Striped Bass Stock Overview

The 2018 Striped Bass Stock Assessment revealed that striped bass are overfished.

At the Striped Bass Management Board meeting on February 6, 2019, a presentation of the 2018 stock assessment of striped bass revealed new information about the health of the striped bass stock. The Board will reconvene in May, 2019 to discuss regulatory changes that will most likely take effect in 2020.

The most important takeaway from the presentation is that striped bass are overfished, and if we continue to remove the same amount of fish that were removed in 2017 (the most recent year of data in the assessment) the decline will continue.

In the figure above, you can see that the “female spawning stock biomass,” which is the weight of mature female fish in the population, has been below the “threshold” since 2013. The threshold is a value chosen by fisheries biologists as a lower limit, below which the fishery is deemed “overfished.” Note that while the SSB has dropped below the threshold, it is still well above the levels reached in the 1980s.

This figure shows which sectors are removing striped bass from the population. In 2017, commercial fishermen were responsible for 10% of coastal removals. Recreational fishermen were responsible for the other 90%. That 90% includes 42% that were harvested and 48% that are estimated to have died after being caught and released by recreational fishermen. Based on studies, scientists estimate that about 9% of striped bass caught and released by anglers do not survive.

To put those percentages in numbers, recreational fishermen are estimated to have caught 41.2 million striped bass in 2017. They kept 2.9 million and released 38.2 million. Of those 38.2 million released, it is estimated that 3.4 million did not survive.

Figures and information were taken from the presentation given at the ASMFC meeting of the Striped Bass Management Board. More information about the striped bass stock can be found on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission site.

91 on “Striped Bass Stock Overview

  1. Morone saxatilis

    Would like to see a one or two fish limit with only one fish over 32 inches allowed. Why? Because of dead or dying discards of 3-4 million fish is a waste of precious resource. As a sportsman I hate throwing back a fish that is as good as dead because it doesn’t meet the minimum length, goes against my ethics. Bottom line there has to be a better way than the current system of taking the large breeding females.

    1. Mike Murphy

      In Mass there’s a 1 fish limit per person per day unless you have a commercial license.

  2. Morone saxatilis

    According to the graph the commercial harvest is low compared to the recreational harvest but what isn’t shown is the minimum size of the fish in the commercial harvest which in MA are the prime of their life breeding females ( based upon min. length requirements.)

    1. PeteTheRock85

      This is the number one problem. Everyone has an opinion on this matter but taking large males AND females is what’s hurting the striped bass population. No one should be harvesting any fish over 36 inches. Commercial or Recreationally. These larger fish are the ones that run the gauntlet year after year and are the most significant in keeping a healthy population.

      1. Eric Richters

        34-36″ should be max allowed for anybody fishing for stripers.

    1. H.T


      Take the steps yourself first! It must start on an individual level. Practice Catch and Release, and urge others to do the same. Attend any meetings that you can in regards to the fishery and give input when possible. Hopefully sooner rather than later, we will see a rebound in the population.

    2. Will

      Spearfish instead. Take the one fish you want to eat without the wake of destruction behind you.

  3. Dustin

    Complete and utter BS. Commercial disguard is way higher. This is mearly a way to increase fishing license prices and once again lay the blame on the little man….good try but …No

    1. GunnerMcShad

      I agree with Dustin on this, The 1 or 2 fish I keep yearly is not hurting the population, start will substantial fines for poachers. confiscate a repeat offenders boat. Throw there greedy ass in jail !!!!

      1. Zac

        You say that but when 3 million people per states take 3 fish per year it adds up

    2. Ruth

      That would seem to make sense and I’m wondering how you found out?
      Do you know how they falsify the statistics? There must be collusion among all the state fish and game departments to get those federal organizations to fall in line ! Since there a lot more of us recreational fishermen than commercial, State departments must have a lot of money.

  4. A.G

    I think we better move very fast. Perhaps this should have been contemplated and acted upon more aggressively several years ago.

  5. Grady McCormick

    I would like to see stats on the average size of fish harvested in the commercial sector compared to recreational. If female spawning stock biomass is declining then there should be an emphasis on releasing large fecund females. The commercial fishery is geared towards keeping the biggest stripers, which is a problem. Good article.

