Vanished Fish [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Vanished Fish

07-22-2007, 09:35 AM
In order to genenrate some discussion, I will publically expose on the web, my lack of fishing success the last 3 weeks.
It appears from my recent experience and that of 4 others (who for reputation purposes, shall remain nameless :) ) that our friends the stripers have vanished off the flats of Monomoy and SB, as well as locales in Pleasant Bay. 3 weeks ago, I saw 11 fish in 7 hrs (caught one) and since then, have not seen a single fish. Blind casting last week in several former "can't miss" Pleasant Bay hot spots produced nothing but a sore arm.
We always refer to this time of year as "the dog days"....but at least in my experience the previous 6 days meant....seeing 50 or so stripers on the flats in a day, and being challenged to even obtain a follow.
Last year I fished at least once a week from May thru mid October and only got skunked once....I always saw fish (uninterested as they were at times)...this is totally fish to be seen.
Flats and Pleasant bay appear to be loaded with crabs...haven't seen sandeels in 3 weeks. I have to assume that the bait is far off shore and the fish with them...the question I have is......why is it so extreme this year? Are water temps so much higher this year compared to past years? The closing of the southway explains SB...but not NM or Pleasant Bay (or maybe it does???)
Any thoughts out there?

07-22-2007, 11:28 AM
After the hard SW blow last week there were fair numbers on the SB flats with loads of schoolies flashing and feeding on the flats surrounding the structure I dubbed 'the guzzle'.

The remnants of the old J-bouy flats are hard and lacking in flow but when the temps are not stagnant there is a very long run with good fish cruising over it on the rising tide. This lighter band angles south toward the clammers flat from it's edge from it's tip just south of the guzzle - so be careful in that it's on the far side of the guzzle on the rising tide.

The usual singles on the cattle drive back to the Rip Ryder were there in fact I got a rare going away hookup from a single.

Bayside has, in a word been smokin' all summer with the bottom blanketed with sand eels and even more buried within the sand. Every step would make several pop out and pop back in like tan lightning bolts.

The bait moves around and where the bulk of the biomass is at any given moment is where the bulk of the bass will be, obviously. There are always those that get into a routine and will be around doing pretty much the same thing even where there is no bait around but not like the hordes that are present when the bait is hunkered down in a certain shoreline spot.

Nauset Beach will re-open in a couple of weeks so if you have ORV capabilities I bridge over the dog days out there a lot and this year is particularly good for that. The dead end at #7 gives me no heartburn since the mile-wide break is a short stroll away.

My point of view for this year is not that there are less fish or less bait in fact quite the opposite - it's a great fish and bait year.

But there is less good water in the usual places so you have to look for them differently than in years past.

With all due respect, I believe the problem is that you need to look for them differently because the playing field has changed. We ourselves can be like the routine bass who go through the same motions regardless of bait location, or we can be like the hordes that follow the bait wherever they go.

07-22-2007, 09:57 PM
I know nobody wants to hear it. I broached the subject before and got little interest. At the risk of being labeled a Chicken Little I gotta say, the trend I'm seeing does not bode well.
The really noticable aspect is the fishing in Maine. The last several years the fishing has gotten tougher and tougher. This year in my experience as well as several other reliable experienced fishermen, has been terrible. Last weekend my two brothers entered a kayak tournement on the Kennebec, New Meadows and Sheepscot rivers. Anybody who knows Maine stripers knows those are the Mecca rivers. Mid July with mackeral, silversides and bunker around should have been killer with quantity and quality. The winning fish was 27 inches. Second and third were like 22 and 20 inches. There was only one entry in the flyrod division. many guys were shut out completely.
Ten years ago all the winning fish would have been 36 - 40 inches or better and everybody would have caught fish. Lots of fish.
Not lack of bait. There was plenty.
Not weather or water temps, they were normal.
Not lack of skill. There were plenty of skilled fishermen fishing prime habitat with proven methods.
Why then?
I don't know, but consider that Maine is the northern limit of the range of migratory stripers. Normally when a population is reduced, the range contracts.
Sure there has been lots of big fish in certain areas. Still schools of smaller ones in the right high population spots.
Still, reading all the different forums and talking to lots of experienced fishermen, more and more I'm hearing things like Paxton said.
The one that got me worried was the old timer that has been bait fishing the canal for 40 years. While comparing notes with several other canal fishermen who were lamenting the poor action he said " Reminds me of how it was just before the crash in the late 70s".
My opinion is that way way too many fish are being killed. Two fish at 28 inches is too liberal. And commercial fishing.....?

