wrboz

Changing species in longtime spots

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3 hours ago, C.Robin said:

There have been more southern visitors around late summer-early fall inshore and near shore. Less bluefish, more Spanish Macks, Atlantic bonito, jacks, 

 mahi, etc. I’ve even heard rumors of shore caught Mahi, which wouldn’t surprised me since on the boat I’ve seen them in 30-40 ft. 
  

Haven’t seen a cobia up here yet, but I know they’re around. I certainly keep an eye out for them when at the nearshore reefs.

Interesting that you're seeing more bonito.  I'm seeing far fewer, compared to 40 years ago.  There are more Spanish, and I'm pretty sure we saw a king mackerel come out of the water near the San Diego wreck last summer.

 

I haven't run into a cobia, but I have friends who have seen big ones following rays and hanging around offshore buoys--fish that would go 70+.

 

Catching more big blue runners, too.  Always had some smaller fish--1 or 2 pounds--around the inlet and offshore buoys, but I'm having some in the 5 pound class hitting my dolphin lures now (if anyone asks, they make a decent ceviche)..

 

Keep hoping for a big black drum, too.  Was fluke fishing with my wife a few years ago when a school of them popped up right next to the boat, but when I moved to grab a rod with a bucktail, they were close enough that the movement spooked them, and they all disappeared.  Only shot that I've had so far.

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42 mins ago, CWitek said:

Interesting that you're seeing more bonito.  I'm seeing far fewer, compared to 40 years ago.  There are more Spanish, and I'm pretty sure we saw a king mackerel come out of the water near the San Diego wreck last summer.

 

I haven't run into a cobia, but I have friends who have seen big ones following rays and hanging around offshore buoys--fish that would go 70+.

 

Catching more big blue runners, too.  Always had some smaller fish--1 or 2 pounds--around the inlet and offshore buoys, but I'm having some in the 5 pound class hitting my dolphin lures now (if anyone asks, they make a decent ceviche)..

 

Keep hoping for a big black drum, too.  Was fluke fishing with my wife a few years ago when a school of them popped up right next to the boat, but when I moved to grab a rod with a bucktail, they were close enough that the movement spooked them, and they all disappeared.  Only shot that I've had so far.

Last couple years I’ve encountered a lot of bonito right off the beach or even in the inlet in August/September. Mostly small, sometimes mixed with albies and blues. I have not seen a blue runner up here yet, but I’m always impressed by how big of a bait they’ll take for their size when I’m down south.

 

 

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On 2/21/2021 at 1:17 PM, CWitek said:

Dams chip away at the populations over time, just as they do with river herring, salmon, shad and, in some places, striped bass.

 

In the case of eels, the newly returning elvers try to climb up the faces of the dams and the rock faces where the dams are built.  Some make it, some are eaten by gulls, some just die along the way,  The ones that make it try to return to the ocean to spawn.  They're all females, and some have been up in the fresh water for as many as 30 years, spreading the process out over time (the males stay in the estuaries).  The ones that make it to the ocean, then out into the Sargasso Sea, spawn, and their leptocephali drift on the currents until they come close to shore--there is no such thing as returning to a home river; a female might spend her life in a Florida river, but her offspring could end up in multiple streams between Florida and Maine, depending on where the current takes them.

 

But the thing is--because of the dams, and the fewer females that survive, there won't be as many glass eels returning to the creeks as there were in the female's generation, because of the problems getting past the dams (and if dams have turbines, etc., even if they also have fish ladders, there is also threat when the eels return to the sea; while they might have had to use the ladder going up, they won't know to do so going back, and many will be killed in the turbines).  Every generation of eels is a little smaller as a result.  In the end, there are far fewer today than they were fifty years ago, when there were fewer than there were 50 years before that, etc.

 

And dams aren't the only threat,  There is the glass eels fishery, which until recently existed in most states, and a thriving illegal glass eel fishery still survives.  When you can ship live glass eels to Japan at $`1,000 or more per pound, there's a lot of temptation to break the law.  The only legal glass eel fisheries that remain are in South Carolina and Maine, with Maine dominating, but the illegal fisheries are tough to suppress.  And the glass eel fishery is very damaging; it takes a lot of tiny eels to make a pound, and those are all fish that would have developed into females had they survived.

 

Plus there has been a parasite issue.  European eels have been devastated by a species of nematode that parasitized them.  That nematode has now been detected in American eels, and is threatening an already badly stressed stock.

 

So while dams may present the biggest single problem, over all, this is just a tough time to be an eel.