    1. Gary Cobb

      In NYS the commercial slot size is 28-38 and those fish weigh 12-22 lbs. A 12-pound female Striped Bass can produce around 850,000 eggs and a 55-pound female about 4,200,000 eggs…. think before you harvest

    1. Ed Linski

      I agree ,2-3 trips a day full boat limits, including the captain and , mates. Can’t forget ” gaff and release “

  6. APEX

    That graph is a wake up call for all of us recreational fishermen It is more likely that the recreational catch is more underestimated than the commercial catch.

    The mortality rate for “released” fish can come down if some common practices rec fisherman use change.

    First, switch to circle hooks. Replace all treble hooks from your lures and plugs. Remove second and third hooks from you plugs! Tie your flies on circle hooks.

    Second, treat your fish like the wounded warriors they are. Show some respect by not taking them out of the water just so you can take a selfie with a fish. Even a few minutes of air contact to the gills has been shown to increase mortality. Flopping around on the beach or the bottom of your boat is not good for them either.

    Third, revive them instead of heaving them overboard. After a hard fight, they need to catch their breath.

    Fourth, stop killing the big ones! If you want to eat a bass that contains less dioxin, confine it to keepers and let the cows go. How do you expect to keep catching stripers if you take the breeders out?

    Fifth, look in the mirror. Stop blaming someone else for the problem.

    1. Steve A

      Agreed, I’ve been doing this years. I wish fisherman were all honest enough to make their one fish to keep a fish that won’t make it, regardless of size. Good luck with that!

    2. John N Costa

      Apex, very well written and I agree with you. As for the Charter boats slaughtering the Stripers by Trevor and Ed, Guess again. Most boats these days use landing nets regardless of the size of the fish. any fish that does not meet the legal limit are returned back to the waters once they are unhooked. Unless you work on a charter boat do not speak of what you know nothing of. Charter boats do not always find the stripers.

  7. Howard

    We are repeating the past in the seventies comercial sien netting,rod reel and what ever used. If you’re a comercial guy you are sure to target the big fish which are your breeders hmm. My area of fishing hasnt seen many big fish plenty of YOY and upper 20’s. For some of you young data takers i have seen the70’s80’s90’sand present,it’s like a nightmare that keeps happening. The one common thing is opening it to comercial fishing B fn idea there blame on rhe recreational side but when put money in play poaching,not abiding by the rules gives way to mismanagement

  8. Ih8canaltrash

    Enough with the BS! Make the striped bass a game fish or turn it into a slot limit. This would get rid of all the canal sh$t bags that roam the canal, raiding spots, leaving trash everywhere, no respect for anyone, can’t speak English, or don’t give a crap for the rules or regulations. This fish is much more significant alive than dead. You want food for the table that breed tilapia!

      1. Mike

        Good comment. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Central American peoples take and take and take how many and how small they caught. @ plum island jetty and red rock park in Lynn.

    1. matt

      If they don’t give a crap for rules or regulations, how will changing the regs do anything?

    2. Ricky

      I agree 100 percent. Its like they wait at the canal to ambush them. Dem needs to be more in touch you rarley see tjem around. Shit i have called an they dont show while guys are taking way under size n multiples.maked me sick

    3. Andres Jimenez

      @ih8canaltrash, it is preposterous to put this kind of blame on a certain group of people especially judging by their nationality. There are plenty of born and raised Americans that continue to have a disregard for the limits and laws concerning the striped bass fishery. Instead of faulting and blaming certain ethnic groups for the misfortunes happening in the striped bass stock, we should all, regardless of race or nationality strive to abide by the laws and limits that will help the striped bass stock heal after years of mismanagement and abuse. In my opinion, the best way to achieve this is by setting a slot limit. 32 to 34 would most likely be the best threshold and yield the best results.

  9. Ih8canaltrash

    Gimme a break. Make the striped bass a game fish or turn it into a slot limit. This would get rid of all the canal sh$t bags that roam the canal, raiding spots, leaving trash everywhere, no respect for anyone, can’t speak English, or don’t give a crap for the rules or regulations. This fish is much more significant alive than dead. You want food for the table that breed tilapia!

    1. Ruth

      wow, there must be an echo in here

      wow, there must be an echo in here

  10. Ih8canalgoogans

    Enough with the BS! Just give the striped bass a game fish status or slot limit! The canal especially is nothing but a slaughter house, dead fish everywhere because of the “its Legal so I’ll take one” mentality, trash everywhere, jurk offs bleeding fish on the service road while families are walking by, people not obeying by the rules and regs. The place attracts nothing but trash. You take a bike ride during a blitz and it’s death everywhere you look. The place would police itself and get rid of most of these people that have zero respect for the fishery. Save these fish, they are more important alive than dead.