OK, let me have it.:roll:

07-23-2007, 05:59 AM
Hey Jamie, they're on to us... I told you someone would notice if we took all the Stripers back home to England with us! :lildevl:

Mike Oliver
07-23-2007, 06:27 AM

I think that 2 fish is way too many for a Recreational Fisher. How can we justify two fish. Thats an awful lot of meat to consume. But was it not stupid well a stupid sector from the Recs that demanded and got a two fish daily limit. It never ceases to amaze me the greed that goes on by both the commercial and recreational sectors. You guys practically lost your Bass once and seem never to learn the lessons. In my Cape Cod trip this june past I witnessed far too many Recs killing Bass. It's this god given right that so many have to take fish that gets to me. I am not convinced that your stocks are as healthy as some would have. Lets face it the Striper fishery is prosecuted all year round. The fish are hounded down south when wintered up and then targetted both ways on the north and south bound migrations. There is just no let up for them. Too much cropping going on.
I have fished Montauk for 9 years ok only for 17 days each year but there are trends. Fewer bigger fish and fewer middle sized fish to. This year should be interesting. Last year we caught a ruck of very small fish in the 1.5 to 2lb bracket and averaged only one 30 inch fish each out of a party of 5. We fish 12 to 14 hour days. We don't play at it. This may only be considered anecdotal evidence but it's happening.
Just how did a two fish limit get legal? You may as well just shoot your other foot whilst you are at it.



07-23-2007, 06:27 AM my experience this year, it WAS a banner year for bait, a lot of fish and big fish....the recent phenomenon that I was writing about was the abrupt change. There is always a slow down but at least in my experience, not a vanishing of fish in the locales that I fish.
Hopefully it will turn on as quick as it turned off. I certainly plan on checking it out again, but waiting for a good incoming moon tide.

07-23-2007, 07:10 AM
One point I forgot to make was that there were several below average and at least one dismal YOY index in the past 7 years. Alot of the bigger fish around now may be from some of the above average year classes from the 90s.

I'm not sure how we ended up with such a liberal limit but a couple possiblities;
First, after the crash when fisheries managers were trying to pass drastic legislation [total moratorium], in order to pacify the naysayers they had to promise once the fish were deemed recovered, they'd allow harvest. Apparently the liberal limit is the fullfilment of that promise.
Second, the recovery of the striper stocks and the phenomenal recreational fishery that result has been a Golden Egg to the economies of many coastal areas and has spawned a multimillion dollar industry. The liberal limit has made it possible for thousand of people to take up striper fishing that never bothered back when the one fish 36 inch limit made it too much trouble to get a "Keeper". If you take those meat fishermen out of the equation, much revenue would be lost.

Paxton, I wasn't claiming you were saying what I'm saying. I'll take that dubious distinction all on my own.:frown:
I did cite your post as an example of something I'm seeing all over the many forums and hearing from other experienced fishermen. It's a trend. What scares me is that so many people point to the run of large fish as sign of a good season. True in certain places at certain times under certain conditions the fishing is still good or great. If you step back and look at the big picture, alarming trends are hard to ignore.
It just looks too much like it did before, right down to the claims of good fishing. Look back at the years just before the crash. There were some incredable seasons with 40 and 50 lbers taken all over the places. Sound familiar?
I hope people don't write me off as a nut and ignore this thread. I'd really like to hear from others, regardless if they agree or not.

07-23-2007, 07:17 AM
I'm one of those fishermen whose identity Ron was trying to protect. Two weekends ago I was in Chatham planning on going to North Monomoy. I should have known something was wrong when the only other fisherman catching the 8:00 shuttle was Adrian. Adrian got off at SB. I had fantastic conditions for sight fishing, few clouds, and calm water. The only problem was there were no fish. If there were any fish to be seen I would have seen them due to the great conditions. Trust me, there was nothing to be seen. Take this at face value, I'm not trying to inflate my status but, I haven't been shutout in over 2 years. It's awfully hard to catch what's not there.

