According to recent statistics from the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NC DMF), recreational saltwater catches increased in 2015.
Anglers in North Carolina brought an estimated 10.2 million fish to the docks in 2015, an increase of 6.8 percent over 2014. The estimated weight of these landings rose by 32 percent to 11.6 million pounds. Anglers released 6 percent more fish, compared to 2014.
In terms of pounds landed dockside, the top five recreational species for 2015 were dolphin, bluefish, yellowfin tuna, cobia and wahoo.
The number of dolphin taken increased by 132 percent over the previous year to 430,296 fish (3.2 million pounds), the highest since 2011.
Anglers landed 19,284 wahoo weighing 534,787 pounds, a 66 percent increase.
Cobia harvests totaled 15,875 fish weighing 675,859 pounds, the highest since 2013. The average weight of the cobia nearly doubled from 2014.
Anglers brought 10.7 percent fewer yellowfin tuna to the docks; 24,205 fish weighing approximately 723,127 pounds.
NC DMF speculates that dolphin, wahoo and cobia harvests may have increased as a result of an absence of yellowfin tuna.
Recreational harvests of bluefish decreased by 16 percent to 911,983 fish (769,262 pounds).
Spotted seatrout harvests for 2015 were estimated to be the lowest on record. The low catches follow back to back cold stuns in 2013 and 2014.
NC DMF closed spotted seatrout harvest Feb. 5 to June 15 in 2014 to allow the fish that survive the cold stun event the maximum chance to spawn in the spring.
Another possible factor may have been the abnormal amount of rainfall in eastern North Carolina in the fall and winter of 2015 that flushed the creeks with freshwater, causing fish to move to higher salinities.
Despite low spotted seatrout harvests in 2015, estimates of recreational released catch (undersized) were at near record levels.
For a full landings report, visit http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/marine-fisheries-catch-statistics.
source: North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries