Sunday, November 29, 2020


Genetic Stock Identification of Striped Bass


Striped bass is a popular migratory marine species that is the subject of a genetic coastwise mapping proposal. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

Striped bass is a popular migratory marine species that is the subject of a genetic coastwise mapping proposal. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )


JP Mathews of Guilford (top left and bottom) caught and released this fine striped bass, while Dr. Richard O’Sullivan of Madison (right) hooked into this hungry bluefish during a late-summer fishing trip with Capt. Pete aboard the FV Sea Sprite. Photo illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan

JP Mathews of Guilford (top left and bottom) caught and released this fine striped bass, while Dr. Richard O’Sullivan of Madison (right) hooked into this hungry bluefish during a late-summer fishing trip with Capt. Pete aboard the FV Sea Sprite. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )

According to The Economics of Recreational and Commercial Striped Bass Fishing by Southwick Associates, “Striped bass fisheries comprise the most popular and economically significant recreational fisheries on the northern half of the Atlantic coast and contribute more than six billion dollars of economic activity annually.”

Recognizing this, Massachusetts, with 60 percent of all recreational trips targeting striped bass, has set forth an innovative grant proposal for consideration by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Its proposal, developed by Benjamin Gahagan, along with Dr. Scott Pavey, Dr. Andrew Whiteley, and Dr. Adrian Jordaan, is to deliver a data program plan and methodology that would allow management agencies on the Atlantic coast, including the Connecticut Department of Environmental & Energy Protection (DEEP), to efficiently and accurately estimate the catch and harvest of migratory striped bass (Morone saxatilis) caught in mixed stock fisheries back to three spawning populations: Chesapeake Bay, Hudson River, and the Delaware Bay and Roanoke River/Albemarle Sound.

This genomic-based, population-specific research GIS project will allow for sampling and enable coastal mortality estimates to be assigned to those spawning areas on the Atlantic coast for mixed-stock fisheries throughout the migratory range of Atlantic striped bass. As a result, this project will have an important regional impact by providing complementary biological as well as catch and effort data to what is already collected. It would also address important coastwide management and stock assessment needs throughout the migratory range of the species, provide a baseline of data for future studies, and complement potential future advances such as close-kin mark and recapture.

DEEP will collect 200 samples from Long Island sound and perform various analyses (sample size, seasonality, fish age, length), adding to the already 5,000 striped bass samples collected by Massachusetts since 2015 to be shared with Atlantic partners. Should this proposal come to fruition, we will be that much more capable of regionally managing an important and popular wide-range migratory species even more effectively. This is the season for proposals like this to be submitted, reviewed, individually scored, collectively ranked, and granted monies by a collective of state-appointed individuals representing the recreational and commercial fishing sectors. This skipper always finds it to be challenging, thought-provoking, educational, and rewarding to be part of this process.

On the Water

Above the smoke-driven cover from the West Coast fires, the new moon brought in a cold front that dropped early morning air temperatures into the 40s and inshore Long Island sound temps into the 60s. Seas were choppy and winds gusted to 20 knots as much of the summer fishery gained some early fall steam.

Striped bass lit up several of the lower tidal rivers as baitfish flourished throughout the Sound and its inlets. Most fish caught and released were below the lower slot and took a variety of small artificials and baits. However, out on the reefs, shoals, and some inshore spots, slot-limit fish took a liking to live eels when wise fishers hit the magic sunrises and sunset hours that stretched well into dark. Once again, incoming tides proved to be best.

Schools of Atlantic menhaden proliferated on both the on and offshore waters and, although there were times where small bluefish were on them, there were also instances of little or no activity. As water temperatures drop and fall enhances its presence, expect to see an increase in limited blitz activity. Feeding frenzies of the past, if they materialize at all, will most likely be short-lived. Recent snapper blue action has held on as fish are growing in size and drawing more folks to the water’s edge.

We are seeing more sea trout (weakfish) caught while jigging, drifting, trolling, or casting squid, especially below any schools of bluefish. Spanish mackerel, though, are generally being hooked while trolling. The weakies are being landed from both shore points and offshore at spots like Six Mile and Kimberly Reefs, as well as waters south of Faulkner’s.

While bone and albie hunters are loading up on lures and breaking out their fly rods and light setups, these speedsters are taking their time making an impact mid-Sound. Eastern waters have been drawing the action with some in the west. Sporadic schools of bonito have made inroads, along with a few brief albie runs. Their impact has yet to be felt along the shore, but hopefully soon.

Porgy (scup) pounders are still out there looking for their limits and making space in their freezers. Along with sea bass and other assorted bottom fish, these tasty scrappers freeze well. The reefs are still producing fish as are shore spots and these fish are taking squid, clams, and sea worms on typical scup rigs.

With temperatures trending colder, black sea bass of various sizes have moved into deeper water again—say, around 100 feet. The bite has picked up, but pickings are mixed with small fish still being found in about 40 feet. Simple double- or triple-hook rigs tipped with squid, along with a weight heavy enough to get them down, are all that are needed. As far as summer flounder (fluke) is concerned, expect catches, however scattered, to continue through end of the season on Wednesday, Sept. 30, provided the bait supply hangs in and the weather holds.

Water temperatures are still warm and inshore sharks are taking your chunk bait offerings. They are sporting and put up quite a tussle during their runs and hard pulls once hooked. To round off some of the bottom fishery, we still are seeing sea robins, northern kingfish, skate, and rays most always taken on some sort of bait.

In terms of inland waters, trout remains a challenge, but October looks very promising. Largemouth and smallmouth bass catches have been good and continue to improve. Northern pike catches are multiplying, the crappie bite is better, catfish are taking a mixture of bait concoctions, yellow perch are hot, and sunfish are taking worms and small imitations. Also, you might want to try for some carp in the key upper tidal rivers.

Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and international fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media.

For all things fishy including fly fishing, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days, located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan

twitter @captmorgan_usa

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