Fishing Grounds of the Gulf of Maine

Eastern Shoal Water of Cape Ann -This is generally considered a part of Jeffreys and is often spoken of as West Jeffreys by the fishermen. It extends In an ENE. direction from Cape Ann for a distance of from 15 to 18 miles. It is, in fact, a southwest continuation of Jeffreys Ledge, the two forming a nearly continuous ridge running NE. from Cape Ann a distance of about 42 miles.

Depths on the so-called Eastern Shoal Water vary from 20 to 45 fathoms, the bottom being of rocks, pebbles, and coarse gravel over most of its extent. Sand and mud occur on the edges. The eastern part of the ground is resorted to by the haddock fleet during the fall and early winter, and other parts are visited more or less during the entire year for cod, haddock, and pollock by vessels and boats from Cape Ann and by craft of various types from Boston and Portland-line trawlers, gill-netters, and a few of the new type of small otter trawlers, this latter fleet of craft constantly growing in number.

On the ledge cod, haddock, and cusk are taken in the full winter and spring, winter, perhaps, furnishing the best fishing. There are also more or less pollock, and hake constitute an important part of the catch. In those seasons when herring make their appearance in these waters the seiners make good catches here, mostly of food fish, as the large herring are termed by the trade. The mackerel, also, appear on these grounds and on the smaller grounds nearer to shore to northward and westward in good-sized schools, usually from July 1 through September. For many years the haddock catch from this bank has been of considerable importance, and this statement remains true for recent years as well.

Formerly this fishery was almost entirely carried on by trawlers and hand-liners, but the gill-net fishery on these grounds is of great and steadily growing importance. Of late the larger part of the haddock catch has been taken by the "otter-trawl" method, this gear being operated by steamers of considerable size and upon the more distant grounds, such as Georges Bank, the South Channel, and the Western Bank. The same change to fishing grounds farther offshore has to a great extent taken place in the fleet of larger sailing vessels, thus leaving Jeffreys and other inshore banks to the smaller craft; except that, with the high prices of haddock and cod in the winter months, it is often profitable for these larger vessels to run off to near-by banks for one set and return to port the same day.

On the inner parts of this ground, particularly, the gill-net fleet operates extensively, mainly in the full and spring, on northwest Jeffreys 8 to 12 miles E. and SE. from Thacher Island, where the bottom is sand and rocks. Other gill-netting grounds are 8 to 15 miles NE. by E. from Thacher Island in 22 fathoms on a hard bottom of mud and mixed material of sand and gravel. The Cove of Jeffreys, NE. by E. 12 to 15 miles from Thacher Island, is a favorite haddock ground in the spring (April 20 to May 15) in 45 to 70 or even 80 fathoms, although gill nets are not often fished in more than 50 fathoms because of the, weight of the nets in the deeper water. In the spring (in April and May), the haddock come in on Scantum, 10 miles NNE. from Thacher Island between Jeffreys Ledge and the Isle of Shoals, on a broken bottom of rocks and blue clay in 55 to 70 fathoms.

Off Newburyport and N. and SW. of the Isle of Shoals are gill-netting grounds that are much used. Trawling and netting are carried on, beginning in 40 fathoms in February and March and working off to 70 fathoms off Salisbury Bench in May. Cod are on this ground about two weeks in October and in February and March are found in abundance off Boars Head. Hake are present here all the fall and are found all along the southeast side of these grounds in depths of 45 to 60 fathoms. A certain amount of halibut may be taken in most years at various points on a bottom of hard gravel in spring and early summer in 35 to 65 fathoms. In most years a large amount of mackerel is taken on Jeffreys, notably so in 1925. Herring, also, are usually abundant here in "herring years".