Wind and cold affect fishing
Cold temperatures, gusty winds and snow kept the fleet of blackfish at the dock most of the week. Meanwhile, early indicators are not good for the 2023 striped bass spawn.
The ocean had stabilized by Thursday and a pair of boats breached the inlets looking for blackfish. The Jamaica 2 sailed Monday in search of blackfish just before the weather arrived. It’s been slow going, according to Captain Ryan Bogan. He said that life was short in most places, but his knight was only able to transport a few guards.
The only good thing that can come from these cold temperatures is ice fishing, but next week inshore temperatures could climb back into the 50s, plus rain. The forecast for Lake Hopatcong also calls for rain and temperatures in the 40s, which could lead to ice melt that has begun to form in the state’s largest freshwater lake.
Striped bass spawn
This year does not appear to have been a great showing for striped bass in many major estuaries. In October, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said it found recruitment to be well below average in its survey of juveniles, which documents the year-round success of striped juveniles in the Chesapeake Bay.
The poor reproduction may be weather-related, said Lynn Fegley, DNR fisheries and boating director. Warm, dry conditions in the winter and spring over the past several years have not been conducive to the reproductive success of fish that migrate to freshwater to spawn, Figley said.
Maryland’s surveys of the bay have brought a great deal of encouraging news. Menhaden abundance was the highest measured in more than 30 years. The abundance of anchovies in the Gulf was the highest since 1974.
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Meanwhile, surveys on the Hudson River last July through November found this year’s spawning rate to be the lowest since the mid-1980s, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Juvenile sea bass spend about two years in estuaries before heading to the ocean. It will take the 2023 fish about six to eight years to reach a length of about 30 inches, or current size regulations.
However, it’s worth noting that striped bass in the Hudson River have seen many peaks and valleys over the past 40 years or so, according to data going back to 1985. Only in the last four have they been up and down. Growth in 2020 was well above average, while 2021 was below average, then rebounded again in 2022, before falling again last year.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s surveys of the Delaware River weren’t great either. The results ranked 38th out of 43 years of sampling there, reported Jim Hutchinson Jr., managing editor of The Fisherman magazine.
The ASMFC implemented an emergency regulation on planned recreational fisheries last year to protect the class of 2015, which had a strong year for recruiting. With this measure, one fish between 28 and 31 inches will likely remain in effect for this upcoming season. The ASMFC’s winter meeting, where regulations are often set, will be held later this month.
When Jersey Shore native Dan Radell isn’t reporting the news, you can find him in a college classroom where he works as a history professor. Contact him @danielradelapp; 732-643-4072; firstname.lastname@example.org.