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Captains eagerly await new bass law

Senate approves 2-at-28 bill; Assembly to vote Monday

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 01/6/06

There will be few long faces among Raritan Bay charter and party boat captains when the new striped bass law goes into effect.
Capt. Sal Cursi, skipper of the charter boat Cathy Sea out of Sewaren, said the propsed law allowing the possession of two stripers 28 inches and over will make a big difference.

"It's absolutely going to help," he said. "Not being able to keep fish between 28 and 34 inches last year was ridiculous."

The bill that would change the law to two at 28 was passed by the state Senate on Thursday by a vote of 38-0. The bill, S-2470, and its companion bill in the Assembly, A-4470, are scheduled for a vote on Monday. If the Assembly also passes the bill, all that will remain will be for acting Gov. Codey to sign it into law.

One of the most annoying aspects of the current law was the problem of fishing in New York waters. It was illegal for a New Jersey boat to have a slot fish in possession when on the New York side of the bay, and illegal for the same boat to have a 28- to less than 34-inch fish caught in New York waters on board in New Jersey waters without a bonus card.

This year anglers in Raritan Bay will be on the same page whether fishing the New Jersey or New York sides of the boundary line with a fish from 28 inches up.

"If we had a 24-inch fish in the boat last year, we couldn't go into New York waters," Cursi said. "Guys used to call me, and say, "Come on over, we're really into the bass.' I couldn't go because I had one or two of those slot fish in the boat."

The New York rules for private boaters are one fish 28 inches and up and a second trophy fish 40 inches or better. Charter and party boats that participate in the trophy program and hold a New York license can land two fish 28 inches or better.

"I have the license," Cursi said. "I display the sticker in the port window of the boat, and I participate in the trophy bass program. I have to make out daily trip reports and file them once a month, but it's worth it."

Cursi is quick to defend the landing of two stripers 28 inches and over when preservationists and catch-and-release enthusiasts deplore the coastal standard.

"You have to remember that a lot of charters only fish for stripers once or twice a year, and they want to take home something to eat and put in the freezer," he said. "When a person caught a beautiful 32-inch bass last year, and I told them we had to throw it back, they couldn't believe it."

The bonus program that the state Division of Fish and Wildlife created last year was unfair and generated animosity and criticism from those who could not participate in it. This year, the state can go back to the old bonus program, and anyone who wants to take part in it can do so.

There will be no need to conduct a lottery or hold back a percentage of the bonus cards for those who participated the year before, since very few anglers want to keep a third bass, and there should be plenty of tags available.


Cursi admitted there was considerable charter frustration last year when they caught numerous fish measuring 28 to 31 inches, and had to go home with one 24-inch fish.

"You rarely found a fish over 34 inches in that early run of striped bass on Romer Shoal, Flynn's Knoll and the point of Sandy Hook," he said. "From May 10 through June, when we switched from clams to bunkers, we saw larger fish. That's when you see those 20-pound fish, and bigger ones ? 30-, 35- and 40-pound fish. They're not that common, but they're there.

"This year we won't have to deal with that problem," he said. "We can land those tweeners, and the people will be happy they can take them home."

Cursi blames the lack of big bass in the fall on the late run from New England, the absence of big bunkers in Shore area waters, and the stripers using the offshore migratory route south rather than bending in toward the coast after rounding Montauk Point.

There are still bass in the Mud Hole area, but most anglers are willing to give up access to them as a trade for keeping federal waters closed to the netting of bass in the EEZ.

These bass will probably winter over in the deep water, and Cursi said it is surprising how many bass are apparently going to winter over in the Hackensack River.

Cursi said he will still charter for winter flounders in spite of the increased minimum size to 12 inches, the possession limit of 10 fish and the season running from March 23 through May 21.

"I'm still going to do it," he said. "We can live with it. I'll start fishing for flounders in April, and stick with them for two weeks before the bass come in."

The minimum size on winter flounders will be 15 inches on the New York, but most of the action has been on the New Jersey side, anyway, in the last couple of years.

"The Keyport Flats, Union Beach ? the grounds on the Jersey side are better than New York, and there are enough big flounders that we should do all right," he said.

"When I switch over, I clam for bass from about April 20 to around May 8 as a rule," he said. "The bass fishing usually breaks wide open around May 8.

"Of course, four years ago the bass came in earlier, and New York changed its opening from May 8 to April 15," he said. "The Jersey boys were clobbering the bass in April the year before they changed, and New York was still closed for three weeks.

"And the best opportunity to catch a big bass is from May 8 through June 21," he said. "Usually the big bass fishery is on fire around May 18, and it stays that way until about the end of the first week in June, then it starts to taper off a little."
 

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I think the classic line is very few fishermen will want to keep a third bass over 28" with the use of their bonus tag. Yeah right!

I'm sorry to see the slot go- especially when fishing at The Fort in the early Spring, at the Shoe in early Spring with clam, in the back bays, from the bridges at night, and especially in the rips.

Other side of the coin- we had this limit before and it was fine. It's just hard to believe that this limit will actually DECREASE the amount of bass we keep in a given year as a whole state. I believe the bay and CM cleaning stations will be busier then ever during the Spring and Fall runs.

