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New striped bass rules may unwittingly increase harvest

Published in the Asbury Park Press 2/06/04
Concerns about New Jersey's striped bass landings actually being higher under new regulations than they were last year with a slot limit become more acute when one considers the Cape May fishery.
Bill Donovan, publisher of the New Jersey Angler, said he is uneasy about the landings when he thinks back to last season.

"I caught 130 stripers last year and only two were undersize (under 28 inches)," he said. "It was the same way with almost everyone else."

Donovan releases most of the stripers he catches, but a lot of anglers do not.

"The fish down here are not the same as the ones along the coast," he said. "They showed up here around Oct. 12 while they were still catching them in New England.

"We fish a lot in Delaware Bay and it's a completely different situation than you have up north," he pointed out. "We had no small fish last fall. You didn't see fish under 28 inches the way you did along the coast.

"In Delaware Bay, we're chunking bunkers or fishing clams and most of the bass are between 34 and 50 inches -- typically they average 37 to 38 inches."

Donovan has a hunch that these Delaware Bay bass are distinct from the fish that might be found in Raritan Bay or along the northern coastline.

He reminded that so many of the stripers caught in the surf in the fall in Monmouth and Ocean counties were smaller than 28 inches or a few inches over that mark.

One of the beliefs that North Jersey anglers have is that Cape May and Delaware Bay pressure is minimal. Donovan said that is not so.

"Remember the pressure that was on the weakfish back in the '70s and '80s -- all those boats catching tons of fish?" he asked. "It's the same thing down here with the stripers now.

"It looks like a mini city now with almost every boat limited out every day they fish," he said.

Donovan fears that if the slot is eliminated and a two-fish limit substituted, the harvest could be substantial.

"It scares me," he said. "I don't want to see two fish over 28 inches. I think the slot limit was a great situation."

Donovan agrees with so many other fishermen in central and northern New Jersey that the state's striper rules have provided a nice balance in recent years.

The slot limit, which allows anglers to take a fish between 24 and less than 28 inches, provides a good table fish while an allowance of one fish over 28 inches gives the trophy hunters a chance. The bonus program of a second fish over 28 inches broadens the opportunities.

Opportunity is what the striper fishery has been all about in recent years with the coastal fishery open 12 months a year.

"We caught bass right up until the water got down to 42 degrees in December down here," Donovan said. "One thing we don't want is a closed season."
 

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Ummmmmmmmm more fishies for me. ;) Yummmmmmmmeeeeee! :D
Sorry Hip...I couldn't resist.
Just teasin'.

Good Article by Bill.

[ 02-07-2004, 12:07 AM: Message edited by: finaddict5 ]
 

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Originally posted by hipkvw:


"I caught 130 stripers last year and only two were undersize (under 28 inches)," he said. "It was the same way with almost everyone else."

Who you kiddin' Bill! You caught 130 stripers the day you called me into your "Honey Hole" ;)

You better conduct a recount


Seriously, as soon as I recived my new copy of The New Jersey Angler mag I sat down and read the article you wrote regarding the "Double Wammy" and ya know what Bill? I agree with you 1000%

2 fish over 28" during the spring & fall with the "Chunk' fishery as popular as it is today and...OUCH! Toss in a bounus tag or two and double OUCH!

I realize it's difficult enough to enforce the rules we already have in place but I'm a firm believer that areas like the Delaware bay need a separate set of regulations.
 

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Originally posted by hipkvw:
New striped bass rules may unwittingly increase harvest

Published in the Asbury Park Press 2/06/04
Concerns about New Jersey's striped bass landings actually being higher under new regulations than they were last year with a slot limit become more acute when one considers the Cape May fishery.
Bill Donovan, publisher of the New Jersey Angler, said he is uneasy about the landings when he thinks back to last season.

"I caught 130 stripers last year and only two were undersize (under 28 inches)," he said. "It was the same way with almost everyone else."

Donovan releases most of the stripers he catches, but a lot of anglers do not.

"The fish down here are not the same as the ones along the coast," he said. "They showed up here around Oct. 12 while they were still catching them in New England.

"We fish a lot in Delaware Bay and it's a completely different situation than you have up north," he pointed out. "We had no small fish last fall. You didn't see fish under 28 inches the way you did along the coast.

"In Delaware Bay, we're chunking bunkers or fishing clams and most of the bass are between 34 and 50 inches -- typically they average 37 to 38 inches."

Donovan has a hunch that these Delaware Bay bass are distinct from the fish that might be found in Raritan Bay or along the northern coastline.

He reminded that so many of the stripers caught in the surf in the fall in Monmouth and Ocean counties were smaller than 28 inches or a few inches over that mark.

One of the beliefs that North Jersey anglers have is that Cape May and Delaware Bay pressure is minimal. Donovan said that is not so.

"Remember the pressure that was on the weakfish back in the '70s and '80s -- all those boats catching tons of fish?" he asked. "It's the same thing down here with the stripers now.

"It looks like a mini city now with almost every boat limited out every day they fish," he said.