Around 10:00 I bumped into one other fisherman on Monomoy who came out on another ferry. He hadn't seen anything either. Just 2 fishermen on Monomoy on a weekend? I ended up blind casting near the dropoff point waiting for Keith without a hit or seeing any fish. I could see SB and no one was fishing there either. At the end of the day all I saw in the water was some crabs nothing else. No swimming bait, no working gulls, and no fish. I guess a real tell of there being no fish is that there are no seals around either.

I expect the fishing to slow down during the summer but, I didn't expect the fish to disappear.

07-23-2007, 08:16 AM
interesting that the bayside is still fishing well, as where there is cold deep water here on the south shore it is fishing well at dawn and on overcast days.

by all reports, the canal and buzzards bay is pretty poor at the moment too.


07-23-2007, 08:30 AM
A person would have a VERY hard time convincing me that the fish stocks are even a shadow of what they were in the mid-90's right now.

Lot of small fish -- both stripers and blues -- around Red River this weekend.

07-23-2007, 08:34 AM
Came down with a bug this weekend, so didn't get out. Doesn't sound like I missed much, from the above reports....
Warren- sorry I missed you yesterday, but I was feeling pretty lousy, and had no way to get in touch with you to let you know...on top of being sick, my cable internet/phone connection was on the fritz...can't wait until Verizon FIOS comes to town, so I can dump Comcast.....

07-23-2007, 08:37 AM
Just to clarify...

My response to Ron was directly targeted at a segment of the cape which I happen to know he frequents. I do as well.

The point was by moving around and doing things differently absolutely stellar fishing has been encountered, as some of the quiet voices who are reading will attest in this region.


I admire that Mike, Steve and others are looking at the big picture and it could very well be that there is cause for alarm beyond the microcosm I call 'home water'.

It's always complacency that is responsible for a species demise and the current regulations are fragmented across state lines.

I can honestly not say whether the coastwide population is down, where I fish a high percentage of the biomass always lingers through the summer.

But I am glad people are thinking about it and I will join you in thinking about it as a big picture concern.

07-23-2007, 08:38 AM
Mike......opinions and observations are what I hoped to generate by my initial post. It's not about agreeing or's about sharing of info and observations.
I for one have not done this long enough (only 6 yrs) to personally have a long term comparison of past vs present. Only time will tell if what we are experiencing is a blip on the screen of a stable pattern. Here's hoping that it's a blip.

07-23-2007, 08:53 AM
I don't want to sound like I am preaching to anyone but with regards to the "elbow" nothing has been stable.

The habitat has completely changed the key source of the area's vibrance has been reduced to an alternative trickle. Being at that trickle at the right time means 20-30 fish going loopy for your fly. That tells me something I knew the first time I read the news about the southway closing especially how we saw the effect of it's constriction over the last few years. Hundreds of willing fish if you made the walk, even in the dog days.

Until something happens, spring will be amazing and fall will be explosive but the conditions in mid-summer won't even let the fish be comfortable enough to graze on all those crabs except for a hard blow or bold spell here and there.

I don't hear anyone complaining about the big beaches except that there are thousands of seals. Wonder why they are there?

I can't remember having a year this good on the ocean side and I suspect it will only get better soon as the pea bunker comes calling. I've just been holding out until they open the beach for ORV and because other spots have been on fire.

My point is that within this microcosm of the 'elbow' area I don't see less I see 'different' that's all.

I am not able to surmise much about the overall population of the species from what I see, I guess it's like the three blind men and the elephant.

Mike Oliver
07-23-2007, 09:46 AM

I hear you with regard to your local conditions. Things have changed locally in your fishery so it is reasonable to expect the fish to have acted differently to the norm. If ones keeps doing the same stuff in these circumstances then yes catches must be expected to fall. You have to keep connected to what is going on. It's a great part of the game we play. Hard work but fun to.

It is dificult to asses the general state of the whole fishery. It is perverse that certain areas can experince great fishing close to an imminent collapse. Not saying the Striper Fishery is anywhere close to that but in many quarters the warning bells are ringing.

I do find it sad to hear that many Fishermen were only interested in the Striper when the size limit got reduced. Sure so now we have Striper Gold on coastal communities but for how long. It is the whole short sightedness that drives me nuts. These same communities will go bust to along with property values if the Striper goes west yet again.

