The water outside the inlet looked glassy and the rain bait made audible splashes as they circled together and jumped to escape pursuit. Bluefish caused this. They appeared as bright flashes when they turned sideways and slashed through the tiny fish with their mouths open. Once in a while one would break the surface with its forked tail. Then everything would go down but fish oil slicked on the surface and the water glittered from the refraction off thousands of tiny free-floating scales. Evidence of dismemberment.
One bait ball remained tight and we idled over to it and I witnessed something I had never seen before. The rain bait pulsated and we made casts around the edges and waited for the thump. Something peeled away from the bait ball and followed my fly but it was not quite right. It swam lazily behind right up to the boat, and another followed and they were red and clumsy and did not eat. We moved closer and watched as two dozen of their kind fanned their pectorals and jacked the bait. Sea robins.
Hey man, this is the ocean. Everything eats everything, and everything’s looking for a reason to go off.
The fishing has been sucking. Here’s a chance where we can all actually do something about it. Rather than mince words, I’ll paste them directly from a mailing by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation:
In a matter of days, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will meet to discuss the fate of menhaden (AKA the most important fish in the sea). At the end of that meeting, it will adopt an addendum to its menhaden management plan, which will determine new overfishing thresholds and target fishing rates.
Now, more than ever, we need your help. In 32 of the past 54 years, we have overfished menhaden, and its population now stands at its lowest point on record—a mere 8 percent of what it once was!