Capt. Ron Murphy told me that he has heard that some boaters, including, most likely, a number of “recremercial” types, have been livelining mackerel in deeper water off of Chatham Inlet.
This season has not seen a return of the vertical jig bite that dominated the commercial bass catch on the Cape for years, but the fish buying truck that Paul Newmier spoke to this week at Bass River told him that not many bass are being brought in.
From Truro to Provincetown, there are still reportedly decent numbers of bass between 28 and 32-inches being caught vertical jigging and on surface plugs, which makes the few charterboats that operate in this area happy. On the other hand, it has resulted in more “floaters” this season as frustrated “fishermen” looking to sell fish have been practicing, at worst, “gaff-and-release,” and at best, wanton carelessness when handling fish that need to be released.
Paul told me an interesting story of an angler who was using a small boat to access the bars around Nauset Inlet. In the process, seals would leave their spots on the sand, but he was in no way harassing them intentionally. Eventually, he received a call from a National Seashore ranger who warned him that he could receive a hefty fine for violating the Marine Mammal laws. He responded that there were no signs referring to the law or any consequences for breaking it, at which point the ranger backed off and said she would look into it.
It’s not enough that fishermen around the backside beaches have to be satisfied with catching small bass, but they are being told that they can get in trouble for “bothering” the seals who are often plenty happy to snatch their catch right off the lines.
The water is still cool enough in both Pleasant Bay and Nauset Harbor to catch schoolies, but news about Morris Island has been tougher to get this year, which may be a matter of less than stellar fishing or people keeping it to themselves. In any case, if you are going to fish Morris, then keep in mind that while sand eels are certainly a major part of the striper’s diet there, they also target crabs, shrimp, and even baby flounders.