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What Happened to Weakfish?…

The author displays a weakfish caught jigging in Beaufort Inlet, NC, last November. New research suggests the vast majority of weakfish that migrate offshore each winter don’t survive to return the following spring.

For fishermen who have spent the past several decades plying the surf and nearshore waters from Cape Cod to North Carolina, few changes have been as dramatic as the disappearance of weakfish. The population of this member of the drum family, also known as “squeteague” in Rhode Island and “gray trout” in more southern haunts, crashed during the early 2000s and has been considered depleted since 2003. Despite strict harvest limits for both recreational and commercial fishermen, the stock has yet to show any signs of recovery. As a result, it’s attained a near-mythical status for anglers north of New Jersey, many of whom have never seen one.


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