Climate and climate change have been a hot button in the news lately. The world’s climate is certainly important, influenced on many levels by too many humans and too many machines, with the waste produced by both. The bottom line is in reality, the world’s climate has been changing for about a billion years since the planet cooled enough for the hydrogen and oxygen originally present as gases to combine and rain for millennia.
From what I’ve read and seen in various productions on TV, continental drift and volcanic activity are the major factors in climate change, with man doing his bad deeds on more of a localized but constantly increasing manner as our population grows.
When Krakatau, the famous volcano in Indonesia blew its top during the 1899’s, tidal waves killed untold thousands of people and on the opposite side of the planet, New England didn’t have much of a summer because the ash cloud hung over the region for years. Similarly, we also had a cool wetter than usual summer when Mt. St. Helen’s erupted in the Rockies back in 1980.
Sadly the fishes in our oceans are at our mercy and have been for well over a century and in many areas for many species, dropping in abundance. Regulation, as long as there is sufficient enforcement works, but as human demands and the need for protein increases, the open oceans will continue to be fished, progressively more heavily as demand increases.
This climate change for those of us half century or so old have witnessed and lived through, have also observed declines and recoveries of important sport and food fishes.
During the 80’s, a decade of mild almost non-winters, my buddy and I made it a point to launch a boat and go largemouth bass fishing on an ice free, freshwater lake or pond during every month. When ice did form on a regular basis during more normal years, we fished for over wintering striped bass in the upper Thames River, which seldom froze over.
During the 70’s a warming trend brought bluefish up the Thames River and along the New England coast to Maine, where they were unheard of at that time. I jokingly wrote about the bluefish invasion of the Thames referring to 1972 as “The Year of the Blue”. Prior to that, according to a well respected publication, Fishes of the Gulf of Maine, bluefish were rarely caught or observed north of Cape Cod.
After a couple of those warm winters, while out off of Waterford casting the reefs for stripers and bluefish one day we saw riled, boiling water that was assumed to be bluefish. But they would not hit the Atom and Gibbs poppers we were casting and were moving so fast we had trouble keeping up with the school.
Turns out another boat in the area that day caught one on a Kastmaster and brought it over to us to identify. It was a false albacore. First time any of us had seen or heard of tunoids like them or bonito inside of Montauk Point and Block Island.
They have been regular “tourists” pretty much every summer since.
During one of those years, tarpon were observed, hooked and lost, by a couple of experienced fishermen casting from shore into the warm water discharge at the Millstone Power Plant in Waterford. The events of September 11, 2001 changed and messed that shore based fishery up.
Around that same time a young man, I think either surf fishing or just off the surf break on Cape Cod landed a tarpon. The catch was a cover photo on the New England Fisherman Magazine at the time.
Large bluefin tuna would regularly cruise in along the southern Rhode Island beaches chasing peanut bunker, tinker mackerel and snapper blues during their fall migrations off shore and to the south. One hard core angler caught a decent one by accident while trolling the beaches one November. (I didn’t see the fish but got that as a report from a reliable source.)
One never knows about reliable sources, I’ve had reliable sources send me photographs of a “mountain lion” in Griswold, Connecticut that I could tell in a second was a rain soaked coyote that may have had the mange so its tail was very boney, not like a feather duster as it should be.
As a high school student during the mid-1960’s my buddy and I would cut school one day every fall to catch some blues and stripers in the Race with fewer other boats to worry about. That place can be a mad house during the summer. I stopped fishing it myself decades ago in favor of more comfortable, often more productive places along the eighty billion rocks in this region.
His mom loved bluefish, the smaller the better. Usually the fish averaged seven pounds and up.
That day we were doing well, the Race was as flat is it can be and full of fish. I hooked one of many small blues that was easily over powered by the stout gear we used in those days. As it was cranked near the surface, bluefish began breaking all around the boat and something really big grabbed my little fish, headed off into the tide like a torpedo. Within a few seconds, it snapped the butt off my old rod, totally ruined the old, but reliable Penn Senator reel and ran all the line off the reel.
We thought it was a shark, but years later when we began off shore fishing for sharks and tuna, we concluded it wasn’t a shark but more likely a giant bluefin tuna. Bluefins are perfectly designed for speed not comfort as they say, with interesting physical adaptations that are too numerous to describe in this space.
After this spring, I should give my crystal ball to someone who can drill finger holes in it and use it for bowling, because it’s not done much for me lately. After a mild, wet winter and spring, followed by a miserable heat wave, I’ve had a very poor, non-productive fishing season so far for everything. However, one trait anyone who enjoys fishing, for anything, is the fact that no matter how poor the “catching may be” they expect a strike on every cast.
My buddy’s famous statement is; “Three more casts and then we pack up and go home.” Following that philosophy, since I was a kid, has meant ticked off spouses, many cold dinners and/or a trip to the local pizza place.
Maybe the next trip will be more productive; all of our marine species that are in season are available to be caught. Hope you can get to your favorite spot through all the summer vacationers and whatever you are targeting is hungry and aggressive.