Thursday, February 29, 2024

02.29.24 Packed house with the Bayshore Saltwater Flyrodders....

     I had the opportunity to circle back and join the guys, and girl, at the Bayshore Saltwater Flyrodder's meeting last night. There were over 30 existing and first timers that came out. Club meetings are usually well attended as you come out of the fly fishing shows and head into the spring season. 

  The club's meeting are held at the Port Monmouth VFW and there's a nice bar next to the meeting room to grab a cocktail at after a long days work and before the show begins. After the Pledge of Allegiance new- President John Gillis presented the raffle winner from The Fly Fishing Show his prize 

which was over 300 flies tied by club members. The winner is a guy I used to see pretty regularly about a decade ago at the Jersey Shore TU meetings. I think his name is Mike, if you've met him you know him. He's super fishy (fishes like 300 days a year), is a little more on the shorter side than taller, is a hard stylist by profession, and has a thick Italian accent.  

     My presentation was "The State of the Striped Bass" and kind of included a summary of all the things I have been posting about over the last year. It started with a little overview of striped bass and where, how, and why they spawn, went into how they are managed, why the numbers are low, and why

the New Jersey striped bass fishery is the best on the East Coast. But the funny thing is the Bayshore club could easily be called the Staten Island South Angling Club, as a lot of the members are current or former residents of what was once called the Borough of Richmond. So when I said "New Jersey just has the best fishermen and women out there" a few groans came from the audience. 

     I also hit on some things we can do as anglers to help reduce fishing stress and mortality and fish more responsibly. In addition to the "Keep em' Wet" message I introduced the idea of going to a single 

barbless hook for fly rodders and for the plug anglers going to a single pinched barbed treble hook and or hanging a flag off the back of the plug. You know how many poorly handled and dead bass you saw last year so we as a community have to do better. And for the fly anglers please carry a long pair of hemostats with you in case the bass inhales your fly, your fist won't always make it's way down into the fishes gullet to pop the fly. The message is simply to continue to enjoy the resource while protecting the striped bass along the way. 

     Before the meeting I stopped and looked at a few spots on the Raritan Bay. Tomorrow is go-day and I'm sure anglers are chomping at the bit. The Toms River will look like a sardine factory and Graveling Point will have them lined up after midnight. But the Raritan looked good. The water has been 42-44 degrees but dropped a bit with the rain and overnight cooler air temps. 

     The ride to Port Monmouth from Titusville is not an easy one, there's just no straight shot. I like fishing down and around there and last night's drive reminded me how far I am away from the action. Route 29 to 195, to the Turnpike, to 287 to 440, to the Parkway to 35 south- that's a lot of roads. After I left the still-in-progress meeting I stopped to fill up at WaWa. As I sat there I looked down and saw that my

 2004 Jeep Cherokee just crossed the 200,000 mark. That's 20 years old, manufactured when I was 36 years years old. I was just a tot back then, still a Newark fireman, living in Middletown, and just about to be a dad again. So much has happened in those two decades. Being the third owner I am sure this 

Jeep has its own story to tell. It hasn't been an easy ride the last twenty years for both of us, and my own odometer is starting to creep up in numbers. One thing we have in common is both of us have our "Check Engine" lights aglow. I'll have to make sure to take care of both of them if fly fishing for striped bass is going to continue in our future. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

02.28.24 Oh, there's more this week....

      If you need another option to feed your spring fly fishing hunger Orvis Princeton is hosting Anita Coulton of Upper Delaware guide fame. If you've never fished the Upper Delaware, and specifically the West Branch, then join the crew at Orvis Princeton and Anita this Saturday March 2nd from 11am - 1pm. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

02.26.24 Gonna be a busy week of fly tying and fly fishing....

     Jason Taylor started off what will be for me an action packed week. He was in the bullpen and got a last minute call from the guys at Master's Of The Fly and jumped in and struck out the side. After some Eventbrite/Zoom chaos Jason got underway and tied up a Semper Fleye and 3-D Fleye. I have to say 

if you missed it then you missed a great opportunity to learn how to twist up a simple and effective fly. And what's best is Taylor uses those shitty strung hackles to get it done. I had always thought he was palmering marabou but it's the strung stuff straight out the back and then collars up front for the bulk. Finally I can get to use all that cheap, angled, and twisted up strung hackles I have had for years. 

