Getting Serious about Skipjacks...

Discussion in 'OHIO RIVERS TALK' started by Salmonid, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. Salmonid

    Salmonid New Member

    Messages:
    1,833
    State:
    SW Ohio
    Been bored so I have been searching high and low around the web digging up life cycle info about the skippie, Here are the highlights and then on to some serious questions...

    Spawn is from Mid May to late June here in the upper reaches of the ohio river, spawns in mid channel course gravel
    Range quickly diminishes above Merrietta, Oh
    Typically live either 4-5 years, ( only 1 reference to this)
    Grows to 10" at end of first year, tops out around 21"
    Sexually mature at 12-13" ( 2 year old fish) and peak spawning happens at age 2-3
    a muture female will lay 120,000-290,000 eggs

    Ok, with that being said I think its safe to say that the skippie probably has ups and downs in the yearly cycles and if they truly live only 4-5 years then the "up" cycle should be upcoming in our area. If everyone remembers , back in the winter of 07/08 we had a banner year for skippies from Aberdeen down to Meldahl and even down to Tanners Creek, but they certainly have been like the elusive Bigfoot since then, dam hard to find in any numbers but the good news is that this year, I seemed to have seen quite a few Young of the year ( YOY) fish being those that were spawned this spring, which makes sense that this YOY are from the last big batch of skippies we had from 3 years ago so it would appear, if history and these facts are worth anything that this year, we will start to see more of the 10-13" fish which may or may not be mature yet and the peak of the biggest fish will indeed be in the winter of 11/12. This would complete the 5 year cycle if they do indeed live to be 5 years, the only reference I could locate was they live "at least 4 years" so perhaps the peak will be this next Winter (10/11).

    I guess my point is, before everyone gets excited about this, is that it may be very important or all of us to release the smaller skippies . less then say 13" to insure enough skippies to provide us during filler/ off year cycles. I know that I have only been in the catfish game for about 5 years but i have seen the crowds grow at a phenominal rate and every one of them is begging to get some skippies and when they are hard to find, the prevelent thought process is to keep every one of them we can since they are so scarce. I might add that its possibe the skippies have adapted there peak life cycle to co-inside with the peak life cycle of the shad and emerald shiners and other bait fish they eat. If this is true, then we should be seeing some banner shad years this year and next. I know, lots of theories here and Id like to hear what others have to say about this. Last point is that I am pretty sure that if shad are the prevelent baitfish in the system , ( like the other years when the skippie is not on the peak) that all the other predators like hybrids, flatties, blues and big channels will most likely take the shad over the skippie since its what they are most used to eating. Again, all theory.

    Long story short, it will make your mind work while waiting for the spring thaw....

    Salmonid
     
  2. ohio hilljack

    ohio hilljack New Member

    Messages:
    943
    State:
    ohio
    If that is true then the shad must have definitely been the go to bait this year. There were several times this year I fished with fresh shad and fresh skips and two hours in quit baiting with skips altogether because they were killing the cut shad and not touching skips..
     

  3. flathunter

    flathunter New Member

    Messages:
    5,723
    State:
    Ohio
    You can always count on Mark to use a scientific aproach to fishing.

    Although Mark has only been catfishing for about 5 years, he has vast knowlege of the sport, and I enjoy his post.

    I look for some big flatheads from him in the years to come, because he certainly puts in the effort.
     
  4. Salmonid

    Salmonid New Member

    Messages:
    1,833
    State:
    SW Ohio
    Thanks Jack, I guess that scientific thought process was developed from 20+ years of trout fishing and guiding, Plus I fish for anything that swims and that makes me aware of how a lot of species operate. gotta take every little advantage when trying to put people on fish. For the record, I have no interest in ever guiding for cats on the Ohio. I suppose a ton of sampling work and working with lots of official Govt agencies over the years has helped build that scientific thought process'. Then there is fishing with folks with 20 years of experience with a single species, thats where you come in Jack, I always appreciate your experienced insight on flathead maters!.

    Salmonid
     
  5. pendog66

    pendog66 New Member

    Messages:
    2,121
    State:
    Brookville OH
    great post mark, i think they do go in cylces. But at the same time i think it has a lot to do with the blue cats and flatheads doing so well. It also may come down to each pool, i know 2 years ago at Racine i would cast net thousands of baby skipjacks in the fall looking for shad for hybrids.