September 1st on Nantucket marks the end of a lot of things. The end of the summer season, less traffic, and a few more parking spaces. School starts next week and with it, the rhythm of life on Nantucket changes again. The end of the summer season, however, does NOT mean the end of fishing. In fact, September is the best time of year to pick up a rod and head out. Fall fishing is so amazing. We’re in the final stretch of the season. And what a season it is.
Right before we had all of the weather and big tides we’ve seen this week, everything seemed to be on the upswing. The striped bass fishing was improving and we had some great trips. I think things should keep improving after this wind dies down.
All the inshore fishery is really strong right now. It should be an incredibly strong fishery coming into the Inshore Classic. Remember, for those in the tournament, focus on your bonito first. They’ll be the first to head out as fall weather descends. More on the tournament below.
The Nantucket charter boats continue to have successful trips for the Bluefin tuna fishery. With the full moon this past Wednesday and the large tides we hope for a fresh batch of fish in as the water cools and bait are pushed through.
Just a reminder to anglers that the black sea bass fishery is about to close for the season. The last day for black seabass is September 7th. Fluke goes until September 29th so you still have some time on those. If you ever have questions, don’t forget to double-check the regulations.
One of my favorite tournaments of the year is about to begin and the best thing is that it’s open to everyone. The 18th annual Inshore Classic runs from September 3rd to October 7th and is hosted by the Nantucket Angler’s Club, but you don’t need to be a member to join in the fishing fun. A favorite fall pastime, the Inshore Classic is a five-week fishing tournament focusing on Bluefish, Striped Bass, False Albacore, and Bonito. Now primarily catch and release (of course you can keep whatever is in season) you can fish from shore or boat. Sign-up just opened and is online. There are divisions for all tackle ($75), fly fishing ($75), or a combo ($100) for boat or beach category. The junior division is free, as usual, to encourage a new generation of anglers. All participants receive a tournament t-shirt and official fish ruler to be used in photos of their catch. These items can be picked up at the Angler’s Club, Bill Fisher Tackle, and Nantucket Tackle Center.
The opening gam for the tournament is Saturday, September 2nd at 4 p.m. at the Nantucket Anglers Club. It’s always a fun time catching up with people after the busy summer and talking fishing.
One bonus of the tournament is that non-members have full Nantucket Angler Club privileges during the tournament even if they aren’t members. It’s a nice way to check out the club. The Inshore Classic raises money for the Nantucket Angler's Club Scholarship fund. Prizes are given away for the biggest fish of each species each week in all categories, so there is plenty of opportunity to earn a prize. Major prizes are awarded for the biggest fish overall of each species in each category. Additionally, grand champions will be crowned in each category/division to the anglers with the most cumulative length of his/her 4 species of fish. You can keep an eye on the leaderboard here or read this article weekly for updates.
It seems like everywhere I go from the surface to five feet down is full of jellyfish. Even out in deep water where we’re fluke fishing. A few times, I noticed the tide line looked like a wall of jellyfish. Multiple beaches have been flagged in the past week for hazardous marine life (i.e. the jellies). Just look for the purple flags.
Earlier this summer there were Portuguese Man-o-war, but the current jellyfish are more likely Atlantic sea nettles. Although the man-o-war has the most painful sting, the Atlantic sea nettle is the jellyfish that has racked up the most stings on the island this summer.
The Atlantic sea nettles are the jellyfish more typical for this time of year. Their stings can really pack a punch. The sea nettles and the lion’s mane jellies are the most common. Moon jellies and comb jellies have also been spotted around the island, but they are harmless to humans. Apparently, jellyfish density can be fairly localized depending on nutrient availability. With the weather churning things up this week, the nutrient load may dissipate and the jellyfish abundance may change.
Jellyfish are predators, but they are also prey to some other ocean dwellers primarily sea turtles and ocean sunfish (Mola mola). So keep an eye out for those as well.