    Then he moved to a 3-D Fleye which is a tad more technical, that's because it's tied with the dreaded bucktail. But the 3-D is a series of straight ties from back to front with a little bit of bulk in the middle of the fly. Taylor uses different pics of bucktail depending on where he is tying in, each part of the bucktail has its own characteristics. One part may be good for this type of fly, but not so good for another. If you need a bigger fly, and can't get that Hollow style down, look for a Jason Taylor video on the 3-D. 

     Tuesday night is "Tie For Trenton Pie" at The Shady Rest. It's always a good time and the pizza is beyond fantastic. You can bring a vice and tie up a fly or just come for a Popovic's presentation and 

some pie. On Wednesday I'll be giving a presentation at the Bayshore Saltwater Flyrodders meeting on "The State of the Striped Bass". Check their Facebook page for meeting information. Also this week is 

the last of The Fly Fishing Shows in Lancaster, Pa. Theresa just spent the weekend out there at a retreat and said she'd love to go out there.....mmmmm. And then drum roll please, it's opening day on 

Friday. If I start the season with a bass on opening day I might just take the rise out there. I have never been and Chuck Furminsky told me last fall that the Lancaster show was his favorite venue. Not a bad week. 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

02.25.24 Found some open water this winter....


      With the mild winter we are having this year and the fly fishing shows only partly curbing my Cabin Fever I've been venturing out and about to fish for striped bass before New Jersey's March 1st opener. There's a few things that you have to consider when winter fishing, the most important to me, is how much cold can I tolerate. And the answer is not much. Yes, I've pushed through 20 degree mornings with water temps just about 40 at times but most,

but not all people, will say that as we get older the cold is harder to tolerate. One reason is our bodies just don't insulate ourselves like they used to, even if you're fattish. My hat goes off to those anglers that brave the elements on the Great Lakes tributaries fishing for steelhead, trout, and salmon and those out at sea on the rail fishing for bottom fish. 

     If you're not all jacked up physically, and have a bit of a belly, having to bundle up and then be able to secure your stripping basket around your girth, while still giving you some flexibility, can be difficult, and exhausting after an hour or so of casting. Add to that the fact that I don't have, or really can't find, all those warm weather layers that you should wear when fishing. My idea of bundling up is two t-shirts from Good Will, and two pairs of Costco socks. That doesn't really get it done. In the end maybe I'm just a warmer than colder weather fly fisherman. 


     Like at any other times when striped bass fishing variables like time of day, tides or water levels, and temperature come into play. And probably the biggest factor is how well you know and are dialed into any particular body off the water and the fishes behavior that swim in it. Part of the fun in exploring new waters are learning those X factors, and best when done on your own. Finding your own fish is always better than when someone does all the hard work and lets you in on it. 

     Marc and I made several trips since mid-January. He mostly spin with some fly fishing mixed in. You know I prefer to not fish with spin guys, and probably vice versa. For me, it's because they generally catch more fish in front of me, and for them, fly rodders are just annoying, and can get in the way. 

    One thing about this time of year that's fun is it's time to put away those baby flies and hurl some meat into the water. Big baits catch big fish. One thing that's bad about this time of year is that the fish aren't looking up so getting the fly down means you're using sinking lines or weighted flies, which can make for non-picturesque and exhausting casts. Low and slow is the presentation you need. 

    During our trips Marc landed one 40 + pound fish taken from a lie that was way out of my range. and while fishing next to a spin guy can be frustrating, it's at times a really good, well, type of fish finder. Load up a bus of fly rodders and put them on a stretch of water and you may never really know what is swimming beneath the surface. Their success shouldn't lead to your frustration. There's times when we get

them back. Swimming flies behind the rocks in the boulder fields or using micro flies when the bass are on baits like peanut bunker, silversides, and bay anchovies, leaves them frustrated as well. 

