What was a desert a few days ago has now come to life almost overnight as Stellwagen is covered with herring and balls of sand eels being pursued by ravenous cod and pollack.
My crew for the day included Phil Donahue, Ron Weaver and Dave Ray who traveled up from Hull MA. They had previously booked Thursday but mother nature decided Friday would be a better day for them to go fishing.
We departed Cape Ann Marina around 0600 which is later than usual but I wanted to be sure the seas had time to lay down from the previous day's blow. During my off days I have been doing some internet detective work by reading and comparing reports, and analyzing sea conditions. A fellow captain in my harbor who runs a large downeast boat was going out on Thursday so I gave him a call and directed him to the area I thought held fish. He called me later in the date to report they did 5 drifts and limited out by 0830. This was a good thing as around 0900 he got hit with 40 knts of NW wind and had to plow his way home into a head sea of 4-7 ft. I was glad he found the fish and that he made it home safe and sound with his crew.
About 6 miles offshore we found some leftover 3' seas but the wind was at our back and I steamed at 22 knots for the promised land. About 5 miles before my destination I decided to check our an area just to see if anyone was around. With no boats in site the guys made the first drop of the day and hooked up on some nice market cod. A couple drifts later Ron landed this beautiful 16.5 lb market cod which grabbed the lead in the FSA Captains Pool for 2011.
This was the first time Ron had cod fished and he looked like a seasoned pro handling the rod.
The tide was nearly out and the bite slowed so I decided to leave this area but made plans to return later in the day. We continued on to our original destination and found a huge fleet of boats covering a small piece of bottom. The 2011 Stellwagen Bank Cod War was underway! We joined the party and landed quite a few nice markets while playing dodge-ems but I noticed a lot more throwbacks were coming aboard. With all the boat traffic and the tide going slack I finally had enough and struck out for greener pastures and less competition.
It took a while but about 4 miles from the fleet I found a nice bunch of cod and the keeper box began to fill. David hauled in this nice pair of cod, which included an 18lb cod that currently holds 1st Place in the FSA Captains Pool!
The screen on my machine was lit up with balls of sand eels and schools of herring on top with cod and pollack below.
I gave a shout to my good friend Capt Bruce Sweet who runs Sweet Dreams III from my harbor and we both got in on the fun for a couple hours. I enjoy working with other captains, especially ones like Capt. Bruce, who provides honest information and dosen't forget a friend in need of some help on any given day.
Around noon I got the itch to go back to where I started in the morning as I had that feeling something good was waiting for me back there. Along the way I would stop on good marks and the guys would put some cod in the box on nearly every stop. I arrived at my area around 1245 and after a couple drifts I hit the MOTHER LOAD. Large market cod started hitting the deck. I gaffed, ripped, and iced fish as fast as I could and coolers were stacked with iced cod!
The school was tightly packed under a huge ball of sand eels so as soon as I drifted off them I would reset the drift. I call Capt Bruce and told him to get here NOW!.
We hit out limit of cod with over an hour left to fish. The coolers were full along with my deck basket of beautiful fresh run green market cod. The last hour found the guys catching and releasing at least another 50 legal fish as large as 35". Sweet Deams III also limited out and play catch and release as well. What a day to be fishing!
We we had finished I took a quick photo of the guys and from their smiles you can tell we had a great day of fishing and catching!
At 1400 I put the Lady Diane on autopilot and while Phil served as lookout I hit the filleting board. Two hours later we arrived in my slip and I still had a couple of the larger cod to cut. The guys loaded over 125 lbs of cod fillet into their coolers for the trip home and I am looking forward to welcoming aboard again in the near future.
My wife was at our local market the day before and found haddock selling for $4.99 lb but cod was a whopping $11.99 lb!. So if you do the math and you can see that if you want to get a great deal on cod fillets you had better come fishing with me as soon as you can! This is the type of fishing I like to do and it looks like 2011 is picking up where 2010 left off.