Jim McFeeley

Reintroduction of breeding populations of striped bass.

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Does anyone think this could become a possibility in the future? I'm pretty sure the Kennebec had native spawning fish and also possibility the Penobscot.  With the removal of the dams it would seem like a good opportunity for maine to create a better fishery for itself if it is possible.  I dont see why not but I would like to hear what others would think? Is the cost too great to try such a project? Are the fish not really natural breeders to the area. I know they require a certain amount of fresh water for the eggs to live. With all the work that has been done with salmon it seems to make more sense to try it with these fish. Not saying I know just wondering about the possibilities.  

Edited by Jim McFeeley

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1 hour ago, Jim McFeeley said:

Does anyone think this could become a possibility in the future? I'm pretty sure the Kennebec had native spawning fish and also possibility the Penobscot.  With the removal of the dams it would seem like a good opportunity for maine to create a better fishery for itself if it is possible.  I dont see why not but I would like to hear what others would think? Is the cost too great to try such a project? Are the fish not really natural breeders to the area. I know they require a certain amount of fresh water for the eggs to live. With all the work that has been done with salmon it seems to make more sense to try it with these fish. Not saying I know just wondering about the possibilities.  

With dam removals, almost EVERY river in Maine could have it's own striper population.  If nothing is done, this will probably happen on its own over time.  This would be great if ME DMR decided to do as you suggest.  AAMOF, this has been done recently.  The Kennbec population was "freshened" with Hudson River fish I "think" during the 70s.  Whenever it was, it was so soon that if you do a DNA analysis of Kennebec fish, you'd say they were Hudson River fish because the population hasn't been isolated long enough to enable their DNA to be distinguished from Hudson River fish.

 

Beauty with bass is that you can go ahead and transplant fish themselves.  This is what was done in the Kennebec AND in California in 1879 with only a few hundred fish in a rail car introduced into the San Francisco Bay estuary.

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8 hours ago, Roccus7 said:

With dam removals, almost EVERY river in Maine could have it's own striper population.  If nothing is done, this will probably happen on its own over time.  This would be great if ME DMR decided to do as you suggest.  AAMOF, this has been done recently.  The Kennbec population was "freshened" with Hudson River fish I "think" during the 70s.  Whenever it was, it was so soon that if you do a DNA analysis of Kennebec fish, you'd say they were Hudson River fish because the population hasn't been isolated long enough to enable their DNA to be distinguished from Hudson River fish.

 

Beauty with bass is that you can go ahead and transplant fish themselves.  This is what was done in the Kennebec AND in California in 1879 with only a few hundred fish in a rail car introduced into the San Francisco Bay estuary.

My late brother ran striper charters on the Kennebec in the 1970's until 1978.  I used to fish with him, and my Dad, and there were large numbers of big stripers in the river, but no schoolies to speak of.  His theory was that we were catching the native stripers and that they were not reproducing, at least not enough to sustain the fishery.  My grandfather lived on Merrymeeting Bay, and made his living fishing and "gunning" commercially during the first half of the 20th century.  According to him, there was a large population of native stripers during that time.  

 

So, anecdotally, I think that the Kennebec did have a native population.  As you say, that population was freshened in the 70's; I remember catching one of the "tagged" schoolies back in the late 70's that came from the Hudson.

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5 hours ago, Baby Magnum said:

So, anecdotally, I think that the Kennebec did have a native population.  As you say, that population was freshened in the 70's; I remember catching one of the "tagged" schoolies back in the late 70's that came from the Hudson.

You're absolutely correct on the native fish.  There are records from the mid-1800s of people spearing breeders through the ice in Dresden during the winter and stacking them up like cord wood.  

 

The industrial revolution's need for power caused virtually every New England river to be damned up to provide power for the different mills.  This basically wiped out native New England stripers, along with Atlantic salmon, and caused huge impacts on the populations of other anadromous like alewives, sturgeon, smelt, etc.  As more damns are removed, we'll see this trend begin to reverse itself...

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Here's that Dresden spearfishing info...

 

1867atkins.jpg
Charles Atkins' first Maine Fish Commissioners Report in 1867 regarding striped bass shows he got it right in his first report and got it wrong in his later reports. Atkins' reference to winter fishing in the Eastern River in Dresden, Maine (an estuarine tributary of the lower Kennebec River) gives a rather strong clue as to why striped bass had become extremely scarce by the time of his writing. These folks in Dresden were wiping out the entire population of native, sexually mature striped bass overwintering beneath the ice in the lower Kennebec River. Once they caught them all, there were none left to spawn the next spring. Oops.

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On 7/22/2020 at 6:00 AM, Roccus7 said:

Here's that Dresden spearfishing info...

