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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There is a meeting wed night (toNIGHT ) at vmrc at 6 pm to discuss the issue of speckled trout. I expect a big turnout as one of the driving forces in the formation of VIRGINIA SALT WATER SPORT FISHING ASSO (VSSA) was the commercial exploitation --poaching --in the eliz river; hot ditch area last winter. We will hear more from vmrc officials about the state of the speck trout here in va after the poaching and two years of severe winter which caused the cold kill of specks all over ches bay ... I expect a good turnout and will look for ward to seeing you there.

The turnout numbers attending this meeting will influence vmrc on how serious recreationals are about protecting the world class speck fishing in va.

Vmrc 6 pm NEWPORT NEWS va..25 th and Washington ave...4th floor....informal meeting to be updated on status of speck trout biomass in va and nc.

Dr. Bob Allen, vssa interim board member
 

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I can tell you the winter speckled trout fishing in the Elizabeth River was better than the speckled trout fishing I've experienced in the famed, Mosquito Lagoon in Florida in a month of fishing over the last 2 winters. Do all you can to fight for, hold on to, and restore what's left of the best winter speckled trout fishing on the east coast. You don't deserve to have it taken from you. Good luck
 

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How did the meeting go? I would have went but I live about 270 miles away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
MEETING: SPECKLED TROUT INFROMATION EXCHANGE 6 PM VMRC JULY 15, 2015

ATTENDING WERE:

JEFF DEEM, SELDEN AVEY, JACK AUSTIN, JOHN BROWN, DOUG ROPER, KEITH NUTTAL, JON LUCY, MARVIN HARDISTRY,
SUSSANNA MUSIK(vims), TOM POWERS, JOE CIMMINO (vmrc) & BOB ALLEN

THE FOLLOWING ARE MY "PERSONAL" CONCLUSIONS. OTHERS MAY DIFFER.....

THERE IS NO REALLY GOOD , RECENT STOCK ASSESSMENT ON SPECKLED TROUT. SEVERAL ATTENDING ARE DEDICATED
SPECK ANGLERS AND THEIR FISHING REPORTS WERE DISMAL. I EXPECT MORE DETAILED INFORMATION FROM THEM LATER.
THE CONSENSUS IS THAT THE HOT DISCHARGE FROM THE ELIZ RIVER POWER PLANT IS THE REASON THE SPECK FISHING HAS
BEEN SO GOOD IN THE ELIZ RIVER--ALSO THERE WERE SEVERAL WARM WINTERS A FEW YEARS AGO; NOW THE POWER PLANT IS
NO LONGER DISCHARGING HOT WATER...THE "HOT DITCH" IS NOW NON EXISTENT. FOR TWO OF THE LAST THREE YEARS
THERE HAVE BEEN EXTREME COLD SPELLS WHICH CAUSED WINTER FISH SPECK KILLS IN VIRGINIA. WHEN HOT DITCH WAS WARM,
THE SPECIES SURVIVED AND RE POPULATED THE ENTIRE CHESAPEAKE BAY. ANGLERS WHO FISH THERE RELIGIOUSLY REPORT THAT
THERE IS NO LONGER A RESIDENT POPULATION OF SPECKLED TROUT IN ELIZ RIVER OR EVEN NEARBY. ALSO THE WARM DISCHARGE
HELD PUPPY DRUM THERE YEAR ROUND. TO THIS DATE THE HUGE SPAWN OF PUPPY DRUM THAT OCCURRED A FEW YEARS AGO PROBABLY
HAVE MATURED AND HAVE MIGRATED SOMEWHERE...NO LONGER TO BE FOUND IN CHES BAY TRIBUTARIES OR IN THE HOT DISCHARGE
DITCHES OF POWER PLANTS.

THE OVERRIDING FEELING IS THAT THE "WORLD CLASS" SPECKLED TROUT FISHING IN ELIZ RIVER NO LONGER EXISTS.

THE MOST ARDENT SPECK TROUT ANGLERS WILL PROVIDE ME WITH MORE INFORMATION AS THEY CAN GET IT TOGETHER.

THERE IS A FEELING THAT THERE WAS A NORTHERN CHES BAY SPAWNING POPULATION THAT WINTERED OVER UP NORTH
AND A SOUTHERN SPAWNING GROUP WINTERING OVER IN THE HOT DITCH; THESE LAST VERY SEVERE WINTERS KILLED
OFF THE MAJORITY OF THE NORTHERN SPAWNERS...AND THAT WITH THE HOT DITCH...STILL HOT. THE SOUTHERN SPAWNERS
REPOPULATED THE BAY FAIRLY RAPIDLY, BUT WITH THE HOT DITCH GONE AND THIS LAST REPEAT OF A SEVERE WINTER,
THERE VERY LIKELY IS NO LONGER A LARGE SPAWNING POPULATION IN EITHER PART OF THE BAY.

