A Modest Proposal: Catch Fewer Small Stripers This Year

It’s no secret that our precious striper stocks are stressed. New regs are going into effect (check your state for specifics) that every striper angler should know about. But this year, I’m creating my own reg.

It starts with a question: Do I really need to catch 50 small bass at the mouth of the Hous? Do I really need to catch 20 sixteen-inchers in June during the grass shrimp hatch, or on a flat on the Cape during a sand eel blitz? The answer is no.

I’m asking you to join me. When it becomes clear that it’s a small bass on just about every cast, I’m going to reel up and stop fishing. So yes, let’s still fish. Yes, let’s still have fun. But let’s also give the bass a break. Catching another dozen dinks won’t make you a hero. Walking away will.

Sure, they’re fun. But they’re also ridiculously easy to catch. These bass are the future of the fishery. So please consider giving them a break. And while you’re at it, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the ASGA. This group is gaining traction, and is beginning to have a real, quantifiable effect on the state of the fishery. Thank you.

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15 comments on “A Modest Proposal: Catch Fewer Small Stripers This Year

  1. Ray Hamilton says:

    Extremely well said. I’m all in. I would add that this decision should be applied to recently stocked trout as well.

  2. William A Giokas says:

    May be there is a Silver Lining to Covid19 there will be less fishing pressure and the bass
    will catch a break. Bill

    • Steve Culton says:

      Or, maybe New Jersey and Maryland ASMFC commissioners will have an epiphany and realize that “conservation” does not mean “kill as many stripers as possible”….

    • Tom G says:

      I’m seeing just the opposite. I’ve seen more people out fishing (from shore anyway) in the past couple of weeks than in March and early April in years past. People have more time on their hands and they are turning to fishing as source of recreation and entertainment while still maintaining social distance.

      • Steve Culton says:

        Sure, that makes sense. But angler volume doesn’t necessarily correlate to catching. For example, I fished the Farmington today and there were people in every spot I went to. I only saw one fish landed. The question remains: how many dinks do we really need to catch? 🙂

  3. DAVID DEITZ says:

    I’m in also. Well done. I wonder if the absence of restaurants that we’re about to experience will reduce the market for commercials?

    • Steve Culton says:

      I’m not sure that’s making a big dent, but every little bit helps, right?

      • Tom G says:

        It sounds like you’re from CT. I am too. Personally, I’d like to see a seasonal closure of the winter hold- over fishery (like December 1 through March 31). Those fish in the Housy, Thames and CT rivers are concentrated in a small area and are subject to a lot of pressure during the winter months. It’s the same fish being caught and released over and over.

      • Steve Culton says:

        I am (from CT). I have mixed feelings about that. The vast majority of the anglers doing the potential damage are boat/spin anglers. I’m a fly guy from the shore. Surely I’m (nor the other shore-bound fly anglers) not making even a minuscule dent in the well-being of striped bass.

        Point taken, though.

  4. JCH says:

    I sometimes play a little game with myself when the bite is on fire: only one fish per fly. (This happens very rarely for me.). Effectively the idea is if you catch a fish, you have to change patterns. It results in fewer fish; more time tying knots, less time fishing, and increasingly less effective patterns. But it’s still time on the water, and can provide some valuable insight.

    I employed this technique this past fall when fish were on sand eels on the surface. I dredged a 11″ yellow hollow fleye on a sinking line and ended up with my first dogfish on fly.

  5. Pierre Sauvé says:

    Steve, excellent food for thought for us North of the border, but I’m not sure that Canadian striper anglers are thinking about that. Yet our main striper population (or tribe as you say in the States), the Miramichi one, which basically probably supports 90% of our striper fishing,is a very fragile resource (one population massed in one river or its estuary, thus very vulnerable to disease). So, I’ll do that next time I encounter the conditions you describe, which, hopefully, will be this summer. PS

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