 

the first glass eel bust on LI was in the mid 90's  thats 25  years ago.  the harvest has continued since with  the perpetrators getting  better at what they do and the amount of time enforcement has to work them diminishing.  When you have an incredibly lucrative illegal fishery expanding over a 25 year period it will crush any fish population.  Remember how fast the blackfish population was devastated in Western LI Sound when the live blackfish prices spiked in the late 90's.  Its the harvest of glass eels that's destroyed the eel populations.  the harvest of the recruitment.  Dams just form a convenient place to gather the elvers.   

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On 2/20/2021 at 2:30 PM, wrboz said:

 

I realize nobody’s getting bass like they used to, but I wonder if others have noticed changes with the other species mentioned, and if so were they similar to what I’ve seen?

 

 

I'm trying to think of any spot, at least out front, that hasn't changed in terms of what fish are around.

Reasons:

a. Beach replenishment & dredging

b. Different (or no) food sources

c. Bottom structure changes

 

Some spots will still produce, mostly due to having good structure, proximity to deeper water, or amount of available food sources.

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16 hours ago, flyman28 said:

the first glass eel bust on LI was in the mid 90's  thats 25  years ago.  the harvest has continued since with  the perpetrators getting  better at what they do and the amount of time enforcement has to work them diminishing.  When you have an incredibly lucrative illegal fishery expanding over a 25 year period it will crush any fish population. 

In the south, it started in the mid-1970's.  Larvae from the Sargasso Sea recruit up and down the coast.  So, what happens in one area affects all.

 

Elver fishermen are good at hiding from the law and hiding each other.  The equipment is modest; a small fyke net, a dip net and a bucket.  All fishing is at night.  It's difficult to catch those guys.

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On 2/22/2021 at 11:26 PM, flyman28 said:

the first glass eel bust on LI was in the mid 90's  thats 25  years ago.  the harvest has continued since with  the perpetrators getting  better at what they do and the amount of time enforcement has to work them diminishing.  When you have an incredibly lucrative illegal fishery expanding over a 25 year period it will crush any fish population.  Remember how fast the blackfish population was devastated in Western LI Sound when the live blackfish prices spiked in the late 90's.  Its the harvest of glass eels that's destroyed the eel populations.  the harvest of the recruitment.  Dams just form a convenient place to gather the elvers.   

If only it were tjhat simple.  Then, it would be relatively easy to fix.

 

But if we look at the 2017 stock assessment update, it goes a little farther, saying

 

American  eels are confronted with many environmental and human-enduced stressors which affect all live stages and may reduce survival.  Since all anthropogenic eel mortality is pre-spawning, reproduction can be reduced by these cumulative pressures.  Commercial harvest occurs at all American eel life stages (glass, elver, yellow, and silver).  Blockages and obstructions that limit upstream migration of American eels have reduced habitat availability and limited the range of the species.  Dams may also limit or delay downstreamm movements of spawning adults.  Additionally, downstream mortality may be caused by hydroelectric facilities by impingement or turbine passage.  Freshwater habitat degredation resulting in delayed food production increases mortality of the freshwater life stages.  Predation of fish, birds, and mammals can impact eel populations at all life stages.  The non-native swim bladder parasite, Anguillacoloides crassus, can reduce swimming ability and decrease the silver eel's ability to reach the spawning grounds.  Contaiminants also may reduce the reproductive rates of American eels because they have a high contaiminant bioaccumulation rate.  Oceanographic changes influencing larvel drift and migration may reduce year-class success.  American eel, as a panmictic species, could be particularly vulnerable to drastic oceanic variations.  

 

The glass eel fishery is part of it, but eels face many problems.

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1 hour ago, CWitek said:

If only it were tjhat simple.  Then, it would be relatively easy to fix.

 

But if we look at the 2017 stock assessment update, it goes a little farther, saying

 

American  eels are confronted with many environmental and human-enduced stressors which affect all live stages and may reduce survival.  Since all anthropogenic eel mortality is pre-spawning, reproduction can be reduced by these cumulative pressures.  Commercial harvest occurs at all American eel life stages (glass, elver, yellow, and silver).  Blockages and obstructions that limit upstream migration of American eels have reduced habitat availability and limited the range of the species.  Dams may also limit or delay downstreamm movements of spawning adults.  Additionally, downstream mortality may be caused by hydroelectric facilities by impingement or turbine passage.  Freshwater habitat degredation resulting in delayed food production increases mortality of the freshwater life stages.  Predation of fish, birds, and mammals can impact eel populations at all life stages.  The non-native swim bladder parasite, Anguillacoloides crassus, can reduce swimming ability and decrease the silver eel's ability to reach the spawning grounds.  Contaiminants also may reduce the reproductive rates of American eels because they have a high contaiminant bioaccumulation rate.  Oceanographic changes influencing larvel drift and migration may reduce year-class success.  American eel, as a panmictic species, could be particularly vulnerable to drastic oceanic variations.  