 

1867atkins.jpg
Charles Atkins' first Maine Fish Commissioners Report in 1867 regarding striped bass shows he got it right in his first report and got it wrong in his later reports. Atkins' reference to winter fishing in the Eastern River in Dresden, Maine (an estuarine tributary of the lower Kennebec River) gives a rather strong clue as to why striped bass had become extremely scarce by the time of his writing. These folks in Dresden were wiping out the entire population of native, sexually mature striped bass overwintering beneath the ice in the lower Kennebec River. Once they caught them all, there were none left to spawn the next spring. Oops.

My grandfather told me stories of catching large quantities of stripers through the ice and bringing them home with a horse drawn sled.  He, and others, made their living off the bay without worrying about what the future, dams and pollution, would bring. I remember playing on the shore of Merrymeeting Bay as a child in the 50’s, and the water was so polluted that my Mother would not let me swim or wade in it.  The Kennebec was bad, but the Androscoggin was even worse. I guess we were lucky that any stripers survived at all. 

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I believe there is still a young of the year seining effort to determine status of native fish in Merrymeeting Bay by DMR and baby stripers are found consistently. With the dams removed and huge surge of river herring into the river, spawning successfully year after year, I am surprised we don't hear of more large fish in the river system. Predators usually respond to bountiful prey so I hope it is under way, even without Hudson Bay stocking. Look at the St Lawrence and Miramichi, with huge numbers of bass now present. It would be great if Maine could generate its own sustainable population, and insulate us from the ASFMC regulations and political dynamic between recs/coms.

 

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if any of the states,entities did do this,they may have not told anyone.

lots of guys I know will say the bass do not reproduce in the Ct river but,I think they do to some kind of extent.

even if they did,the state would not say so,to protect them which is good.

I believe there are many more small pops in places and one would never know it.

HH

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10 hours ago, BarryW said:

I believe there is still a young of the year seining effort to determine status of native fish in Merrymeeting Bay by DMR and baby stripers are found consistently. With the dams removed and huge surge of river herring into the river, spawning successfully year after year, I am surprised we don't hear of more large fish in the river system. Predators usually respond to bountiful prey so I hope it is under way, even without Hudson Bay stocking. Look at the St Lawrence and Miramichi, with huge numbers of bass now present. It would be great if Maine could generate its own sustainable population, and insulate us from the ASFMC regulations and political dynamic between recs/coms.

 

They do the YOY survey, BUT Maine DMR keeps the data very close to the vest, lest everyone knows.  

 

It doesn't take a PhD in Fisheries to figure out why Maine has those extra restrictions on striped bass fishing in the Kennebec watershed; they're clearly to protect the spawners during the spawn.  Right now, the only major spawning area along the entire east coast that doesn't protect spawning fish is NY, as they allow the retention of spawners and the use of bait DURING the spawn.  

 

Damn shame, especially considering that I've caught 4 Hudson River Foundation tagged fish over the past 5 seasons, so it stands to reason that many of the fish we catch have "I :heart: NY" tattoos on them...

 

 

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16 hours ago, BarryW said:

I believe there is still a young of the year seining effort to determine status of native fish in Merrymeeting Bay by DMR and baby stripers are found consistently. With the dams removed and huge surge of river herring into the river, spawning successfully year after year, I am surprised we don't hear of more large fish in the river system. Predators usually respond to mbountiful prey so I hope it is under way, even without Hudson Bay stocking. Look at the St Lawrence and Miramichi, with huge numbers of bass now present. It would be great if Maine could generate its own sustainable population, and insulate us from the ASFMC regulations and political dynamic between recs/coms.

 

This is exactly what needs done and I feel like its definitely a possibility if proper action is taken. The sooner the better. Are there any groups actively pushing for this? Or is it just going to be left to nature?

Edited by Jim McFeeley

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6" fish are native fish. The additional Kennebec specific regs are designed for protecting this population from bait fishermen during spawning. It would be worth talking to Pat Keliher and DMR about their efforts and any data they have on the existing population and YOY spawn index. Seems like it's one of those things we don't have huge control over but should be cognizant of.  Personally I can't believe that the native population hasn't been consistently increasing given the rebirth of the Kennebec.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Finally found Maine YOY data, albeit through a very convoluted pathway.  Here's a figure from the package regarding a new Striped Bass Amendment, which is being worked on by ASFMC.  Looks like the Kennebec hasn't had a really good YOY class in 15 years.  Kind of sad, but here are the data for all reproducing areas, Kennebec is top left graph.

 

 

striped bass YOY.jpg

 

Here's the Kennebec enlarged:

 

Kennebec Enlarged.jpg

Edited by Roccus7

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