spitzlure14

Striped bass migration change over time

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Hi, coastal waters are warming and will probably continue to do so.

Since that’s the case has anyone noticed a change in stripers migration, are the moving further north in the Summer and not migrating as far to the south?

This year it seems like there were striped bass migrating much earlier than in the past but it could just be that there hasn’t been as many anglers targeting striped bass early in the spring.
All answers are welcome.

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They’re around right about same time as most years. It’s never was a precise schedule. I saw them a few days earlier this year but I don’t think that makes it a trend. Bait movements also effects where they’re going to show up. This past year they seemed to be hanging in spots where they haven’t been in numbers for more than 10 years. As far as their northern boundaries, they have always had some presence in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, but the numbers vary. 
Perhaps marine biologists can document some patterns, I only offer anecdotal evidence. 

 

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Here is a study which analyzes Striped Bass and American Shad spawning phenology in the Hudson River estuary. 

https://afspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/mcf2.10076

 

As of the study's writing average spawning cessation and duration of both species were minimally affected with respect to historical averages. 

However the study authors do make predictions in line with current climate models, and project an earlier spawn of about a week to two weeks for both species by the 2090s. However the authors also make many assumptions which are impossible to control for, but its a solid baseline projection. 

 

However since the large majority of the biomass are Chesapeake fish which are more migratory, we may not be able to draw the same conclusions

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Nope. The only difference every year is the people putting in the work and those who don’t. You put in the work, you find them. If they don’t show up as usual in your typical spot, keep it moving. Don’t waste time. Lot of people last year hoping the fish would show up in the same spots and they never did. 

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Seems the seasons have shifted to an earlier arrival of larger fish along with an earlier departure of larger fish based on a few spots I'm familiar with

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The fiolks who do the winter tagging cruise (us Fish & Wildlife Service, state biologists, etc.) have found that the big wintering body of fish has shifted a little north--more fish off southernmost Virginia, fewer off North Carolina--and quite a bit farther offshore.

 

Beyond that, the bass are still spawning in the same river systems, which places practical limitations on their migration.

 

Often, what we interpret is fish migrating sooner may be warmer water making fish that are always in the area becoming more active and easier to catch.  The same warm weather makes it more likely that anglers will be activem too.  More active fish plus more active anglers can easily combine to make it appear that fish are moving north sooner.

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