Saturday, July 13, 2019

An Eventful Week One!

          It has been an exciting first week at Camp Harborview! We kicked of the summer with some cool catches, including a couple of striped bass, a few skate, and a whole bunch of crabs. It was great to get to introduce ourselves to all of the campers and start to build a relationship with them for when they come to fish with us. Within the first 5 minutes of dropping our lines on Tuesday, one of the campers pulled up a nice schooly sized striped bass. I like to think that striper was a good omen for how the summer will go. Later that day we caught several skate and two cunners, making for a productive first day of fishing. The next day we caught another striper, more skate, and even observed a school of baitfish being pushed by larger fish!
CHV striped bass!
            An exciting organism we encountered this week was a striped bass (Morone saxatilis). This is a fish I’m pretty familiar with and fish for them on local beaches. I often target them while fly fishing using lures (flies) tied out of hair and feathers to imitate small
fish. Some of the small fish these flies may imitate a pogy, also known as bunker and menhaden, which are a striper’s primary food source according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Stripers will eat just about anything, from crustaceans to clams to squid. Striped bass are native up and down the East Coast of North America, the Gulf of Mexico, and fresh and brackish waters connected to the ocean. Striped bass were so respected as a game fish in their native range that they were introduce on the West Coast and in many lakes throughout the country. Striped bass can get fairly large and are seen at
Hand tied Lefty's deceiver fly
lengths of 50” or more but are most commonly caught under the 30” mark. These smaller striped bass are referred to as schoolies while the larger fish are called cows. Stripers can be found in a great variety of habitats but are usually found relatively close to shore. These habitats include, estuaries, sandy beaches, rocky beaches, along with many others. According to, in the 70’s striped bass experience many poor years for reproduction, and along with overfishing, their population plummeted. In the 80’s coastal states worked together to impose strict rules and regulations on striped bass harvest which helped the population to rebound. This recovery continued through the 90’s, and 2000’s, however in 2016 the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission found the striped bass population to be declining.
Rock crab in moon snail shell
            Another, more common organism, we encountered was the Atlantic rock crab (Cancer irroratus). Rock crabs are a native crustacean that can be found from Canada to North Carolina. They can be observed at a range of depths going from the intertidal zone all the way down to 2,600 feet deep ( Rock crabs are benthic organisms meaning they live in/on the sediment layer in the ocean. These crabs live in both rocky and sandy/muddy bottoms and will dig themselves in to the sediment or under a rock for cover. One of the rock crabs we encountered at Camp Harborview had used a large moon snail shell as its home. They can be quite beautiful with different shades of red and purple on their shells. It is uncommon for Atlantic rock crabs to have a carapace (shell) wider than 5.5” and males tend to be larger than males. Rock crabs are not picky eaters and will eat a wide range of invertebrates that live in the same zone they do, such as worms or other crabs. They will also scavenge dead fish, algae, and pretty much whatever they can get their claws on. Smaller rock crabs are an important food source for lobsters, even the planktonic larval crabs are consumed by lobsters. These are a commercially valuable species and are often found for sale in restaurants and fish markets. The rock crab fishery is fairly new and growing so it will be interesting to see how the conservation status of the Atlantic rock crab will change in the future. 
            I can’t wait to start this next week and see what we can catch! It looks like we might have a chance to get on the beach and look for Asian shore crabs and small green crabs. Both are invasive species that compete with native crabs, for example: the rock crab, for resources and can hurt the native populations. Hope everyone has a great week full of interesting catches!

Tight Lines!

No comments: