FEB 9,2012 weakfish (trout) RECOVERIES

Today I will provide some Weakfish(trout) recovery data.Weakfish, which from early 60’s to mid 90’s was a very prominent fish in Cape May  County waters and all up and down the East Coast. There were weakfish pushing 17lbs being caught on a regular basis BUT mid 90’s we began to see a severe decline and the past 2 years have been horrible.I only caught 4 in 2010 and ZERO in 2011 in spite of many hours searching. I do have some interesting recoveries but none were out very long.

My first 2 returns came from 2- 13″ fish caught off Corsons Inlet 10/88 ,these same 2 fish were re- caught by same angler off Ocean City ,MD 11/88 13″    another caught 9/90 off Corsons re-caught  11/90 off Ocean City ,MD  13″   2 more caught 10/91 13″ were re-caught by Commercial netters 3/95  14″      the longest out was tagged 9/98   20″  re-caught 4/99 off Fenwick Is DE and had grown to 26″         In Florida I would catch Speckled Trout a weakfish close cousin ,while returns are few probably the result of insufficent knowledge of any tagging programs I do have 2 returns.. 2/09  Everglades City,Fl   14″  re-caught Estero Bay,Fl 4/09  14“”      02/7 /03 Marco Is,fl 17″  re-caught  2/27/03   Naples ,Fl  17″

It is a real mystery what has happen to our weakfish, numerous theories have been floated but little data to support the theories . They are a fun fish to catch and hopefully one of these days they will return. I will point out that when I was growing up in late 50’s IF you caught a weakfish you made the newspaper regardless of size but beginning around 1964 we began seeing them in good numbers and average size went up every year from 1964 to 1990 . 1988 89 were the years with the largest fish and Delaware Bay was called the Weakfish Captial of The World .The disappearance is a mystery but given the history there is hope for the future

TOTAL WEAKFISH-TROUT  TAGGED 933   TOTAL RECOVERIES 23    2.5%