Current Waters: Summer Variety

Capt. Carl Bois •

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Variety is here! We’re continuing with decent striper fishing. We’ve got big blue fish to play with and little ones. Albies, bonito, bluefish, stripers, fluke…angler’s choice!

For the stripers, it’s about the colder water, so they’re a little offshore. Now that we have bonito and albies around, there is more to target from shore. Look for the bird balls around the harbors – a sure sign of bonito or albies.

We’re still having a lot of fun with the bluefin tuna. It’s not quite like it was last year, but we’re still getting it done.

There are still a few weeks left to get into the August Blues Tournament. Check out the leaderboard for the anglers to beat! There is still plenty of time to get in there. Their Instagram page has been great with daily winners based on fun pictures and shout-outs to junior anglers. Looking forward to this being an annual tournament.

Here and there we have talked about odd finds and weird things that come up on the end of a line. Just last week, we had a report of one such unusual species. A large tarpon was caught off of a Mashpee Beach by a 20-year-old angler. Now I know that’s not Nantucket, but a decent-sized tarpon being caught in our waters is news for sure. The one caught was around five feet long or so. It’s a world-class fishery in Florida and the Keys especially. Tarpon are large, hard-fighting fish and are judged by many to be the world’s most exciting gamefish. Once it feels the hook being set, it begins the spectacular display of frequent, twisting, acrobatic leaps into the air. I’d feel pretty confident winning the “unicorn” prize for the August Blues tournament if I caught a tarpon.

Tarpon aren’t known to venture too far north of the Carolinas, though it’s not unheard of. They prefer water temperatures in the 74F to 88F degrees range. My own experience with Tarpon was from a trip to Florida with some buddies over a decade ago. I had one amazing tarpon trip under my belt but I had to go to them. I knew I always wanted to get a chance to do it again. Maybe sometime soon they’ll be coming to me.

A lot of data goes into fisheries management and there are lots of different ways the data is collected not all of which I agree with. A new project by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries is using citizen science to look at striped bass vitality after release. Anglers can volunteer to give data to help answer this important question for a catch and release fishery. They’ve got enough data now that you can visualize some of the preliminary data and figures yourself on the DMF website. You can also go on their site to sign up to be a citizen science reporter yourself. The state ran out of sampling kits (because the program is so popular) but all you need is a stopwatch, a thermometer, a tape measure, and the ability to fish.

Why is this research important? Due to regulations and the interests of some anglers, most striped bass are released back into the water after they’re caught. There are still questions, however, about post-catch mortality and if there are commonalities among those that do die. The ultimate goals of the project are to “evaluate the conservation benefit of using circle hooks, identify causes of release mortality, and to provide an updated estimate of release mortality that is representative of the entire recreational fishery.”

You can check out all of the preliminary data including fish reported by tackle type, water and air temps when the stripers were caught, bait type, and fish sizes. Since it’s all preliminary and the data are still coming in, we can’t draw any conclusions yet. But it’s definitely interesting to check out. Ben Gahagan, a Diadromous Fisheries Biologist with MA DMF, gave a talk on the project this past winter for the Linda Loring Nature Foundation on Nantucket. You can view it here.

I’d personally like to see the difference between boat and beach data. The mortality rate for boat catch-and-release has got to be a much smaller percentage than a beach-caught fish. We’ll have to stay tuned for the final results.

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