    There was a lot of exploring and walking which at times feels more like hunting than fishing, but for me that's a large part of the fun. Even during the crowd-drawing blitz fishing that occurs in the fall, 

there's an element of the hunt that happens, even if most of that is done from your truck or through the eyes of binoculars. But finding new spots or your own fish is always more rewarding, at least for me. 


     The cooler water temps and low levels made walking and wading in new waters a touch easier. It can be dangerous exploring new places because if you don't read the water correctly you can find yourself out one step too far. Always have in place your wader belt (I don't), a wading stick, and do it with a buddy in case you get jammed up. 

     I tend to be a creature of habit, and I think most of us as anglers are. We know a spot, have caught fish there, and it becomes a go-to, until you get bored of it or the spot gets blown up. It's easy to be successful, or increases your chances, of catching when you revisit old haunts. And, if the bait, birds, or bass are showing themselves then it makes it more the easier. Below is the scene from one of the early morning outings. Nothing showing, kind of "boring" water, but it's a place where the fish are, and some good fish to boot. If you don't go then you won't know. While I haven't brought a fish to hand, or had a hit yet, when it does come the feelings of success will have made it all worth it. 

     And tonight don't miss Jason Taylor on Master's of The Fly. If you haven't met Jason or listened into one of his presentation's or podcasts you'll be glad you did. Jason is just a master, no pun intended, at 

Keep It Simple Stupid, fly tying. Now he makes it all look simple, and for you it might be challenging, but he breaks down the materials and techniques to shorten your learning curve. Some of his flies are just a few turns of properly chosen and placed materials. Others, are more advanced, and just nice to look at. If you want to up your game, and tie flies other than Beast Fleyes, only because they are such a niche' fly, then this event will serve you well, and help you fill your fly box. Check it out, it starts at 8pm and usually goes an hour or so. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

02.23.24 What does "closed" really mean?. It all depends...

     I received some intel from Staten Island fly, spin and bait fisherman, boat builder, plug maker, and rod builder Marco Parrino after yesterday's post about New York's closed striped bass season. He let me know that, yes, while the season for striped bass is closed until April 15th, there is a "clause" stating that anglers can target striped bass during the closed season if they catch and release fishes that are caught. 

      There is a difference between what is allowed or tolerated and what is the law. That not only protects the striped bass, or not, but it protects the angler as well. Things that are put down in writing, because they are the law, definitely help the anglers navigate between right and wrong. Regardless of what you think, or I think, about the rules and regulations, anglers playing within them, have the right to know the laws, and what will or will not be enforced. That goes from how and when they can fish to if they can harvest a fish if they so choose. Things like the use of circle hooks when using bait, live or dead, became law and are found in the individual states fishing guides. 

     New York clearly, well it's kind of hidden deep down in the actual regulations in 6 CRR-NY 40.1 (g) 3, states that "During the closed recreational season for striped bass, catch and release fishing by angling only

is permitted". I point that out not to call out or inform those that fish on the waters or on the beaches of New York but as kind of a kudos to New York for putting it down in writing. It makes it more transparent, enforceable, and informative for those that aren't in the know, who want to know, or are poaching striped bass out of season. 

     On The Water magazine is a great resource and read for anglers up and down the East Coast. Recently I saw their weekly fishing report for New Jersey. I was surprised that both the Hook House 

and Grumpy's Bait and Tackle both reported on recent activities by New Jerseys Fish and Wildlife game wardens. That must mean it's not just a one and done thing but something that occurs often enough that there has to be eyes on it and enforcement needs to happen. I looked at the NJ DEC's website and social media pages but they currently reporting more about hunting violations than fishing. In the report it says, "The hottest action taking placer is the ticket writing by fish and game wardens for striped bass being caught out of season". 

