Man’s weak attempts to manage nature – including fish
Last week’s article by Dennis Forney describing man’s weak attempts to control nature and prevent the lighthouse at Refuge Harbor from falling into the sea got me thinking about equally weak human attempts. to control fish in the sea. I have a lot of first-hand experience with this topic, starting in the early 1970s when striped bass stocks were sinking like a rock. I joined a group called the Striped Bass Fund that attempted to raise funds to educate fisheries managers about the dire straits that striped bass found themselves in. We did not succeed.
Several years later, when the federal government finally decided to do something about the striped bass situation, they formed the State-Federal Striped Bass Management Board, and I was chosen to represent Delaware recreational fishermen. . Roy Miller represented the Fish and Wildlife Department, and I think Frenchy was the trade spokesperson.
We had many meetings and came up with several different regulations that we thought would help the situation, but until Governor Hughes of Maryland put a moratorium on striped bass and other states followed suit, we didn’t. have seen no progress. Now we have had two bad young in the year class and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has virtually reinstated a moratorium on striped bass. It will reduce mortality, but it will not bring back the scratches until Mother Nature decides the time is right.
Then we have the blue fish. I was also on the Bluefish Advisory Board the last time they were in a down cycle. In recent years, the blues has not been as abundant as it used to be. This made the Chicken Little fishery managers think the sky was falling on them. Guess what – I remember when the blues was as rare as it is today. Then we were covered with them, and now they are gone again.
It is the same for weak fish (trout, gray trout). There was a time in the not-so-distant past when they were as rare as hen’s teeth. Then they were everywhere in giant sizes.
People, especially fishermen, seem to believe that when something is good it should stay that way forever. Have you ever used the phrase “Men plan, God laughs”? Well, Mother Nature must be laughing at him because mere mortals believe they can control the fish in the sea.
I have lived long enough to have seen the cycles of fish, and they change at their own pace. Do not mistake yourself ; there is nothing wrong with reducing the catch of a species when its population is low. If we didn’t do this, you can believe that some fishermen would keep killing them until they were gone.
I also really like fishermen who try to blame others for the shortage of a certain species. Recreational fishermen are always quick to blame commercial fishermen, and that is rarely the problem. Commercial fishing is more regulated than recreational fishing, with just about all the fish they catch counted against their quotas. Are there any outlaws who don’t play by the rules? Of course. Are there poachers posing as recreational fishermen? You better believe it.
In the end, the fish are going to do what the fish are going to do. Fisheries managers can only set rules to protect what is available. They cannot bring back a species until that species has the ideal conditions to return.
Overall the fishing is not too bad, if you have a boat. Day charters, main boat tours, and private boat tours return with the limitations of the ocean structure black bar. Plus, they start to add a few plaice in total. The best fishing stays in the deeper waters, but the Old Grounds are also starting to see bass and plaice.
In Delaware Bay, black drums are still caught in the coral reefs off Slaughter Beach. Whole clams have been the most popular bait, with some anglers finding good results using blue crabs. Peeler crabs are the best bait if you can find them.
The bay’s reef sites have improved, with kings caught on bloodworms and fish bites. The small trout are around the same structure.
In Indian River Inlet, the excellent shad run collapsed. I was there Wednesday morning and only saw a herring or two caught. Keeper and some above the slot rockfish are caught at night on live eels. The piers and the light line around the Coast Guard station were good locations.
The surf is still very slow unless you like sharks, skates and little kings.