07-23-2007, 10:54 AM
Glad to hear you're still finding them. Certainly some of that success can be attributed to exerience and skill. Not wanting to stroke your ego too much however;) , I have to add my belief that certain areas are core areas for the bulk of the population and others are fringe areas. Maine is a fringe area, IMO, and as the population shrinks, it's natural for the fringe areas to show the signs first. The Elbow is apparently a core area that attracts and holds stripers even when lesser areas are not fishing as well. At the risk of repeating myself to the Dead Horse Beating frequency, again I can't help comparing the situation to the one at the end of the 70s. If I recall from past reading, Nauset Beach was the scene of the last great blitzes before the total crash. Other areas had already shown signs of the decline while the Nauset crowd continued to kill 50 lbers with regularity. That was one reason people were slow to wake up to the problem - all the [localized] stories of great fishing lulled them into a false sense of security.

I hope I am wrong. Although my wife will tell you I hate to be wrong:devil: , there are times I would prefer to be wrong. Like when I predicted Crocodile Hunter would die filming a segment:frown: . I also predicted we would be OPENLY sending troops to Packistan. Hope I'm wrong there to but it doesn't look good.:roll:

07-23-2007, 04:03 PM
I don't have enough experience to tell one way or the other whether things are getting worse or not. However I do have some thoughts on limits & size of fish that should be kept.

Looking at the world through my conservationist/recreational fisherman rose colored classes, I seems to me that a commercial season for such a fish is stupid, especially since all was near lost only a few short years ago. I don't think ( I could be very wrong) we mere humans can destroy the worlds fishery's totally. However it has been proven time & time again that we can sure mess things up pretty well.

The way I see it is that too many people do not take the conservationist point of view while recreational fishing. They figure it is their right to kill as many fish as they see fit and some one else can put theirs back. Fortunately, most of us here on the Fly Fishing Forum seem to believe in catch & release and only keeping an occasional fish for the pan. I know I like a grilled striper now & again.

Is the Maine slot limit thing not a good idea? It seems to make good sense to me to return the small juvenile and the larger 26 to 40 inch fish to the sea.
Aren't the very ones we are now able to keep at 28 inches and above, the fish that breed and carry on the species? Maybe if you could keep one mid sized schoolie and a 40 incher or longer is not such a bad thing. At least a larger majority of the breeding age fish would be returned maybe even to live, providing the angler does not kill it getting it in.

Maybe I am missing the point, I dunno.

In any event I was out on SB for a few hours Sunday. It was just too windy to fly fish for me. But I did take note of the happenings. There were seals and birds, both terns and gulls working the surf. I did see an few fish in the waves. Stripers or blues I could not tell. So there must have been some bait around. The water was cool to the touch I estimate 60 deg f no more. (I did not have a thermometer.)

Flydoc, Maybe I should give you my phone number some day. No problem I was in incommunicado anyway. I had no internet at the Motel 6 to look at the board. I hope you did not have the Budweiser or single malt flu ;)

07-23-2007, 04:40 PM
I think a lot of the problem with the Striper Fishery has to do with money.
The problem I have with the Striper becoming a game fish is that the recs and the guides get to keep fish while the commercials are left out of the plunder.
To me this seems unfair. So I guess it will come down to who has the strongest lobbyist that will determine the outcome of the Striped Bass.
The guides and the recs catch a lot of fish and blame the small commercial guy for the demise of the Striper. Just take a look at the other sites and see the infomercials of guides and their sports with huge fish.
One of the beneficiaries of the Striper as a game fish will be a huge commercial fish farmer who make out like a bandit .
I fish , to enjoy the environment and not to be competitive. I stopped fishing with a group of guys who always counted how many fish they got and how big the fish were that they caught. It saddens me to see that people just can't go out and enjoy the fishery without the competition and always trying to make a buck.
FishHawk. Just my .02

07-23-2007, 05:42 PM
Back to the chatham flats, seems a few months ago the most optimistic speculation was that the fishing would be interesting and challanging in the dog days, with the closing of the southway. Seems that speculation is holding up and then some.

The bayside, where most of my fishing is done over a little two mile stretch, has been ok. It seems to have settled into a summer pattern where the window shrinks to around the bottom of the tide but I don't get to fish enough to know for sure and it seems when I get to fish the weather has just gone through a change (front's passed through) so I view my observatations as skewed. The last couple of years have been tough for the shore guys, too many small fish to get a quality fish. This year has been better in terms of quality.

