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Sardines in Short Supply

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If you were out on the waters off Southern California at all last year, you already know that sardines were hard to come by for bait. There were many times that I found myself saying inside my head, If we had sardines right now, it would be game on!

There is a lot of debate as to the reason behind the decline. Many say it’s just part of the cyclical water changes. Anchovy and sardine populations tend to rise and fall opposite of one another. North of San Diego this year, anchovies were by far the predominant bait.

In the article excerpted below, local bait fishermen, scientists, and other interested parties weigh in. Based on what they’re saying, it looks like this cycle is going to be around awhile. You should definitely think through the implications it will have for your lures, hooks, line, and other fishing gear!

bait_captLarry Derr was as prepared as any longtime Southern California bait fisherman for the disappearance of the Pacific sardines he has pulled up by the ton since the 1980s.

He can fish anchovies instead and, if those become scarce, there’s been a local surge in market squid to keep him in business.

But the fickle sardines have been so abundant for so many years — sometimes holding court as the most plentiful fish in coastal waters — that it was a shock when he couldn’t find one of the shiny silver-blue coastal fish all summer, even though this isn’t the first time they’ve vanished.

Photos: Daily Breeze