RE:North River Spit report
Thanks for the scouting report. I see you're keeping up with your fish magnet ways right there in the 'hood.
My personal experience (although no expert on holdover verses migratory) is that winter-over fish appear different in coloration, relative bulk for length ratio, and general health by the time late winter or early spring rolls around.
During the clave, I caught one holdover in the 25" class. It hit with a vigorous sideswipe and made a good first run but gave up easy and had a totally difference appearance than all the others caught that day.
The fresh fish in this somewhat dark estuary had striking dark backs with the purple hue evident in the transition from black to the pearly silver slivers between black stripes. As I mentioned before, the ventrals and even the highlights of the tails had faint robins-egg blues that showed clearly in cloud-dimmed light of the stormy south wind we had on Sunday. Each light scale appeared charged with the shimmer of silver and pearl, and the fish were plump.
This 25" holdover on the other hand had a mud-brown back, and the ridge between it's head and shoulder could be distinguished. The abdomen was slightly concave, indicating a lack of nutrients. The proportions of this fish reminded me of big perch in sterile lakes up north, it's fins looked exaggerated for it's body. The thing that stood out the most was the stripe coloration and pattern. The stripes looked as if they had been partially scrubbed off. Because these features are what I identify this fish with, it was a sad testimony to it's condition and I released it by touching only the barbless fly (inverting the fly) keeping the fish in the water.
Wonder why they miss the bus? Must be nature's way of ensuring survival through diversity. Perhaps they reproduced in the tribs? The southernmost population I've found in literature is St.Johns River in Florida, a naturally occuring race that lives entirely in the river and does not migrate coastwise. This is a similar behavior to the holdover bass here.