It took a while. Definitely the longest I have ever gone without catching a mackerel, but they are finally here! After the horrendous wind at the beginning of last week, my buddies fishing offshore 25 miles on Jeffrey's were telling me the place was loaded with mackerel. After a few days of a hard easterly wind to start the week, it all came into fruition on Sunday morning. The water temps out front rose from 46 degree earlier in the week to 54 on Sunday. Also out there were big balls of herring and bigger sand eels in the 5 - 6 inch range. Up until yesterday, the only sand eels I have seen have barely been 2 inches long!
Striper fishing was tough on Thursday and Friday. With no big bait and mostly small fish around, afternoon trips, and ridiculous winds we had to do a lot of searching to find fish during certain tide stages. We managed to catch some decent fish on light tackle despite the mis-forecasted 20 knot winds on Thursday and Friday afternoon. Saturday was a scouting mission and equally tough, but the weather was great. We found some fish in some new places including fish just above and below keeper size. We also tried some new areas and techniques that didn't plan out as hoped, but it could have been a tide thing at that time. We also found some 36 - 40" stripers that just weren't eating but we could see them cruising and spooking on top in the afternoon. We found schoolies of what seemed like thousands of bass, but they were keyed on 1 - 2 inch sand eels. We nailed a few, but they were super picky with the high sun and small bait.
Sunday started off tough and I went to look for greener pastures after a long run then come back for the last of the outgoing in the Merrimack. We managed to get 2 fish immediately on clams. Then, I got word from the fleet the mackerel were back! Our bite slowed down as the tide was running out where I was. Ran all the way back and grabbed a bunch of bait, then headed to mouth to get the last hour of the outgoing and caught some decent fish immediately upon entry that were just shy of the limit. But boy, it feels good to have the bait back!
I'll update some pictures later as soon as my clients send them over to me! This weekend should be great with the bigger bass moving in and getting acclimated to the mackerel. It usually takes a few days for the bass to start really chewing on them.
As of now, I have Saturday afternoon and Sunday open for anyone who wants to charter and experience one of the best times of the year...the week after mackerel arrive is historically great fishing!
Capt. Chris Valaskatgis