Thursday, April 23, 2009

Season off to Dismal Start

It's April 23 and schoolie fishing should be hot right now. It's not. I've caught a grand total of 3 fish in April. Normally, I'd be logging in my 100th fish for April at this point. I caught one fish today (see photo at right) in the upper Bay on a Zoom fluke. I know of lots of guys trying at the West Wall where a scant few fish have been taken. I've been out in the upper Bay in my kayak and from shore 5 times in the last week with one fish to show for it. We can complain about and blame the cold and rainy weather, but I've seen good years with weather worst than this. So, what's the problem?

Early spring fishing is dominated by schoolies. These are fish that are under five years old that migrate northward from the Chesapeake Bay. If you check out the young of the year (YOY) index (number of juvenile fish netted) for the last five years, you will find that it is below average. That means fewer schoolies. Last year was an off year for schoolie fishing here in RI. I think that trend will continue this year. On the other hand, the YOY index back ten and twelve years ago was very high and that explains why we have had good numbers of keeper stripers around. I suspect that as May moves on we will see good numbers of keepers once again in the Bay.

Temperatures are supposed to rise into the 80's this weekend. If that does't bring in a big bunch of schoolies it will be a mighty lean early spring.