Source: CTDEEP Long Island Sound Trawl Survey * Data for 2010 unavailable for Bluefish, Scup, Summer Flounder and Weakfish. see note below.
|Game Fish Count Per Tow|
|Bluefish||Scup||Striped Bass||Summer Flounder||Tautog||Weakfish||Winter Flounder|
Game fish are those species prized by anglers for their size and strength which make fishing for them an exciting sport. All of these fish are also harvested commercially and are managed by regulations restricting minimum harvest size, number, and season in order to keep their abundance stable. In addition, state health departments monitor many of these species for contamination by toxic substances such as mercury and issue consumption advisories when needed.
The Long Island Sound Trawl Survey (LISTS), conducted by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection since 1984, has provided independent monitoring of important recreational species in Long Island Sound. Seven of these species are identified in this chart—bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), scup (Stenotomus chrysops), striped bass (Roccus saxatillis); summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), or fluke, tautog, (Tautogo onitis), or blackfish, weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), and winter flounder (Pseudopleuronetes americanus). These abundance indices are used by fishery managers for local and regional assessment of stock condition, and to provide a more complete annual inventory of LIS fishery resources.
The abundance of game fish is a reflection of the productivity of Long Island Sound and the effectiveness of coast-wide fishery management plans that seek to stabilize populations while maximizing harvest opportunities.
Some fish populations are growing, while others are declining. Specific trends for the seven game fish in this indicator are described below:
- The above graph depicts data from CTDEEP’s spring and fall trawl surveys. For this chart, the season in which abundance is greatest is used for each species. In fall 2010, sampling for bluefish, scup, summer flounder, and tautog was cancelled because the CTDEEP’s research vessel was out of service due to repairs.
- The survey uses geometric mean instead of arithmetic mean to find the most frequently observed number of fish collected per tow. In a natural environment such as Long Island Sound fish have a “patchy” distribution, i.e. some areas will have a very high abundance of fish, and other areas very low abundance or no fish at all. An arithmetic mean can be easily biased by unusually high or low values so that it doesn’t reflect the true center of a data set. The geometric mean minimizes the effects of very high or low values using a log transformation and is a better average for this type of biological data. For further information see: A Study of Marine Recreational Fisheries in Connecticut: March 1, 2009-Feb. 28, 2010, CTDEEP Fishing Publications Web site
Bluefish are present in the Sound from April until October. The juvenile Bluefish, or “snapper”, run occurs in late summer and early fall. Photo by Bob Bachand.
Scup, also known as porgy, are a small migratory fish that travel in schools and are plentiful around piers, rocks, offshore ledges, jetties, and mussel beds. In the summer scup move inshore and into shallow estuaries, then during the winter tend to migrate to deeper waters offshore. Photo of scup at Mason Island by Robert DeGoursey, UConn.
Striped bass are a migratory fish that spawn in fresh water. Photo by Richard Howard/Long Island Sound Fish Trawl Survey.
Summer flounder, or fluke, are a migratory fish that move into the Sound as temperatures warm up around June and migrate out in the late fall as temperatures drop. Photo by Richard Howard/Long Island Sound Fish Trawl Survey.
Tautog, or blackfish, live in shallow coastal waters, usually at depths of less than 60 feet. The rocks and boulders left by glacial deposition in the Sound make it an ideal "reef" habitat. Tautog are the only important recreational fish species that live year round in the Sound. Photo by Richard Howard/Long Island Sound Fish Trawl Survey.
Weakfish are most abundant in shallow coastal waters over sand and mud. Estuaries such as Long Island Sound are typically used by this species for summer feeding and nursery grounds. Photo by Richard Howard/Long Island Sound Fish Trawl Survey
Winter flounder are a cold-temperate species that ranges from Labrador to the Chesapeake Bay. In Long Island Sound many juveniles leave their estuarine spawning grounds during summer months and enter the freshwater sources that drain into Long island Sound. Photo of flounder in an eelgrass habitat at Mulford Point, LI by Chris Pickerell.