  11. Thomas Goodwine

    I was amazed when the rule in ME changed form the 1 fish per day keeper slot of 20-26 or trophy over 40. to the now any fish over 28. I released many 27-39 inch fish and know that many of these would breed multiple years if the coast had adopted that instead of ME going the other way. I think going back to that idea and doing away with the weekend warrior commercial fisherman would be great. No reason if someone wants to fish recreationally they should not be allowed to sell any of their catch to cover gas costs.

    1. Barry Thomas Sr.

      Season here in South Jersey has been the PITS for a Couple Years. Make it a GAME FISH !
      NO SALES AT ALL! So Every guy who drives to your Beach should be Allowed to keep a COUPLE to cover Gas Costs??? Do YOU see that Problem??

    2. Dean Krah

      Thomas, Think you better know more about Maine laws. If that’s what your trying to say? For one there is no commercial sale of stripers in Maine. Don’t know what you call week-end warrior? There’s no commercial fishing for Bass here period. I do agree we should have kept the slot 20=26. Throwing a lot in that range back nowdays

  12. Felipe

    Is there any data available to support the effect which the growing seal population (at least on the Cape) is having on the bass? The only I ever see or read about is anecdotal observations … nothing based on a formal study. OTW … Is this something you can provide?

  13. makeitup

    If I read this chart right 7 million fish were killed in 2017 and 50% were dead releases. That means 3.5 million dead fish floating on the eastern coast. When fishing side by side with other boats catching and releasing i have not witnessed any clusters of strippers floating around. I would like to know how data was obtained. Remember 80% of all facts are lies 60% of the time.

    1. Cjay

      I agree 100% I can’t even remember the last time I personally saw or unintentionally killed a fish that should have been released. It’s not even physically possible to come up with those figures. 3.5 million dead floating stripers reported in 4-5 months while their around…..yeah okay! When are people going to realize that fish really can’t be counted. Who actually reports when they keep a recreational fish??? Look I am not saying there’s unlimited amounts of fish so who cares but they want us to believe that their numbers are realistic. I keep a few a year around the low 30ish range and catch hundreds. Just fish responsibly!

  14. Keith Carney

    I’m slow – Article states that 48% (of the 90% Rex) die after being caught. Goes on to say that an estimated 9% of those caught and released do not survive. Don’t understand that math.

  15. Keith Carney

    I’m slow – Article states that 48% (of the 90% Rec) die after being caught. Goes on to say that an estimated 9% of those caught and released do not survive. Don’t understand that math.

  16. Barry Thomas Sr.

    Central Southern Management Area†
    Map Todd.Mathes@
    800-338-7804 25,000 lbs
    Opened March 1 by proclamation. Closes when quota is reached.

    18″ minimum 10 Striped Bass per person
    per day —
    20 if 2 SCFL holders are in an operation Daily reporting
    by dealers
    6.5-inch gill net maximum mesh size
    †The Central Southern Management Area (CSMA) is designated as all internal coastal, and joint and contiguous inland waters south of a line beginning at a point 35° 48 .3693’N – 75° 43 .7232’W on Roanoke Marshes Point, running southeasterly to a point 35° 44 .1710’N – 75° 31 .0520’W on the north point of Eagle Nest Bay, to the South Carolina line.

    So these figures come from NC
    , So if they string a 1/2 Mile Gill Net they can KEEP 10 Striped Bass Each.
    If there is 400 Stripers in that Net then 390 go back……DEAD
    So if I catch 3 Striped bass With Circle Hooks (all i use) and release 2 and watch them Swim away . I AM THE BAD GUY??

  17. Chatham Chris

    The chart doesn’t make sense to me. The 2016 commercial landings in MA alone were 938,000 fish. The chart appears to show total commercial landings of all states around 1,000,000 or so. I don’t get it.

    What I do get is we are going to ignore it until we go off the cliff. Just like the 80’s when there were no bass.

    1. Kevin Blinkoff

      The commercial MA landings numbers you cite are in pounds, while the numbers in the figure above are individual fish.

      1. Chatham Chris

        Thanks, Kevin. Now I get it. That would be appropriately 40,000 fish commercial for MA.

