Monday, March 25, 2013

New Fish or Holdovers?

A couple of weeks ago, someone told me about a good bunch of schoolies he had caught in the upper Bay.  He questioned whether I thought they were new fish or holdovers.  Judging by the date they were caught and where they were caught, my guess was that they were holdovers.
In the next few weeks more and more stripers will be caught as more and more fishermen try for them. So, how will you know whether you have caught a holdover or one of the new migrating fish?  You won't know for sure. However, here are a few hints that might give you a better answer:
*Most of the schoolies landed along the oceanfront will be new fish.  The holdovers are holed up way back in the backwaters and rivers.
*New fish tend to be "bright" perfect specimens.  Sometimes they have sea lice on them.
*The first arrivals will be small fish, generally 12-18 inches.  Most holdovers are hefty schoolies above 20 inches. A higher than normal percentage of holdovers have some type of skin disease.
*New fish love to feed in the warmest part of the daytime.  The holdovers still prefer nighttime feeding.
*New fish hit better on warm, sunny days; they seem to disappear in cold, windy weather.  Holdovers still love the nasty weather.
*New fish tend to be schooled up in big numbers.  I'm pretty sure that when you get your first one, many will follow. Fishing in some areas along the oceanfront will go from nothing to hundreds of fish caught in one day!
Whether you target holdovers or new fish, spring fishing is right around the corner.  A change in the weather and a warm spell should get things started.