Peanut Bunker Defined - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 08-10-2000, 11:40 AM
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Peanut Bunker Defined

Can someone please give us a solid definition of what species(s) and size a Peanut Bunker is? History of the name would help to. Did it evolve from Peanut Butter?

TerryW
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Old 08-10-2000, 12:25 PM
Aaron
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

Without making the effort to pull out the reference books...
Bunker is the NE name for menhaden. Further south they call them pogeys. In general, peanut is just a reference to small size. Off North Carolina they tend to call the rather small dolphin (aka mahi) that are abundant this time of year 'peanuts'. The variety in local names for fishes has repeatedly caused problems with fish identification, one reason you so often see 'reported as species X' in fisheries books - probably means an unlikely occurrence (way out of the species' range) and/or unreliable identification. In many cases, there are actually different local names for the same fish, depending upon it's size, for example, or color. Confusing, imo. I'm not sure that there is a specific size for 'peanut', just like there really is no defined size for 'schoolie' striper.

That said,
Atlantic menhaden are in the family Clupeidae, which inlcudes all of the herrings, shads, and menhaden. Atlantic menhaden = Brevoortia tyrannus. Very important commercial fish, used mostly for fish meal and fertilizer, some for the oil. I think it's generally agreed that mehaden are overfished. Also an important forage fish for many piscivorous fishes along the Atlantic coast (as are most herrings in their respective ranges). In the fall, menhaden are pretty well loaded with oils, which is a great source of immediate energy and energy storage for bass and blues - thus the great feeding blitzes.

Aaron
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Old 08-10-2000, 12:59 PM
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

Thanks Aaron. I was getting the impression that PB was also other juvie species that hang around this time of the season. But they are just Pogies. Anyone disagree with that definition? What about Scup? Herring?

TerryW
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Old 08-10-2000, 01:16 PM
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

<center>
<font size="1">Brittanica.com Photo</font><!--1--></center>

The menhaden? Bunker? Pogie? Mossback? Probably one of the most important yet inconsistently named species out there... except perhaps the dolphin, and albies are in there too.

I think 'peanut' is a play on words to your point, but a real sticky moniker.
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Old 08-10-2000, 01:54 PM
Aaron
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

It is very common for juveniles of related species (same genus, for example) to look very similar. In many instances, it is very difficult to identify juveniles to species in the field (need to count fin spines, spots, etc). The same with herrings (including menhaden), which so often look similar when juveniles. I imagine that back in the day when there were actually decent populations of herring (the best populations now pale in relation to long ago), it wouldn't be uncommon to have multiple species being chowed by bass and stripers along the coast. My guess is that nowadays what we are seeing are mostly juvenile menhaden.
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Old 08-10-2000, 05:17 PM
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

Adult bunker are pretty easy to identify from atlantic herring, alewife, etc. Juvies aren't as easy, but with a good look it's pretty clear to see. They have a bulldog face as opposed to the terrier face of a herring. They are stout and deeper bodied and have multiple spots radiating from the edge of the gill approximately at the eye line. Adults have distinct yellow highlights on the fins and large scales. When they feed, the ratio of the flared head (not just gills but the whole head appears inflated) is far greater than herring, who appear to be opening their mouth wide. I'd say the comparison is 1/3 of the body length flared out for plankton verses 1/5 for the herring. Herring are far more slender, even when viewed in the water.

On the other hand, it's very hard to distinguish our local anchovies from silversides without seeing them feed or out of the water.

I'd also have a hard time knowing the difference between an alewife and a shad if it were not for the obvious size difference.

When I was a teen they were all over the place, sometimes getting as big as 14". Now as refreshing as it was to see the juvies last year I can't help but think the shortage of big stripers (and the skinniness of long ones) is somehow related to the lack of big pogies.

There is a lot of controversy over the commercial fishing of this <!--http--><a href="http://www.chesbay.org/ff_am.htm" target="_blank"> critical forage species. </a><!--url-->
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Old 08-10-2000, 10:12 PM
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

go here for a pic and info


http://www.csc.noaa.gov/otter/htmls/data/species/menhaden.htm
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Old 08-11-2000, 06:05 AM
MikeF MikeF is offline
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

Actually Aaron has the naming convention backwards. Menhaden are generally referred to as pogies in MA and northward. In NY and NJ they refer to them as mossbunker or bunker for short.
Just to confuse the issue a bit in MA scup are often called porgies. But a porgy ain't a pogy, but a bunker is.
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Old 08-11-2000, 06:46 AM
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

Out in Puget Sound (WA), some sea perch are called "pogies" while others are called perch. There are no menhaden. When I just moved out there I went fishing one morning and the chinook salmon came into shore and ran the "pogies" out of the water near Salty's in Redondo. I asked what the bait was and a local said "pogie". For maybe two years I thought there were pogies (menhaden) out there but couldn't understand why I never saw them again despite seeing millions of these perch.

The perch have a very similar body shape, silver white body and yellow highlights on the fins and tail. I could see the resemblance but they are not the gotta-keep-moving herring family style swimmer.

Anchovies are prevalent on the pacific coast, particularly once you get down near Willapa and Gray's Harbor. They are candy to the 20 pound wild Satsop strain of coho salmon, and the frequent 40 pound king salmon of Willapa Bay swimming the channel to the river in 20 feet of water.

I really loved stopping at the ma and pa dungeness crab shops on the way home to say hello and have pops "shake" a crab into cocktail right before my eyes. A chunk of home-smoked Willapa king salmon for the family and I was on my way home with a couple of summer salmon in the cooler. They'd be lucky if I didn't eat all the smoked salmon on the ride home.

I suppose all that is stirring out there as we speak...
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Old 08-11-2000, 02:21 PM
TinMan TinMan is offline
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

Couple of things:

Juro, thanks for that point to http://www.chesbay.org/ff_am.htm.

I did find something possibly missed on that site though...the fact that bunker are used in some high priced dog foods (listed as menhaden meal).

Someone else mentioned (sorry, don't remember) that NE-er's use the term bunker and "southerners" use the term pogie - but actually I found the opposite to be true? I moved here from Long Island and we called them bunker down there and I heard pogie first when I moved up here. At first I thought everyone was talking about poRgies - which we would catch near bridges in Jones Inlet area along with blackfish, sea bass and weakfish. Just realized how much I miss all these species!

Are there poRgies up here?
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Old 08-11-2000, 03:05 PM
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RE:Peanut Bunker Defined

Regarding the broad regional classification of names: When I worked for Quantec (the company that interviews saltwater recs. for NMFS - they go by a different name these days) one of the favorite topics of discussion at the monthly meetings was how many different names people had for the same species. One thing I can say for certain is the names vary from town to town rather by region to region. Bunker in Westerly, RI are pogies just up the road at Point Judith. The mehadden are thick in Bourne this year, but if you ask a guy from Falmouth it's nothing but juvies as far you can see.

&lt;enter Cliff Claven&gt;
BTW, it's a seldom known fact that the real derivation of the name "Peanut Bunker" is from the ancient Mesopotamian king, Penatte Bunkar, who also invented cheese doodles.....

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