[ 01-06-2006, 11:22 AM: Message edited by: Partnership ]
 

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I agree - this is a mistake. I think that Bucktail Willie is right, that we're over-harvesting the prime breeding stock, and that the population is going to suffer for it in a few years.

One question I have, and this may be a stupid one: why can't there be different regs for charter boats? Why can't the regs be two at 28" for them, but the current regs for everyone else?

Or another idea: when on a party or charter boat, each fisherman has an option of keeping EITHER:

a) Current Regs: one slot (24-28) and one +34
b) ONE fish only, 28+

This would solve a lot of problems. If some poor schlub goes out once a year, and the only fish he catches is a 31", he can keep it, but in keeping it he forfeits the ability to keep another fish, even if it's a trophy. It would also solve the problems of the charter boat guys up North, who haven't been able to go back and forth between NY and NJ waters because of the differences in state regs.

I release 99% of my meager catch, so whatever they do is not going to affect me at all. But I think that two at 28" is going to be a big mistake, and we'll all be paying for it eventually.
 

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2 at 28 and over. no more 24- 28 .is that correct.
2 at 28 and over for evry one . private/ party/or charter.how about the beach guy?
 

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Very bad news for the charter guys who make their bread and butter in the rips :( . Could we see the Stalker or Adam Bomb anchored up in the bay next fall slingin' bunker chunks???

However I don't exactly agree with it but it seems as though most other states have these same size and bag limits. This goes back to the old, "It doesn't make sense that I release a 29,30,31,32....etc size fish up here just so it can be killed when it is caught further South" statement everyone is always making. I beleive these limits should be a national thing. Plus ever since they implemented the current regs we have now, I am seeing way more "tweeners" caught. This just goes to show how much of an impact these regs can make. We have been hammering the slot fish for a while now maybe it is a good idea to give them a chance to recuperate. Remember this stuff is not cast in stone and could change a few years down the road.

I wouldn't get to worried about it and just go fishing and enjoy being with your family and friends.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Originally posted by phish4fun:
2 at 28 and over. no more 24- 28 .is that correct.
2 at 28 and over for evry one . private/ party/or charter.how about the beach guy?
That Is Correct Phish4Fun for Everyone including the beach guys..
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thats what it sounds like Bruce..Still no final word on that yet.. Will See..
 

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Originally posted by NIGHTSTRIKES:
Cursi is quick to defend the landing of two stripers 28 inches and over when preservationists and catch-and-release enthusiasts deplore the coastal standard.

"You have to remember that a lot of charters only fish for stripers once or twice a year, and they want to take home something to eat and put in the freezer," he said. "When a person caught a beautiful 32-inch bass last year, and I told them we had to throw it back, they couldn't believe it."


wow, what a lame excuse for the "poor me" syndrome. this is basically saying that some guy that only fishes once or twice a year should have more influence on the striper regs than a guy who fishes multiple times per week.

we are going to kill too many breeders with this limit, in my humble opinion. one between 26" - 30", no bonus card. that'd be my preference.
 

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Who pushed the new pending regs? I say we use them for chucking in the spring. Only a "F"ing idiot couldn't figure out last year's regs. Besides, I like catching big fish; I like eating the smaller fish.
 

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last year i caught a lot of tweeners, it sucked but thats the rules we abide by. i think this change is definately not going to help long term. and as much as i hated throwing those tweeners back and eating spam for dinner, spam just doesnt put a bend in my rod like the bass do. down with the change! if you fish for them you can catch them, poor schlub has to put his time in like everyone else! we need to ensure the survival of the species not make it ok with ny party boats.
 

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last year i caught a lot of tweeners, it sucked but thats the rules we abide by. i think this change is definately not going to help long term. and as much as i hated throwing those tweeners back and eating spam for dinner, spam just doesnt put a bend in my rod like the bass do. down with the change! if you fish for them you can catch them, poor schlub has to put his time in like everyone else! we need to ensure the survival of the species not make it ok with ny party boats.
 

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Did I read this right, that the bonus program is still in effect. I never got my tags last year :mad: Well it looks like everyone will get one this year
. So this is good news! 2 @ 28, I can deal with that!
 

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I also don't like this, i would like to see one fish a day over 28 inches, and issue 3 trophy tags a year to people who apply, and make the size of the trophy fish over 42 inches, this way if someone boxes a 35 inch fish and then they catch 6 38 inch fish they all go back until the real trophy over 42 inches bites, just my thoughts i know Charter boat and party boat captains will not agree with me, but this would allow people to release some of those 28 to 38 inch fish!
 

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Can anyone explain to me the rartional for having one years regs at 1, 24-28" and 1, 34" plus and then changing it? Is last years regs a year we just throw our hands up in the air and say, "oh well". I guess I should start flipping coins as to what the regs will be in 2007, 2008....because it seems that is as good a way to determine what they will be as any!
 

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Originally posted by Fred81876:
i am glad to see we can kill some of the breeders,there are WAY to many bass
Fred, you may think so - before man f***ed everything up there where ALOT more bass. And larger bass.

Are they eating YOUR fluke - or is it weaks??
;)

[ 01-06-2006, 09:37 PM: Message edited by: Brian E. Mullaney ]
 
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