La Nina and El Nino, something is definitely up. Global warming is just a buzz word these days to a lot of people, but if you pay attention to nature, you can see the subtle results.
We caught mangrove snapper this winter off of Jacksonville, Florida. Now that doesn't mean a lot until you realize that we never catch these fish in the winter much north of Jupiter Inlet on Florida's east coast. The water is normally simply too cold for them.
There is currently a huge run of red snapper within 4 miles of the beach off St. Augustine, Florida. These fish stay really deep in the winter, 30 miles offshore, to be in the warmer water. Did they come in close because of the water temperature? Everyone's guess is that they did.
Off the Georgia coast, the bottom fishing dries up after the first cold front. What little live bottom they do have becomes generally void of big fish over the winter. Georgia is too far south to attract the cold water northern fish and too far north to bring Florida's subtropical varieties in. What snapper and grouper they do catch come from far offshore between April and October. Bottom fishing party boats are almost non-existent on this coast. But this past winter, bottom fishing was good all the way into December. And it has already started picking up again, almost a month early. Coincidence?
Reports from fishermen all the way to Maine indicate that the summer fishing patterns are staying longer. Migratory fish like mackerel, kingfish, tarpon, and bluefish are being delayed on their trip south each fall. The warmer water keeps the baitfish from migrating any faster, and the predatory fish stay longer feeding on them.
So what does that mean for us fisher-people? What can we do to remain successful with our fishing efforts? Some simple changes in our methods and approach can keep us catching fish.
In the northern climates, look for the spawn, particularly the striper spawn to be earlier than usual. Studies indicate that stripers spawn when the water temperature reaches 64 degrees. If you are used to seeing the first week in May as being the prime spawning week, don't be surprised to see it come much earlier this spring, as much as a month in some locations.
In the southern climates, look for the migratory baitfish and predator fish to move north earlier. With warmer water to the north, the baitfish will be leaving earlier than normal.
And for those of you in the middle states of the east coast, look for everything to be delayed as the fish pass through your areas.
On the west coast of the United States, the same phenomena are occurring. Warmer water will delay migration and spawning.
We can still catch fish, we just need to be aware of the issues facing us, and be able to react accordingly. Fish don't read a calendar, they react to water temperature. We need to do the same.