     These days we know, or might assume, that there are more striped bass wintering over in New Jersey's back bays and rivers than before. While the warm water discharges at places like the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Plant and PSEG's Coal Generating Plant's along the Delaware and Hackensack Rivers used to be a place where striped bass could tolerate the long and cold winters they are now closed. But milder winters and warmer climates in Jersey waters have striped bass sticking it out and waiting for spring. 

     Many anglers keep at it through the winter. White perch, winter flounder, and I think tog, are species that have open seasons and are good tablet fare. Tiny nibbles that they use for bait also attract striped bass looking for a mid-winters snack. Undoubtedly, anglers catch those out-of-season striped bass, and when they do they have to be returned to the water. No harm and no foul. Unless you're up to nefarious fishing, and decide to poach them. Then you're looking for trouble. 

     From my research I found that New Jersey's back bays and rivers have been closed to striped bass fishing since 1953. This isn't like New York, there is no "clause", the season to target them is closed. Shut down. You can't. It's illegal. Period. 

     I'm not going to get into the ASMFC again here. But basically they "manage" the striped bass (east) coast wide. They look at the data from things like The SSB (Spawning Striped Bass Biomass), YOY recruitment results (From Hudson, Delaware, Chesapeake, and it's spawning tributaries, Albermarle/Roanoke waters, and a touch at the Kennebec River up north), and NOAA's MRIP (Marine Recreational Marine Program) surveys. They then set quotas and charge the individual states to manage themselves. Since it's Easter I'll liken it to the story of Pontius Pilot, Herod, and Jesus. 

     Simply, Jesus went in front of Pontius Pilate, who balked at making a decision about what to do with Jesus's "blasphemous" declarations that He was the Son of God. P.P. sent him to King Herod who sent him back to Pilate, who, with his hands tied, asked the crowd what to do with him. And we all know what happened, the crowd yelled, "Crucify Him!", and the rest is history. 

     So these states manage their own waters, even though the waters are border waters between two or more neighboring states. Regulations are set to satiate the ASMFC's "numbers" when it comes to managing the fishery, in both the commercial and recreational sectors. In the end, what one state does may be markedly different from their neighbor. And that's just confusing to anglers, and probably the striped bass, and in the end, just stupid. 

     Recently I've touched about the border waters like in the Raritan (NY & NJ), the Delaware Bay and River (NJ & PA & De) and the Chesapeake (Md. & De & Va). Same waters, different states lines, all with different regulations. A fish on this side off the line is good, while those swimming or hunkered down on the other side of the line are fair game. But let's not talk about harvesting while angling, how about just plain old having fun catching and releasing. (with big hooks, pinch barbs, no belly hooks, barbless flies)

     New Jersey's season for striped bass opens up "out back" in the bays and rivers March 1st through December 31st. That's for all waters except for the Delaware River. There, it open March 1st, but closes 31 days later on April 1. 

It is then closed for two months, April 1 through May 31st. One thing that NJ, De., and Pa agree on is that spawning season for striped bass in the Delaware Bay and River is during those two months. That's 

why I recently questioned about having a tournament on the river in early April. But, it's legal I guess, and we can't judge or impose our beliefs on what others do during a legal season. But forget all that. 

     NJ and Pa. have picked the Calhoun Street Bridge (Between Trenton and Morrisville) as the cut-off between spawning and non-spawning waters on the Delaware River and have each set their own regulations accordingly. Above is from the NJ Fishing Digest and below is from Pennsylvania's. Same water, different rules. Just a few hundred feet apart. 

     While, at this point, the NJ and Pa. Digest's are out in publication the Delaware Digest, at least on-line, encourages anglers to check, well "refer" to the electronic versions as the regulations are updated and TBD (To Be Determined), due to the ebb and flow of the changing laws. 

     There are only a few states that mention "Catch & Release" fishing for striped bass. New York does (above at the top), Delaware does, kinda, and so does Maryland. Let's hit Maryland first. Now let me say this for those anglers fishing in and around the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries...good luck! That's a big body of water with a ton of regulations that you have to be in the know about, or else. 