  18. david hansen

    Circle hooks!!!! 38 inch or pounds and over release.
    I remember the 80’s fishing bass A 36″ limit is why we have
    fish 30 years later.


      That and PCB’s. Then our wonderful government reduced the “harmful” PCB level and the rest is history.

  19. Russ

    I am skeptical of this data and I would like to know how they obtained the Recreational harvest and release mortality data since I do not know ANY recreational guys that report any of this info. If true it is concerning but over the last 15 years I have seen the fishing improve and not diminish so I find it hard to believe the stock is dropping. I also almost NEVER see floating dead Striped Bass which according to these numbers I should see tons. The only mass floating dead bass I saw was when NYS allowed blasting for the new Tappan Zee Bridge during the spawn up the Hudson River.

  20. Andy

    A change in mentality needs to take place. Stop putting monetary value on who has the biggest fish. Also, it’s your choice to drive somewhere to fish, it’s not the fish’s fault you used gas to drive somewhere. Remember you go to their house to find them. It’s all about respect of life. Unfortunately many fisherman I have met, not all but many, seem to lack that respect for the earth and her beings.

  21. Stan

    Where did they come up with these numbers. Also how can you say that many fished died.

  22. Eric Burke

    Get a keeper great! Take a picture and release and go have a burger.

  23. Sea zee

    I think maybe we should not give out commercial permits for the harvesting of striped bass. That would take care of some of the catching and keeping of breeding fish. Let’s face it, striper sells for 25.00 plus a pound in stores. Pretty easy to get a permit to sell. Just saying, greed is a great motivator if someone can go hook two 35 pounders and sell them before 8 am.

  24. Tony R.

    I think those commercial numbers are bs. They are literally taking thousands of fish a day during the season. Most fisherman I see are lucky to get a few fish a year! I fish the beach all year every year and release all.

  25. patrick

    Responsible fishing is a must and sustainable keeper limits are a big part of it. It’s a way more complicated issue though. Mackerel stocks are on the decline as are pollack.
    Mackerel are poised to take a nose dive and the striper population will follow.
    Single species management is always a short sighted approach.
    The health of pogies, eels, squid, herring etc are all tied to one another. If commercial fishing can decimate the bait fish, no other measures will be successful

    Just my 2 cents

  26. Makeitup

    How many episodes of on the water tv have we watched of them catch strippers maybe they are killing all the fish or maybe they should think about what they are trying to promote.

  27. Datotter

    They are using”The overall 9% hooking mortality rate estimated by Diodati and Richards (1996)” to estimate dead release. The dead release is going to be reported as 9% of released fish. This is an out of date estimate that is not based on any reporting in the last 2 decades. So, take care to get your fish off the hook and swimming away and tell the council to actually find a way to measure release mortality year to year.

    1. APEX

      Datotter, Do you have some factual basis to say that Diodati and Richards’ research is out of date? If so, what new research are you aware of that provides us with a more accurate estimate? Newton debunked the long held view of gravity that stated that heavy objects fall faster than light objects nearly 300 years ago. If age alone is a valid reason to dismiss scientific research, nearly everything we know might be wrong.

      One of the most important observations they made was that fish who were seemingly fine on release (swam away instead of sank) were found dead in their test pond within 24 hours.

  28. Saulo Stewart

    Eating a striped bass is good but, catching one is awesome. So much illegal getting caught on the canal. Revoke their licenses for a year. Slot the fish. No keeping after 36″. I’ll be happy with the fishing. I think the data is off. Some undercover environmental police at the canal would be key.
    Long live the bass.

  29. George

    Most anglers have be saying for years to not harvest the larger females. When fishing for trophy fish or slot fish to harvest use barbless hooks on plugs and jigs and trolling lures. When bait fishing use circle hooks in my option both methods would help.
    I would temporary end the trophy program and allow anglers to harvest (2) slot fish no greater thanv(28) and no less than (18) for a daily limit.
    We have to sacrifice and change our fishing methods to help keep this fishery strong, if not we lose…….


  30. eric anderson

    Its all speculation, they have no idea whats really happening .

  31. JP

    Yes and how many fish are slaughtered each year needlessly because of peoples desire to win stupid tournaments up and down the coast who reward people for killing the biggest striped bass(are you listening you hippocrites at On The Water). What are these guys doing with multiple 40,50 and 60 pound breeders after getting them weighed? Eating them? Dont think so.
    Stop the madness.

