How I Sea: Johnny Mifsud

How long have you been fishing on Long Island for? And what kind of fishing do you mostly do?

I have been fishing on Long Island since I was born. I mostly surf-cast and majority of the time I’m fishing for striped bass and bluefish. I have fished from boats but surfcasting is what I live for. I mostly use plugs now although I’ve had a lot of success using bait, it’s more of an accomplishment for me now to get a nice catch on a lure.

 

What made you want to start fishing? And do you still have the same motivations for fishing today as when you started?

My father, uncles, cousins, all were big time fisherman or hunters, or both, so I was raised up to be a fisherman I guess. I’ve just always had a passion for it because my dad would always try to bring me along with him when I was young. I still have the same passion if not a stronger passion now then I had when I first started. I’m obsessed with both fishing and hunting.

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How have you seen the fishing on Long Island change (if at all) year to year? Is there more of certain species and less of others, or has it been consistent? Are fish getting smaller or larger?

The overall fishing I guess has been a decline and especially the striped bass population. I remember going when I was 6 years old, 7 years old, 8 years old and there would be an abundance of cow striped bass around. Weakfish population is terrible now there used to be a lot of them around too although their species usually cycles. The last good season I had was in 2013 and the fall run in Montauk that year was phenomenal.

 

What do you think is the biggest threat to Long Island’s waters and ocean? And why?

The biggest threat to long island oceans are ignorant people that don’t know how to respect nature, and fish. It’s not about killing the fish it’s about the whole experience of being outdoors and one with nature and fewer people are starting to realize that. Less people are going the old-school style and the whole tradition of surfcasting is diminishing Another threat is pollution, I can’t name one beach I’ve been too where I haven’t found at least one piece of garbage. Overfishing is another one, the commercial industry is tearing away at the striped bass and other species. Everyone is keeping the cow sized fish, which are the females. Any fish over 23 pounds is usually a female and those are the fish that breed. The big ones don’t even taste that good compared to the smaller fish, and the small fish aren’t the ones that can reproduce because they aren’t mature fish yet. The knowledge of this is unseen and I feel that if more people knew about this then they would care more about releasing fish then to keep every single one they catch. Private charters and commercial boats really are the ones hurting the population. I feel what needs to be done is there needs to be a slot limit size on the fish. So say you can only keep a fish between 28 inches and 36 inches.

 

 

Are fishing regulations enforced on Long Island in your opinion, for recreational fishers? And if not how regularly do you think people catch fish over their limits?

No, they aren’t enforced that much, I’ve never ran into a DEC officer or fish and wildlife officer while fishing. I’ve see people keep small fish all the time and it pisses me off because these are the guys who shouldn’t be allowed to fish because they have zero respect.

 

What do you think could be done (if anything) to better manage recreational fishing on Long Island?

More enforcement officers and a slot limit.

What’s one everyday thing that you think recreational fishers could do better to conserve the marine environment?

Spread their knowledge to one another and younger generations. CPR (catch, picture, release) people must conserve our resources and have compassion towards nature.

 

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