After every season Joe takes inventory of all the charter fishing gear. It’s not pretty. Rods have their guides torn off or bent wildly out of center, spinning reels with crooked handles, reel drags that have been so worn out that they won’t hold a troll rig in place. The list goes on. By the following season, everything is either fixed or replaced so we are as good as new. However, much of the damage could have been avoided if our charter anglers wouldn’t have panicked when a fish was first caught. The heart races, the adrenaline rushes, and the instinct to get the Striper or Bluefish into the boat as fast as possible takes over. This translates into the aforementioned gear damage. That’s why, my first advice when a fish is being landed is, “take your time.” Let the rod and reel work together to tire the fish out. In so doing, the fish is tired and easily brought into the boat. And you’ll have a memory of an epic fight to go along with your trophy fish. Yesterday, we had Nicole and Troy for an afternoon charter. Nicole has been fishing for as long as she remembers, going back to her days fishing with her dad. When her trophy Striped Bass struck her live Mackerel she didn’t panic. She expertly let the fish take line, knowing, eventually it would tire. She kept her rod up and let the bend of the rod and drag work as intended. And after an epic and well played fight her trophy Striper was brought aboard. Truly one of the best examples of how to fight a large fish this season. Congratulations Nicole!
For the first time in the 10 years that Joe and I have been in the Charter Fishing business, we witnessed a Great White at Race Point feeding. Kathy and her husband Sean along with Zach, Zachery, Alexa and Tristan, chartered the Nauset for the morning charter. Apparently last week was shark week, as it was still on Kathy’s mind as we were fishing. She asked if Joe and I ever see sharks while fishing. No, we never do, and in fact never heard of any charter boat seeing a shark. That all changed as we were heading back to the Pamet Harbor. Alexa had caught the pool winner. A beautiful 40″ Striper. I was cleaning and scaling a fish when joe slowed the boat to talk with a buddy about where we had caught the fish. I casually threw the fish carcass overboard and we slowly started on our way. Suddenly, I heard “look, whale! Wait, it’s a shark!!” I looked up and we all witnessed a huge shark that was eating the large Striped Bass carcass I had just thrown over. Wow, what an experience! That was one of the most memorable trips we’ve ever had. As Capt Joe always says, “You never know.” That captures perfectly how each trip is different and potentially one that will be remembered forever. Today was one such day!
Boy was it cold this morning. 52 when I made my way to Joe’s house at 5:15 to get the boat ready for our morning charter. With us today was Sandy’s clan. They come every summer from far and wide for a family reunion of sorts. This year was different in that we had only the guys on the trip, no kids. There are of course many variables when salt water fishing. What the fish are feeding on, time of day, tide and wind to name a few variables. But equally as important is temperature. The Stripers don’t like it too cold or too hot. They are in happyville when the temp is in the 62-68 range, from my experience. As we made way from the Pamet harbor the water temperature was 61. By the time we arrived at the Race it had dropped to a chilly 58…..freezing! We towed around for a couple of hours, and all we had to show for it was a nice keeper caught by Mike. It was time to switch it up and find some warmer water. The Billingsgate Shoal off Wellfleet is a large shallow sand bar, deep inside Cape Cod bay. After a short consult with Joe, we hauled in the lines and set sail. The guys were having a blast. It was their day on the pond, so to speak. No kids, no wives and no worries. The lack of fish wasn’t going to spoil this fishing trip, no sir. The beers helped. They actually helped quite a bit. So we arrived at the shoals with a bucket full of empties and one Striper in the box. But the water temperature was a pleasant 64, perfect for Striped Bass. It didn’t take long. The line peeled from the rod and a big fish bent the rod double. Steve was up. He was seated and on the rod fighting what I knew was a large fish. And then he inexplicably stopped. He just stopped reeling! Any slack in the line and the fish can easily throw the hook. The reunion dinner depended on this fish. Mike had brought an empty cooler for this fish, and Steve was about to lose it! Joe went ballistic, ” Stop being a snowflake and keep reeling.” OMG!! The whole boat howled…..I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Steve got the message. And with a little ribbing from the peanut gallery, the 37″ Striped Bass was finally landed. A new nickname was born. Sandy and the guys have some great memories of a guys only fishin trip that will last a lifetime. We had as much fun as they did. See you next year!