Donovan fears that if the slot is eliminated and a two-fish limit substituted, the harvest could be substantial.

"It scares me," he said. "I don't want to see two fish over 28 inches. I think the slot limit was a great situation."

Donovan agrees with so many other fishermen in central and northern New Jersey that the state's striper rules have provided a nice balance in recent years.

The slot limit, which allows anglers to take a fish between 24 and less than 28 inches, provides a good table fish while an allowance of one fish over 28 inches gives the trophy hunters a chance. The bonus program of a second fish over 28 inches broadens the opportunities.

Opportunity is what the striper fishery has been all about in recent years with the coastal fishery open 12 months a year.

"We caught bass right up until the water got down to 42 degrees in December down here," Donovan said. "One thing we don't want is a closed season."
Bill, very good article. I would like to make a few comments. You should send a copy of this article to the ASMFC.

Although I agree for the most part there were not very many small fish caught in the Delaware Bay it all depends where you fish. I personally found it hard to find a slot fish at times.

For some reason the further north you fish in the upper bay the more small stripers or slot fish you can catch. It seems to be a different situation up north although you can catch a few big bass.

I believe many of these fish are resident fish that you catch all year round. As matter of fact I caught many small stripers during the summer and sometimes slots.

What was interesting to me is that a few fishermen at my marina fished for stripers in the creek all summer because there were very few weakfish around. They were very successful of catching stripers all summer. I believe since we see less weakfish in the bay that it puts more pressure on the stripers and even more pressure on the fluke. There were many boats that started fishing for stripers very early in the fall season due to fact that there were no weakfish around.

Isn't it kind of ironic in the 70's and early 80's when fishermen loaded up on weakfish there were no bass around. Now here we are in 2003 and 2004 loading up on stripers and there are very few weakfish around. I really would like to see us move more quickly to fix the weakfish fishery but I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.

It also scares me if they eliminate the slot fish. I think it will be a bad situation for the fishery as more bigger fish will be caught in the bay. I sometimes wonder what our fishery management is thinking. I guess it is just fish politics as usual.

[ 02-08-2004, 02:50 PM: Message edited by: Captblock ]
 

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quote;

I really would like to see us move more quickly to fix the weakfish fishery but I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.

I'm not sure what could be done to "fix" it. It's tough to catch what's not there. See the Weakfish thread somewhere in Home Port. I see no evidence that regulations have had any effect on the weakfish population. Consequently, I've conlcluded that more regulations won't solve a recruitment issue.

Phil
 

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here's the bar graph I'm referring to, comm weakfish landings.

 

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Originally posted by TWIN D'S:
quote;

I really would like to see us move more quickly to fix the weakfish fishery but I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.

I'm not sure what could be done to "fix" it. It's tough to catch what's not there. See the Weakfish thread somewhere in Home Port. I see no evidence that regulations have had any effect on the weakfish population. Consequently, I've conlcluded that more regulations won't solve a recruitment issue.

Phil
I am not asking for more regulations and I am not sure what the answer is to solve the problem. I do know doing nothing is not going to make the problem go away. There must be a problem down south since that is where the fish come from.
 

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Let me clarify...

The quote regarding striper numbers was supposed to say that those were Delaware Bay fish taken during the fall run during the 6-week period from late October thru mid-December. It most certainly doesn't include fish taken up along the coast, from the beaches, back bays, etc. during spring and summer, which were a completely different story in terms of size distribution. For instance, the fantastic summer striper fishery we now enjoy in the back bays consists primarily of shorts and slots, with only an occasional keeper, and the run of fish along the beaches and jetties this fall consisted of mostly small fish, no matter where one chose to wet a line.

But Mr. Geiser's sentiments are right on the money nonetheless. Eliminating the slot in favor of 2 at 28" would do nothing but shift the pressure away from the smaller fish and toward the more valuable breeders. It would not be a conservation move, but would only serve to make it more difficult for the average angler to take a fish home for dinner while allowing certain segments of the angling community to kill a large number of very big fish. It's really a lose-lose situation in my mind.

Having said that, I really don't want to see a separate set of regulations in the Delaware Bay or anywhere else, for that matter. We should keep regulations exactly the way they were in 2003. It's the best of both worlds...best for the anglers and best for the fish.

If it ain't broke don't fix it!!!
 

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I read the article today myself. I thought it was pretty good.This was the first year I really fished the fall season for stripers, & I think out of 9 trips I only got one slot fish, the rest over 28". All I can say that if they change it to 2 greater than 28" plus the bonus thats a lot of meat.

Dave Isanski :confused:
 

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Originally posted by NJAngler Bill:


If it ain't broke don't fix it!!!
Good point Bill!

I guess I should clarify what I posted in my reply. When I said~

"I realize it's difficult enough to enforce the rules we already have in place but I'm a firm believer that areas like the Delaware bay need a separate set of regulations."

What I meant was...

If we are going to be forced into a situation where each angler will possibly be allowed to kill 3 fish per trip I'd say the Bay and other areas like it need special attention.

Maybe I'm just a little paranoid??
 
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