Hampton Roads Algal Blooms Send Distress Signal
Clean Water: A shared responsibility

How to Fish "Bad Water" - Part II

By John Page Williams, CBF Senior Naturalist and avid boater and fisherman. In Part I of this two-part series, John Page gives anglers some insight into the images on your sonar fish finders. In Part II he looks at how you can use that information to catch more fish.

So what’s an angler to do when bad water shows up on the fish finder? 
First, think about what the fish are telling you: they won’t—or can’t—go any deeper than the levels where you see them. This kind of situation calls for precise depth control. Can you cast out a jig, count it down to just above the level where you see them, and swim it back through them? Can you troll a plug or a spoon through them? If you’re live-lining, can you use a bobber to hang your bait at their level? Think through your options. You may just find that the way bad water concentrates fish actually makes it easier to catch them.

In the short run, that is. 
In the long run, though, bad water costs our Bay a huge loss in summertime fish habitat. For one thing, it concentrates fish in thin layers of warm water where diseases like Mycobacteriosis can spread. On a broader level, over the past 10 summers, more than 80 percent of the Bay has qualified as "bad water" that does not meet the EPA’s water quality standards for dissolved oxygen. Between 10 percent and 20 percent of that bad water qualifies as dead zones that are completely off limits to fish and crabs each summer. Think of having to give up 20 percent of the space in your boat, or in your house, and being uncomfortably stressed in most of the rest of it! Think how that loss affects the “carrying capacity” of the Chesapeake, its ability to serve as home to the fish species we love! Bad water is costing us the resource we love most in our Bay. 

What causes the bad water problem is pollution, nitrogen pollution to be specific. Too much nitrogen (about 600 percent too much, in fact) fertilizes the growth of trillions of algae cells. (See yesterday's post "Hampton Roads Algal Blooms Send Distress Signals") 

Over the past twenty-five years, many sewage treatment plants have made good progress reducing nitrogen pollution, and so have some farmers. To really make a difference, though, the Bay needs more farmers to participate fully in reducing nitrogen pollution, more sewer authorities to continue their upgrade progress, and most of all, many states, cities, towns, and private citizens to reduce polluting runoff from roadways, parking lots, and rooftops.  

Now there are solutions, and Bay anglers can help, big-time.
Over the next two months, contact your U.S. Senators and ask them to support Senate Bill 1816, the Chesapeake Clean Water Act. It offers the most important legislative opportunity to reduce runoff pollution to come along in the past thirty-five years. For more information, visit cbf.org/ccwa

In addition, the Bay states are putting together Watershed Implementation Plans (“WIPs”) that lay out specific actions they must follow to improve the Chesapeake’s water quality. We anglers can help there by following the WIP development process, participating in the public hearings about them, and urging our state agencies to submit strong plans that really will make a difference in the Bay’s health. CBF’s Anglers for Clean Water Web Site (cbf.org/ccwa-anglers) will keep you informed of those opportunities to help.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Fish Finder

Yes, we all have to share the responsibility of cleaning up the Bay. There's a lot of great work being done at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Station on how homeowners can reduce N pollution in the Bay with rain gardens and buffer plantings. You can actually visit the station and see demo gardens and educational displays. They're located on Diamond Springs Rd in VaBeach.

Seb Svendsen

I'm an outdoors guy. I love to fish and hunt. I believe that as we use the ourdoors that we need to take care of it. The scouts have a good moto and that is to leave things cleaner than you found it. That means to pick up some garbage even if it's not yours. Let's not be so lazy and keep outdoors clean. I'd like to see it clean for my grand kids when they come along.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)