A noticable increase in this behavior over the last few years... seals joining side by side and pushing stripers into corners. I think it could be related to a lack of skates and flatfish, or even the missing infusion of large sand eels into the inner refuge waters lately. I used to find seal-eaten skates, dogfish and flounder bones all over the beach in the past.
I was showing an angler around one day and had easily 400 stripers of all sizes pushed right into the corner we were staking out. What followed was the most frustrating 30 minutes, surrounded by frightened fish that could have been easily snagged but were not interested in anything we could muster. As soon as it was evident that we were wasting time I suggested walking away but he could not do it just then.
Finally, a small fish took the fly and before it could be landed a seal from the threatening circle of death raced in and made a lunge at the fish. I stomped into the water and averted the strike, although it was a dumb move. We released the fish, and he agreed "I must've caught the dumb one in the bunch" and we walked away from a swirling fearful mass of hundreds of stripers to find more willing groups of eaters nearby.
With the southway being so shallow it's obvious that the local seal population has taken residence along the outside of SB this year. I am very curious as to what this will mean to the inside fishery. I believe this is an indication that the finfish forage is on the outside.
From what I have been gathering it sounds like an invertabrate feeding behavior is becoming the prevalent trend on the inside (shrimp, etc). Generally in years where there is a lack of sand eels resident on the inside the fish tend to become more particular, and years where the population of finfish is high inside the fish eat more aggressively.
So if the southway is changing the forage inside then the stripers might be tuned into a tough feeding pattern inside. This will be the topic of study for me over the next few days :D
While the southway has been restricted significantly this year, there seems to be no shortage of sand eels on the inside. The seals have been staging just on the insicde of the southway, awaiting the incoming.
I'm not sure whether the sand eels are coming from the sound via the passage at Morris Island, or the southway, but they are there.
You are right. There does seem to be more seals on the outside compared to previous years.
Keep us posted on your observations.
07-02-2005, 09:18 PM
Thanks Juro.. good report...and remember that apart from stripers.... seal LOVE sand eels.
07-05-2005, 09:18 AM
It might just be that the seals are making a comeback and there are more of them than before. Many are too big to make it through the southway at low tide which could explain why they are holed up inside there and also at south monomoy.
It's frustrating when the fish go into survival mode like that. I think many of the schoolies invade the flats just to get away from thhe seals.
07-05-2005, 06:20 PM
I recently read a report can't remember where but it was about a seal that was washed ashore dead it was disected to determine the cause of death by marine biologists,over 60 lbs 0f sandeels were found in its stomach.The atlantiic herring ,blueback herring have been harvested up north in places such as the Bay of Fundy by foreign netters to the point the seals have had to find new places to find food,I think the seal problem along the national sea shore to chatham will only get worse.
07-06-2005, 09:55 AM
This is anecdotal and should be viewed with skepticism until there's some science behind it, but fishermen on Nantucket believe that the spike in the seal population that they're experiencing on Great Point and over on Tuckernuck Island is the result of oversfishing sharks. With blue and mako shark numbers down (and this is where some science would be helpful. Josko?), many fewer seals are shark food and we get the increasing seal numbers we've seen in the last few years on Monomoy and Tuckernuck.
Broadbill could be right about the importance of natural predoters. Over here in the Pacific Northwest we also have had a seal and sea lion problem. On the Hood Canal which is a natural Fiord created by the ice age retreat and is 60 miles long we had had a serious problem with over population of seals and sea lions. On January 24th of this year a pod of 6 Orcas arrived out nowhere and have been in the canal all this time. These are an ocean going pod that rarely visits the Puget Sound area, been over 20 years from last visit. They average one seal or sea lion a day each so about 700 seals and sea lions out of the 1800 that existed are now ocean fertilizer.
Over the years it was a sight to see a big old sea lion tossing a salmon 20 feet up into the air with its guts hanging out. Now on a daily basis we watch Orcas flinging 800 pound sea lions about with just about as much ease as the sea lions did with the salmon.
I think you need the sharks to come back in a really important way or life on the Cape outer beaches may become not such a good place for the balance of nature. Next time I see our new Orca pod I will tell them they are needed on Cape Cod. Would any of you be willing to take them out fishing for a week or two? Let's keep the coast to coast exchange going!
07-06-2005, 07:49 PM
OC. I, for one, would love to visit them in person in a kayak and invite them over!
My son lives on the Bangor base. Short drive from there! Sorry we did not meet while you were here. Tried to get to the reception but a last minute glitch put a damper on it. Congratulations! Seems the new love of your life might enjoy a tour of the Sage factory on Bainbridge! LOL!!!!!!! Glad to see see is excited about her next flyfishing venture. You must take her on the next Boneclave. And she thought striped bass were fun!
Know what you mean about checking them out. A few days ago Tracy and I were out for a cruise one evening just before dark in the 8 footer with a 3.3 hp engine. The Orcas had been at the harbor mouth of Pleasant Harbor a couple hours earlier so we thought about seeing if we could find them without taking the sloop out. After about an hour cruising the shoreline we decided to head back to the marina. We took a short cut across a large cove and I ran out of gas. As I was filling the engine and 3 of the boys or gals surfaced about 200 feet away. I felt very foolish at first sitting dead in the water but they have become very used to boats and people and totally left us alone.
Orcas are an eating machines and once in a great while they enter Cape Cod waters and it sounds like you could use them right about now.
Many years ago on the bay side I was watching two Pilot Whales that were herding mackeral and out of nowhere two killer whales showed up. The Pilot Whales were gone in a flash and the Orcas went for the mackeral for awhile before moving on and not the Pilot Whales. About a week later on the south side the Globe reported that a power boat had it's prop bit off by an Orca. I think they are smarter than that but that was the story on the front page.
Sorry you missed the reception, it was fun. If you visit your son give me a heads up and we will take you and the family for a great sail on Hood Canal, get some oyster, clams and crab for dinner, oh and don't forget we serve large G&T's with plenty of ice.