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How I Sea: Mathew Digiovanna

Source: The TerraMar Project - June 23, 2017 in TMP

How I Sea: Mathew Digiovanna
Photo: Ellmax Photos

Mathew is a 31 year old teacher living in Connecticut. He has spent his whole life fishing on the Long Island Sound, inspired by family roots. As a part of Mat’s philosophy when it comes to fishing, he releases every fish he catches, regardless of its size.

How long have you been fishing in the Northeast for? And what kind of fishing do you mostly do?

I’ve been fishing on the Long Island Sound since I was about five years old, limited to the shore and a Snoopy fishing rod.  I’m now 31, own my own boat, and explore much of Western Long Island Sound from Greenwich to Milford CT, and from Huntington to Port Jefferson. 

I primarily enjoy fishing for striped bass, bluefish, porgy, sea bass, and fluke. And in the fall I’ll go for bonito and false albacore from my boat each season.

How I Sea

Photo: Ellmax Photos

What made you want to start fishing? And do you still have the same motivations for fishing today as when you started?

I’ve always been drawn to the water from an early age.  My family says I take after my Great Uncle who passed away when I was five.  He traveled the world hunting and fishing. I can remember reading and looking at the pictures of his field and stream magazines for hours at my grandmother’s house as a child.

I love the peace, and connection to nature that being on the sound brings me.

How have you seen the fishing on Long Island change year to year? Are there more of certain species and less of others, or has it been consistent? And do you think fish getting smaller or larger?

The one thing I’ve noticed that has fluctuated greatly in the last few years is the upswing in peanut, and adult bunker frequenting our local harbors. 

There have been years in the past where I didn’t see any. And now within the last 3-4 years the bunker are all over the place. I think its thanks to people who stand up for bunker and forage fish such as Paul Eidman of Bunker Defenders and John McMurray of Marine Conservation Network who I follow on social media.

When there’s more bunker (forage fish) there will always be predators (game fish) after them.

I’ve also talked to some old-timers who tell me that there used to never be cormorants, now there are thousands.

What do you think is the biggest threat to Long Island’s waters and ocean? And why?

The biggest threat to Long Island Sound is the effects of overfishing.  The problem is bunker and striped bass are migratory species.  When bigger industries up and down the East Coast scoop up millions and millions of bunker, we’re left with much less here in the Long Island Sound. This ultimately means there will be less game fish.

Luckily there is not a large commercial fishing industry in the sound (hopefully it will stay that way). 

Another huge threat is pollution of every kind. I’ve noticed that when there have been heavy rains and drain water is brought into the sound from coastal rivers, some species of fish that can come in close choose to stay off shore (a few miles out).  Is it to avoid the lack of salinity in the water? Or is it to avoid the chemicals that are in the run off? I don’t know, but I do see the effects on the fish.

Also every time I go fishing I almost always see balloons floating by.  I make sure to stop and take in everyone that I can.  I think people seem to think its ok to let balloons go to celebrate a special occasion because they see it in the movies or something, but it is a real problem.

Are fishing regulations enforced on Long Island in your opinion, for recreational fishers? And if not how regularly do you think people catch fish over their limits?

I think that most of the hardcore anglers out there value the sport and the fishery too much to jeopardize it by keeping ‘shorts’.  It’s the people who fish sporadically who seem to do most of the illegal fishing. 

In particular I know it is a big issue on the Housantic river in CT. There was just an article by the Environmental police who busted an angler with hundreds of pounds of illegal striped bass.

How I Sea

Mat releasing one of his catches back into the ocean. Photo: Ellmax Photos

What do you think could be done to better manage recreational fishing on Long Island?

There should be more environmental police in every harbor checking for licenses, shorts, illegal taking of fish, and the fishing methods being used.

What’s one everyday thing that you think recreational fishers could do better to conserve the marine environment?

Pick up trash on a daily basis, crush down barbs (on the hook) when you know you are only catching shorts, and handle fish less and for shorter periods of time if planning on releasing them.

How I Sea is a new effort by The TerraMar Project to dive into the minds of our global ocean community. We highlight opinions on conservation issues such as: marine pollution, overfishing, drilling, climate change, marine protected areas, scientific discoveries, and much more. Stay tuned for more.

Sign up today to become a citizen of our global ocean community and sign up for your very own passport to the world’s ocean by visiting us at: www.theterramarproject.org 

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