The Striped Bass Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission announced Tuesday that they plan to reduce striped bass total removals (commercial and recreational harvest, including dead releases) by roughly 17 percent.
The 2018 Atlantic Striped Bass Benchmark Stock Assessment indicates the resource is overfished and experiencing overfishing relative to the updated reference points defined in the assessment. Female spawning stock biomass (SSB) was estimated at 151 million pounds, below the SSB threshold of 202 million pounds. Despite recent declines in SSB, the assessment indicated the stock is still significantly above the SSB levels observed during the moratorium in the mid-1980s
The addendum that aims to reduce harvest will explore a range of management options, including minimum size and slot size limits for the recreational fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and along the coast, as well as a coastwide circle hook requirement when fishing with bait.
The plan will be presented to the board for its consideration in August. If approved, it will be released for public comment, with the board considering its final approval in October for implementation in 2020.
A more detailed description of the stock assessment results is available on the Commission‚Äôs website at http://www.asmfc.org.
Advocate push for conservation
Anglers, guides, charter captains and fishing industry leaders met in Washington, D.C., this week to push to maintain strong conservation measures in our national fishing law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). Provisions such as Allowable Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures are MSA provisions that have helped rebuild over 40 fish stocks since 2000.
The group of anglers visited the offices of senators and congressmen advocating for enhanced data (possibly through electronic recording) and providing fish managers with enhanced climate-change tools to manage species that have migrated as water has warmed.
Peter Jenkins, owner of the Saltwater Edge outfitters in Middletown, R.I., and board chairman of the American Saltwater Guides Association said, ‚ÄúOur aim is to run sustainable businesses through conservation and keeping the conservation measures in our national fishing law strong.‚ÄĚ
Off to a great start
The spring fishing season has gotten off to a great start. Anglers had a great opening to the freshwater season with trout and golden trout still being caught in stocked waterways.
And this week, the saltwater fishing season exploded with some anglers catching as many as 30 migrating school bass an outing with reports of a 30-inch fish being caught, too (28 inches is the minimum size, one fish/person/day). To enhance the safe release of small school bass use in-line hooks, or snap off the barbs on treble hooks, and gently bring these fish in for a safe release.
The tautog bite has been good too this week with many anglers limiting out (three fish/person/day, 16-inch minimum), some fish being caught are in the 20-plus inch range.
So get out there and fish.
Where‚Äôs the bite?
Striped bass. The striped bass migration started to hit Rhode Island early last week with school bass at the West Wall. Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly, said, ‚ÄúWe have customers catching holdover bass far up the Pawcatuck River at the Westerly/Pawcatuck Bridge and others at the West Wall of the Harbor of Refuge in South Kingstown catching migrating bass. The fish are loaded with sea lice.‚ÄĚ Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, ‚ÄúAnglers are catching migrating striped bass all the way to Conimicut Point and beyond up the river. We have good reports of a striped bass bite in Apponaug and East Greenwich Coves.‚ÄĚ Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, ‚ÄúOne of our customers caught a 30-inch keeper in the Barrington River and two others caught over 30 school bass. They said they successfully released all of them.‚ÄĚ
Tautog. ‚ÄúTautog fishing for commercial fishermen has been getting better. Some are catching five to six keepers using clam as bait, not a lot of green crabs around year. They are setting traps but the water is still too cold around here and the crabs are still dormant.‚ÄĚ Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle said, ‚ÄúTautog fishing is very good. Anglers are limiting out (three fish/person/day) using green crabs. The bite is on in Tiverton, in the Sakonnet River and at the Barrington River Bridge.‚ÄĚ Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, said, ‚ÄúThe tautog bite off Newport and Jamestown was very good this week. Anglers are using both worms and green crabs for bait.‚ÄĚ Angler John Migliori has been catching keeper tautog along Ocean Drive, Newport. This past weekend he caught a 22-inch fish from shore.
Freshwater fishing. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, ‚ÄúThe bite at Bad Luck Pond for trout has been very good, however fishing at Brickyard Pond, Barrington has not been good at all. The largemouth bite continues to be good in the area.‚ÄĚ Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle said, ‚ÄúCustomers are still catching golden trout. We weighed in two that were caught at Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown. So the trout bite is still good. The largemouth bass bite has been good for anglers too.‚ÄĚ Mike Wake of Watch Hill Outfitters said, ‚ÄúThe trout bite is still great at ponds that DEM stocked such as Carolina and Bradford Ponds. And, they are still catching golden trout. Once again DEM has done a great job stocking.‚ÄĚ
For stocked ponds and regulations in Rhode Island visit www.dem.ri.gov. In Massachusetts, www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-fisheries-and-wildlife.
Dave Monti holds a captain‚Äôs master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association, the American Saltwater Guides Association and the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Follow Capt. Dave on twitter @CaptDaveMonti. He‚Äôll be tweeting about ‚ÄėWhere‚Äôs the bite‚Äô, fishing regulations, national fishing policy, and issues that impact the fish. Forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at email@example.com or visit www.noflukefishing.com.