THIS IS EVIDENCED BY REPORTS FROM EXPERIENCED ANGLERS WHO HISTORICALLY CATCH 5 TO 20 FISH A TRIP TO THE ELIZ RIVER, TRIP
AFTER TRIP....ARE GIVING REPORTS OF GOING AS MANY AS 20 TRIPS TO THEIR FAVORITE HAUNTS IN 2015 WITHOUT A SINGLE FISH
BEING CAUGHT...THEY SAY NOTHING IS IN THE HOT DITCH OR NEARBY SINCE FEBRUARY/MARCH OF THIS YEAR...ZIP !

THERE WAS A FEELING THAT WE WOULD LIKE SOME DRASTIC PROTECTION OF ANY THAT ARE LEFT; BUT THERE WAS ALSO THE
THE FEELING THAT
VMRC WILL NOT EFFECT AN EMERGENCY RESTRICTION BEFORE THE FALL SPECK SEASON. OF COURSE MANY AT THE TABLE
P;POINTED OUT THAT IF THERE ARE NO FISH TO BE CAUGHT WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF ANY CLOSURE. SOON ANGLERS WILL REALIZE
FISHING IN ELIZ RIVER AND HOT DITCH ARE FINISHED...MOTHER NATURE TOOK CARE OF THAT CLOSURE.

VMRC STAFF LIKES FACTS TO BRING THIS TO VMRC ; THERE ARE NO FACTS---THERE IS ONLY ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE...BUT THE INFORMATION
PRESENTED TONIGHT IS SO OVERWHELMING
THAT IT "is" FACT. THE GROUP FEELS LIKE SOMEONE SHOULD COMMENT TO VMRC FULL COMMISSIONERS AT NEXT MEETING
ABOUT THE LOSS OF SPECKLED TROUT TO VIRGINIA ANGLERS. ??

MEETING ENDED INCONCLUSIVELY AT 8 PM

DR. BOB ALLEN
 

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First. In general the meeting, for me, was depressing. I did not realize how bad things were. Tagging data. In years gone by the Feb to now specs tagged count was several hundred. This year it is NINE fish after the cold stun event.

"THERE IS A FEELING THAT THERE WAS A NORTHERN CHES BAY SPAWNING POPULATION THAT WINTERED OVER UP NORTH" This was from VIMS based on a genetic study that has come to a screaming halt due to a lack of fish. Preliminary results indicate that there is a separate stock north of the York.

I am not sure if I agree that the Elizabeth river is done as far as holding specs, reds, stripers in the winter (in future years on specks and drum) as the power plant may have been there for 75 years (or 50 or whatever) but the fish were spread out along the river away from the hot ditch.

Bottom line things are dismal and the question is:

Do we want to close the fishery for 2 to 5 years in order to allow the remaining fish to build the population back up (aka like they did for snook on the west coast of Florida) or are we going to keep the fishery open and risk doing what we did with grey trout effectively driving them to extinction in local waters for 10 or more years by continuing to harvest every fish that we catch?

Oh and one thing that did come out of the meeting was that if we closed the recreational fishery we should make it a no sale fishery for the commercial guys. That way they do not get a ticket for accidentally having fish in their boxes (this is an issue for haul seines and pound nets) but can not market what they catch.

The earliest that we thought that something MIGHT make it before the Commission is the end of October. By then we should have a feel if the commercial fisher
 

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close the daggone thing down.....nuff said. I dont see how anyone can argue against it in the current state of the fishery. (just let them go try to catch a keeper speck and see how well they do)

After the stun 2 winters ago, the population seemed to rebound OK with the emergency closure (I caught a lot of 4-6" specks that fall)....let a full closure continue for a few years and then re-evaluate.

What is the timeline for the next stock assessment?
 

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Been a terrible year for sure, I've only caught one. I know there was consensus regarding a sizable trout population caught in VA during warmer months were migratory from NC. Since we have not seen an influx of trout into the area, does this seem to indicate the majority of trout in VA waters really did not migrate as much as previously thought and stayed in the Bay?

The Hot Ditch may not be as robust as before, but I agree that the Elizabeth will likely be a solid winter spot for trout, pups, stripers in the future.
 

