A lot’s happened in the last four days aboard the Helen H, one of the reasons we held off an extra day to update the fishing reports. Please note that we’re trying to stick to a rigid schedule, compiling reports on Mondays-leading out of the weekend and into the new week-and on Thursdays-leading into the weekend.
I caught Capt. Huck mid-afternoon on Friday. Heading into the last leg of the annual two-day limited load Nantucket Layover Fluke Trip, Capt. Huck was more than satisfied with the quality of the fishing along the east and south sides of Nantucket. Though his original plan had been to divide the time up between Nantucket and the Vineyard, a very steady pick of mostly keeper-sized slabs through the day on Thursday left Huck seeing little reason to continue the search in more distant waters. Big fish as of noon, day two, was a fat doormat scaling a little shy of the 9-pound mark. That fish was landed by NJ native, Jerry Hydrosko. Huck noted there were a good number of other fish in the 5- to 7-pound range in the coolers around the deck.
Asked about hot rigs for the trip, Joe mentioned chrome fish ball/feather combos, but was quick to add that “It has a lot to do with who’s holding the rod, of course.” Plain-Jane drift rigs with strip baits, bucktails (single or tandem) and an array of other terminal tackle were working just fine. The one clear trend was (as it usually is) that the lighter tackle rigged for maximum sensitivity (light braid, light rods) was letting some guys tend bottom better, even on the very quick drifts during peak tidal flow, and allowing them to feel every minor development at the business end of the line. “We’ve got some pretty serious guys on this trip,” he said, “and that definitely helps.”
“There’s probably $30,000 worth of gear down there on this trip,” he added, chuckling. A surprising percentage of the 30-plus-man crew work on party and charter boats from as far away as Jersey and Long Island. “It’s a busman’s holiday for a lot of these guys,” said Huck.
After a full day on the grounds Thursday, they headed into Nantucket Boat Basin for the evening. After showering up at the marina’s facilities, most guys headed uptown for some dinner and an evening out with fellow fish nuts, before returning to the boat to hit the rack. The Helen was headed out of the harbor by 4 a.m., and set up for the first drift of the day just as the sun cleared the horizon. “These two-day trips are a blast,” Joe said, “and a great way to kick off the fluke season.”
Backing up a bit, the earlier part of the week (since I posted the last update Monday evening) was multispecies mania. Tuesday was a wreck trip, focusing on cod, Pollock and assorted other cellar dwellers. Joe didn’t need to steam far: after poking around a couple small wrecks along the backside of the Cape, they found one, a fairly nondescript piece in a hard-bottom area, holding a ton of life. Huck reported a pretty substantial amount of feed in the form of sea herring and sand eels.
Anglers at the rails had a steady pick of mostly market-sized cod and pollock, on both bait rigs and jigs. Biggest cod scaled around 25 pounds, and biggest pollock weighed around 22.
Wednesday was the Helen H’s annual kid’s trip, a half-day outing targeting porgies, sea bass and fluke close to home in Nantucket Sound.
As for the scup and sea bass fishing, Capt. Walt has been taking full advantage of the Angler’s 28-knot cruising speed, taking a fairly good steam to the west to put the last of the porgy and sea bass charters on a god load of quality fish. “The fishing really died out locally,” said Joe. “The Angler’s speed has given us a real advantage in terms of range.” He said that Capt. Walt has been heading down to Noman’s Island, a couple miles off the southwesterntip of the Vineyard. That area has produced jumbo scup and a good amount of keeper sea bass for the last couple days. The Fish Hawk, out Friday on a sea bass charter, found very good results a good bit closer to home.
Moving forward, this weekend the Helen will be getting the usual Sunday and Monday Nantucket Doormat trips underway, though Joe noted the office was trying to consolidate two light loads into one day. If you’re in the quest to crack 10 pounds this season, now’s the time to get in gear. The Nantucket fluke runs sail at 7 a.m. and return late afternoon.
The six-pack boats are getting ready to start dividing time between lock-and-load summer striper fishing in the Monomoy Rips, and full-day fluke charters on Nantucket’s backside. A call to the office (508-790-0660) will clarify additional scheduling changes.