Usually, I have an idea of what I’m going to post halfway through the trip. Today was no different. When a Provincetown Whale Watch boat stopped a quarter of mile to our west to follow a nice sized finback whale, Dan had casually suggested we ram it! That was a interesting story line . Yeah, he has that kinda slightly twisted humor. But today the trip ended with a huge surprise, that was much more interesting than a rammed whale. Something that hasn’t happened this year. We had a great trip, catching Stripers on the troll as well as live lining mackerel. We filled the fishbox with our limit and were in catch and release mode when both trolling rods went down. Matthew’s fish was smallish, but Thomas had a nice fish that was taking line. We already had a 39″ Striper that Mathew had caught. Thomas had an equal, it seemed on the line. Then it happened! The line started peeling off at a frantic pace. Something had taken the big Bass that was hooked and was moving away, seemingly not feeling the drag pressure of the rod. Then it was gone, and so was the fish that it had eaten. That was the conversation Joe and I had on the way home. What was that fish? Probably a shark, we decided. It grabbed an easy meal of a large bass and swam off. Not before straightening out two hooks. Seals around the Cape have attracted a fair number of sharks. I think we ran into one today, for sure. A great day on the water with a nice family from New Hampshire. See you guys next year!
These young girls love to fish. Chloe, (almost 9) and Amelia, (almost 6) are the first ones in the fighting chair. They had such a memorable time last year that they both wrote about it as a part of their back to school assignment. Amelia even went as far as including her first charter aboard the Nauset as one of the 6 most memorable events of her life! Wow, did that ever put the pressure on us to catch Stripers. Last year Matt and Eva brought their family to the Cape later in August. By then the Bluefish have arrived in force. It’s nearly impossible to catch Striped Bass at that time. We only caught Blues and one short Striper. This year they are back to their typical July vacation, which is a part of Eva’s Bithday present. Maybe her birthday wish was for her girls to catch a boatload of Stripers, because we had great action from the jump. Soon the girls ran out of steam and Amelia fell asleep in her mom’s arms. But not before the gang had a spectacular morning, catching Stripers off Race Point , Provincetown.
If you were sleeping in one of the cabins next to the Pamet Harbor parking lot, you would have thought there was a party outside your window this morning. Joe and I were slowly waking up at 5:50AM waiting in the truck with the Nauset in tow, for our 6:00AM charter to arrive. And boy did they arrive. Well, at least Christa did! She was like a jolt of caffeine. Just what we needed to get the boat launched and ready to go. Full of life and enthusiasm, I quickly discovered that they drove from Dennis, a 45 minute trip. The ride must have charged her batteries. Her good natured kidding and inquisitiveness got Joe and I into the fishing flow. Christa’s kids Justin and Emily, Emily’s boyfriend Mikey, Justin’s bud Jack and Christa’s partner Todd stepped aboard the Nauset and we set out in dense fog. We were 20 minutes into our 25 minute ride to the fishing grounds when it dawned on me, Todd is as quiet as Christa is outgoing. Opposites really do attract. They reminded me of my mother and father-in-law, happily married for over 60 years! They have a long way to go. The fishing was slow and steady. The company and kidding amongst the bunch made the trip a happy one, until the primal scream at the end as I was swinging our final fish into the fish box. Our trip ended as it had started, with a jolt! After a while, my heart stopped racing, we stored the gear, cleaned the fish and made our way peacefully home. Great trip! Hope to see you next year.
