pennfishing82

Is there a shortage on fish?

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Hello, I am an avid surf fisherman. I was in my local tackle shop, and the guy there was telling me that a lot of people don't really fish anymore because the fish population has gone down. He said there is no more really big fish around because fishermen years ago killed all the big fish. Another time I was at the beach fishing and I was talking with this guy who used to surf fish back in the 60s. 70s, and 80s. He told me back then, people were catching fish just about every day. The fish were everywhere. But when I fish now, a lot of times I don't get anything. Is the ocean running out of fish, or is this just a myth???

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Depends on the species that you're talking about.

 

There are plenty of porgies.  Black sea bass are about where they should be, and fluke, although down, aren't doing too badly in the overall picture.

 

But if you talk about striped bass, the picture is a little different.  Despite what your friend says, bass fishing is far better now than it was in the late '70s and early '80s.  That was the heart of the stock collapse, and you might have well have been fishing for unicorns--although there were a few very big fish caught, and if you happened to be at the right place at the right time (like, for example, Block Island), you might have some good nights catching quality fish.

 

Today, bass numbers are well off the highs of ten years ago, although there is a decent chance that they have not quite fallen below the threshold that denotes an overfished stock.  And that lack of abundance has led to a decline in fishing effort.  Compared to 2013, overall effort in the 2015 striped bass fishery was down 28% in Massachusetts, 7% in New Jersey, 54% in New York and 58% in Rhode Island.  On the other hand, down in Chesapeake Bay, where a bid 2011 year class is giving anglers a lot to fish for, effort was up compared to 2012 (ASMFC is using 2012 for Chesapeake comparisons, 2013 for the rest of the coast).  There, Maryland saw a 59% increase in trips targeting striped bass, while the increase in Virginia was a smaller but still significant 38% (making recent complaints by both those states' representatives to ASMFC's Striped Bass Management Board, who claim that their recreational fishing industry has been hurt by reductions in harvest, sound more than a little lame).

 

Generally, that's the pattern--angling effort follows the abundance of fish.

 

As far as other species go, bluefish numbers are down, but some huge fish--including some 25-pound-class stuff--were landed.  Weakfish are way down, blackfish/tautog are still languishing (although a relative abundance of small fish this year suggests that they may be starting to rebound) and you might as well play taps and fly the flag at half-mast for winter flounder.

 

Those of us who remember the '70s have fond memories, but as good as the early '70s were--certainly better than today--the late '70s were much worse, at least as far as bass are concerned.  Anglers are fishing less, but if you know what you're doing, you will still catch, and when you do, the lack of other bodies, should you be lucky enough to have that happen, won't be a bad thing.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

depends what you consider the comparison? lower than 10 years ago? yes, more than 1980 yes. but who knows what the threshold is anymore or should i say carrying capacity, I imagine back before white man settled the natives were walking on fish, but there was also a lot more bait and forage to support a healthier population

Edited by Sandflee

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Your tackle shop owner may not be totally wrong, but a discouraging diatribe like that isn't good for you or him.

 

Like all things biological, fish populations can be cyclical. In the 70s there were weakfish all over the place and then it abruptly ended. It's easy to blame over fishing, but there are lots of factors at play.

 

Find a tackle shop where they'll advise you as to how to catch the fish that are out there, adjust tactics and expectations and get out there as much as you can.

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i remember as a kid my dad would go flounder fishing and come home with 30 fish on a bad day. late 70's-early 80's south oyster bay. now you could easily spend years trying to get 30 flounder. 

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i remember as a kid my dad would go flounder fishing and come home with 30 fish on a bad day. late 70's-early 80's south oyster bay. now you could easily spend years trying to get 30 flounder. 

 

probably because of people doing this.....then again who knows :worms:

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I'm sure it was but there were no regs back then. He did have the sense to throw back the small ones cause it was too much work for small fillets. There were probably lots of people who kept them. Later on when he saw things collapse he regretted keeping so many fish and used to yell at people who kept undersized or too many.

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Those of us who remember the '70s have fond memories of Long Island shore fishing, but as good as the early '70s were certainly better than today. In the late '70s and early ‘80 there was a total drop of in fish stock of Long Island.

The depletion of fish stock in the mid ’70 was caused by a meridian of factors. One crew-shell factor was that the federal government gave foreign fishing fleets the right to fish within our international maritime boarders, which few people remember. Then you had the problem of the increases in population on Long Island that took away some key estuaries, not to mention the runoff of environmental pollutants increase into the waters around long Island; a problem even today, which have not helped things.
Today do to everyone working together the fish stocks around Long island are up. I do not know if they will ever get back to the early ’70 level, when all you had to do was look at the water in front of you to see where the schools of fish were and believe me those were the good times.

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