1. CHESAPEAKE BAY ECOSYSTEM UNDER DURESS – The onslaught of constant rainfall over the last year is taking its toll on the ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. Virtually all the soft shell clams in the Bay have died because of too much fresh water. Many of the oyster bars around the Bay have experienced about a 50% mortality this season and the oysters that are alive are weak and may not survive the summer. Anecdotally, I was baiting my trot line with live razor clams for crabbing this weekend and over 50% of those were dead. “River Keepers” on the Choptank have never seen salinity levels this low since they started keeping records. We regularly now see large catches of wild blue cats in the main stem of the Bay, where they were never supposed to be. The Blue cat situation seems to be getting worse. What makes the Chesapeake Bay such a unique estuary is the mix of salt (from the ocean) and fresh water (from the rivers) and extremes in either direction wreak havoc with the Bay’s inhabitants and we are seeing that play out now.
2. WILD ROCKFISH NUMBERS DWINDLING BIG TIME – Virginia could cancel their spring recreational trophy season at a meeting tomorrow. Maryland’s spring season (recreational not commercial) started Saturday and first reports say that the majority of anglers caught nothing (surprise!). There is a reason for that – the fish aren’t there – some people say “they” (the sporties) caught them all – this revelation comes on the heels of a NMFS report that showed that recreational fishermen kill 9 out of every 10 rockfish on the east coast. 5 out of the 9 killed die AFTER they are released by the fishermen! (release mortality) – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council is proposing a 57% reduction in the rockfish quota for 2020! Of course, they are going to make the commercial fishermen shoulder much of the blame even though they are only responsible for 10% of the fishing mortality.
3. NO SOFT CRABS TO SPEAK OF THIS WEEK – yes it is warm on land but the water still has a ways to go. I was in the Choptank this weekend and hit some 59 degree water in the channel. Peeler pots are overboard in the Outer Banks of North Carolina but they are not producing yet. We still have another week until things pick up.
4. MARYLAND PICKING HOUSES FLUSH WITH PRODUCT – all the houses in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina are producing meat daily now. At this point, supply definitely exceeds demand. Prices are falling – we will see where it shakes out in another week. When the crabs begin to shed, they stop eating, and therefore stop trapping in pots
5. ALASKAN HALIBUT THIS WEEK – we have a good shot of beautiful 20/40 lb. fish arriving tonight
6. VERMILLION SNAPPERS THIS WEEK – the weather in the Gulf has let up a bit and a few boats were able to get a short trip in – we will have 3/4-1, 1-2 and 2-4 lb. whole fish all week