It’s a question that numerous fishermen at the Jersey Shore are wondering this year. Where did all the minnows go?
“It’s really tough this season,” said Steve Wolfschmidt. “It just stinks.”
Wolfschmidt works at Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom, NJ where the inventory of minnows is beyond scarce. The situation is even worse at Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven, NJ.
“We have none,” said Margaret O’Brien who works at the store. “The people who catch the minnows tell us they’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Both Wolfschmidt and O’Brien say the minnows, an extremely popular bait for fluke and flounder fishing, are missing from the back bay areas where they’re normally caught.
“I’ve had the best minnowers around this area and we’re all coming up short,” Wolfschmidt said.
Employees at Ray Scott’s Dock in Margate normally get three gallons of minnows during each delivery. Lately however, they’ve been lucky to get half a gallon. Many anglers now have to use squid or articficial bait instead. Axar Patel, who works at Ray Scott’s, says some customers are disappointed.
“They come in the store and we just don’t have any minnows to sell them,” he said. “They go next door and it’s the same thing.”
Some residents who fish in the Jersey Shore believe changes in the landscape caused by Superstorm Sandy led to the minnows’ disappearance.
“I think something with Sandy had to do something to our bay,” said O’Brien. “Because before that, we had them.”
“We’ve had considerable shifts in the sand and tiny eco-systems that were just totally killed,” said Wolfschmidt.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says there is nothing that can be tied to Sandy at this point. They also say that apparent minnow shortages seem to come up every year whenever the fishing season picks up. Those who catch and sell the fish however, insist that this year, something is different.