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Thread: Herring getting smaller

  1. #1
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    Default Herring getting smaller

    Just curious but in the 90's we bought bait herring that was nearly the size of a small red. We easily would get three pieces for butt bait each. Last season (2011) we used the whole herring often and if lucky got two pieces which were barely big enough at best.

    Are herring on a cycle or are they just over fished?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Neither - you're just buying smaller bait. The various sizes aren't always available and bait sellers will sell what they've got. You can sometimes get a variety of sizes, but sometimes small is all they have.

    I understand using large pieces of bait for sportfishing halibut, but when longlining we'll get anywhere from 4-8 pieces out of a single herring (usually 6-8" total, with each piece being 1" or less between cuts). Small bait works when needed.

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    For the most part we have bought from the mom and pop in ninilchik over the years or from a few private homes on the way to homer. Any suggestions for bigger bait?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TYBSP View Post
    For the most part we have bought from the mom and pop in ninilchik over the years or from a few private homes on the way to homer. Any suggestions for bigger bait?
    You're right about the quality of herring in Ninny area this past year. It was terrible.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    I can't speak to the size of Cook Inlet bulk or tray-pack herring, but in my SE experience the tray-pack herring produced in the Pacific Northwest have been getting progressively smaller for [at least] the last 25 years. You can read the same complaints in saltwater fishing forums all along the West Coast. Red, Green, Blue, and Purple size-category packaged herring are now easily a full color-size smaller than a couple of decades back. The bait companies are having problems getting a wide range of year classes of herring in their bait pounds and are forced to down-size their products' size classification to reflect the smaller sizes available. Luckily there are anecdotal reports that some of the major BC and stateside stocks are showing signs of a rebound and have some stronger year-classes entering those local herring populations.

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    I don't have any knowledge in herring fisheries but that describres very well the thinking behind my original question JKD. It might also contribute to the high rise per pound were paying compared to 20 yrs ago. At least it seems more than normal inflation.

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    typically Kodiak herring are much larger than what comes from the east coast, typically where the largest bait co buys there bulk.
    Tanners in Ninny usually carries them, obviously only when they are available, i do belive AK ice and cold storage (east end road) is the main bulk supplier down in Homer,. In Anchorage C&J meats, of all places, has a great supplier for troll herring, which i do agree are a bit smaller than they used to be. fresh cook inlet baits, when available, are always a little smaller.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JKD View Post
    Red, Green, Blue, and Purple size-category packaged herring are now easily a full color-size smaller than a couple of decades back. The bait companies are having problems getting a wide range of year classes of herring in their bait pounds and are forced to down-size their products' size classification to reflect the smaller sizes available. Luckily there are anecdotal reports that some of the major BC and stateside stocks are showing signs of a rebound and have some stronger year-classes entering those local herring populations.
    That's a good observation. Time was, I used blue tray for king trolling, especially plug cut. Cut the head off a blue tray today, and you're left with a downright dinky bait. I now use Purple tray for plug cut, and especially early in the season for whole trolling. And when I can find Black tray, I snap up all I can get. Now THERE is a scarce herring these days, but even so they are no bigger than the Purple tray even a decade back.

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    I buy herring at 10th and M seafoods. Last year it was about $60 a case for I think 50 pounds. Just a guess on the numbers but think I am pretty close. Had them run the case thru the bandsaw cutting it up into 6 pieces. Pretty big herring, 8-10 inches long.

    Wished I could get the wife to use jigs more often

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    That's a good observation. Time was, I used blue tray for king trolling, especially plug cut. Cut the head off a blue tray today, and you're left with a downright dinky bait. I now use Purple tray for plug cut, and especially early in the season for whole trolling. And when I can find Black tray, I snap up all I can get. Now THERE is a scarce herring these days, but even so they are no bigger than the Purple tray even a decade back.
    Black tray at sportmans yesterday in Soldotna was 7.99 for 4 herring. OUCH.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by TYBSP View Post
    Black tray at sportmans yesterday in Soldotna was 7.99 for 4 herring. OUCH.
    No kidding! But at least they had them.

    I've tried all sorts of ways to cure large local herring for trolling, and they just never hold up as well as the stuff killed in pounds down south and frozen quickly. I've had some success jigging my own and dropping them live into a real heavy brine, but they drop their bellies pretty quick if we're talking jigging in May. The black tray comes closest in size and really do hold up better. Cure them and they're almost bomb proof. And early on, there can be bonus for using really big herring.

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