Just take a look at this guys and follow up on it on your own- I'm not throwing any blame anywhere -but I can tell you this spring I spoke with some "old" chesapeake anglers that said the flats were VOID of fish in 2003. Chesapeake is where all OUR fish come from and there are MAJOR problems going on there. It scares me.
KEITH WALTERS COLUMN
Up The Creek
Striper mortality report rocks fisheries community
By: KEITH WALTERS 11/21/2003
A report just out has stirred up the fisheries management community.
Basically, as I understand the yet unjuried paper, Victor Crecco, a
highly respected fisheries biologist from Connecticut, has looked at
striped bass data from Chesapeake Bay and calculated that natural
mortality has increased five-fold on Chesapeake stocks. Meanwhile,
fishing mortality has remained constant or even dropped a little.
One might surmise that natural mortality, which has been assumed to
remain constant according to the Virtual Population Analysis (detractors
call it "Voodoo Population Analysis") is not constant, which could mean
a possibly crashing population. If the commercial and recreational catch
remains about the same, but natural mortality is increasing, what is
happening? Are striped bass starving due to a crashing menhaden
population, or is it due to disease, as some say.
According to recent angler experience, it is difficult to catch a limit
(two fish 18 inches or over - only one can be over 28 inches - per
person per day). Friends (not named here to prevent embarrassment)
report not catching a single striper in a day's fishing, or not catching
any keepers at all. The VHF marine radio is alive with similar reports.
Some of the best fishermen on the Bay say they have to chum all day to
get a limit, at a time when trolling or jigging should pay off. Many are
putting up their boats due to the dearth of rockfish.
Whether Crecco's paper will be presented by the Atlantic States Marine
Fisheries Commission's Striped Bass Technical Committee to the Striped
Bass Management Board with management recommendations will have been
decided yesterday. (This column is written for a Wednesday morning
deadline so that information is not available at this time). I hope that
explains my mixed up time line.
Many have recommended a smaller size limit for striped bass, maybe down
to 16 or 17 inches, and for recs to forego the December season (as a
conservation equivalent) which is uncomfortable for everyone and
dangerous to many small boat anglers. Strangely, this suggestion has
merit. We have too many stripers for the available forage base, and they
may be starving in large numbers. We catch rockfish too skinny to yield
One problem is in another analysis of possible management actions to
reduce predatory demand on menhaden (kill more rockfish) may not be
possible to do because of present management restrictions.
According to knowledgeable insiders, the spit is going to hit the fan
yesterday. Trouble is, spit hitting a fan is not always distributed
evenly. Same goes for fish.
You can take this article with a grain of salt it was just released, but as a follow up just read the article on page 97 of Saltwater Sportsman's December issue on the Chesy....