Pleasant bay has to be loaded with fish, with the new cut. Problem there for the guy on foot is mobility and the ability to search.

The boat guys and sharpies seem to be doing pretty good and bait seems to be as good or better than it's been in awhile, away from shore especially.

My gut says I'd like to see a one fish limit with a minimum of 32 - 34". My gut also says that we ought to be more concerned with the health of forage and by-catch issues rather than hook and line "commercials".

...and something has to be done about the seals.

07-23-2007, 08:54 PM make an interesting point re forage. Last year I noticed that the large pods of fish coming over the flats were less frequent in the late spring and missing were the giant balls of sandeels that I use to see regularly...I spoke with a marine biologist....his opinion was that last year's heavy spring rains desalinated the estruaries and killed off a lot of forage. We had heavy spring rains this year as well.
I have not seen one giant ball of sandeels in the last 2 years on the flats and definetly less silversides and shrimp...I've seen some sandeel pods the size of a steering wheel, but not those the size of a Yugo that I used to see :) never had to look for them could see the large cloud of them from a 100 ft away. Or maybe I need new glasses :)
Bait is bayside obviously...but why not south side? Obviously the southway is one factor, but there may be others.
PS: To all....thanks for the interesting discussion...made me think about other factors as well.

07-23-2007, 09:01 PM
Huge pods/shoals of sandeels offshore on Stellwagon. Seems to be a discussion happening on a number of boards that there are less inshore fish this year. No firsthand experience as it has been almost a month since I fished inshore.


07-23-2007, 09:31 PM
Just to clarify, I'm not refering only to this season. Some of us have been noticing the trend in Maine for a few years now. I've also noticed it in the Merrimack and RI as well. Up till now I haven't mentioned it but a number of other posts around the boards have shown that others are thinking about it too.

07-23-2007, 10:09 PM
Flydoc, Maybe I should give you my phone number some day. No problem I was in incommunicado anyway. I had no internet at the Motel 6 to look at the board. I hope you did not have the Budweiser or single malt flu ;)

Feel free to PM me your cell #; I'll PM you mine in return.
Unfortunately the bug was viral and not least with the latter you feel a whole lot better before you feel bad:(
Hope to hook up with you next time you're down this or no fish...I'd be up for a trip to the Bayside if that is where the fish seem to be at these days....

Two fingers of Glenlivet tonight to wind down a very stressful day after a weekend without fishing....Big G give me the strength to make it to this coming weekend in one piece and BUG-FREE!

P.S.- Fredo- I'd be all for a seal season- especially if they'd let me use my 44 Magnum ;) Just don't tell PETA!!!

07-24-2007, 12:23 AM
With all due respect, I believe the problem is that you need to look for them differently because the playing field has changed. We ourselves can be like the routine bass who go through the same motions regardless of bait location, or we can be like the hordes that follow the bait wherever they go.

I am not a full time Cape angler but I was truly dumbstruck when I began to weigh the impacts of the southway filling in. A productive off-shore tidal flat requires that a fish can transit through the channels and troughs and move up on the flats to feed. The tidal flats systems of N. monomoy and South beach were totally integrated, and relied on one another for migratory routes.... the flows of bait and the fish that follow them.... now there is a big dead end, which has effectively depleted the flush of cold, nutrient rich water the SB and much of the monomoy ecosytem. The forage fish have migrated to better habitat, or, the large pods of bass aren't working the SB & Monomoy flats b/c they no longer provide the proper access via channels troughs to the atlantic.
It is a new playing field

07-24-2007, 07:40 AM
I have not seen one giant ball of sandeels in the last 2 years on the flats and definetly less silversides and shrimp...I've seen some sandeel pods the size of a steering wheel, but not those the size of a Yugo that I used to see :) never had to look for them could see the large cloud of them from a 100 ft away. Or maybe I need new glasses :)
Bait is bayside obviously...but why not south side? Obviously the southway is one factor, but there may be others.

Ron, back in mid june on Hardings there was so much bait we were complaining that it was too much :chuckle:

100 yard long strings of small sandeels passed us all day - as you said we could see the 'stains' half a mile off.

so the bait was here then.

in regards to the health of the fishery, i just read 'flyfishing for sharks' by Richard Louv (great book) in which he addresses the striper fishery - and in 1999 in NY state the commercial hook and line guys took 300,000 fish. the recreational catch was estimated at 1 million fish.

seeing the numerous 'back-garden bass' shots on other sites, I can believe that MA anglers take a similar number - first keeper, first 20lber , first 30 each season are all taken here.