  32. Jeff D

    I like the idea of a slot limit. 28-35” let everything else go. How many fish do you need in the freezer anyway. I kept 2 fish all last summer and still have fish in the freezer. Granted, one was 40” and the other was around 35”. It wouldn’t hurt me to release them and wait for a slot limit fish. We just need more enforcement of the laws, and the canal is a great place to start. I see way too much neglect of the laws at the canal and no one around to do anything about it.

  33. Nobananas

    Designating the wild striped bass as a game fish with management slanted toward building quality in the fishery and feed stocks… would be a prudent start. As this is debated legislatively, we as individuals are responsible for practicing good conservation techniques from shore and/or from our boats. I sense the difference between now and just a few years ago is that momentum is building in favor of more protection of the species and a realization of what we do matters while fishing… and in communicating to folks that we vote for.


    I’m not exactly buying those commercial and recreational numbers either. First off they don’t account for hygrading. Second they don’t ever insert poaching. However when comparing the two numbers we all need to take into account Party Boats ( head boats in NJ ) many times running 2X per day, and Charter Boats, running 2X to 3X per day. Along with very capable private boats, there are 100’s of thousands of boats beating on striped bass whenever they make an appearance. The PB’s bring a fish up with a net or gaff. That fish is doomed after a few pics.

  35. Matt

    Everyone knows what need this be done , yet they don’t do it.
    1- no fish over 36” should be harvested NONE
    2- end commercial fishery
    3- stop the destruction of the Menhaden population

    1. EricD

      Exactly GD right on these. #1 being most appropriate to this discussion and #3 the most under appreciated factor.

  36. Matt

    One more thing. Take everything away from anyone breaking the law. Take boat , gear , vehicles. That will stop the law breakers

  37. Bill Blackwell

    Commercial fisherman will always target the largest fish possible and so culling is inevitable. Buy out the commercial guys with a striper stamp. Eliminate the harvest of any fish over 26 or 27 inches. One keeper a day any size under the limit. As long as we go at this backwards and continue to harvest the breeders the stock will not be able to recover. “In-Line” circle should be a must. Most of us revere the Striper and would be willing to harvest our memories with a picture rather than meal.
    Thanks for letting all of us vent, it is evident we all want to see this stock saved. The question is does fish and game have the courage to do it. We know strong recovery programs work well and they work quickly when the responsible authorities have the courage to implement the necessary laws.

  38. Skip

    By no means am I an expert, BUT…. I cannot let the recreational fisherman shoulder the blame again. That was the reasoning behind the herring ban. Now striper fisherman are to blame. Cmon. I have the pleasure of being able to fish with my boys along side a good friend who is about the most ethical commercial fisherman I have ever met. After fishing with him up the cape for about four years now, it is without a doubt that the commercial fisherman is the cause of decline. On commercial days, the fleet catches, keeps and releases thousands of bass. If by chance we fish on non commercial days, there isn’t a boat on the water, a ghost town. We go home with 3 fish that day. On commercial days, it’s not uncommon to see floaters, gafted fish returned to try and survive because they were short or just barely legal fish being thrown in the box. I get it, it’s lively hood. I think commercial fishing needs to be honestly looked at. Maybe one commercial day and the others, well, charter fisherman. Guaranteed income while not depleting the stock. The recreational fisherman deserves better.

  39. Circle hooker

    Fish large circle hooks!! I use a 10/0 inline( Not offset) Mustad perfect circle hook for chunk bait/ large macks and pogies. Fish heavy braid/ leader to minimize the fight period. only a few of my friends have terminally hooked fish using these circle hooks. I think we only killed one fish over 40” which floated up next to the boat 50 yards off in the last 2 seasons. Table fair bass are great around 30” no need to kill anything larger, keep what you need.

    The key to the circle hook is to choose one with a wide enough gap to wrap around the fat lips of a large bass. I have missed many large bass due to small circle hooks 7/0 even 8/0. I know this because I have caught many big girls by a small piece of skin on the outside of the lip.

