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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was reading some old threads from earlier this week and thought I might comment to see what everybody else might think regarding the improving weakfish stock we saw in some of our areas.
During fishing this summer in (I would like to be more specific but I know I can't) Cape May county I saw a real difference in my back bay fishing regarding weakfishing. I am out almost everynight after work and I started catching weakfish in my backwaters where I had never seen them before. Not massive schools but medium size schools here and there. Ei: enough fish to keep me busy for a tide. All 18 to 22 inch fish. Something I had never encountered before and I know my water damn well.
Also my Dad tells me stories that took place in the late 70s' and 80s' of weekly fisherman magazine accounts of the reports coming from the deleware bay. Rough example: So & so caught 105 weakies and So & so had 125 weakies each. I still find it mythical. I can't fathom catching that many weakfish and them keeping them all. I did not keep one fish this summer. Not that it is wrong. But back in the D BAy "Weakfish Capitol Of The World" days they fill 55 gallon drums and massive coolers with these fish. Only to be forgotten in the shed freezer until next spring when they were thrown in the dumpster to make room for more fish the next yr. Same thing they are doing to Croakers right now. They seem like a neverending, unstoppable resource. You can say commercial guys played a roll and I am sure they did but the rec guys didn't do too bad themselves.Week after week, report after report, thousands of weakfish harvested on top and bottom rigs with just squid srtrips and the occasional shedder crab. No fishery can take that kind pressure and still sustain itself then or now.
Weakfish can be a top dollar money maker for local bait shops. They hit any lure and are alot more willing than a striper.
I heard alot of talk on the striped bass population being the reason for weakfish lacking a come back. I heard the same thing last year that striped bass were to blame about the blue claw population , it was a record year for blue claw stocks. Guys were crabbing while chunking this fall. And doing damn well. So fantastic year for crabs. Nix that idea.
Like the striped bass we know why the weakfish dissapeared; same reason the bass did years ago. Time and pressure. Both us and the commercial guys. We may need the same restrictions on weakfish as we did with the striper on both sides of the coin. I know many tackle shop owners who think it would be a great idea for major restrictions on these fish for a few years to bring them back. BUT we now get into the north and south issue within nj. Barnegat bay up to the raritan have a very good fishery. But all and all the fishery still prety much stinks on historical levels. Ban them lower or the limit to 2 fish or even a slot. Tackle shop owners might not wouldn't mind a ban if it yielded a fishery people could actually target ei. sell tackle to. But I dodn't think we are in need of a all out ban and probrably not that many people on this board. Baby bunker schools are near record in my area and thats what they were targeting. Spot levels are at a record. Crab levels are at a record. Predation or a lack of food I am not buying it. This weakfish stock is coming back due to lack of targeting and we should see that it has a decent chance to really get back on its feet. Good Limits of size during the spawn when the tiderunenrs are vunerable by the bobber and bloodworm methods. In the end we might have another striper like success on the coast. But all the pieces and everyone should match the effort. What do you think?

[ 01-13-2006, 04:36 PM: Message edited by: insomniac ]
 

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Good read! I'd be all for tighter weakfish
restrictions, especially during the spring.
Nothing bothers me more than seeing someone
with their limit of tiderunners. I'm not so
convinced of a comeback though. I catch a lot of
smaller weakies every year, but they don't seem
to get any bigger. It's rare to catch one over
24" in south jersey...at least it has been for
me and my fishing buddies.

[ 01-13-2006, 05:08 PM: Message edited by: earlybird ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I saw those fish this year for about 3 weeks, A come back?, I am not sure either but it was better than seeing none, small sign but a sign.
Thanks.
 

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BACK IN THE LATE 70S AND EARLY 80S WE DID KEEP THAT MANY FISH. 5 OR 6 OF US WOULD GO . DAD GRANDAD UNCLE 2 COUSINS. LIMITS WHAT ARE THEY. THEN NOBODY THOUGHT ABOUT IT.NO THEY WERE NOT THROWN IN THE DUMPSTER. THEY GIVEN TO ALL THE NEIGHBORS. WE WERE NOT RICH. WE ATE WHAT WAS KEPT. THE NIEHGBORS WOULD WAIT FOR US TO COME HOME ON SUNDAYS WITH BAGS WAITING FOR THERE FREE GIFT.NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. TODAY WE KEEP OUR LIMIT OF WHAT EVER ITS WE CATCH. WE STILL EAT IT AND STILL GIVE SOME TO THE NEIGHBORS. AS FOR THE CROACKERS I KEEP MOST OF THEM AND GIVE TO THE SENOIRS CITEZENS IN MY TOWN. THEY ARE GRATEFULL TO HAVE THEM.WE NEVER KEEP UNDERSIZE FISH OR MORE THAN THE LIMIT SINCE THE RULES HAVE BEEN IN EFFECT.BUT IF YOU TOOK A POLL AND HONESTY RULED YOU WOULD FIND IN THAT ERA 95% OF GUYS TOOK HOME ALL THEY CAUGHT.THE SEE THEW FLOUNDER ALWAYSWENT BACK BUT THE SPIKE WEAKS WERE GREAT FOR THE PAN.
 