I'm not against other people taking 'one for the table', but angling is a fast growing sport and if everyone keeps taking 'just one', maybe someday the decision will come down to whether you want 'just one' or to have any fish at all . . .


07-24-2007, 08:19 AM

Do like the fish, find the sweet spots. By the time you do, they already have long ago and if you aren't quick they will be a move ahead of you all season. It's rarely predicated on what we want to do, they dictate the rules of the game.

As far as state of the biomass - I think it's very difficult to anecdotally assess the state of the overall population from a small sampling of the interstate coast. Inshore, offshore, nomadic, transitioning populations will come and go as they have from post-spawn down south to as far as Nova Scotia they say. I really hope the street-wise concerns are wrong, but can't say one way or the other from my slice of the universe. For me it's seemed like a boom year for both bait and bass from shore whether on the sound, bayside or ocean beaches.

As far as the ol' familiar ways on the refuge - here's my take... pray for a big easterly to open the guzzle WIDE. Otherwise enjoy the spring and fall craziness which will likely be unmatched anywhere.

I am not a full time Cape angler but I was truly dumbstruck when I began to weigh the impacts of the southway filling in. A productive off-shore tidal flat requires that a fish can transit through the channels and troughs and move up on the flats to feed. The tidal flats systems of N. monomoy and South beach were totally integrated, and relied on one another for migratory routes.... the flows of bait and the fish that follow them.... now there is a big dead end, which has effectively depleted the flush of cold, nutrient rich water the SB and much of the monomoy ecosytem. The forage fish have migrated to better habitat, or, the large pods of bass aren't working the SB & Monomoy flats b/c they no longer provide the proper access via channels troughs to the atlantic.
It is a new playing field

07-24-2007, 08:51 AM
Mark points out humbling rec vs commercial numbers.

If you look at the federal studies across states MA has highest mortality overall and the highest figure of all is incidental mortality from rec angling. This is where regulations can make a huge impact and they should be interstate regulations in order to have any measurable effect.

The ratio of shorts to legal fish is many to one, and the ratio of fish killed by bad angling is more than the number of fish retained for consumption.

In other words, the second biggest threat to striped bass is the gut hooking and mishandling of schoolies.

Habitat is always #1 and can render a species extinct. For example imagine an Exxon Valdez-sized oil spill on Chesapeake Bay in early spring... :Eyecrazy:

Forage problems impacts the population, their behavior and average sizes and reduces the population but the numbers from these studies would indicate that the biggest striped bass killer today is bad angling practice!

Think about that. Although I consider flyfishing on a different plane, we have met the enemy and the enemy is us.

If I had the authority I would require circle hooks for bait fishing, and single hooks for all lures like they do for salmon out west. The hooks must comply with certain gap and length regulations. WHY do they do that? Because it means lower mortality for shorts. Plain and simple. And it works.

Yeah everyone pissed and moaned when it first came out but now the shops sell rigs accordingly and people catch just as many fish with one difference - more fish survive the release.

So if we really want to have an impact on striped bass welfare we need to adopt interstate regulations that reduce incidental mortality from recreational anglers.

It's a put up or shut up situation.


07-24-2007, 10:01 AM
The recreational angling stats are pretty scary when you think about. In Maine for instance, we have a population of really small schoolies that arrive every spring in late may and early june. Sandworms and chunk bait are good methods to catch, but the likelyhood of a keepable slot fish is very low (20-26in). That is not to say that there are no bigger fish, but all the fish that were 10-16inches last season all showed back up this year w/ shoulders, and were 15-20 this year. Fishing to shorts w/out circles is a recipe for disaster...gut hook city. Why can't we propose Circle hook initiative?
Fly anglers need to be sure to crimp barbs too, or else our poor handling of smaller during hook removal can be almost as bad. I fish lures too, when backcasting room is not available, or, when I just can't fathom putting on my waders...:Eyecrazy: and i would say that the advantage that Fly fishing and Lure fishing has VS Bait, is in fact that we are constantly at attention as to what is at the end of our lines. You feel the bump, and you set the hook.