    Commercial bass guys have always been known to f$%#@ the system. Fishing the night before into the commercial day, Fishing days they are not supposed to, and keeping the fish on ice. Keeping over their quota, “Grading fish” which is throwing smaller dead fish they intended to harvest, over the side after a larger more profitable fish is landed. Threatening other fisherman, Burning their boats ,houses.
    Don’t forget about spear fishing stripped Bass!! Lots of people out their doing it in MA even though it is illegal.
    They also fish treble hooks in chunk baits, Gaff /mistreat fish they are not keeping. the list goes on.
    This canal shit makes me sick. Their needs to be An EPA agent on each side of the canal patrolling day and night. Fines and punishment must be more strict or we are going to loose The stripped bass for our future generations.

    1. Christopher Valley

      100% agree need atleast weekend patrol during the peak season and more patrols during the hot runs…. The DEM knows when the fishing is hot at the canal get out there on bikes and write some fines

  40. Becka Brown

    Is there a statistic on the percentage of the striped bass population is eaten by seals?

  41. Mark C

    Ive seen anglers at canal ler bass bounce all over rocks
    I fish from a boat
    I dont even fish the canal i just walk my dog and its rediculous what i see……are’nt fish over 32- 34″ are the ones that lay millions of eggs?
    Those are the fish that need to survive
    Just my 2 cents

  42. Mark C

    Let the COWS GO!,,with CARE!
    The smaller fish are better to eat anyway
    Take a picture and let them go
    Circle hooks!!!
    Dont the let fish flop and bang afound they dont have teeth to all
    you people who blow my mind by standing there trying to figure
    out how to remove your hook
    Throw your treble hooks away
    Blah blah
    And yes about the person the person who mentioned “non americans” or people who cant speak our language
    Ive seen them keep schoolies
    They need a wake up call
    Better yet make them a game fish for awhile
    Theyll bounce right back

    1. Christopher Valley

      I agree too many “no clue” people fishing with trebble hooks ripping stripers to pieces … Get to the manufacturers and let’s get this fixed

  43. ted murray

    40 years of plugging the surf, a few of those commercial both boat and surf. The remedy?STOP commercial fishing, one fish per day slot limit 18-28 inches, and an open season on seals. The marine mammal act was never intended to protect sea rats that devour every living thing that swims……

  44. Ken W

    The stripers get hammered relentlessly here in Jersey. The number of boats fishing daily once the run starts is incredible. Charter boats do multiple trips each day especially in Raritan Bay. The stripers are hard pressed to migrate through the gauntlet. There is simply too much pressure on them.

    I’d like to see a slot limit, elimination of the so called boat limit on charter boats and circle hooks required on all bait fishing. Snag and drop bait fishing is very popular. Anglers should use barbless treble hooks. You won’t lose any fish as long as steady pressure is applied and fish can be easily released without ripping their innards.

  45. Tony Saldutti

    Do you really think recreational fisherman are the problem? I don’t. For as much time as I put into driving 2 hours each way to fish and catching nothing but shorts and one or two keepers all year, it doesn’t add up. Commercial fisherman have to play a larger role in this. Are they self reporting (wink wink)? Does anyone think the beach replenishment and dredging projects are impacting the eco system to the point the fish have nothing to eat near shore?

  46. Willie

    I’d love to know who’s taking these numbers..last I knew no one was asking anyone down the ditch how many fish we caught kept or released…let us just fish ..worry about your commercial and poachers..leave us normal license carrying rule following fisherman to fish…tools!..slot limits is the way to go 1 fish 40″or better 1fish 32″or under.. leave those fat cows to breed.worked in Florida for reds.why not try it for few they did with all the other size and amount changes over the yes..tight lines to all GL this season.

  47. Jfeil24

    Though the article states that recreational release mortality is roughly 9% – the graphic does not reflect this – can someone explain? In some years the yellow bar accounts for nearly 50% of the catch ?

    1. Kevin Blinkoff

      The estimate is that 9% of all the caught and released fish do not survive. Those fish that die after release account for nearly 50% of the total mortality in 2017.

  48. Steve R

    In an Alexandria, VA supermarket I recently saw a section of the fish counter loaded with appx 16″ “rockfish” while as a recreational angler at the end of the migration line in Maine I can only keep a bass over 28″. I was stunned. Those 16″ dead schoolies will never contribute to reproduction and increasing the stock. The commercial size limit needs adjustment and it is difficult to believe the commercial “take” on the graph given the modern gear used and size allowance for the commercial category. Perhaps an east coast universal size and limit should be considered for recreational & for commercial? Maine has gone from a slot-and-over-40″ trophy to nothing under 28″ while VA is selling the schoolies we release. Crazy.

