Current Waters: End Of July Blues

Capt. Carl Bois •

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Well, we’ve been enjoying these fog-free days lately. Being able to see two feet in front of the boat is a welcome change out on the water. With it, however, comes bright sunshine and warm pockets of water. We’re seeing that high summer behavior with the striped bass – when they’re less active in the warm part of the tides with shorter feed times. We’re still getting them, but we’re not quite as spoiled as we were with the numbers in June and July.

We’re fortunate to have seasonality in our fishery. Just when the striper fishing slows, we also get bonito coming in to liven things up. A few early ones have been caught already.

Bluefish are still cooperating. I haven’t seen many of the small bluefish lately, the ones I prefer to eat, but a number of the medium to large-sized fish have been showing up from our experience.

Our fluke fishing has improved as I hoped and expected it would. Good timing as the season changes and we mix things up.

High winds aren’t a great thing for boats on the water. As much as we hate to lose trips due to the high winds, it will also stir things up and the action we have with our bluefish and stripers will help keep it going. Wind triggers fish by moving water and creating currents. Moving water means moving bait. When small fish gather, big fish won't be far behind. It’s helping keep the tuna bite active as well.

August is in a few days and with it comes the August Blues Fishing Tournament. This is the inaugural year for this fun fishing tournament. August Blues is a month-long Bluefish tournament that will begin August 1 and end August 31 and benefits the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), an organization dedicated to ending Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The tournament is the brainchild of island oral surgeon Greg Chotkowski of Nantucket Oral Surgery in honor of his son, August, who lives with the disease. Money generated from the tournament goes to PPMD, a dedicated non-profit focused on finding a cure for this degenerative disease.

This catch-and-release tournament is bound to be a new favorite summer fishing event. With beach, boat, and junior divisions, there are prizes for the longest and shortest bluefish as well as the greatest combined length for 3 fish. Despite the name of the tournament, there are also prizes for the first false albacore and the first Bonito. The first bonito is likely to happen pretty soon after the start of the tournament. A few have been caught already this year. The first false albacore… well that could also happen pretty soon with the warm waters we’ve been having. Everything seems early this year.

A new category to me is the “unicorn” prize. While I don’t think anyone will come across a narwhal, the unicorn prize is for a unique catch – an unexpected fish on a line. Anything is possible with migrating species this time of year. I look forward to seeing what gets entered in this category!

Check out the website for tournament rules, how to enter catch photos, and, most importantly, how to sign up. Juniors are free and adults are just a $25 entry fee. For $50 you can also get a shirt and $100 gets you a shirt and a lure pack. Of course, you can always donate more to this worthy cause. And don’t forget to follow them on Instagram (@august_blues_nantucket) where organizers will highlight great photos with daily prize winners for unique and fun photos.

As the website states, “Whether you live here year-round or only visit for a few days, this tournament is for you. A chance to win great prizes whether you catch 100 fish or only 1. Backed by great sponsors, there will be plenty of prizes to go around in this summer classic.” Sponsors for this year’s tournament include Bill Fisher Tackle, Island X Lures, Nantucket Tackle, and Nantucket Oral Surgery. We’ll be checking in each week on the leaderboards and looking for unicorns.

So why bluefish? First of all, pound for pound they’re a great fighting fish. They fight all the way to the boat and sometimes even when they’re in the boat. For those keeping fish, they can be delicious! As far as flavor goes, they get a bad rap. When small ones are cooked same-day fresh, they can be really enjoyable.

The bluefish is the only extant species of the family Pomatomidae. It is a marine pelagic fish found around the world in temperate and subtropical waters, except for the northern Pacific Ocean. They are known by many names in other regions; tailor in Australia and New Zealand, elf and shad in South Africa. Whatever you call them, bluefish are the same strong and aggressive schooling fish we know.

The bluefish has a stout body, a forked tail, and a large mouth with numerous large sharp teeth. Keep that in mind when taking a hook out. They aren’t like some of our other target species around Nantucket. Their teeth are razors. The voracious bluefish richly deserves the nickname marine piranha because it swims in large schools through shoals of bait fish, slashing and destroying everything in its path. They will bite anything.

Since bluefish run in schools, when you catch one, you will often catch several more soon afterward. Keep that in mind for the tournament! Tournament goers, good luck with those yellow-eyed daemons!

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