Where are the Herring? & Other Musings

There are a good number of folks who are lamenting the lack of river herring locally, I.e. blueback herring. While organizations like Save the Sound are investing in dam removal to prevent the blockage of anadromous fish like herring and sea lamprey, there are substantiated rumors that commercial mid-water trawlers are keeping an increasingly large quantities of these river herring as bycatch. And, it’s a fact that 22% of these trawlers are keeping Long Island Sound Specific herring (based on genetic data samples.)

Excellent opinion piece on why river herring matter and the decline: https://www.onthewater.com/the-plight-of-southern-new-englands-river-herring

Factual studies on herring counts in various LIS bodies of water: https://www.google.com/search?q=index+of+anadromous+fish+runs&rlz=1CDGOYI_enUS758US758&oq=index+of+anadromous+fish+runs&aqs=chrome..69i57.8572j0j4&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8

Meanwhile, there are rumors that we have had Atlantic herring (different than river herring) all winter long that never vacated in our major rivers. Maybe this is why bass started chewing so early? And the bite seems to have died down a bit now? They’re not as easy to observe as Bunker on the surface. Speaking of bunker: I have seen a those in the talons of Osprey, and probably on my fishfinder, but definitely not on the surface yet.

Anyway, onto the fishing report. Fishing has been pretty steady, I’m usually averaging one slot bass (28-35”) per trip on light tackle mostly in the shallows. I have made some runs to mid sound and points east and west with mixed results. The new moon in April provided some really monstrous 40+ inch fish for some on the deep water reefs: early arrivals. I was out of town unfortunately. As you all know, weather has been really crappy the last few weeks with typical early spring rain and 40s/50s weather. I’m almost happy the rapid warming slowed down, as it will keep bass in our area longer past May and June. The party boats in the western sound closer to NYC seem to be whaling on the fish, so the main body of fish is coming our way. Same goes for fishing in J-Bay where McMurray & co. are reporting a stellar bite. Big migratory breeders are way up in the Hudson now and it will be some time till they round back down the river and head eastbound.

Last year the herring bite didn’t really turn on for me until this time, and I’m seeing a similar trend this year despite the early start. I expect the big moon this week to spark a nice shore based bite and boat bite for those who are getting out.

Tight lines! And-Please reach out if there’s any interest in a charter.


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