Sunday, May 20, 2012

Miles of Menhaden; No Big Fish

I went out in the boat yesterday in the upper Bay with my brother.  I have NEVER seen so many menhaden (pogies).  They were everywhere.  In some many locations, there were individual fish flipping on the surface; in other spots they were bunched up in schools.  This went on for MILES.  Yet, no big fish were after them.  We snagged a number of them and livelined them in some high percentage spots (past years), and the only thing we came away with was two chopped pogies from bluefish bites.
So, where are the big fish?  I'm talking big stripers over 36 inches and large bluefish over ten pounds.  They are nowhere to be found.  As far as big fish, the Bay has been a big disappointment thus far with very few big ones around.  With the loads of big bait around and the warming waters, we should have an abundance of large fish, but we don't. Heck, there are no even many boat fishermen around as the word has gotten out that the fishing for large fish is poor.
On the other hand, we do have good numbers of small keeper bass around.  Most of these fish, 28-32 inches, are way in the backwaters of the Bay in places like rivers and estuaries.  In those places they are feeding on small bait such as shrimp and small baitfish.  These smaller keepers are not capable of taking large menhaden, and that's why we are not seeing them under the schools of big bait.
So, unless things perk up very quickly, and I don't think that will happen, it's looking like a poor spring in the Bay for big stripers and large bluefish.