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I will know exactly how well the Weakfish are
doing by sometime late this coming summer.Based on what I find in 2006 and what I experienced during 05.I found at least three different generations of Weakfish on my travels this past year and it will be interesting to see what comes about this year...

Stay Tuned...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Phish4fun:

I am not saying you inparticular, or your finacial status, i grew up on bluefish and deer meat. Problem is now is that there are no weakfish to give away. Limits were what they were so you were within the law and I am not going to argue with that. Sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to make your own rergulations on what you think is acceptable for you and your fellow nieghbors resource. Croakers will be next than what else? I saw the same thing happen in barnegat bay in the early 90s' with the blue claws 6 or 8 guys to a boat with more crabs than they could clean in a month. Then the crabs went down hill. It was legal but take what you need. Thats all. You may be a exceptional curcumstance since you do donate your catch to the needy. But look around I am sure most did not.

[ 01-13-2006, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: insomniac ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Originally posted by NIGHTSTRIKES:
[QB] I will know exactly how well the Weakfish are
doing by sometime late this coming summer.Based on what I find in 2006 and what I experienced during 05.I found at least three different generations of Weakfish on my travels this past year and it will be interesting to see what comes about this year...

Stay Tuned...


It will be too, saw some beutiful fish this year
I forgot how much noise the weakfish made when you land one it get amplified when they are fighting under the kayak.
 

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Same thread.....different question.

Do you think that the weakfish have adapted to different waters?

This yesr I caught 12" to 22" weaks out on wrecks and bottom structure in 30 to 40 ft of water. Large schools showed on screen.
Schools of mixed weaks and croakers scattered across the bottom in front of Brigantine.
Limits in July outside the Wreck Inlet.

Maybe with the change in food supply, change in Bluefish numbers, change in Striper numbers, protection of Dogfish, limits of bottom fish has caused an evolution in the way Weakfish live ???

I only caught Weaks in open waters of the Del Bay and some of the backwaters behind Brig & Absecon. The last two years bad in the Bay and I was zero in the back.

Sorry to divert the thread.
 

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It was nothing to go out and catch over a hundred weakies in Deleware bay in the late 70's & early 80's.
In the Spring we would catch 10 lb + tiderunners all the time.
It seems that there were a lot less boats around back then.
I can't imagine catching those numbers with the amount of boats out today.
 

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I've found myself traveling a little further north over the last couple of seasons. Not sure why, but Ocean County and points north seem to be holding more weakfish lately. After hearing of this year's great fishing up in Northern NJ/NY, one has to wonder if their just taking a different migratory route.
I've watched this last year class of tiderunners grow from spikes and I have to wonder if these fish are just about maxed out age wise. Though there weren't many tiderunners around this year, fish in the 12- to 16-pound range were caught. In 2004 these fish were 10- to 12-pounds and there were plenty of 8- to 10-pound weakfish around in 2003. I believe those strong year classes have just come to the end of their life cycle. I expect to see less tiderunners this year, but more weakfish overall. I expect we'll hear of only a few tiderunners this season, but they should be approaching record proportions. I believe this is the "cycle" that we've all heard about from the "oldtimers".
I've seen enough evidence to believe we should have another strong run of 13- to 18-inch fish, as there have been many small fish around the last few years, but I don't expect to see many 5- to 8-pound fish anytime soon.
I wish someone could answer the question of where all those summertime spikes end up. I'm sure if they came back into our waters, no one would be complaining about weakfish.
I am interested to see what a mild winter might mean to our backwater fishery overall. The last three winters have been on the cold side, lets hope this year will be different!
 

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Good Accessment Frank, You Know I'll Be Looking For That Elusive 19lber... ;)
 

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OK, I did not catch a any weakies this year, but the previous 2 years I managed to get a (1) fish over 25", from the beach. Maybe we should try some joint effort w/NJDFW to monitor fish status? Crazy, I know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this issue. You all raised alot of very thought out points.
Different generations and different enviroments that these fish are now adapting to. Changes in the fish's enviroment can even have a effect on their genetic make during their life span. they spawn and the new generation may have even further adaptations then the generation before. You see this with gulf strain striped bass and even hatchery fish like red snapper , red drum and speckled trout will have a different genetic make up then say a wild born fish , which causes some contriversy within the biologist community whether or not they are doing more harm then good. So in essence we may be seeing for now a different genetic species of weakfish then the ones who used to hug the oyster laden bottom of the deleware and chesapeake bays. These fish may as funny as it sounds be more adapt to eel grass of even a bridge or artificail reef enviroment. Not of course enough difference for use to see with our eyes ,but enough differnce to compare genes and see a difference in make up as minute as it might be.
As far as keeping your limit goes , now a days in particular we should all take it upon ourselves to limit our harvest further than what's regulateted. I thought it was better to release everything where I was at due to fact of thier scarcity in years past. Being a "steward of the sea" is what our job is as sportsman and conservationist. The arising situation of the state saying it is ok to keep more fish than some of us see fit.

