by $25, and another lesser boat says he charges $150 less for his half day trip. I have had many folks ask me for a shorter trip than my usual 5 hour version. I am now considering the addition of a 4 hour trip, with the rate to be determined, for those that are just interested in a shorter trip. It is possible depending upon what feedback I receive, that the 5 hour trip would become a 4 hour trip instead. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks very much,
Bruce & "Marilyn S"