Be prepared, have plyers, crimp barbs, use circles for bait. You don't lose fish on the fly b/c you don't have a barb, you lose fish b/c the you had poor line management and you lost tension on your fly line..

07-24-2007, 11:38 AM
Good points.

I fish 100% fly and 100% barbless and never regret it. I can't remember the last time I dropped a fish that had any power or bulk to keep the rod bent and I've pinned my fair my share of them in the lip.

07-24-2007, 04:39 PM
The only thing barbs are good for is a trip to the Emergency Room when your wife won't push the hook through for you and you cannot see the hook.

Don't ask me How I know that :hihi: Since that incident I don't forget to use the the pliers. :D

Barbless fishing makes total sense to me. I too have yet to have a fish get away because the barb was pinched down unless I lost track of the line. And it makes getting those blue fish easier to get off without Bogas

07-24-2007, 08:58 PM
Some good points being made.
Regarding hook mortality, I was shocked when I saw the numbers published by the government. According to their numbers, hook mortality is twice that of the harvest for both commercial and recreational. Holy cow! That's is a sobering thought.:mad:
All I can see in my mind's eye is the sight of the endless fleet of boats on Narragansett Bay this spring after the word got out about the big stripers. When you consider that each of those boats could potentially keep two fish per person on board and kill 4 more a piece releasing gut hooked shorts, multiplied by all the other boats up and down the coast, plus Ma and RI commercial rod & reel plus the RI trap nets...WOW! Those are scary numbers. It's kinda hard to believe that kind of pressure is not taking it's toll. Add in a couple of disasterous breeding seasons...:whoa:
So for now all we have is anecdotal data from a few individuals of questionable sanity [refering to myself:tongue: ]. Plenty of others are having a banner season. Is it time to sell the 9 weight? I don't think so. On the other hand, now might not be the best time to quit your day job and buy a boat and become a charter captain. Time will tell.
As for me, I've already self imposed a personal moratorium on [intentionally] killing stripers. I'm also gonna be paying WAY more attention to my hooking, handling and releasing. I do my best to raise up my boys to respect the resource and make conservation second nature. And I ain't never ever gonna show another person one of my secret spots, even if they offer me money.;)

07-24-2007, 11:17 PM
Not to brag, but I've never kept a striper, and don't intend to....the fact that I've only caught one keeper size fish does have something to do with it, but the same kind of discussion going on in this thread is the main reason I made the decision some time ago. Another factor being where and when I typically catch stripers doesn't lend itself easily to lugging a 28+ inch fish back to where Keith picks us up. I like the taste of broiled bluefish, so if I'm looking for a fish to eat I'll catch a few blues off a beach near a convenient parking lot (so I can bring a cooler of ice to throw the fish in) or some of the stocked trout in the local ponds...or buy some haddock in the supermarket. I pinch down barbs on any commercial flies I buy, and on any hooks I use to tie my own flies. Those fish that got away were because I forgot to keep the rod tip high and/or allowed slack into the line. Not saying my ways should be imposed on everyone else, but I think we'd have a more enjoyable striper fishery if more people adopted them voluntarily....maybe keep at most one per person per month during the season for the grill, and use other fish/meat (?seal?) for the rest of the BBQ's....
My two drachmas.....

07-25-2007, 09:01 AM
I tie about 75% of my flies on Circle hooks. I know some feel they miss too many, but I believe I get the same hook-up % or better. Conventional, bend down the barbs and keep tight.

07-25-2007, 09:09 AM
Things have been tough this year... Just guided 4 guys from the Fly Casters in Boston a coiuple weeks ago and we were skunked...only saw a few fish and I took them everywhere on the west side of NM...all the channels and two tides. Could not believe it...when back two other times and things were not good...I thought I was now looking in the wrong places on NM...places where usually always produced....anyway...I will be down most of August and I am hopeful we can plan a RIp Trip and to other locations on South M...will talk with Keith soon...John

07-25-2007, 09:54 AM
First off, there's been a lot of good points raised.

I've been pinching barbs for years now. It makes a much smaller hole in the fish as well as the fisherman....Most fish can be released without taking them out of the water. Just a quick push backwards on the fly does the trick. Yes, I've lost fish but, maybe I would have lost them with a barbed hook. I don't even think about it .

