The arrival of November usually signifies the final stanza of our fishing season here in Cape Cod.The days are quick and often cold, with the night times longer which allows for rapid cooling at night, and many times the weather has already turned from pleasant and fall like to downright cold and winter-nasty. This season, however, we were treated to a true New England "Indian Summer" where the mild temperatures and limited winds followed us all the way through October and right into the first three weeks of November. The warmer than average days brought many trips where my anglers were in shirt-sleeves, bright sunshine as the backdrop for lights-out fishing with light tackle for the ocean's baddest fish that swims...the bluefin tuna.
With trips getting off the dock every day for the first 3 weeks of the season, the incredible fishing was extended longer than it normally would be, providing for one of the most memorable fall runs we have experienced in quite some time. With the fish feeding with reckless abandon, the sizes of these fish was also a bit larger than normal, making for challenging fights and unbelievable sushi from the fish that were harvested. We were able to place archival tags for science purposes in numerous fish and finish up the 2014 season with a respectable catch total on the year despite the slower than average start due to weather. The Dusky took it's last trip on November 19th, catching fish right up to the last hour, leaving them biting for another season to come. After such a challenging season and busy finish, the boat and captain of Coastal Charters Sportfishing need a well deserved rest....see you in the spring!
The incredible fishing we experienced in September continued into the month of October, as did the mild weather and calm winds. With higher than average air temperatures and water finally comfortable for the tuna, the bite solidified even further and the pattern of hot bites was almost a given on any trip. The sizes of the fish continued to increase, with some real heavyweights n the mix. The first part of the month was topped off with a once-in-a-lifetime catch of a 3 angler crew aboard the Dusky. What could be the biggest bluefin ever hooked and landed freestyle with an artificial lure was brought alongside and ultimately graced the deck, measuring an amazing 101" fork length and topping the scales at 600 pounds. Without a doubt fish of that size are a trophy using any gear, but on light tackle with an 8 foot rod and no harness is just nutty!
With an amazing feat like that on one vessel you might think that the rest of the trips would be a let down afterwards, but not the case here in beautiful Cape Cod. As the days grow even shorter and the cooler nights set in, the bluefin feel the need to gorge in order to fatten themselves for the impending migration. The amount of bait nearshore coupled with prime water conditions and an easy run allowed the crews aboard the Dusky to cash in on the bonanza. Each trip out this month saw multiple shots at bluefin tuna on light tackle, and the game shifted over to a top water bite, with incredible surface shows the norm each day, and an amazing run of successful trips. The fall run could be described as "full tilt", with zero signs of slowing down.
Cape Cod draws anglers from all over the world to it's shores in hoes of connecting to a bluefin tuna on light tackle. Coastal Charters Sportfishing specializes in jigging and popping methods, and year after after year the crews aboard the Dusky put trophy sized specimens on board on a regular basis. The month started out with a bang, as a group from Singapore tied into a fish of a lifetime after traveling halfway around the world to have their shot. The fish was hooked on a jig in deep water and fought freestyle without a harness, topping the scales at a very respectable 240 pounds. The month continued to heat up, showing signs that the topwater bite may materialize as more and more fish moved into the area while the bait continued to stack up near shore. Each day saw shots on both subsurface as well as up top, yielding many multiple fish days for the intrepid crews. The water continued to warm, and the weather actually improved to giving us one of the nicest stretches of days on the water all year.
Normally around mid month the weather begins to turn again, this time the opposite way as summer yields to fall and October approaches. The days get shorter, and the winds can sometimes be brutal limiting the number of trips that can be safely and successfully run each week. This year the winds decided to settle nicely, and we enjoyed a stretch of fine summer like temps with very little rain coupled with calm seas. This allowed a nice pattern with each trip keeping the Dusky on top of the movements of the main groups of tuna, with a great mix of both topwater and jigged fish, on a nice average size of 100 to 125 plus pounds, with a few larger fish in the mix.
Without a doubt, August is our favorite month for offshore pursuits here in southern New England. The weather is usually the best of the year, with warm water, warm days, and gradually increasing night-time periods, the fish have typically settled into a pattern and provide a much more stationary target, if that is even a word which should be used to describe bluefin tuna! The colder water still lingered in certain areas, so the first week of August was spent on our southern grounds, mixing small school bluefin with other pelagic species like White Marlin and even thresher shark, all on artificial lures. As the cold water finally once and for all let go of it's tight grip on our fishing grounds, we were able to move back to somewhat more normal grounds, although to start we were running quite a distance in the Dusky, sometimes 55-65 miles to the SE in less than favorable seas. The top water bite we were looking for di not materialize all that well, but the deep water bite on metal started to heat up pretty good, and we began to enjoy results more amenable to the captain and crews.
