Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Back in 2014, I was lucky enough to go charter-fishing for the first time off a boat in Rock Harbor, Orleans with my father and some of his friends. Little did I know that I would befriend the captain and learn more about fishing then I ever thought I could. Captain Hap Farrell has owned and captained the Stunmai II for almost 30 years. He is extremely knowledgeable about fishing around the bay. He enjoys building his own fishing rods, uses extremely light trolling tackle, and is one of the kindest people I have ever met.
Summer 2020, or as I call it the ‘summer of fishing’ was filled with Stripers and Bluefish. Given the state of the world, I was able to spend more time on the Cape, on the water, with a reel and rod. Below, I will write about my experiences catching bluefish and stripers.
The first fish that I want to talk about is the Bluefish or Pomatomus Saltatrix. This fish is a widespread species of fish whose populations range from Canada in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. On Cape Cod, it is in season from June-October. They are found in coastal waters and are in estuaries, harbors, and off sandy beaches. They typically will eat squid, crabs, herring, and small bluefish. They are very aggressive fish, and typically leave partially-eaten fish behind. Their common predators are sharks, tuna, stripers, swordfish, and… US.
They have strong bodies with extremely sharp teeth. There are no size limits where I catch them and they always put up a fight. They often jump out of the water as an escape tactic to free themselves from the hooks.
Striped Bass or Morone Saxatilis is my favorite fish to catch here on the Cape. They can grow up to 59 inches long and weigh up to 77 lbs. However, the legal size in Massachusetts is 28-35 inches. Any striper lower or higher than that needs to be thrown back. They can live up to 30 years, but that also depends on where they live. Stripers move from fresh and brackish water in the spring to spawn. These fish are harder to reel in than bluefish, but still give you a good workout.
My favorite part about catching them is when you start seeing their unique coloring appear on the surface of the water. They are iridescent, with 7-8 black stripes on their bodies from their gills to their tails. They used to be extremely overfished, but in the 1980s, the National Marine Fisheries helped to restore the fish stocks and considers it the "most significant recovery documented for a coastal finfish species." Hopefully, everyone follows the rules to keep the stripers around!
One purpose of light tackle is to make it harder against the fighting power of the fish so that you have to spend more effort and time in order to hook, and land your catch. Anglers use light tackle when they want to give themselves more of a challenge.”, the light line improves my chances of hooking the fish that are otherwise easily spooked by other fishermen. Light tackle is tackle that can land a big bass but also make landing a small bass fun, but still difficult.I like using the light tackle as opposed to the medium and heavy tackle for both these kinds of fish because it is easier to reel them in.
While the global pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives this year, I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunities to go fishing and be outdoors in a safe environment. Fishing season will be going until October so if you want to go fishing on a great boat with a great captain, give Capt. Hap a call at (508) 255-6211.
Cover and first two photos were either taken by Hap Farrell, me, or August Hand!
Third Photo: https://tailoredtackle.com
Maritime Aquarium, NOAA Fisheries, Bassresource.com