Weak tides and light winds have continued to thwart the Helen H Fleet’s fluke fishing efforts. Thankfully, the tides have gained some oomph since late last week, lending a a bit more tidal “pull” to the water churning over the sandy high spots off Monomoy-to the extent that the rips are ripping again and the striper fishing is bouncing back from a near standstill last week. The Fish Hawk has been running striper/fluke combos, taking a nice mix of bass to around 35 inches and topping off coolers with some choice flattie fillets when the rip faces collapse and the bass disperse. One of the best fluke taken on the Fish Hawk over the last few days was a doormat just a hair over 10 pounds landed by Carl Scuderi (see photo at top right of this report).
The half-day trips, alternating between the Helen and the Angler during the week, are still leaning on the bumper crop of nice sea bass on the hard pieces around Nantucket Sound to take up slack from tougher going on the slabs. Relatively speaking, the fluke ratio has begun its rebound after a very challenging last week, and once the tides really start hauling again, Capt. Joe Huck will get back to his “plan A” strategy for halfday fluke this season, namely working the conch-pot-studded lanes of open sandy to pea stone bottom, where feed in the form of massive clouds of small swimming crabs support a substantial population of chunky summer flatties.
The last Nantucket Fluke Run scheduled for Monday was a full-day fluke charter, and Huck elected to head a bit further west than he’s been fishing, searching for a better combination of drift conditions and a solid concentration of fluke to work on. Most of the fishing that trip was done in and around tide-swept Muskeget Cut, an area of deeper channel water flanked by very skinny shoal water off the east end of Marthas Vineyard and the west end of Nantucket. While the wind and tide were lined up in that area, patrons in the charter managed to pick away at a mix of keeper and short slabs and some sea bass; when the drift conditions deteriorated, the bite died rapidly. Biggest fluke for the trip were in the 4 to 5-pound class. Capt. Huck was not altogether thrilled with the day’s tally, but that’s the nature of the game: Sometimes, the hunches pay off huge, other times, not so much. Regardless, every run to new (old) grounds fills in another corner of the big picture that is the 2010 fluke hunt.
In other news, Capt. Joe was much more upbeat about the results of a Sunday porgy/sea bass make-up charter with the James Whitten group, who were forced to turn around and run for the barn on their original attempt to get the day in. That first failure to launch was the result of a series of fibs and outright falsehoods advanced by the weatherman (as in, That’s odd: this light-to-variable wind feels suspiciously like 25-to-30). The second attempt worked out much better. Taking advantage once again of the Angler’s raw speed (27-knot cruise) to head for greener pastures, Capt. Walt and crew shot west, bound for Nomans Island, a few miles offshore of Squibnocket, Marthas Vineyard. The fishing was nothing short of outstanding and anyone who maintained focus through the day had no trouble whatsoever plugging all available cooler space with jumbo scup.
Nomans, once used for bombing practice by the US Air Force, is to porgies what Cuttyhunk and Montauk are to striped bass, or what Stellwagen or Georges Bank is to codfish, in history and in real, live porgy production. Capt. Walt’s Hail Mary trip that way a couple weeks back has got everybody thinking about the possibility of extending prime porgy time on the Helen H.” Huck noted his Research Set-Aside permits will let him run these trips without taking a hit on bag limits. The beauty of Nomans is that the scup and, to a lesser extent, the sea bass, start to pile up there right around the time the bite’s cooked in Nantucket Sound, and Huck’s planning to capitalize on that lock-and-load porgy pounding next season.
The first of the Helen’s fall cayon trips are still a long way off, but early reports from the edge indicate some fast-and-furious yellowfin activity, punctuated by large mahis, scattered longfins, occasional bigeyes and some absolute behemoth blue marlin in the warmest parts of the warm-core eddies so far. Perhaps the best news, after last season’s unprecedented numbers of mackerel-size tuna, is the abundance of yellows in the 40- to 60-pound class, with occasional specimens in excess of 80. Capt. Joe and therest of the Helen’s seasoned crew are cautiously optimistic things will hold together right through the dog days. Incidentally, they’re also considering, adding some earlier canyon runs if the interest’s there. Stay tuned for further updates or check the schedule on the site.
Half-day trips will continue this week, sailing 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The 7 a.m. to 4ish p.m. Nantucket Fluke trips are scheduled for Sunday and Monday. It’s definitely wise to call ahead for reservations.