How Water Quality Impacts Your Inshore Fishing
Many of us simply jump in the boat and take off for a day of fishing. We have our rods, reels, bait, and terminal tackle; we’ve checked the weather forecast to see if it’s in our favor, and many of us will even take a moment to check out the water temperature. These are all essential steps to set up a great day on the boat, but we’ve missed an important part of the fishing equation: the Water Quality. A few years ago, I asked Captain Lee Parsons, a long time fishing guide in the Wrightsville Beach, NC area about his thoughts on the impact of Water Quality and what it means for fishing. I was surprised at what I learned:
The first thing Lee told me was that there are a number of factors that impact the coastal water quality that are eroding. He started with the devastation of the Oyster Stocks. This is especially true on the western banks of the ICW, and anywhere extensive development along the coastal areas such as homebuilding, infrastructure, and other commercial expansion occurs. The runoff from the mainland carries unsafe materials such as fertilizers and other toxic substances causing harmful algal blooms like Pfiesteria, and Dredging– both sources for concern when considering the health of the Oyster Resources. An Oyster can filter up to 129 gallons each and every day, a process that increases growths that feed and protect many fish species.
Another important factor that will determine how our day will go, is the PH level of the water. Known by Lee as a ‘sour bottom,’ fishing in an area with low PH, an acidic floor –will result in no fish being caught. This problem can be caused by a number of factors such as excessive smoke or the runoff that we talked about earlier. At the same time, an area with a more basic, alkaline bottom or ‘sweet bottom’ will provide far better results. These ‘sweet bottom’ areas can be found where a good population of species like Flounder and Stingrays are present.
It’s easy to figure out that fishing near healthy Oyster beds, like a place with less coastal development, and favoring the ocean side of the waterway can provide an advantage. All this in mind, we all need to be more conscious of the health of the water we fish in. Our fishing success depends on it.