Every year Brian and Molly need to see the ocean. They are from opposite coasts originally, Brian from the East, Molly from the West. They ended up meeting almost exactly in the middle, Wyoming. At a wilderness lodge catering to fresh water fisherman who loved the great outdoors and catching 6 pound cutthroat trout. They live in paradise, close to Yellowstone and the National Forest. But each year the salt calls to them. This year, for the first time in three years, they flew East to be with Kim and Mike, Brian’s parents. Brian almost grew up on the Cape, with relatives who had a home on the lower cape. So, they booked a charter to be out on the water. A place that they both miss, and have cherished childhood memories. The afternoon charter is a harder time to catch fish. Brian knows this from his own guiding days of years past. We caught enough and tried even harder. While waiting, we witnessed some spectacular whale shows close to the boat. Finally the day was drawing to a close. We were making our last desperate pass with a deep diver when suddenly line started to peel from Mikes line. The big Striper immediately wrapped itself around a lobster buoy. That’s the end of that, I thought to myself. But the fish Gods were with us. We guessed right which way it circled the buoy and it was brought to gaff, saving the day. Way to go Dad!
Thaddeus is a die hard fisherman. I knew this immediately after he showed me a photo on his phone of him holding a monster carp that he had caught from the Charles river….AT NIGHT. The fish is illuminated by the flash but the background is black. Not many night carp fisherman around, I can assure you! That’s the definition of someone who lives to fish. Thad and his father and brothers chartered the Nauset this morning. We started off where we left off at Wood End Light. Word must have traveled, because there were a lot more boats fishing. That increased boat pressure turned off the fishing from what it had been. We caught a couple Stripers, including a double header by Jonah before moving around the Cape to the Great Backside. First Jeremiah caught a 39″ Striper. Later his dad, JT caught a 37″ Bass. In between, the fish Gods smiled down on Thad. The line peeled out from a strong willed fish. And after a long and well played fight a 41″ Striper was brought aboard. A personal best by a wide margin for Thad. It might hold up for a very long time. That size fish is becoming very rare nowadays. But, the best part of the story is what happened next. Most of Thads fish are returned to fight another day. The sporting term is “Catch and Release.” So, after a short photo and video session, (which I’m sure is by now blasted over social media) the mighty fish, that gave up an epic battle, was returned to the water to fight again. A true act of sportsmanship, letting go of the largest Striped Bass you may ever catch! An epic morning with a great bunch of guys! Hope to see you again next year….
Brie is new to fishing. Which is surprising for a women in her 30’s whose parents have a house in Wellfleet. Peter on the other hand comes from a long line of fishermen. In fact, his dad was on a commercial Tuna boat in the 90’s and has harpooned a Giant Tuna on his resume. No small feat on a moving boat, with a moving target. So, we can thank Peter for introducing Brie to the fishing game. And boy is she hooked. If she had a Golden’s tail, it would have never stopped wagging. From the moment she took the rod until the time the trip was over, she was full of life and excited to be out on the water, fishing. The enthusiasm was infectious. Soon Peter, Joe and I all felt the happy fishing vibe. It was a great sunny summer day to be on the water. They each caught their largest Stripers ever, among others. The epic bite that started Friday, continues off Herring Cove and Wood End Light, Provincetown. I’m glad we got to share it with new fisherman Brie and Peter.
All Charter Boat Captains have what’s called a “Six Pack” license. It allows for a maximum of 6 passengers per boat, no matter how big the boat is. Recently, its become much more common for large families to have reunions on the Outer Cape. We receive more calls than we ever did for two boat charters, where we can accommodate up to 12 people. It’s a nice change of pace for us and the good natured banter between the boats is fun. Captain Russ of Chas’n Tails in Provincetown is one of Joe’s best friends. Russ has a long time customer in Jonah from Santa Barbara. What was once a one boat charter has grown into a two. No problem! We picked up half of Jonah’s charter in Provincetown, and off we went. The gloomy weather gave way to sunshine. The fish Gods smiled on Jonah’s crew. We had non stop action at Wood End Light with Bass and Bluefish. The stormy morning kept most boats at the dock. We shared what turned out to be 4 hours of acres of fish with a handful of boats, a truly epic afternoon. One of the best trips ever!