     Just a peek above shows that Chesapeake Bay waters are open for "Catch and Release Only" from Jan.1 through Feb. 29. If you want to fish the Susky Flats or Lower River or the Northeast River you'll have to find and check those regulations to be in compliance and legal. 

     Now back to Delaware, above. In their fish digest, under Striped Bass Spawning Season, they clearly state, "Catch and release only during this season, no harvest is allowed". I went deep into the Delaware regulations, not the fishing digest, and couldn't find the statute, or law, that lays that out. I don't mean

it doesn't exist, I just couldn't find it. And that's part of the problem. If a warden writes you a ticket he doesn't refer to page 17 of the state's fishing digest, he pulls out things like say, 7 DEC C. s936 (b) (2).

     I dug into the NJ Fish and Wildlife Statutes looking for Delaware River specific violations. If there is a closed season for striped bass from April 1st through May 31st, with no mention of permitted catch and release, surely it must be there somewhere in writing. Above is what I found. Now, they may be able to cite you a general fishing out of season statute if they so choose, but that's something you won't know until the law is standing there with you near the water looking like you just ate the last cookie.

     I've talked with anglers who have fished the Delaware River for years, for like decades, and other's who've fished waters in New Jersey that are "closed" and I get different takes. "It's not closed, you just can't take them". "I'm friends with the wardens and they don't care as long as you put them back". That's not the way it should be. I have contacted folks from the NJ F & W looking for that clarification and the responses are spotty at best, and that's not good. Basically, according to the regulations, New Jersey is closed from April 1st - May 31st on the Jersey side of the Delaware River from Trenton down to the Salem River. On any given nice day along that stretch you'll find 10's if not a 100 anglers soaking, throwing, or tossing bait, plugs and flies for striped bass all under the watchful eye of NJ's game wardens, who, really, are looking for anglers who are illegally taking striped bass. If they were there to enforce the closed season their paddy wagons would be full of anglers clutching their gear. But anglers shouldn't feel like they are "fishing dirty" if they are catching and releasing, which, according to the regulations, is breaking the law, at least on the Jersey side, while Pa and De. is wide open.  

     So why don't I just shut up already, right? I think the big picture here is this. The ASMFC has to manage striped bass on a coast-wide basis, some way and some how. Border waters should have the same regulations. In some cases you have a closed season on one side of a river and a 21-24" slot on the other, which is about 150 feet away, at the same time. If we are going to protect spawning striped bass then either, shut it down altogether, or clearly and concisely, and visibly make anglers know that this is how it is. You can enjoy fishing, you have to practice catch and release, and if you don't there are consequences, like ones that hurt. Don't let it be up to the discretion of the game warden who's working this day and the "soft" closed season law that's been around forever. He might just run into the angler who's just throwing a rod for whatever bites. If he doesn't have dad fish on a stringer he could always say he's targeting bluefish. 

     And lastly, let's look at Connecticut. A state with no spawning strain of striped bass and no natal rivers, at least historically. Maybe they have it right? It's a statewide open season all year long with one fish within the ASMFC's emergency action slot of 28 - 31 inches. It's right there in print. Easy peasy. Done deal. Simple. 


     One thing I think is is that some people love chaos. Some people don't really like things to be easy. Things that are easy can be measured and handled. I think a large part of fisheries management likes things difficult and not easy. There are so many moving parts and the chaos helps it difficult to manage and be held accountable. Some say the science and data is flawed. Others blame the other side (comm vs rec). Rarely do we look within ourselves and admit that changes need to be made on a personal level. We all have to get together on this to do better. The border states can help by maybe coming together to manage those border waters better, even if that means that there has to be sacrifices in seasonal lengths, closures, or a quotas shift in other areas of the states waters that they manage. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

02.22.24 Are the different early season openings good for striped bass?...

     I've always wondered if split seasons on the same body of water are good for the targeted species, like say striped bass, and even for the angler. I touched on this recently regarding the differences in the regulations between Delaware and New Jersey in the Delaware Bay. Soon March 1st will arrive and the shit-show on the Raritan Bay will begin. While there was talk of having some seasonal closures to protect the striped bass came up in various ASMFC discussions the idea was tabled for later discussion. 