 

The glass eel fishery is part of it, but eels face many problems.

Makes me question why we use them for bait so much...

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1 hour ago, CWitek said:

If only it were tjhat simple.  Then, it would be relatively easy to fix.

 

But if we look at the 2017 stock assessment update, it goes a little farther, saying

 

American  eels are confronted with many environmental and human-enduced stressors which affect all live stages and may reduce survival.  Since all anthropogenic eel mortality is pre-spawning, reproduction can be reduced by these cumulative pressures.  Commercial harvest occurs at all American eel life stages (glass, elver, yellow, and silver).  Blockages and obstructions that limit upstream migration of American eels have reduced habitat availability and limited the range of the species.  Dams may also limit or delay downstreamm movements of spawning adults.  Additionally, downstream mortality may be caused by hydroelectric facilities by impingement or turbine passage.  Freshwater habitat degredation resulting in delayed food production increases mortality of the freshwater life stages.  Predation of fish, birds, and mammals can impact eel populations at all life stages.  The non-native swim bladder parasite, Anguillacoloides crassus, can reduce swimming ability and decrease the silver eel's ability to reach the spawning grounds.  Contaiminants also may reduce the reproductive rates of American eels because they have a high contaiminant bioaccumulation rate.  Oceanographic changes influencing larvel drift and migration may reduce year-class success.  American eel, as a panmictic species, could be particularly vulnerable to drastic oceanic variations.  

 

The glass eel fishery is part of it, but eels face many problems.

I'm not ruling out environmental factors or man made obstacles, but eels held their own until the last 10 years.  No new hydroelectric dams built. In fact obstacles are less now than during the highest stock years.  Yes the parasite is an issue, but when you pull 2 tons of recruitment out of a year class of elvers that count about 4000 to an Kilogram its a massive hit annually for 25 years.  On a 5 year life span that's 5 cycles that have been whacked. Just on the USA coast.  The harvest runs from the Yucatan to Nova Scotia and the European side as well.  I think biologists are great but they miss the boat sometimes and this is one of them.  They missed on the inshore populations of winter flounder too.  I think we just sit on opposite sides of the aisle on some things. 

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21 mins ago, PSegnatelli said:

Makes me question why we use them for bait so much...

Probably because they’re not pretty like stripers! The “serpent” aversion is pretty strong in most people.

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We are having the same problem on the west coast... Years ago we had big runs of albacore in Southern California, but that's been many years ago.... To get albacore you need to go up to, at least Central Cal, or Oregon... Now we see more, and longer runs of yellowfin and bluefin tuna in closer... In the So. Cal. surf, barred surf perch were a staple and you could always depend on catching them... They are still around but much fewer and smaller than before, but I understand they are doing well up north...  Every thing seems to be heading north...

 

Butch

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CWITEK wrote: "Catching more big blue runners, too."

 

I've caught a few of those in FL when I was on vacation. They looked just like bluefish so I figured they were just the local FL name for the same fish that we call bluefish in NY. Am I wrong? Are they different species?

 

Thanks - Carpniels

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31 mins ago, flyman28 said:

I'm not ruling out environmental factors or man made obstacles...  I think biologists are great but they miss the boat sometimes and this is one of them.  They missed on the inshore populations of winter flounder too.  I think we just sit on opposite sides of the aisle on some things. 

I used to do root cause analysis for my job. It was rare that a failure was caused solely by one factor. Usually there was a primary factor that may have been overcome if not for additional contributing factors. Little things tend to pile up and can eventually lead to big consequences.

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43 mins ago, wrboz said:

Probably because they’re not pretty like stripers! The “serpent” aversion is pretty strong in most people.

Yep.  

 

Funny how the world works.   We got people nearly killing themselves to save honeybees (which are not native btw) but not a peep about genital lice. Yes crotch crabs, nearly extinct in North America. 

  Zero Facebook chain letters, no one writing their State Reps.  Nothing for the lowly louse.  

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2 hours ago, wrboz said:

It was rare that a failure was caused solely by one factor.

 

3 hours ago, flyman28 said:

all anthropogenic eel mortality is pre-spawning

Yes, but you could blame it all on human over-population.

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15 mins ago, oc1 said:

 

Yes, but you could blame it all on human over-population.

Is it Gyan (sp?) philosophy that postulates that the earths ecosystem is itself an organism, and that mankind is basically a parasite that constantly attacks it? Makes sense if you think about it.

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