The gorgeous, flat-calm weather over the weekend and early week proved a bit of a double-edged sword on the Nantucket Sound fluke grounds. Capt. Joe Huck on the Helen H noted that weak astronomical tides and light to nonexistent breezes added up to pretty tough drift conditions on a few of the half-day trips since Friday. “We’ve pretty much had to depend on what little tide there’s been to keep the boat covering ground,” he said, noting that he and Capt. Walt, alternating days between the Helen and the Angler, have been moving onto harder bottom to increase the sea bass ratio during a slower pick of fluke.
Water temps in the Sound have skyrocketed, now hovering in the 73- to 74-degree range-the hottest it’s been in a good many seasons. That may have a bit to do with why the Monday Nantucket fluke trip saw such a marked improvement in the fishing. On the south and east sides of the Island, water temps are still cooler at around 67 degrees as of Monday afternoon. Huck was quite satisfied with the quantity and the quality on that run, and said most guys had little trouble filling their five-fish limits. Big fish for that trip scaled around 6 ½ pounds, and there were quite a few others in the 3- to 5-pound range.
The weaker tides gave the guys with lighter set-ups rigged for maximum sensitivity a definite advantage; small, single Spro bucktails tipped with various combinations of strip baits and fish baits accounted for numerous quality slabs as they were cast and retrieved during periods of slower drift. The throwback to keeper ratio on all the fluke trips remains about 50-50.
On a side note, Joe has been very pleased with the fluke bait he’s been able to get this season: bright, 4-inch spearing, fresh-frozen jumbo sand eels and native squid. That stuff will really come into play when waves of bigger fluke begin filtering into the area. Speaking of, Joe explained that Nantucket Sound, unlike most other prime fluke habitats, which typically see bigger fish in the first migratory push, tends to get abundant smaller fish first, then bigger slabs in subsequent slugs. Point is, for those on the hunt for true doormats, the best of the 2010 run still lies ahead.
Striper fishing slowed to a crawl over the weekend, thanks to the deadly combination of weak tides and very warm water. Huck surmised that the superheated Sound waters have pushed the squid and sand eels north and east into cooler water, dragging with them most of the bass. Unfortunately, the outer rips off Monomoy-the ones lying outside the three-mile state-waters line, and, unfortunately, the ones with most of the fish at this point-are off-limits to all striper fishing.
As crowds have increased since the holiday weekend, the Fleet will now be running two half-day trips daily, sailing from 8 a.m. to noon, and again from 1 p.m. to 5. The nine-hour Nantucket runs will continue on Sundays and Mondays, sailing at 7 a.m. and hitting the dock again late-afternoon.