  49. Bluefish Butch

    I agree with all the guys talking slot limit, circle hooks, removing treble hooks and better release practices. Not such a hardship if we all do it now (don’t have to wait for bureaucrats to act). Lets just do it. Now, Am I right that MD is harvesting the juvenile fish in huge numbers? The high recruitment year of 2011 was wiped out by MD commercial guys before they could leave the Chesapeak Bay. Please say it aint so, Joe.
    Now, what about the noticeable decline in bluefish? Harder fighters and better eating than bass, IMO. Lets pledge to catch & release them more humanely also. Take the trebles off your plugs and have more fun catching!

  50. Peter

    I am a comm guy that fishes stripers,seabass and scup a legal permit owner for 41 yrs ! That’s how I survive and probably physical work harder than half U snowflakes! We catch fish coz U can’t ?? t

    1. John

      Peter, plenty of things in this world are legal yet still unethical.

  51. Mark Celebuski

    What’s the problem?

    It starts early in a stripers life, those born in the Chesapeake Bay grow from egg to Maryland keeper size of 18” in about 3 years. During late summer on the upper bay there are seemingly endless schools of baby striper chasing bay anchovies. Baby menhaden would be their prey of choice but most of them are scooped up in Virginia waters and never get a chance to fill the upper bay with their progeny.

    Then the boats come. Chumming is the preferred method on the bay, there can be 300 boats off Love point on any given weekend chumming and catching and releasing 10 undersized fish for every 18” keeper. It’s a mix of commercial rod and reel guys and recreational folks. The commercial guys are “owed a living” off the resource. The recreational crew need a harvest of stripers to keep it worthwhile, with all these fish around what’s it going to hurt? Besides the stripers are eating the crabs (maybe because the menhaden are gone?) which other waterman need to make a living. It is an efficient harvesting machine backed by powerful lobbying organizations.

    Say the striper reaches 4 years old and 20 inches and leaves the bay. Now they have 3 years of epic migrations and natural predators before they even reach keeper size. Once they tick over the 28” mark all bets are off.

    Keepers and trophies are easy prey on their way north: Bunker schools, sometime 1/2-mile-long fill the inshore New Jersey waters and Raritan Bay. The guide boats know where they are and are under intense pressure to put their sports on fish. There can be hundreds of boats within sight dragging trebles though the bunker schools and dropping them down. The live bait and weighted trebles offering little chance of a successful release. The sports want their fish, after all they paid dearly to harvest them. The recreational fisherman also deserves their fair share, look at how much it costs to keep a boat. With all these fish around what’s keeping a few going to hurt.

    Once the waters warm in late June the stripers head to their summer staging grounds, there arrival eagerly anticipated by guides and sport fisherman alike.

    Some will summer off Montauk and Block Island. Live eels drifted though the rips are hard to turn down. What few are caught certainly won’t collapse the population.

    Some find their way though the Cape Cod Canal, perhaps the worst kept secret on the striper coast. At times there are so many fish that keeping one could not possibly have any effect on the population.

    Then the commercial season kicks in, after all commercial fisherman are due their share. Live mackerel fished on treble hooks is the bait of choice. They can’t help it if the limit is 34” and they have to release the shorts even if they are bleeding out, they don’t make the laws.

    Then the southward trek starts, they arrival eagerly awaited along the way. From the shores of Long Island to the Jersey coast, word spreads quickly when they show up. Sometimes they do come inshore where a picket fence of fisherman reaps the rewards. Many will be released with many just over keeper size kept for eating. After all, how much could keeping one fish hurt.

    Then its down to the outer banks of North Carolina to winter over. Commercial fisherman pulling their nets though the schools leaving a wake of dead and dying culled stripers behind. They have quotas so everything is on the up and up.

    Next, it’s back into the Chesapeake Bay where spring trophy season is in full swing. After all the bay state fishes are owed a shot at a trophy.

    If a striper can run the gauntlet for 10 years (which is pretty amazing) they might be a 34” fish. A 45” fish may be 15 years old capable of producing millions of eggs. The question is how does any fish get to be 45”?

    I fish for and occasionally keep and eat a striper, I’m part of the problem too.

  52. J J

    Question how does an 8 year old with a freshwater rod and reel in a 40 lb Bass when a family at 12 comes with a canal and they’re all taken their Whopper fish

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