2009-12-18 / Sports

Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheelhouse

By Captain Vinnie Calabro

Here we are in mid-December and one can't help but wonder, what happened to the fall run of striped bass along the western south shore? It seems like yesterday when I could hit the inlet and choose which direction I would go; south, east or west all had visible signs of fish.

Nowadays that is only a memory. Those anglers/readers who haven't been around for thirty or forty years can't comprehend what the fall runs used to be like. The fishing was extraordinary, and the fishing held up so much so that dedicated bass fishermen wouldn't start toggin until the end of the month.

The fall would start early around September with the influx of mullet dribbling along the shore. The schools would be quite visible and every surfcaster anticipated their arrival for they knew this was when they would get their first shot. Armed with binoculars they would peer into the surf from specific vantage points, locating the mullet.

Once this mission was accomplished they would pursue their quarry. The mullet would be followed by the other cast of characters, bunker, sand eels and as the season progressed, herring. Waves of bait followed by what seemed to be a limitless armada of fish, close to home; sadly that hasn't been the case for a while.

Sure the "run" has moments of glory so to speak but the reality is that the fall striper fishery on the west end isn't what it was in the current time frames of our season.

As keepers of our environment one has to look in all directions to find answers. Seldom can anyone, whether it is fishermen, biologist or environmentalist, pinpoint the single cause of a decline.

You see the lion's share of our fisheries, being so called inshore fishing, heavily impacted by environmental is - sues.

The reason I say this is pretty obvious; look into Jamaica Bay sur roun d ed by land masses, bridges, airports, sew - age treatment plants, golf courses and a barrage of other external blights, over the years the chronic effect is im meas - ur able.

The same holds true for the sound, another eco-sensitive area overwhelmed by progress. I have a saying: regression is often the price of progression - a thought that deserves much reflection.

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