[ 01-14-2006, 11:39 AM: Message edited by: insomniac ]
 

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MILLIONS and MILLIONS of pounds of 7-9 inch weakfish are taken every year by the fly-netters to satisfy the very high demand of plants that process catfood and "nutritional" supplements (like Omega Protein). They simply just "mash" up the future of the weakfish population every year!!! According to the RFA and Jim Donofrio this is our current sad situation in this day and age. Lower the recreational creel limit of 8? Maybe it would help, but it would only be a small speck in the grand scheme of things---wake up guys!!! I personally love to release all tiderunners in the spring, but in the process of fishing I do see many folks that take limits (it is a sad thing). However, they are not the real perpetrators. Everytime I release a big female I just sit there as she is swimming away and wonder how long it will take for that particular fish to end up in an oriental restaurant via the sickening gill-net slaughters that occur every April with 12-18 lb fish or in a catfood can. Our situation is a sad one and ever since 2003 the fishery has divebombed (it has been proven scientifically through data). Last year I would average somewhere between 1-3 9-14 lb fish a night in my spots in the spring. Before 2003 I wouldn't catch as many big fish, but would catch a ton of 18-25 inch fish in addition to these tiderunners. In the last 3 years this fishery has been non-existant. I fish from Cape May all the way up to Sandy Hook and can tell you that it is a coastwide thing and not just a particular area. Cycles are a real thing, classes of fish from one year are totally different in size and population from a class in another. However, differences between the size of year classes shouldn't be enough to kill a fishery for 18-25 inch fish. This has happened in the last 3 years and seems to be getting worse each year exponentially. It might just take a moratorium to bring the weakfish back like the striped bass. Of course a moratorium on recs wouldn't mean anything, they would have to shut down the fly-netting fishery, thus putting catfood companies and Omega out of business. Since the NMFS was founded on commercial fishing, I doubt that this will every happen. Just my sad two cents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
LBIfisher,

Your words ring true. Cat Food. Even though no management program is perfect... We don't have to look any further than florida for some really good answers on how things should be done. First off most gamefish in that state are just that, Gamefish. Snook, Speckled trout, Redfish and on and on. They know that those fish feed the tourist machine and its better than feeding cats. Also to prove how much impact the fishing has on the economy look no further than the number of saltwater fishing licsences issued.
Hard numbers. The money doesn't go into a general fund either and gets put back into the fisheries.
In Jersey having a saltwater fishing liscence would only prove too much of a temptation for the state to use that amount of money to their liking of buying votes by giving it away with new programs. The General fund is like a socialist "for the common good" give away.
Mid-Atlantic states Va and NC make things even more difficult. Weakfish having Gamefish status?
Well that's another dream.
 

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Insomniac ,
Capt. Dan that was very well put and made for a good read and a little eye opening , its tough for people to let big fish swim away and many years ago it was hard for a lot of the Del. Bay guys to let any Weakfish swim away ,say what you want but my feeling is its just a matter of time before there wont be too many big breeder bass swimming around , keeping more than 1 bass over 35 lbs per day is ridiculous , I believe its more of an ego thing than a hunger for fresh fish , but to each his own , let your conscious be your guide.
 

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insomniac at first I was gonna complement ya on your original post that was indeed very well thought out.

In the above threads you have made reference to making weakfish a game fish for basically your use only. On that note I say make them a commercially caught fish only. { I hope you see and feel the same anger that I do }. This is not the time to be at odds, You ought to be thankful that we will still be allowed to fish for weakfish in 2006.

To the poster that said, RFA/JD made a claim that the shortages of weakfish were due to the flynetters is sadly informed. I very certain that he wouldn't make that claim. Because he and about 20 others including myself were all sitting in the same room when we were all informed that the weakfish low was note from over fishing. FROM EITHER SIDE , predator / pray is the issue but it is a unaddressable issue. We ain't gonna have a dolphin hunt anytime soon.
Please don't get into pointing fingers on this issue that will note help at all.
 

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Since the NMFS was founded on commercial fishing, I doubt that this will every happen. Just my sad two cents.

Are you refering to the same NMFS that has shut down half the fleet on the east coast. PLEASE
 
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