Current Waters: Let The Fishing Begin

Capt. Carl Bois •

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The 2024 fishing season has kicked off with some amazing striper fishing. This surely bodes well for the rest of the season.

This is a great time of year down at the docks. Boats are getting back in the water, the gear is ready, and the fish tales are already being told. We’ve been catching up with our regular clients and making plans for this season. And it’s not a day too soon. The fishing is awesome right now.

First off, the striped bass fishing is incredible. It also happens to be the best time to go since you don’t have to fish in a crowd this early in June. It may be feeling a bit busy downtown, but out on the water, there is still a little more room. For now anyway.

This week we had reports of a few bluefish being caught. We expect them to be seen in numbers any day now. Maybe it’s happened by the time you read this.

Black seabass fishing has been a little disappointing lately but there is still time to change. But did I mention that there are stripers? And lots of them? There’s been great action from the beach on the south shore. We have them in flat water, in the flats, in the rip edges; everywhere. Go check out your favorite (or even your least favorite spot) and you’ll find stripers.

There is also a lot of bait fish around. We’re happily surprised to still have mackerel in the harbor. The primary bait that we’re observing are mackerel, squid, and bunker flushing through. And where there are smaller bait fish…there are bigger fish.

You may have read earlier this week about a bonito caught in the harbor. A bonito this early in June?! We usually don’t see them until later in the summer. The earliest I’ve heard of bonito being caught is the very end of June. But we reliably can expect them in early July when waters are warmer. Right now, the harbor water temperature is 65°F already, more typical of early July temperatures.

Atlantic bonitos (Sarda sarda) are a tribe of medium-sized, ray-finned predatory fish in the same family as mackerel and tuna. They are beautiful fish - mainly silver with blue-green dorsal fins and black stripes along the body. Water temperature and bait are always key variables governing bonito movement. One of the critical elements for a sustained bonito run is the presence of preferred bait within the region. We usually talk about bonito in July/August when the Bonito Bar heats up. We’ll have to see if this one was just a fluke or if they’ll be around for some early-season bonito fishing. You won’t know if you don’t go.

The Nantucket Sea Run Opener tournament finished up last week (ending on June 1). The tournament start date is open-ended and "begins" when the first sea run striped bass has been landed by a tournament participant. This year, the tournament officially began May 12th with the first striper landed by Stephen Toffey which also happened to be the first keeper of the year.

This catch and release tournament has prizes for a variety of different catch types including first landed sea run striper, smallest striper in length, first keeper bass 28" or larger, and the largest striped bass of the tournament. Check out the leaderboard for this year’s tournament winners. For those who participated in the tournament, there is an awards ceremony tomorrow, June 8th at Ladies Beach. The proceeds from the tournament go to the Nantucket charity chosen by one lucky participant. The winning charity will be selected from an approved list of Nantucket non-profit organizations.

The tournament also brought the first bluefish caught of the season. Tim Sullivan got the first keeper blue from the beach at the very end of the tournament. More have been caught since and we’re waiting on them to come in real numbers soon.

If you missed the Sea Run Opener tournament, don’t worry, there are plenty more coming up. Keep an eye on this column for info on upcoming tournaments open to all.

This coming weekend is the annual Touch-a-Boat Day sponsored by the Nantucket Boat Basin. This free event connects the community to some of the working waterfront Nantucketers who make their living on the water. People are invited to “Touch a boat, meet local fishermen and captains, and explore the waterfront on a leisurely weekend day.” Snacks will be available (provided by the Nantucket Boat Basin), as well as a complimentary goodie bag while supplies last.

Maybe we’ll see you down at the docks!

What’s on my rods right now?

IslandX Hellfire

Pearl Bomber modified with single, in-line hooks (please no treble hooks)

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