     So, with all things changing in regards to fishing for striped bass over the last few years, things like climate "changes", an excess of different forage baits, and adaptations made by the striped bass, we have seen crazy-stupid spring fishing in the Raritan Bay. Before the Emergency Action was put into place harvesting these staging pre-spawn bass in the bathtub that is the Raritan Bay was not good, I would say, over fishing in that body of water, was occurring. And what fish aren't caught and harvested and or caught and released, the constant angling pressure, outside of a bad weather day, isn't good on the fish as well. They are plugged, trolled, flied, chummed and live baited, not all day every day, but just about all day every day. 

     In New Jersey and New York, outside of the Delaware River striped bass seasons and regulations, the seasons are different, even on the same waters. To be in compliance you have to abide by the rules if you fish in one state's waters but return to another. New Jersey opens up the bays and rivers March 1st, just a day over a week away. Anglers are getting ready, and a lot are getting the boats ready. The charter operations have been ramping up their social media posts advertising for Raritan Bay trips over the last 

few weeks. And let's be honest, these are all not operations that are in "business" to feed a family, although some are. Many are casual weekend six-packers that do it on the side to cover the costs of the boat and fuel, and maybe a little extra for some gear and beer. To each his own, but they all get thrown into the same conversation. 

     Now the open season for striped bass in New York, and in New York waters, opens on April 15th. That's 45 days later than New Jersey. Same pool, different rules. The Raritan Bay is only 108 square miles. So to be simple, let's say half of that is closed for the first 45 days. The amount of boat traffic and fishing pressure into, onto, whatever on the Jersey side has been, is, and will be, well, you know, ridiculous, especially on those later in the week days and weekends. And on nice days, well forget it. You can say, "We're not following the fleet", and "We find our own fish", well, there's not much space to do that in the first 45 days. Couple that with where the fish really are, and I won't say where, but let's say things stay tight as they wake from a winter's nap. 

       Before the New York opens on April 15th, and the fleet spreads out, the Jersey side will see an incredible amount of boat traffic coming from ports south, north, east and west. The Belmar, Manasquan, Brooklyn, Atlantic Highlands head boats will be on the hunt. Smaller six-pack charters will descend from New York and New Jersey's docks and boat ramps. They'll be kayakers and every type of watercraft (I'll be in there at some point) drifting around with super duper electronics lit up looking for those bass. Generally, we don't see that crazy and consistent bird action like we do in the fall, but there can be a decent top water bite, so screen fishing, and following the fleet, is part of the ticket to early season success. 

     Fishing legal is fishing legal. Period. It's like an open hunting season. So good-bye Bambi. But I think we need to use some common sense when targeting striped bass. It isn't good that New Jersey has the best fishing on the East Coast these days. Anglers get their blinders on when see all these fish in the spring and the fall. It would be better if these fish "chose" to spread out a bit. It would spread out the pressure. It would give anglers a wider range in order to catch them rather than running, or gunning, to the Raritan Bay and Jersey's beaches in the spring and fall. Targeting and catching basically the same fish every day. 

    I hope as anglers look at the bigger picture and realize that these fish are worth far more alive than dead they learn, or change their ways a bit, to enjoy the resource, and yes, even "take one for the table". Going out and limiting out "On our legal limit", shouldn't include taking fish for the Captain and mate, but I guess that's legal as well, and just my opinion. Having the cooler filled in the first 90 minutes of a four or six hour charter shouldn't mean , but it's legal, that it's okay to go and catch another 50 fish that you "safely" release. 

