The striped bass fishery on the East Coast is overfished and overfishing is occurring. The fishery experienced a significant increase in harvest in 2022, as the eighth-most abundant year-class on record entered the allowable slot limit size of 28” to less than 35”.
“The prospects for rebuilding this fishery are not promising, with recent projections indicating less than a 15% chance of rebuilding by the mandatory 2029 timeline,” said the American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA) in an angler alert this weekend.
Peter Jenkins, owner of the Saltwater Edge retail and online fishing outfitter in Middletown and chairman of the board of the ASGA, is urging the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission (ASMFC) Striped Bass Management Board to act by initiating Addendum II to Amendment 7. The goal of this Addendum is to rebuild the fishery by 2029, as mandated by Amendment 7, which was recently approved and implemented in May 2022.
Peter Jenkins said, “We experienced some good striped bass fishing last year. However, the good fishing was a result of one of the most prolific year classes on record reaching maturity. The class of 2015. This translated into over 35 million pounds of striped bass harvested coastwide.”
“This increase in harvest decreased the odds of rebuilding by 83 to 86%. Unless the ASMFC Striped Bass Board changes course at the May meeting, there is little chance that striped bass rebuild to target biomass levels by 2029. According to recent analysis by striped bass scientists, current rebuilding probabilities are less than 15%. During their latest meeting, Technical Committee staff expressed serious concerns about the ability to rebuild the stock if the Board does not act at the May meeting,” said the ASGA.
Jenkins and the ASGA are urging anglers and fishing industry leaders to act by asking the Striped Bass Management Board to initiate Addendum II at their May meeting. They have developed a sign-on letter that anyone concerned about striped bass rebuilding can sign on to at ASGA Striped Bass Action Alert – American Saltwater Guides Association.
NOAA Fisheries proposes cod and haddock regulations for 2023
NOAA Fisheries filed a proposed rule that includes recreational fishing regulation changes for Georges Bank cod, Gulf of Maine cod and haddock in the 2023 fishing year.
NOAA Fisheries projects that current measures for Gulf of Maine cod can be liberalized somewhat, while measures for Georges Bank cod and Gulf of Maine haddock must be tightened to ensure overfishing is not occurring.
After consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council, NOAA Fisheries is proposing changes to Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank cod as recommended by the Council. For Gulf of Maine haddock, NOAA is proposing mode-based measures to appropriately constrain catch and dead discards while accommodating the needs of the for-hire fleet with those of private anglers.
Compared to the Council-recommended measures, NOAA’s proposed rules aim to increase harvest and reduce dead discards of haddock. NOAA is seeking comments on the Council-recommended measures, and on a 10-fish limit and 17-inch minimum size for both for-hire and private angler modes for Gulf of Maine haddock.
For more information read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register, and submit your comments through the online portal. The comment period is open through May 3. Here is the link: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/fishing-year-2023-recreational-management-measures?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery .
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass: Connor Swartz of Red Top Sporting Goods, Buzzards Bay, said, “No signs of Canal stripers yet, but we have reports of fish at the Island around the rips on Vineyard Sound.”
Fly expert and guide Ed Lombardo said, “Many of the bass we are catching this week are smaller and have lice on them (which would indicate that are migrating fish). The larger bass do not have lice, which means they are hold-overs. Brown, hot pink, marabou flies that look like worms below the water’s surface fished deep seem to be doing the trick.”
Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown, said, “Fishing for striped bass is picking up along the beaches, with fish being caught right in the wash. The bass have just turned the corner and started moving into the salt ponds. There have been a few fish caught just on the 28” mark, and more of these fish should continue moving in. Most of these fish are very hungry, feeding on almost anything they can find (shrimp, clam, silversides). My favorites this time of year include white bucktails and a pearl swim shad.”
John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “The bass bite had been pretty good, with customers catching keepers in the 30-inch range at India Point Park, Providence, Sabin Point, and one customer caught three fish to 36” jigging for bass off the Barrington Bridge.”
“The striped bass bite is on, with anglers catching 30” fish from First Beach and at the mouth of the Sakonnet River,” said Brian Combra of Sam’s Bait & Tackle, Middletown.
“Customers are catching keeper tautog at Kettle Point, Riverside and at India Point Park, Providence. But I understand that the bite has been slower further south at Jamestown,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle.
Brian Combra of Sam’s Bait said, “Customers are catching some nice keepers out in front of Newport and at the Stone Bridge in Tiverton.”
“The tautog bite is good along the Canal, where anglers are catching 20” fish, with larger fish being taken in Buzzards Bay at places like the Southwest Ledge,” said Connor Swartz of Red Top. Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “Tautog bite has still been good.”
“DEM in Rhode Islnd stocked Willet Avenue Pond, Riverside, once again last week, so anglers have been doing well catching trout there,” said John Littlefield.
“Customers in South County are doing well targeting trout in local rivers and ponds stocked by Rhode Island DEM,” said Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait.”
For license and stocking information in Rhode Island, visit www.dem.ri.gov/fishing and in Massachusetts www.mass.gov/service-details/trout-stocking-report .
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. Forward fishing news and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.