Oh, fishermen dread that word; when stripers, or any other fish for that matter, are feeding on this bouillabaisse of mini-marine creatures, they become almost impossible to catch.
To be more accurate, or scientific, according to Wikipedia, “Krill are small crustaceans of the order Euphausiacea, and are found in all the world’s oceans. The name “krill” comes from the Norwegian word krill, meaning “small fry of fish,” which is also often attributed to species of fish.”
Since they feed on phytoplankton and even zooplankton of sorts, they are part of the great marine food chain and therefore serve an important purpose.
But happen upon schools of fish slurping and slapping on krill, as I did on Monday, and you just might find yourself gritting your teeth and asking the heavens, “Why?”
It just so happened that I was fishing with Mark and Roger, friends who enjoy getting out on the water as much as any two people I know.
We had encountered schools of bass feeding in Robinson’s Hole, and although we did okay tossing a mixture of Jumpin’ Minnows, Hogy Heavy Metal Jigs, and even fly rod foam poppers, I felt we hadn’t done as well as I would have liked and there was something oddly ominous about the way they were feeding.
When the tide died, it was off to Cuttyhunk to capture the start of the current there and when we arrived, we were greeted by the sight of large schools of bass milling on the surface.
And I immediately knew I was in trouble as I had encountered this scene before. Other folks were tossing all kinds of hardware at the stripers with no success and even the flies I initially chose were snubbed.
Meanwhile, Roger hooked up with a hefty sea bass on the Heavy Minnow Jig, and when I glanced at the sounder and saw large red marks, I informed him that if he wanted to fill the fish bag, he was in luck.
We had already caught a couple of small blues in Robinson’s and the sea bass made three fish for dinner, but by the time we left for Falmouth, there was a limit of sea bass, the biggest scup I have ever seen, and a slab of a tautog. Speaking of which, from June 1 to July 31, the daily possession limit is one tautog per day, with the same 16-inch minimum length.
Oh, and I figured out the krill issue, tying on a number 8 Crazy Charlie, a bonefish fly that the stripers loved, proving once again that you can never carry enough tackle with you.
My excitement over the amount of life we found along the Elizabeths picked right up again the next day when John Breznak joined me to fish Woods Hole. Suffice it to say there were baby squid jetting and bass making a racket everywhere as they looked to fill their bellies with fresh Loligo.
I believe I have mentioned it previously in this column, but I have gone to one single belly treble or inline hook on all my plugs and John did me a favor by opting to toss a Jumpin’ Minnow after collecting a good number of bass on squid flies.
You see, catching fish on plugs, especially those with the minimum of hardware, is an exercise in patience and persistence. You have to let the fish blast and push the piece of wood or plastic until you feel the full weight before even thinking of setting the hook.
John’s demeanor proved to be the perfect antidote to the “rip its head off at the first splash” scenario I often encounter, providing added confidence that rigging a plug catch-and-release style will work.
Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth confirmed that the number of bluefish in Nantucket Sound has risen exponentially, while big bass have headed elsewhere, most likely for deeper water.
An occasional legal fish continues to be scratched on wire and parachutes from Woods Hole to Quicks and tossing or drifting eels at night has accounted for some more.
Folks over on the Vineyard advised that boats dunking live scup in Vineyard Sound have been picking as well.
From what Kevin Downs at Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket told me, the news went from bad to worse. The Falmouth Grand Prix, which Christian Giardini, owner of Falmouth B & T helps organize and run, took place this week, Monday to Friday, with both inshore and offshore divisions.
While bigeye and yellowfin have been caught and a blue marlin hooked but lost, in the latter category, not a single legal bass had been weighed in as of Tuesday.
If things are tough for boaters, then shore anglers don’t have much of a chance when it comes to anything at and over the legal 28-inch minimum, never mind a bragging size fish.
There are still schoolies to be caught in the early morning and again around dusk, but the few hard-cores who fish plugs and eels at night haven’t been rewarded for their persistence.
Bluefish, scup and some northern kingfish have been the saving grace for the sand and rock people between Cotuit and Craigville, noted Elise Costa at The Powderhorn in Hyannis, with early morning and evening high and turn to outgoing the best scenario.
Shawn Powell from The Sports Port in Hyannis said boaters have been running into scattered schools of blues in the sound around Osterville and Craigville, while the owner of the shop, Amy Wrightson, spoke to a couple of boat fishermen who not only trolled up some plugs off Craigville, but they also managed some nice-sized fluke.
Most folks, however, have had another song to sing when it comes to summer flatties in Nantucket Sound, with way too many fish under the legal 17-inch minimum. Middle Ground has been okay at best and Lucas Shoal has really been quiet. In fact, folks who are inclined to do so have been making the run to Wasque for both fluke and sea bass, while some fluke in the six to eight-pound class were weighed in last weekend in the Vineyard’s Fluke for Luke event, with the waters between Aquinnah and Noman’s known for fish of that size.
Up in Buzzards Bay, Tommy at Maco’s Bait & Tackle sent a fellow over to the Mashnee Flats and he picked up some really solid fluke, up to six pounds.
On the other hand, from Buzzards Bay to the sounds, the sea bass are running on the smaller side, with larger fish having moved into deeper water.
The Canal is fishing okay this week, but that should really be expected given the weak tides and an early morning ebb or west current, which probably explains Jeff Miller’s report from Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore that the west end has had the best fishing this week.
Green mackerel, whether in pencil poppers or paddletail jigs, have been working well, but some folks continue to toss Sebiles with mixed results, noted A.J. Coots at Red Top in Buzzards Bay.
Jeff made it clear that the east end isn’t dead, but there are mostly small bass around, with some winter flounder still being caught.
Out in Cape Cod Bay, the most consistent fishing has been for flounder, apparently, while bass fishing has been wildly inconsistent.
Elise Costa said the charterboats have been staying on a pretty good bite using a variety of methods from snapping wire to dragging Hootchies.
When I spoke to A.J., he said they had weighed in a 51-pounder that was caught in the bay, apparently on a live eel, which would lead me to suspect this angler was fishing at night. A.J. also heard about a couple of mid-40-inch class fish from out in the bay, so it’s pretty clear that big bass do still exist in our waters.
Sheila Miller was filling in for Bruce, who had to go home and take a nap, and she said the few boaters who came into the shop bought seaworms, a pretty clear indication that they were going tubing. Jeff said he had sold out of clear red tubes and had just put in a big order for more, with more news filtering about fish being caught around the parking lot, as well as between the dump and fingers, but on deep diving plugs and Sebiles.
If tuna wishing is your game, then the canyons, especially Atlantis, should be your destination, noted Kevin Downs, with boats picking up as many as eight bigeye on a trip.
South of the Vineyard is another story as A.J. told me he saw no tuna during a shark trip to the Claw this week. There were plenty of sharks around, but they were mostly blue dogs, although he did say that someone reported over the marine radio that he had caught a nice thresher.
With trout in the ponds moving into deeper water, folks in some form of watercraft have been managing some quality fish using spoons, shiners, and nightcrawler, advised Shawn Powell. Not to be forgotten is the largemouth and smallmouth angling, which is excellent, whether you are using artificials or shiners.