Mark Blazis: Region’s fishing nearing perfection right now – Worcester Telegram

With warming waters stimulating the hatching of several species of precious mayflies, trout fishing — especially fly-fishing — from the Housatonic in Connecticut to the kettle ponds of Cape Cod, is peaking, all while the region’s world-class saltwater fishing season is just beginning. There is no better place than New England right now if you’re a fisherman.

Central District trout waters stocked this week included Ellinwood and West brooks in Athol; Mumford River and Wallum Lake in Douglas; Quinsigamond River in Grafton; Asnabumskit and Trout brooks in Holden; Joslin Brook in Hubbardston; West River in Northbridge, Upton, and Uxbridge; West Branch of Tully Brook in Orange; French River in Oxford; Conners Pond, East Branch of the Swift River, and West Branch of Fever Brook in Petersham; Justice and Keyes brooks in Princeton; Millers River in Royalston and Winchendon; Long Pond in Rutland; Jordan Pond in Shrewsbury; Sugden Reservoir in Spencer; Dennison Lake in Winchendon; and Coes Pond in Worcester.

Ocean temperatures need to get over 50 degrees Fahrenheit for action to begin heating up here. For flounder fishermen concentrating on Boston Harbor, that means waiting for May’s magic. Peaking out at about 54 degrees on average by the end of the month, the ocean’s waters will provide limit catches in the next few weeks. The fishing until this week has consequently and not unexpectedly been poor. But numerous anglers reported limits in the last couple days.

Late May and June are always better. By the time the harbor heats up to its maximum in July, though, that fishery will begin to wane, as fish move into cooler, deeper waters. It’s no wonder that the region’s most famous Boston Harbor flounder guide, Jason Colby, then packs up to fish the more-ideal-temperature waters off Westport. So, if you’re a flounder fisherman, get ready to fish the harbor in the next couple weeks.

Haddock fishermen going offshore on local party boats from the Yankee Fleet are reporting increasing catches, too. Millbury’s Matt Ashmankas recently reported filling his cooler.  Reports of a 78-pound halibut got a lot of meat fishermen very excited last week. It is a shame that overfishing nearly wiped out one of the greatest and most delicious fish of the Gulf of Maine to the extent that any big halibut merits media coverage today.

The sight of draggers taking squid this past week off Hyannis was the annually recurring nightmare of many veteran recreational fishermen concerned about adequate bait fish populations for the region’s priceless gamefish. Recreational fishermen have been taking their limits of calamari. This phenomenon is short-lived, however. Try to fish for them this week.

Out in the rocky bottom waters of Buzzards Bay, scup are hitting, too. Boats out of Mattapoisett, Marion, and Fairhaven have been limiting out while incidentally taking a few blackfish. Tautog lovers fishing with green crabs or worms should work the shallow rockpiles around Woods Hole, Buzzards Bay’s Cleveland Ledge, and the west end of the Cape Cod Canal now.

Small stripers always show up here before the larger keepers. Up until now, the biggest stripers were being reported far to our south from Raritan Bay and the Delaware River. But some of the most exciting, fast-action, fun-fishing of the year is consequently happening right now with a great surge in freshly arriving schoolies.

Incredible sport for light tackle anglers, the mostly 12- to 20-inch fish are furiously hitting plugs on the surface everywhere from Boston Harbor, the North and South Rivers, Scituate Harbor, Duxbury Harbor, Green Harbor, the outer islands, the Sandy Point beachfront off the Merrimack, Salem Harbor, the Saugus River, Onset’s Buttermilk Bay, Popponesset Bay, Waquoit Bay, Bass River, and Orleans’ Town Cove. Expect an increasing shift in the number of arriving keepers this week.

Specialty plates

The Charlie Baker administration unveiled the new Striped Bass Conservation specialty license plate last week. The announcement coincided with $471,512 in grants funded by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust to restore and improve aquatic habitat, both rivers and watersheds, and protect endangered marine animals, including sea turtles and right whales.

The funds from the sale of the license plates will contribute significantly to this cause. The plate has a surging striper in hot pursuit of a baitfish. Previous specialty plates for these environmental causes have had a whale tail, a leaping brook trout, and a Blackstone Valley Mill.

