Bays And Estuaries
The wide diversity of Fish Species in the Bay and its tributaries has provided a rich ground for anglers and commercial fishermen. Hundreds species of fish are known to occur in the Bay. Some live here year-round, while others visit during various times of the year to feed or spawn.
Bay or estuary is bodies of water contain a mixture of fresh water and marine water. So they also contain a mixture of freshwater and saltwater fish. Freshwater fish, like Largemouth Bass, live in non-tidal portions of the Bay's tributaries. Many of these fish move down into tidal fresh water and some even descend into brackish waters. Estuarine fish, like tarpon, snook, redfish and Striped Bass can live in waters throughout the Bay. Their range may vary depending on temperature: generally, estuarine fish will stay closer to shore during the summer and move to deeper waters in the winter. Marine fish usually live and spawn in coastal or ocean waters and move into the lower Bay during various parts of the year. Anadromous fish, like Sturgeon, shad or Salmon migrate from the ocean to fresh water to spawn. Catadromous fish, like an American Eel, migrate from fresh water to the ocean to spawn.
A bay is an inlet of the sea; it is a body of water partly enclosed by the ocean. They don't have much freshwater influence. But because they have lower wave energy than the open coast, limited water exchange patterns, they become ideal places for many species of bait fish and shell fish, and this draw bigger saltwater fish into the bays to feed. Bays are heavily used for fishing sport.
Area where the river enters to the ocean is called an estuary. Estuary is a coastal area with mixture of salt water from the sea and fresh water from the rivers. Many bayous and lagoons next to coasts are estuaries. Estuaries come in all shapes and sizes, each unique to their location and climate. With the flow of rivers, the deposition of sediments, the outgoing and incoming tides environment is always varying. Species that evolve in estuaries are as a result adapted to tremendous variability and extreme conditions in their environment.
Estuaries support saltwater fish such as tarpon, snook, redfish and striped bass. Other saltwater fish like shad, herring, salmon and sea-run trout can also be found in estuaries because they need to find sweeter or fresher water when it's time to mate. Freshwater fish like largemouth bass can also survive in the salty waters found in estuaries. They have a variety of salinity from almost fresh to fully salt water, lower wave energy than the open coast, limited water exchange patterns and their floors are generally covered in soft sediments.
Back to top
Structures most commonly seen along the beach are pears, trees, rocks, drop-offs, holes, creek mouths, converging currents are great places for bait fish and other marine creatures. Underwater current that flows in and around points, sandbars and rocks tries to find the quickest way out. And it forms a faster-moving current of water through the obstacles. Roily water is anywhere where currents work against jagged or eroded shorelines, such that the water becomes muddy or sediment filled. Turbulent, agitated or swirling water not only stirs up sediment but food as well, and such waters can be productive for finding fish. Try to fish around the edges of these areas. Fish are around piers and pilings are looking for food and protection from currents.
Inlets are another good spots that have jetties at their mouths. The jetties are placed to stabilize the inlet and allow the channel to stay stationary to ease navigation. A lot of food group at the bay where the stream went into the ocean. And where there's concentrated food, fish will look for an easy meal.
When the tide moves into a small inlet, or point, it slows down and moves in a different direction than the main flow for a short period of time. Fish will feed where the backwards flow slows down and the food settles.
Anywhere water is forced to move through a smaller opening, currents run faster and dig deeper into the bottom. Fish will be attracted to these places because the water is deeper and the supply of food is more concentrated in the 'pinched' area.
Back to top
Closer to and in the mouth of the inlet, the water is typically deeper and the drop-off steeper because the water is constricted between the arms of the inlet. Some fish can be found in the main channel, but the strong current usually prevents fishing for them there, unless it is a smaller inlet and the volume of water it moves is small. Inside the inlet the main spots are going to be along the edge as the shore slopes toward the channel. Most inlets are open in large, shallow coastal bays. The water usually gets shallower, the banks become more gradual and oyster bars and marsh-grass edges become common.
You may see feeding fish jumping on the surface, or perhaps they will be betrayed by sudden, swift flurries of harried bait. Sea birds get together in over feeding fish. If you see a baitfish jumping out of the water to the beach it mean that predators, like a strip bass or blue fish are feeding close to shore. Also look for different colors in the ocean, you can see a spot of weed beds and rock piles with weeds and other creatures attached to them. Bait fish and even schools of larger fish can swim so close together they actually change the color of the water. Weeds are the food for a bait fish, and where the bait fish the game fish is right there. Very good spots for fishing are around the edges. Fish tend to congregate along edges.
A number of habitats occur within these systems including sand flats, mud flats and associated drainage channels, sea grass beds, and mangroves. Larger embayments also contain sandy beaches, rocky reefs and islands. Mangroves and intertidal flats only occur within the bays, inlets and estuaries.
Any curve of the river or stream makes water move faster to the outside of the bend. Water brings a new food and where the food the fish is there. Anywhere water is forced to move through a smaller opening (Channels or Entrances), currents run faster and dig deeper into the bottom. Fish like deeper water because of food is more intense in the haggard area. When the tide moves into a small inlet, or point, it slows down and moves in a different direction than the main flow for a short period of time. Fish will feed where the backwards flow slows down and the food settles. Food also concentrated at both ends of the lake where the stream feeds into the pond and out into the ocean. And where the food the fish is also there for a meal.
Back to top
Weather can also affect the mix of fish in combined waters. Stormy weather pushes fresh water from the rivers closer to the ocean, causing freshwater to move farther downstream. And dry weather pushes salt water and saltwater fish further upstream into the rivers.
Every species of fish found in the Bay has a place in the food chain. For example, phytoplankton - zooplankton - bay anchovies - striped bass and bluefish. These larger fish can then be harvested and eaten by humans.
The bays and inlets support a rich fish community. Some fish, such as Black Bream, are normally found only in bays, inlets and estuaries, whereas other fish only use these areas during part of their life cycle. Bays, inlets and estuaries are important reproduction areas for several fish.
Bays and estuaries can be fished from shore or from a boat. Fishing Methods currently used in bays and inlets include haul seining, purse seining, mesh (gill) netting, long-lining and hand hunting by divers. If you fishing from shore, drifting or still fishing from boat always look for drop-offs, channels and weed beds as these areas will have a wide variety of fish species.
Back to top