Maybe if plug fishermen went to single hooks.... not to sound like a flyfishng snob but, do you really need 3 sets of treble hooks? I used to surfcast and many times had multiple hooks end up in the fish.

I think another area where we as fishermen need to improve is in releasing fish. Many times I've seen someone play a fish until it was exhausted, then after it was landed it's just released or tossed back into the water. Why not take a minute or two to revive the fish? The poor handling of releasing fish was made evident on the TV show "On the Water." Last year they did a segment of some "fishermen" casting plugs to schoolies. They were landing the fish on a rocky beach and just tossing the fish back into the rock filled water. Could some of these fish been injured falling on rocks? Probably.

Now, getting back to the elbow.... I understand why SB fishing could slow due to the Southway closing. That's why The last time I went fishing I chose the west side of NM. I figured it was facing open water and wouldn't be affected by the lack of current on the inside. WRONG:mad: There was nothing to see but some crabs. I don't mind not catching fish if I'm seeing them. At least then I know the fish are there and I'll change tactics. BUT when there are no fish to be seen no tactic will work.

07-25-2007, 10:09 AM
No air conditioning for the fish. Even with replenishing flows, no passing back and forth from ocean to flat once they make the 18 mile detour around the bend. From what I have seen up to the plover closing the area around the new Nauset break has adopted some serious fish. Spring and fall should be better than ever though.

For summertime relief pray for the growth of the guzzle into a major break. Cooling flows from big tides have kept fish there even in mid-July. Fish acting silly when the cool water comes through if they are anywhere in the vicinity they blast over. There the secrets out.

Anyone have any pull over at Otis? A stray missle would do it. ;)

07-25-2007, 06:46 PM
along with quantity of bait, I've been doing all my fishing in 2 general locations along cape cod bay, 2 creeks and their adjacent beaches ,both areas are loaded with sandeels ,silversides and the occasional visit by tiny pea bunker. The fish have been present on flooding and ebbing tides, fish vary in size from low 20 in. to mid 30 in ,blind casting and sight fishing.:biggrin: Water temps in the bay are very cool for this time of year, I usually wear waders , I haven't been wearing them when sight casting later in the day along the beach there has been acouple of days when I have lost feeling in my ankles from cold water.:Eyecrazy:

Rip Ryder
07-26-2007, 09:28 PM
Well as of today, 7/26, reports off the north tip of North Monomoy and the flats to the west of it, Lots of schools of fish and good numbers of big fish, but, always a but, the schools were coming in all different directions, so it was hard to just set up and be ready to cast to the schools. Everyone got a half dozen to a dozen fish over there today.

best I got for you Paxton, still can't get you back to the good ole' days.

Capt Keith

07-27-2007, 06:01 AM
Captn' -

Grapevine is reporting pea bunker on the south side - can you confirm or deny? If so the dog days are almost over.

07-27-2007, 06:21 AM
Don't count your chickens before they hatch. Time will tell about the Fall run.

07-27-2007, 06:44 AM
Keith..thanks for the info.....I'm sure the day I come I will hear from someone..."you should have been here yesterday" :D It sure is nice when one experiences a "yesterday" day "today" ...have had a few of those and they are great.

Mike Oliver
07-27-2007, 01:00 PM


You should know better at your age skinny wading in cold water, like I should have know better swimming across the channel at Brewsters to get a more favourable wind on my left shoulder. I can tell you I probably wont be doing that again next year even in my wet suit.
We forgot to hook up and fish together with our long rods in the Canal. Maybe we can do it next June. I have a window of around 14 to 21 days.


07-27-2007, 01:49 PM
Don't count your chickens before they hatch. Time will tell about the Fall run.

Not sure I understand. Are you worried about the fall run of young bunker this year?

Are you a betting man? :lildevl:

07-27-2007, 07:16 PM
I had high hopes of heading over to visit Keith on Saturday morning. Won't know til later tonight. Anyone else going out? John? Juro? Doc?


07-27-2007, 07:26 PM
Cannot make it Saturday, but I was thinking of coming down Sunday Morn. Or If I can find a place to stay maybe Saturday night. That will be hard on short notice.

07-28-2007, 06:43 AM
All I' m saying about the Fall run is the bait can go off shore to deeper waters and for the shore guys it could not be a great Fall run. I believe it happened a couple a years ago. Time will tell. :lildevl: FishHawk