Some of the grants awarded this year are to the Ocean Alliance to use drones to assist in the disentanglement of whales; the University of Massachusetts Foundation for Boston Harbor surveys of gray and harbor seals; the Lobster Foundation of Massachusetts to develop, test, and promote a Whale-Safe rope that can reduce injury and mortality to right whales; the Association to Preserve Cape Cod for providing report cards on the health of Cape Cod’s waters; Friends of Herring River, Wellfleet, Truro Inc. for designing improved stream crossings on the upper Herring River that currently limit habitat continuity for river herring; and Trout Unlimited, Inc. to quantify the benefits of dam removal on local streams.

On May 8, the first day of counting migrating shad on the Connecticut River at the Holyoke Dam fish lift, 2,840 fish went up and over. By last Saturday, 10,279 had been counted. For roe lovers, it’s time to drift darts for them.

In Rhode Island, the first squid and fluke have been reported off the beaches. Some of the first fluke of the year are now being taken off both Block Island and Montauk. With reports of big schools of squid and mackerel offshore in the yet-cold water, the Frances Fleet party boats are now targeting them very successfully there.

Newport, Jamestown, and Stonington have been reporting increasing squid numbers. Off Portsmouth, a 10-pound blackfish was weighed in. Cod fishing thus far has been disappointing. Mackerel are beginning to appear now off the south shore.

Although fluke season has opened in Connecticut, there seem to be more fluke fishermen than fluke. Keeper-fluke hot spots, with the exception of Block Island, seem to all still be in adjacent New York waters. Making matters worse, tautog season just closed there, and squid are yet to appear.

Happily, the first weakfish caught off the beaches have provided sparks of excitement and great dinners. Scup fishing has been decent, while small numbers of bluefish were reported off Millstone.

As for stripers, the Thames River and lower Connecticut River have both been providing good, if erratic action despite high, dirty water. Many big catfish have been incidentally taken in the lower Connecticut, too. The saltwater action, as one might expect this time of the year, is still dominated by schoolie stripers.

The keys include adequately warm water temperatures and good baitfish numbers. Keepers attracted to thick masses of herring are consequently beginning to hit in the Pawcatuck River. Around most of the coast, the arrival of big schools of menhaden will surely be followed by bigger keepers.

Yale University currently has on display an exhibit showing the development of saltwater fly-fishing. It’s a great excuse to go to Yale.

Birding surprises

There are always surprises for careful outdoor observers. One local birder reported seeing both chickadees and woodpeckers regularly drinking from his sugar-water hummingbird feeder. My wife, Helen, spotted our first brilliantly colored indigo bunting in our flowering crab tree and below our Grafton feeders. A flock of pine siskins and a white-crowned sparrow added to the excitement.

Around the state this past week exciting migrant birds showing up included hooded, Canada, worm-eating, Tennessee, orange-crowned, yellow, black-throated blue, black-throated green, cerulean, and Cape May warblers, orchard orioles, bobolinks, brown thrashers, scarlet and summer tanagers, wood thrushes, veeries, and sandhill crane.

A rare Brewster’s warbler was spotted at the Heald Orchard in Pepperell. In 40 years of bird banding in Massachusetts, I’ve caught only one of them. This migratory jungle jewel is actually a hybrid resulting from the crossing of a blue-winged warbler and a now very rare golden-winged warbler. It’s quite different from both parents, so its discoverer, Sharon Harvell, deserves much credit for identifying it.

Amazingly, the other spectacular hybrid form of the blue-winged and golden winged warblers — the Lawrence’s warbler — was also just observed.

As for bird-banding, our local tick/Lyme disease research at the Auburn Sportsman’s Club has been, like much of our fishing offshore and golfing on soaking fairways, frustratingly curtailed by incessant rains.

On our sunny morning last Saturday, we caught a wide variety of migrants in our mist-nets, including black-billed cuckoo and Wilson’s warbler. The cuckoo was a surprise and a possible barometer of hatching gypsy moth eggs.

Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook Sanctuary at 414 Massasoit Road, Worcester, has a great selection of programs for all ages to learn the intricacies of the state’s wildlife. Vernal pools, grasses, frogs, and morning bird walks highlight attractions. For information, costs, and registration, call 508-753-6087, or go to https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/broad-meadow-brook.

—Contact Mark Blazis at markblazis@charter.net.

Calendar

Saturday — Massachusetts sea bass season opens through Sept. 5. Five fish limit, 15-inch minimum.

Sunday — Connecticut sea bass season opens through Dec. 31.

Source: https://www.telegram.com/news/20190513/mark-blazis-regions-fishing-nearing-perfection-right-now

« »