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johnnycakes

Small fish for the future

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I have noticed that less small fish are being taken in recent years.

 

I have noticed the spring breeders average size going up by a couple of pounds a year for the past near decade.

 

I have noticed a much higher keeper ratio during the fall run in recent years.

 

I have noticed far fewer small fish in general.

 

At first it was great. Bigger fish,yea! But after reading another thread about what you thought about 2011's fishing I started thinking. I didn't want to derail that thread so I started this one. I can't say for sure but I might have caught more keepers than shorts this year,if not more keepers,definitely less shorts and very few sub 20" fish. I am not unaware that we are entering the down swing but how bad is it really? I have read they grow a few inches a year(not sure exactly how much) but with the lack of those dinks how much good fishing do we have left?

 

I will admit that I prefer catching larger fish and the where and hows of my fishing often target bigger fish but there were usually a mix of smaller fish.

 

Your thoughts?

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I've seen this trend for close to ten years. Used to start my spring fishing the sedges behind IBSP. It was mainly small fish, up to 30". Fishing would start some time in April and go into JUne. Started seeing fewer and fewer fish over the years. Got to the point that it wasn't worth the long walk. Have noticed the same issue in general other places as well. I'm sure there are multipe factors affecting this but the main one is simply fewer small fish.

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Where I am fishing in the western sound we normally see the first of what I feel are the first of the migrating fish, both on their way out of the Hudson in the spring and again we on the way back south in the fall.

These are the fish that are definetly too small to breed,those 10-24 inch fish, those fish that winter over in wherever it might be .. The lower Hudson, deeper water of the western sound, Ambrose channel.

Yes there are some winter over fish mixed in but the numbers of fish are too many to be just winter over.

 

The past two years, we have seen very good numbers of those fish so there is some hope but and this is a very important but, come the middle of May we didn't see many if any of the bigger fish that normally setup and feed in the shallow waters from May - mid/end of July or until the water temps and massive porgy populations draws them to deeper water rock pile drop-offs. These 24-36 inch fish are what we call our resident fish.

 

I would speculate that areas further west and further south (NJ) aren't seeing these types of bodies of smaller spring fish because yes the overall populations of bass are down. I am just so close to the core of the winter over area for the Hudson fish that we still have them.

 

There is no doubt that we are Overfishing and at a dangerous rate.

 

We either have to do a moratorium of keeping any fish or we have to do some sort of slot limit...

I say 1 fish between 20-30 inches and one trophy fish but only @ 50 inches.

Let's the meat guys keep a fish and let's a guy keeper his 50 LBer.

 

We are genetically training the species to be smaller to survive... Get to 45 inches you die stay @ 36 and you have a much better chance of living.

 

We need to stop killing every 20,30,40 lb breeder. They did it with redfish so why can't we do it with strippers?

 

Just my .02 on the matter as always

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Still seeing plenty of smaller fish in South Jersey myself.. Two classes of fish,, 15-24" and 24"-30" and all these fish are being found in the backbays especially during the keys times of the year in the spring and fall.. Out front this year I did not find much of the smaller fish but there was plenty of action with 30"+ & 40"+ in the Spring and 30"+ fish in the fall around the same area.

 

 

Steve

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I think you will see a huge increase in the fish coming out of philadelphia. for two reasons there seems to be a lot of small fish in the river and i think the amount of fish taken from the river is about to drop because of the herring moratorium.

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OK, this is just hearsay and I am asking for an opinion. Why is it that i speak to a few guys who are in tight with alot of the boat guys here in NY and NJ and they all had a banner year, Spring, summer and fall? What they said is most of the fish you guys see missing in your area are out of your casting range and are attributing the decline in stocks when it may just be a change in their locations over the yrs.

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There is a simple reason why there are fewer fish, this has to do with Cheasapeake itself. The smaller fish are not making it far because of first, poor water quality which is attributed to nutrient enrichment due to farm runoff. with the past years seeing a lot of rain this has caused a big increase in this enrichment, to compound this problem, the schools of the filter feeders, Menhaden and Herring are in sharp decline, this means that there are less fish to clean the waters so there is less oxygen for the fish. This in turn causes a second problem. A bacteria called Mycobacteriosis is infecting over 50% of the small fish in the bay and of the fish that do not make it out of the bay many of those will die, the ones that do make it out have a much better survival rate.

 

To the fact that the Boaters are having a better go of it than the shore bound anglers also can be attributed to this fact. It would seem that new patters have arisen in the fish due to these issues in the bay and along the coast, so through learned behavior many fish seek refuge in the deeper offshore waters.

 

But in all of this lies the problem, because the smaller fish not getting caught might be good for people looking for a fish for the dinner plate, if the smaller fish do not grow up to become the breeders then slowly the breeding stock will be wiped out till we are back in the 70's and 80's when we had the big crash. And for those who fished those times they might remember that up until the crash, big bass were plentaful but there was no stock to replace the ones that were caught and then we were left with next to nothing.

 

This is a real problem, do not overlook it.

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The spring run where I surf fish starts with nice clean looking stripers. As the waters warm late May into June fish with Mycobacteriosis show up and then take over the area. These fish are in bad shape with red marks and gaping sores all over them. I don’t know for sure why the early fish are healthy maybe it’s the hi water temp in June that makes the hurt fish weaker...


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It is the warmer temps, that is why when they get out in the open ocen in the cooler temps they have a fighting chance. But it is also the algae blooms that deprive them of oxygen and the food becomes more scarce, then they are more apt to either show more or contract.

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I've noticed a serious drop in the number of small fish out front in NJ. Use to be a lot of 15" - 18" fish in the spring. They seem to be missing. I'm catching very few fish in the spring and the ones I do catch are around legal 28" size. I caught some small fish in Sept. fishing for fluke but only a couple. Some of them were 13".

This fall there were a lot of 24" - 32" fish at IBSP but very few smaller ones.

Looks like there is going to be some pretty good bass fishing for a few years then they will be scarce, like the 80's. :(

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I think you will see a huge increase in the fish coming out of philadelphia. for two reasons there seems to be a lot of small fish in the river and i think the amount of fish taken from the river is about to drop because of the herring moratorium.

 

Use to catch all I could handle on small jigs and tail, up near Trenton. but I think these fish stay in the river.

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My observations are made from fishing out front mostly . A good observation about "resident fish". Those were few and far between for me

 

Use to fish all summer for resident fish but haven't tried in years. Probably some, since they're caught on crabs but nothing like it was a few years back.

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I am starting to realize that the smaller fish ( 20"-24") that I have been tagging and releasing in Barnegat Bay NJ that I thought were resident fish are either 1.) Not Resident Fish or 2.) Leaving the Bay during the summer beacause of water conditions.. Last year I had two tag returns with these fish leaving sometime late April / May and heading North and as far a Maine..

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