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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How I Sea: Sarah Lambert

Sarah is a 23 year old art teacher from Long Island, New York. She grew up 30 minutes from the Long Island Sound, and frequently visits the south shore’s beaches as well, from Long Beach to Montauk.

How have you seen the beaches on Long Island change in your time here since you were a kid?

“Well, the beaches definitely have gotten smaller. They used to extend a couple of hundred yards from the parking lots down to the shoreline, but now it seems like there’s barely room for all of the people, especially in the Summer. It also seems like there’s been a lot more construction going on and dredging projects since Hurricane Sandy a couple years ago. The beaches really just don’t look as natural anymore, it seems more like we’re trying too hard to undo all of the natural erosion, and it isn’t working very well.”

Do you think the beaches have become more crowded since you were young?

“Definitely, it seems like more and more people are coming out to Long Island in the Summers, and it kind of sucks. You can tell that people go to just about every stretch of beach on the Island, even the nature sanctuaries, because of all the garbage they leave behind. Some of these protected areas are meant to be clean and free of our impact, but even on these beaches I always see plastic garbage and disrespectful people. I would say that the garbage on Long Island’s beaches in general has become worse since I was young. There’s also a lot of graffiti on the rocks at some of the North Shore beaches, and it looks pretty bad in my opinion.”

What’s one thing that you think people can do better when they go to the beach.

“Don’t crawl all over the dunes, or let your kids roll down them like it’s a slip-and-slide.”

How I Sea: Rocco Costa

Rocco is a 23 year old construction manager and recreational fisher from Long Island, NY. He’s fished in the Great South Bay, Long Island Island Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean since he was a kid. He knows more about what goes on in the fishing world here than anyone I’ve ever met:

 

So how have you seen the sizes of fish you catch change, if at all, since you were a kid?

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen much of a size differential in my catches over my lifetime, but that number of larger fishes has definitely decreased across the board for all species in our area.”

How have the rules and regulations changed over the years for the fish you’re going for? And in your opinion, how well enforced are these rules?

“Personally I believe that most of the regulations need to be reformed. I say this because I believe that it should have more common sense of reasonable fisherman like myself intwined into the science. I feel this way because all of the fish that are available in our waters have times where a large mass of fish are an easy target for over-fishing. There’s also the need to not interfere too severely with the people who make their living off of the oceans. This definitely makes creating regulations a strenuous task, but I strongly believe that it could be made easier by brainstorming ideas from level-headed fishermen. Personally, I believe in very small cree limits and long seasons. This would allow people to target any fish they wanted but only harvest a small amount of fish. Because in reality, how much fish can one person eat.

Regulations have changed pretty drastically since I’ve started fishing where cree limits on fish like Seabass used to be 25, where now they’re between 5 and 10. And Porgy’s were ridiculous, 40 fish per person. This trend went straight across the board and seemed to be unsustainable. Nowadays regulations are a little more in tune with things such as, when fish are vulnerable and need to be left alone, and more reasonable limits. However, I do feel there’s room for a positive impact on both the fish and the fishermen.

I believe that we need more enforcement of our regulations by authorities such as the DEC and CoastGuard. I say this because I myself have herd of poaching crimes on the water that go unpunished. Ive only been boarded twice by the DEC in New York, which is absolutely ridiculous in comparison to the amount of times I’ve been out fishing in New York waters. Tons of fish are being taken illegally and there’s not much anyone is doing about it.”

Last question, have you seen more people fishing and boating where you go, or less in general?

“In my opinion the number of boaters out on the water has decreased due to the recent economic problems and high fuel prices since 2010, but the recent rebound in the economy and drop in fuel prices may lead to a spike in that number. On the fishermen side, I believe there has been a steady increase in the amount of people fishing for the entirety of my career.”