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Stripers and Coastal Gamefish Stripers, Blues, Inshore tuna!

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Old 07-22-2007, 09:35 AM
Paxton Paxton is offline
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Vanished Fish

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 years....dog 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 different...no 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?
Ron
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  #2  
Old 07-22-2007, 11:28 AM
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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.
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Old 07-22-2007, 09:57 PM
mikez mikez is offline
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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.
Why?
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.
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:59 AM
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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!
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Old 07-23-2007, 06:27 AM
Mike Oliver Mike Oliver is offline
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Mikez,

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.

Sad

Mike
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Old 07-23-2007, 06:27 AM
Paxton Paxton is offline
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Mike...in 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.
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Old 07-23-2007, 07:10 AM
mikez mikez is offline
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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.

Mike,
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.
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.
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Old 07-23-2007, 07:17 AM
polareyez polareyez is offline
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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.
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Old 07-23-2007, 08:16 AM
Guernseybass Guernseybass is offline
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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.


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Old 07-23-2007, 08:30 AM
sRobbins sRobbins is offline
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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.
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Old 07-23-2007, 08:34 AM
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Came down with a bug this weekend, so didn't get out. Doesn't sound like I missed much, from the above reports....
Flydoc
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.....
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Old 07-23-2007, 08:37 AM
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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.

HOWEVER -

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.
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Old 07-23-2007, 08:38 AM
Paxton Paxton is offline
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Mike......opinions and observations are what I hoped to generate by my initial post. It's not about agreeing or disagreeing...it'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.
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Old 07-23-2007, 08:53 AM
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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.
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:46 AM
Mike Oliver Mike Oliver is offline
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Juro,

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.
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