Boston and Cape Cod Fishwire Reports for July 10

Boston…When the Going Gets Weird

I’ll try not to spoil it for you.  Basically, there’s a lot of talk how the stripers aren’t turning up inshore.  Tons of bait, and it’s going unmolested about it’s business.

The theories are many, but I question whether it’s a fundamental shift due to the declines in the cod that have allowed the stripers to take up residence as alpha dogs on Stellwagen.  At least until the bluefin really assert themselves.

Cape Cod…The Haves and Have Nots

On the Cape, much the same thing.  The Canal is deadsville.  But the outer beaches and Monomoy are looking good.  Plus, the rumors of bonito abound, but nothing I’m ready to believe yet.  Figure within the next two weeks it breaks loose.

My Reel-Time Fishwire Reports are Up…

Cape Cod Fishwire for July 3, 2008

Boston Fishwire for July 3, 2008

I’d sworn last September I was done writing the Reel-Time Fishwires (weekly fishing reports).  When NameMedia bought I realized that just wasn’t in the cards.  So I’m now finding the fun in the reports again.  A couple things I noted as I posted this week:

  • The Fishwire management system is antiquated.  It was a nice try in 2001 when it was built, and frankly I hated it then.  It has not improved with time.
  • Flush left page templates look like 1999.
  • Lots of broken links.  Tons of them.

The long and the short of the story is that I’ve got a lot of work to do. Acquired By NameMedia

In what has become an utterly bizarre turn of the tables, NameMedia Inc. has bought – the site I have been working with since 1995 or 1996 as managing editor, head geek and general do-what-needs-to-be-done guy, is now owned by my current employer.

It’s a great thing for Thorne Sparkman, who is now able to repay the investors in the site. David Churbuck (he blogs on this story here)  and I had been almost completely disengaged and had no financial stake in the final buy out. The big winner is honestly the community which now will actually move forward, vs. being in a holding pattern.

Last September, when I posted my final Fishwire Report for the Boston Region (a report of what’s going on for saltwater fly fishermen) I swore it would be the last. Yesterday, I wrote two of them…handling both Boston and Cape Cod. The good news is that I was for the first time able to write them during normal working hours, instead of getting up at 4 in the morning. was a niche online community before anyone had any idea that such a thing could exist. In a lot of ways we invented, identified or were afflicted by, just about anything you now hear about termed as “Social Networking” or “Social Media.”

So as things change, in many ways they stay the same for me.  I’m now back where I began, at and after 13 years, I couldn’t be happier.  Now if I can just get some fishing time in.

Where are the Herring?

The Cape Cod Chronicle reported over the weekend that the herring runs haven’t started yet, and people are worried.

The runs in Harwich and Chatham are all but devoid of the silvery baitfish, as they have been around the state for the last eight years. Chatham Herring Warden Donald St. Pierre checks the run at Ryder’s Cove three times each day, and Tuesday morning, he saw only a few dozen fish. “It’s not a lot. I haven’t seen any schools,” he said.

In the past, schools of 500 to 600 fish could be seen climbing the fish ladder in the evening or early morning, “but I haven’t seen any this year,” St. Pierre said. Some say the precipitous dropoff is the result of subtle changes around the spawning grounds; others say it’s a simple case of overfishing. But in either case, it spells trouble for the entire marine food chain, not to mention those who depend on it.

Ouch – this is bad. Many of us had hoped that the closure of the river herring (alewife) runs to fishing last season would provide a quick turnaround. It’s beginning to look like that isn’t going to happen. The Chronicle article goes on:

In a single trip, pair trawlers can land a million pounds of herring. The captains target Atlantic herring, but because river herring often school with them, large numbers of river herring are also caught. Massachusetts and three other states have strict prohibitions on the possession of river herring, so when a pair trawl’s haul contains large numbers of alewives and blueback, they are either pumped overboard as dead bycatch, or landed in a state with friendlier river herring laws as an “incidental catch.”

Harwich Natural Resources Officer Thomas Leach said in one trip the pair trawlers are capable of hauling the equivalent of all the fish to go up the town’s herring run last year.

Great, so most of a run’s annual return can get swept up offshore before it ever sees the land. Then on top of it, the fishermen have to run to another state to sell our fish (to get around the laws on by catch in MA).

David Churbuck has another great post on the herring run here, along with a video. Be sure to read his post from last year on the subject as well, which he links in his post. Here’s a point not to miss:

I stopped by the run on Route 131 this afternoon on my way to Logan. There was a few kids waving nets at fish that weren’t there. Indeed, with the usual harbingers in full force — dandelions and forsythia — I expected to see some alewives making their anadromous way into Mashpee-Wakeby Pond on their way inland on the Mashpee River from Popponesset Bay and Nantucket Sound beyond.

There will be fish, but I fear we’re in for a much longer recovery than any of us had hoped.

California Cancels Salmon Season

Via Jim Forbes…and confirmed via the (not that Jim needs confirmation).

Sad news indeed, and unfortunately news we’ll be hearing more often. In Massachusetts, from which I write, we’re wringing our hands over the past couple years of poor herring returns. As a striped bass fisherman, I worry about the herring, as they are a primary early season forage species for the stripers.

It’s the sportsman’s paradox, that we must often restrict our sport, in order to improve our sport. Few know this as well as an east coast striper fisherman, as we’ve seen our species go from boon in the ’70s to bust in the 80’s and a slow, painful road back in the 90’s. Our fishery is strong now, but there were days when I felt sure that we’d never see the fishing I saw as a teenager again. And in some ways, we’d best not…

Jim notes the paradox in his inimitable style:

As a sport fisherman who really enjoys chasing salmon off the Golden Gate, or further North off the Humboldt Coast, I have very mixed feelings about the salmon fishing closure. On one hand, I will really miss tussling a slab sided King to the side of my boat, however, taking the pressure off the remaining salmon stocks for one or two seasons may result in my being able to catch free running wild salmon at a later date.

I can only hope California has the success we’ve seen on the east coast.

BTW, my predicition is that this week will be the start of the 2008 striper season in Massachusetts.  We should see the arrival of fishable numbers of schoolies on the south side of Cape Cod, in the usual spring spots, the rivers creeks and bays.  Remember to remove your barbs, this is going to be catch and release fishing until early to mid May.  Once you’re sure the fish are in, this is a really good time to take a kid fishing for some of the fast early season action.