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Maybe special restrictions for the winter speckled trout in the Elizabeth would be a good idea from Nov. til?
 

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Not being much of a speck fisherman I don't have much history on it to tell. But after reading recent post (s)
I had some conversations with some of the best speck guys I know in Deltaville. they were a very short conversations..
NO Specks. They were all for closing fishery down.. But "nothing will help if they don't stop the commercial industry"
I for one, would love to hear how Chris Newsome is doing and his thoughts.
 

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Seems strange to me that no one mentioned that big trout bust in the Elizabeth where they had a ton of specks. This had to impact the fishery.

When they talk of a northern Chesapeake Bay stock are they talking Northern Va. Or Maryland waters?

Limiting recs and allowing commercial catches proves nothing. Both have to contribute to save, or rebuild, the fishery.

Thanks for reporting what went on at the meeting. Very informative. Like Capt. Nick I live 4 hous away and couldn't make the meeting.
 

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The commercial fishing bust in the river was terrible but all of those fish would of died regardless. I live on the ER and have done so since I was born. ALL THE TROUT DIED, thousands in every creek. Could walk to the end of the dock and count over 100 laying on the bottom.
 

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Just scanned the beginning of the article.

If they closed the fishery in 2011 due to the kill off, why don't/can't we. Common sense seems to say that it can only help, esp if the comms share the closure.

Thanks
Steve
 

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Just scanned the beginning of the article.

If they closed the fishery in 2011 due to the kill off, why don't/can't we. Common sense seems to say that it can only help, esp if the comms share the closure.

Thanks
Steve
You'll have to ask the 9 member team of the Marine Resources Commission that was created to protect and enhance the states commercial fishing industry.Maybe they don't want to do anything too soon ?
 

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Clearly the trout were killed by natural causes, but allowing the comm's to continue to keep the random specks that are still out there while the species is struggling makes no sense. I live near and fish the Poq flats...its a dead zone as far as gamefish are concerned. Yet, the haul seiners hammer away at the croakers (and im sure the occasional speck)! Close it down!

On a bright note, there is more bait (killi minnows, mullet) than ive seen in years, probably largely due to fewer predators. So, something has to rebound out of this cycle...crabs, flounder etc
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Bob,
Met you at the special meeting for Speckles Wednesday night. I have fished everyday since Thursday and have not had any quiet time to write up the Speckle notes/info I promised you. I do not plan to fish tomorrow so should be able to get it done.

I have scrubbed a month or two of notes from last year and compare it to this year. Just to give you a quick idea of how poor it has been - last year, in March alone, my boat had 170 Speckled Trout with 9 citations in 13 trips. This year, I have not had 1 Speckled Trout since before the cold stun in early/mid February...not 1 in 17 trips that targeted Speckled Trout.

More to follow.

Best. jb
 

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Up until the last few years, speckled trout fishing was unbelievably great! Lost most of the speckled trout in the Piankatank two winters ago, now the Hot Ditch this past winter. The fishery managers will tell you that like weakfish, speckled trout are prolific breeders and cannot really be hurt by fishing, recreational or commercial. I tend not to believe them, given their pitifully poor track record on weakfish. Put a moratorium on keeping speckled trout and weakfish until stocks recover. Might not help but it cannot hurt.
 

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I'm not saying there hasn't been a significant winter kill the past few cold years, but is this the first time? Nope… I'm hearing some things that seem to be the knee jerk reaction we all seem to get caught up in for every event. I know there was a good population of big trout in the river due to warm water discharge - who didn't? The Eliz River fish repopulated the whole area? Significant, but really? Is there no other place fish can go to avoid cold water - deep channels, and etc? This is their environment, and while many fish in VA & NC were stunned or winter-killed, there may be a few slow years but they will come back. Folks are fishing for 'em and not getting them…they will stop targeting them until a population returns. Has the 1 fish limit on greys worked - and how long has that been? The past couple years there has been schools of little greys along the span in the spring in their traditional areas. After all these years of almost no limit there still doesn't seem to be many larger than a pound. Nobody seems to be talking about them much anymore, other than reminiscing about the good old days. Everything from the menhaden fishery, water conditions, rockfish, bluefish predation (see menhaden fishery) and overfishing by commercial & recreational fishermen have been blamed. I was always curious that in the same grey crash, why the speckled trout increased in size & numbers but greys didn't. I digress…Yes, can't hurt to shut the fishery down - especially for commercials. Since the opinion is there aren't any fish left it seems like a moot point though. Shut it down for 3 years & create a warm water discharge in the river again, and everything will go back to normal.
 
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