The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries announced the tallies of coastal recreational fishing landings for 2017 via a press release that was issued on Thursday, June 12.
The Division of Marine Fisheries estimates these annual recreational fishing harvests through broad-based intercept surveys, where port agents talk to fishermen on the beach, at the piers and at boat ramps, and through mail surveys to license holders.
Overall, coastal recreational anglers caught and kept fewer fish last year than in 2016, likely due in part to bad weather days during prime fishing season that kept surf fishermen off the water.
Coastal anglers caught and kept more than 5.5 million fish with an estimated total weight of 11 million pounds in North Carolina in 2017, according to estimates from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Coastal Angling Program. That was about 35.7 percent fewer fish (8.1 percent fewer pounds) than in 2016.
The decrease in landings correlates with a 16 percent reduction in the total number of fishing trips taken, including a 39 percent drop in the number of beach/bank fishing trips. The greatest decrease in fishing trips came during September and October, when Hurricane Jose and Hurricane Maria passed offshore.
Key species with decreased landings included bluefish (55.5 percent), Atlantic croaker (34 percent), dolphin (29 percent), kingfishes (36.6 percent), pinfish (36 percent), pigfish (67.5 percent), and puffers (52.6 percent). These species represented 56 percent of the overall drop by number.
On the other hand, increases in the number of fish landed were seen in some species that are popular catches on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, including red drum (63.4 percent), pompano (12 percent), and yellowfin tuna (42.3 percent).
The top five species landed in 2017 by number were: kingfishes (551,861), bluefish (524,072), spot (469,462), Spanish mackerel (439,654), and spotted seatrout (339,523).
The top five species landed by weight were: yellowfin tuna (3 million pounds), dolphin (1.5 million pounds), bluefish (690,018 pounds), spotted seatrout (580,849 pounds), and wahoo (497,341 pounds).
For a full landings report, click on the 2017 Annual Fisheries Bulletin link here.