     If you're going to "play" with them maybe it would be good, or even fun, to challenge yourself a bit. If you're catching them with live bunker and it's like fishing in a bathtub, then maybe go and try, and work harder, to get them on top water. If it's stupid rubber shad or drop and reel spoon fishing then go to another method where it may be harder, and, where you may not catch them at all. It's called fishing and not catching. And after you have ripped off their lips or put that big hole in it, and removed their eyes, well it's usually a plug's belly or tail treble hook that catches and yanks out one eye, or send them back bleeding, maybe you'll remove

Plugs by Mike DiSanto- flags only off the back

that treble hook, and send a flag off the back of your plug, pinch down the barb on your fly, use a bigger hook, get rid of that stinger hook off your trolling contraption, turn off the electronics to level the playing field, and please take the boat out of gear when you hook up 600 feet behind your boat. Just think how much better off the fish, that we, collectively, enjoy and need to thrive and survive, will be. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

02.21.24 People are getting squirmy as the deadline looms...

Connie Connelly/Star Democrat

     The States along with recreational and commercial fishermen are starting to get nervous as the March 1st deadline approaches for proposals on striped bass reductions. I'm not going to re-invent the wheel by explaining, through my eyes, what's been going on with Amendment 7 and Addendum II. Basically following the Emergency Action last year, where the slot was introduced in most waters, the ASMFC this winter called for a harder cut in striped bass mortality, mostly from angling harvests, discards and catch and release mortality. There are other reasons why the striped bass numbers are in the toilet, but we can't control what we can't control. And most times we can't control ourselves.

    As reported in the Star Democrat Maryland charter boat operators, commercial fishermen, local politicians, and anglers met up on Saturday February 17 to voice their displeasure with the new options that had been offered for the Chesapeake Bay. The big option, that was narrowly avoided, were mode splits for the not for hire and for hire fleet. It was proposed that charter boat operations, you know for-profit commercial businesses (but somehow listed under the recreational sector), would have been able to keep two fish per person per day while the average angler would be able to keep one. For 2024, for non-commercial anglers, shore or boat, charter or private, the Bay's slot limit is 19 - 24 inches. "Out front" it's the 28 - 31 inch slot. 

     The President of the Maryland Charter Boat Association, Captain Brian Hartman, had an interesting take on what's going on, and it may strengthen my argument that charter boat operators should be under the commercial sector and quotas. He said, "Give us our own quota like the commercial guys", Hardman said. "We are a commercial entity, give us our own quota and then leave us alone. If we fish it out that's our problem".  So, you they are, these guys should be under the commercial side, and their subsequent mortality numbers fall with the commercial, not the recreational side. Watermen fishing outside the dead zones in the summer catching and releasing fish in 80 degree water will die, and those mortality numbers should fall under the, "We are a commercial entity". And I have to circle back to, "If we fish it out that's our problem", well that's not a good way of looking at quotas, especially for a species we are trying to rebuild and save. 

    Captain Robert Newberry, Chairman of the Delmarva Fisherman's Association, implied that more action on the part of the business side of striped bass needs to be done, "This has got to stop...we need to explore all avenues". He stated a protest in Annapolis, strategically "going our of compliance (that's a Jersey thing), and or filing a lawsuit in Federal Court, as potentially options. 

     Now maybe a little suggestion. Let's compare the Raritan Bay to the Chesapeake Bay. If we put a stop to fishing for striped bass in the Raritan what would you have left? Fluke? Maybe some porgy fishing? Maybe bluefish if they show up again. But down in the Chesapeake they have an abundance of fish that can be targeted. Besides the bass there's the invasive blue catfish and snake heads, red fish, cobia, sea bass, weakfish, black drum, fluke, tog, and then perch and other non-salty fishes in the upper parts and the tributaries, and there's always out front. They have options if they can't load up on striped bass. They have to change their game. 

    We know things are changing. There are a ton of factors that have led to this point in striped bass history and they aren't all pointing to angler and harvesting pressure like it was more so in the bad times of 1970's and 80's. Maybe the "commercial" charter boat operations have to change with the times. If I hired a fly fishing charter in the Chesapeake and the Captain educated me on the state of the fishery and told me we'd be going to target redfish or cobia on the fly I'd be all in. 

The dinosaurs didn't adapt very well and look what happened to them.