The same wreck or artificial reef that teems with decent-sized sea bass when the season opens can seem pretty picked-over a month later; by this time of year, it’s very tough for anyone fishing one of the reefs off Long Island’s South Shore to put together a limit of fish.
The quick decline of the inshore fishery makes thoughtful anglers wonder whether there really are so many sea bass out there.
I was thinking about such things last week, when I attended the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s scoping meeting for forage fish here on Long Island.
There are a number of important forage fish species; some, such as Atlantic mackerel and menhaden, support large commercial fisheries; biologists have at least some idea of their basic biology and how heavily they may be fished without causing problems.
When I say “a big mass,” I’m talking about a layer of sand eels more than 120 feet thick, that extended for miles.
Those sand eels held huge numbers of false albacore, skipjack and yellowfin tuna, along with some bluefin tuna, sharks and some scattered dolphin (of the mahi sort) and wahoo—plus shoals of cow-nosed rays, all sorts of (warm-blooded) dolphin, fin, minke and humpback whales and various sea birds.
And the fishing would not have been good.
That's far better than to be overly profligate in even one season, and risk catching nothing at all later on.