It feels like months ago that I washed down my salt water fly rod for the last time. The leaves fell, the gras was white with the first frost, and I put away my equipment, thinking I wouldn’t see it until the spring. Now, a video has me thinking I was wrong.
Ron Powers, a contributor to On the Water, published a post a few days ago with the above video of striped bass gathering in Boston Harbor. The date the video was taken? December 4th — long after most have put away their equipment.
After watching this video, I sent it to a group of friends. One former guide who refuses to chase anything but big fish responded by saying that he could be tempted. Wellfleet in the summer? Nope. Albies in the fall? No way. But one look at the big fellas in this video and he was in. Tall praise indeed.
But here’s what Ron Powers said in his original post:
As you can see from the video I shot on December 4th in inner Boston Harbor, some of what’s swimming below (still!) is striped bass! This was NOT taken in a river but from a totally saltwater environment. Sorry for a bit of the shakes, it was a windless day and my footage platform was my Hobie – it was so nice I couldn’t resist a quick cruise!
What is keeping these fish put in the harbor? One word – forage! Much of the forage consists of river herring, which I have learned in some capacity never completely leave the harbor and are fuel for all that swims here. Healthy rivers are the building blocks for most of the life in the harbor, in addition to herring they are nurseries for shad, smelt and other river-running species.
When I discussed my findings with DMF biologist Brad Chase, who heads the anadromous species program, he made some very salient points. His first comment was, “Why would they leave (stripers that is) with all the bait?” And the second was, “See how important river-run species are?”
I’d like to emphasize how important this last point is. Striped bass depend upon smaller, river-run species. There are many reasons for the decline of striped bass, but one way to surely bring them back is to restore the species on which they depend.
Here’s an idea: next year, before you unveil the ceremonial turkey at Thanksgiving, serve a pâté of freshly-caught striped bass from Boston harbor. People will be so impressed, they may not even remember eating the turkey.
See you, on the water, sooner than I expected.