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Fish Are There To Be Had By Those Willing To Push The Season

Posted in: Fishing Report
If a day like Wednesday morning doesn’t convince you that it’s time to stop fishing, then you are truly a hardcore—or a very stubborn individual, such as myself.
With temperatures in the 30s and the wind blowing a gale, I imagine a few more people decided to winterize and put the covers on their boats, or perhaps put their rods, reels, and waders away until next year.
But there are still windows of opportunity, albeit limited ones, to catch just one more fish.
Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street said the On The Water crew came in late last week to pick up some eels after hearing that George Christman had picked up a few nice bass along the Elizabeths while fishing plugs, most likely the custom jobs he creates himself.
Jim added that Art Crago had found a nice 30-plus-inch fish up inside one of the Buzzards Bay backwaters and while I was talking with Jim on Tuesday a tautog angler came in to pick up some more gear after picking up a few nice toggies in Woods Hole on green crabs.
The bite around Cleveland Ledge and other upper Buzzards Bay spots has also been pretty good, noted Dick Hopwood at Maco’s, although there appear to be far fewer sizeable tautog and the sea bass seem to have headed to deep water as well.
Dick did confirm that some bass are still being taken around Phinneys Harbor and Onset, but like many folks, he spoke about how clear and lifeless the water looks, with even the cormorants having to make several dives to pick up something to eat.
I imagine that the bluefish that had been around the Maritime Academy will have split by the time you read this, but Stan Darmofalski at Red Top in Buzzards Bay told of a bass in the 30-pound class being taken around the east end on Tuesday by an angler tossing a topwater plug. Early morning has produced the best action, with mostly schoolies around.
Like Stan’s report, Jeff Miller at Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore had word of a 35-pounder taken in the Big Ditch on Tuesday; Jeff could not say for sure what the fish was caught on, but knows that the angler of note likes to use jigs such as Ron-Zs and big plastic shads.
The stretch from the stone church to Pip’s Rip has been worth checking out for the Canal crew and Jeff added that any boater who has been able to get out into Cape Cod Bay has been finding some nice schools of surface feeding bass. He recommended leaving the Sandwich Marina and heading out from the east end to the parking lot, with your eyes peeled for birds giving away the location of the fish.
There are still some bluefin around, with the crew that Richie Augusta fishes with having caught three on Friday, confirmed Jim Young.
Capt. Kevin Malone and Tim Folan at Bad Fish Outfitters on Route 28A in North Falmouth took advantage of a break in the wind last Friday to make one last offshore trip and managed some mahi-mahi and they had a white marlin in the spread while fishing the area around West Atlantis Canyon. Tim said they were the only boat out there and that the temperature break has been moving west, a common situation this time of year.
Since he’s been back, Tim said he’s been doing a lot of freshwater fishing and having a lot of fun, with some trout, a number of white perch, and one smallmouth while fishing Johns and Ashumet ponds.
If those reports don’t convince you to try again, hopefully you have the kind of memory that Elizabeth Stromeyer at Red Top has to get you through the winter, and hers will be even better if nobody surpasses the 45.3-pound bass that she caught earlier in the month.
As part of the invitational Stan Gibbs’ event, which limits fishing to the land cut and thereby shore fishing, Elizabeth far surpassed her previous largest Canal fish, which she said was about 16 pounds.
Elizabeth explained that she was very fortunate that her fish hit a yellow pencil popper at slack tide and stayed pretty much in front of her. There are all kinds of stories of anglers having hooked up with a big fish when the current is moving, requiring them to scramble up to the access road or along the riprap to keep up with it, often with less than desirable results.
Elizabeth’s husband, Don, was fishing nearby and had a fish on himself and after he landed his, he went to help with hers, which was obviously a big fish given the explosion it made when it hit the plug and the bulldogging it kept up during the 15-minute battle.
According to Elizabeth, “The fish had the plug pretty much across its mouth, with the hooks set in each corner, so it was pretty securely hooked and when Don started pulling it out of the water, it kept on coming and coming. In some ways, I feel a little guilty, given all the guys who put all their time in looking for a big fish, and here I come along and get a bass like that —but I’ll take it,” she laughed.
