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RECREATIONAL FISHERMEN HOOKING FEWER FISH THAN USUAL

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — They say a bad day fishing is still better than a good day at the office, but for some across the Cape Fear there may be too many bad days lately.

New data shows fishermen across the North Carolina coast have been reeling in fewer fish than normal. Several fishermen in Wilmington say it has been a much slower start to the year. However, one commercial fishing business says they are doing just fine.

“Not landing a fish. That’s my biggest concern every day,” fisherman, Aaron Collier said.

For some, fishing is their livelihood.

“Our business is at least as good as it was last year, if not better,” Motts Channel Seafood Manager, Thomas Franz said.

For others, it is just for fun or sport. But recently, it has not been great for recreational fishermen.

“We’ve had our opportunities there have been a few fish around. But certainly the numbers have decreased from the past years,” Collier said.

According to the Division of Marine Fisheries, coastal recreational fishermen hooked fewer fish in 2016 than in 2015, cutting the average number of fish they usually reel in by 18%.

This year, those in Wrightsville Beach say they have not had much luck.

“So far this years been a little slow. It’s the end of May. We haven’t decked anything on this pier. No kings, no cobias. Usually by this time this year we’ve put in at least a dozen, a dozen cobia on the deck. And maybe a king or two,” Collier said.

Recreational fishermen have brought in fewer fish in the past year even though fishermen took 16% more trips in 2016 despite Hurricane Matthew in the fall.

Part of the reason for the decrease are regulations. Last year, fishermen had to release 1.5% more fish than in 2015.

“Just small things. They’ve raised the size limit of flounder to 15 inches. So early in the season there’s a lot of the smaller fish that they’re not able to catch. But because of that they’re able to catch more, you know, as the fish grow there are more fish around. So it evens itself out,” Franz said.

For Motts Channel Seafood, Franz says it has been the best shrimping season they have had in years. Aside from some regulations, he says their business is doing just fine.

But as for fishermen along our coast, they are remaining hopeful things will get better.

“Well this year you know, it’s only six months into the year and the flounder season is getting ready to kick in. And I really don’t know what this season is going to be like yet but I will know here shortly,” fisherman, Donald Wood said.

For more on the recreational fishermen and how they did last year, click here.


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