Back

Fishing Grounds of the Gulf of Maine

South Shoal (of Nantucket Shoals) This name is applied to the fishing ground about Nantucket Lightship, which marks the Old South Shoal and the New South Shoal, the two -making a continuous reef of irregular form some 10 to 12 miles in length and from 1 to 3 miles wide. The northern end of this lies about 12 miles S. by E. from Sankaty Head (the Old South Shoal), and the southern extremity of the New South Shoal reaches to about 20 miles S. E. from the same point. The fishing ground lies mostly to the S. of these shoals and about the lightship, where otter trawling is carried on in all directions from the ship except from N. to NE., where lie the vessels sunk by the German submarine in the late war. This fishery is also carried on WNW. from the ship for a distance of 40 miles, even into 7 fathom depths near Muskeget Inlet.

Elsewhere depths average from 13 to 18 fathoms on the inner parts of the grounds, whence they slope away gradually from the shore soundings into 50, 80, or even more on the outer edge, where the ground falls away rapidly into the deeps. For the most part this area has a bottom of sand. but there are small stretches of coarse gravel, broken shells, pebbles, and a few muddy spots.

Within comparatively recent years this ground has been much used by the otter trawlers, which type of craft has developed a productive fishery here, which is being operated in steadily increasing volume and takes a catch that is predominantly of haddock.

The proportion of cod taken here by these vessels is very small, even smaller than that from other grounds fished by the otter-trawl method. Pollock and hake, too, make a small item in the fares from the neighborhood of the South Shoal. In the average otter-trawl fare haddock makes up the greater part of the catch because, as a rule, this type of gear is operated mostly on the smooth, sandy bottom which this species prefers.

The otter-trawl fishery here is at Its best from early May through June. July, and the first halt of August. Few trips are reported from this ground at other seasons. Perhaps the haddock leaves the shoal grounds here earlier than when it moves out of the same depths in The Channel.

The early fishing for the swordfish generally takes place in this vicinity, and in normal seasons mackerel are found here in abundance from May 15 to August. and, as is the custom with this uncertain fish, it may appear here again in the late fall.