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Fishing Grounds of the Gulf of Maine
Cashes Bank [also known as Cashes Ledge. -ed] Our older reports state that Cashes Bank was not then an important fishing ground except for a short time in the spring, although good fares were often taken there in the fall also. The writer has found it furnishing at least its quota in recent years and in apparently increasing volume.
It bears E. 1/4 S. from Cape Ann (Thacher Island Light, from which point most skippers lay their course), from which its shoaler parts are distant 78 miles, and bears SE. 1/4 S. from Portland Lightship 69 miles to the buoy upon it, where is a depth of 17 fathoms; and 74 miles SE. ˝ S. from Cape Elizabeth eastern light to the buoy. The bank is about 22 miles long, from 42° 49' to 43° 11' north latitude, and about 17 miles wide, from 68° 40' to 69° 03' west longitude.
There are three small shoals upon its western part, of which the southern has a depth of 7 fathoms, the middle one has 4 fathoms, and the northern one has 11 fathoms. The middle shoal lies in 42° 56' north latitude and 68° 52' west longitude. From this the south shoal bears S. by E. and the north shoal NNE., each being 3 1/4 miles distant from it.
The water breaks on these in rough weather and, though of small extent, they are dangerous to passing vessels bound from Cape Sable to Massachusetts ports, across whose course they lie directly. Except for these shoals, the water ranges from 15 to 60 fathoms. The ground is more or less broken, and the bottom is of sand, pebbles, and rocks.
The principal fishing on these grounds is for cod, haddock, hake, and cusk; the cod and cusk are present the year around, the cod being most abundant in February, March. and April in an average depth of 60 fathoms. The hake are found on the muddy edges in summer, with a lesser number present all the year. Haddock are present in considerable numbers from November to February, and sometimes a good school occurs in 20-fathom depths in April.
The arrival of the dogfish usually puts a temporary ending to the fishing here in the last days of June or early In July, to be resumed again when these pests have moved inshore. Formerly halibut were reported as seen rarely, but of late years they have been found among the kelp in 15 to 18 fathoms on the shoal nearly the year around, the fish ranging in size from 5 to 40 pounds, rarely larger. Halibut of larger size are taken occasionally in fairly good numbers in 30 to 50 fathoms in May and June. Perhaps this species is more abundant on this and neighboring grounds than is generally realized. At all events, certain Portland vessels have recently taken good fares of halibut when fishing for them here in the season named.
Cusk are present in the deep water the year around. As is the case with most of the detached ridges in this gulf, the cusk is the most abundant of the fish present about the middle of March. continuing in good numbers through May.
In herring years these fish usually occur in good numbers on this ground In late May, and a considerable number of these (food fish or large herring) are taken here by seiners at this season. Mackerel are generally abundant on these grounds In those years when these fish occur In normal quantities on this coast.
Vessels operating on Cashes Bank range in size from 15 to 50 tons, principally from Maine ports, with a fair number of them from Gloucester and Boston, especially in winter. Of late years a few gill-netters have fished here, and these craft are using these grounds in steadily increasing numbers.
A comparatively little known and apparently as yet unnamed ridge lies E. by S. 15 miles from the buoy on Cashes Ledge, which is reported to be good fishing ground, especially for cod and cusk. With both species present here the year around, the cod is said to be most abundant in April and May: and the cusk, as is the rule on these outlying ridges, appears in largest numbers in March and April. Haddock seem to be somewhat rare here.
This ridge lies in a SE. and NW. direction, extending somewhat indefinitely but for at least 10 miles by about 3 miles in width. On the ridge the bottom is broken—a hard bottom of black gravel, which usually means a good fishing spot—the depths here being from 85 to 90 fathoms. There are numerous muddy spots between these harder pieces of ground where soundings run to 100 fathoms or slightly more. The surrounding bottom is mostly of mud, and the depths average from 100 to 125 fathoms. There are a number of pieces of gravelly hard ground in the vicinity, each of which probably would furnish equally good fishing for cod and cusk at the same seasons as on the ridge.
Due E. from the buoy on Ammens Rock about 12 miles lies a ridge that rises from the 100 to 120 fathom depths about it to a depth of about 80 fathoms over a bottom of broken ground, mud, and shells. This shoaler piece is some 3 miles long. N. by E. and S. by NW., by 1 mile wide. It furnishes good fishing for cod, hake, and cusk in the spring, April being the best season.
A ridge lying NW. of Cashes Bank and nearly parallel with the main bank, only separated by a narrow deep channel, is about 7 miles long by 1˝ miles wide. The species and the seasons are the same here as on Cashes Bank.