I’m betting that Elizabeth’s fish holds up through tonight at midnight, when the tournament ends, and I imagine that her jubilation will last a long, long time and that she will be justifiably proud to have her name engraved on the Gibbs trophy.
Before closing up shop in the scribbling business this year, I thought it might be helpful to talk about the upcoming saltwater registration requirements. I spoke to Lou MacKeil, a member of the committee that Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries head Paul Diodati put together to deal with a registry, that includes folks from charterboats, tackles shops, fishing organizations and clubs, and members of the DMF.
The bottom line, said Lou, is that with the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a fishing registry, or license, will be required by all states that have saltwater coastline. While states well to our south have faced, and dealt with, this issue well before this requirement, all of the New England states, as well as New York and New Jersey, have not.
The registry must begin by January 1, but a fee will not be charged until 2011, Lou said. If a state does not institute its own program that meets the federal guidelines, then the feds will step in and impose such a registry and fee.
What really got the state folks moving was when they asked the feds, in this case the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries and National Marine Fisheries Service, how much of a federal fee—which was estimated to be about $25 to $30—would be returned to the state, and they were told nothing, nada. Beyond that, the funds would not be used for fisheries issues on the federal level, either, but would go into the big pot in Washington.
So Mr. Diodati and the committee are now hashing over what a Bay State saltwater license program would look like. Lou said they are looking at provisions for no cost to seniors, anglers below a certain age, and those with disabilities, similar to what is done with the freshwater program. There will be licenses of a shorter duration for visitors and vacationers who want to fish while they are here, as well as yearly charterboat and headboat fees that a captain will pay to cover his patrons.
Lou also emphasized that the committee is making sure that the legislation that filed to put the program in place will have the funds dedicated to fisheries and fishing issues and will be outside the sticky fingers of politicians on Beacon Hill.
With a diverse cross-section on the committee, ideas are being thrown about regarding how to use the funds that are collected, with a devout surf angler like Lou pointing out that while buying land for access is a good idea, he would like to see some of the money spent on re-opening traditional access spots that have been closed in recent years.
Another worthy idea concerns creating a law that protects saltwater anglers from harassment, something that exists for hunters and freshwater fishermen, but not those of us who fish the salt chuck.
At the moment, the state legislation is on hold until some murky language is cleared up at the federal level in the MSA, regarding what species it would cover and where it would apply.
Without a doubt, a letter to the DMF and Mr. Diodati outlining your ideas for what the funds from a registry or license should be used for is part of the democratic process at its best. Recreational anglers have long been known to be moaners and groaners without much action put behind their complaints, but this is a situation where your voice needs to be heard. There is no avoiding a saltwater license, but we all have a part in making it work right.
On another note, the folks at the DMF are working on putting together a comprehensive plan dealing with the taking of certain species, such as menhaden or pogies, and hope to have something in place to go before hearings in January. Dan McKiernan of the DMF explained that with more interest in netting pogies for use as bait, they would like to avoid some of the problems they had years ago when the stocks of menhaden were strong inshore as they were this past year. There are some small purse seine operations that have held onto their licenses to net pogies for bait and might be inclined to start up this practice again, while most folks who net pogies use cast nets, whether for personal use or for sale to bait shops.
While some folks believe that netting pogies is a threat to species such as stripers and blues that feed on them, an argument can be made that not thinning out the population responsibly can lead to fish kills and depletion of oxygen in estuaries and rivers as has happened in the past when the number of pogies overwhelmed certain bodies of waters.
It should also be interesting to see what the thoughts of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are now that we have seen another poor young of year index out of the Chesapeake, the main spawning grounds for stripers on the East Coast. Panic is not the answer, but perhaps the recreational community would do well to consider a one fish per day limit and a move towards a slot limit to keep from hammering the same size fish each year. Perhaps paying a fee for a trophy tag might be a worthwhile consideration.