With summer in full swing, and the weather cooperating with mild winds and mainly fair says, the Dusky and it's crews cashed in daily on the ever-growing schools of hungry bluefin that were making their way into the bait rich waters to begin their feeds in earnest as the days grow shorter and the nights begin to cool towards the end of the month. The vertical bite continued to produce excellent results, with the occasional fish coming by way of a top water bite. The fish continued to push closer to our normal stomping grounds, providing numerous chances even on days when the fish didn't feel much like playing with us as we were able to spend much more time fishing for them and far less running for them. The end of the month showed promise that the start of something good was about to occur, with all signs pointing towards a classic set up of lots of bait and lots of tuna all converging right in our backyard.
Weather continued to rule the day as we finally left the cold, foggy June behind, hoping for s break in the cold and a warming of the tuna bite. The water temperatures nearshore around Cape Cod are typically warmed by late June, and July through September usually the warmest of the year. The Labrador current is a cold water current which wells up just off our coastline, and the conveyor effect has held that water tight to the area all season thus far. Each day the fog prevented any real hunting from occurring except with the sounder, which effectively rendered our methods useless for the better part of the first 3 weeks. The striped bass and the whale show continue to be our only option, staying inshore despite the burning desire of both captain and crew to roam the offshore grounds in search of the prize, the almighty bluefin tuna.
The last week of the season finally saw a break in the colder air temps, and the winds and fog finally receded to allow the more summertime-like conditions to creep in and jump start the offshore bite. The Dusky was moved on it's trailer to a different area of Cape Cod, a feature which allows Coastal Charters Sportfishing to provide the best chance at having a successful day, decreasing on-water transit times and increasing the amount of angling time. With the fish just starting to move in on some distant grounds to the south, we were able to get on the action fast and stay on it as it developed. We were also fortunate to discover a few white marlin roaming these southern fishing grounds, the elusive billfish providing great challenge, mostly with the fly rod. The tuna bite heated up dramatically, with large groups moving through the area daily, and our catch results improved early and often. Multiple catch days became the norm, and although the first few weeks saw much smaller specimens than we were used to, we scaled down our tackle and had a blast tagging and releasing some of the smallest bluefin we have seen in numerous seasons....a great sign for the coming years!
June rolled in with very little sign that spring had even arrived, let alone that summer was a mere 20 days away. The water from up inside the bays, out along the coast, and offshore to the continental shelf was well below normal, in some cases 10 to 15 degrees below the norm. The bait was stacked thick as a result of the cold water, however that was about all that was happy in the frigid depths surrounding southern New England. The whale and dolphin show was worth the price of admission, but the bluefin were very slow to materialize. When they did show themselves, it was briefly and the sizes of these early season brutes much too large for the light tackle gear we employ. The larger fish of 800 plus pounds can tolerate much colder waters than their smaller brethren, so we were forced to beef up our gear and hope to connect with one of the "smaller" giants of 300-500 pounds that were mixed in. There were several heartbreaking, grueling fights from the bow of the Dusky through mid month, all of them ended in failure.
Mid month saw much of the same weather, but a group from Singapore finally got the proverbial albatross off our neck, scoring the season's first bluefin on top water. After a brutal fight, the fish of a lifetime was brought alongside and hoisted into the Dusky. The trophy fish measured 84 inches in length, and weighed in at 300 plus pounds, an amazing feat on light tackle using freestyle methods! Making happy memories is what we live for here at Coastal Charters Sportfishing, and thankfully the fishery off southern New England although it can be slow, still is the best place on earth to target bluefin tuna using light tackle methods!
After a long, brutally cold winter, we finally got the cover off the Dusky and all the systems online and ready for the year to come. The first month is always kicked off with the annual squid run. Typically cold winters yield a good squid run, and after several seasons of slow to non-existent runs, we were rewarded with the best squid run seen here in New England in many years. The bite takes place in shallow, nearshore waters, when the squid move in from offshore areas to spawn. We target them using ultra light spinning set ups armed with two micro sized squid jigs, where the action ranges from fast and furious to a slow, touchy bite where finesse and skill are required to score good numbers.
They are a bunch of fun to catch, and make excellent baits for many different species later on the year, as well as incredible table fare with the freshly caught tubes. They do quite squirt a bit of ink around, but there are a few tricks we employ here at Coastal Charters Sportfishing that help clean the Dusky up good as new with minimal effort! This seasons run was fantastic, lasting two solid weeks and giving way only when the striped bass and bluefish showed up to terrorize them. The bass run this spring was another good one, giving hope that this would also equal good tuna run. However, the weather had other plans, and the cold, rainy end to May prevented any pre season runs for tuna, keeping the Dusky inside to throw top water plugs and drop jigs to striped bass. These inshore game fish are always fun to target on light tackle, mostly catch and release, although a few make it to the dinner table or the smoker. The month finished up just as it started, with no rise in temps of the water or signs of the cold snap breaking.