Stripers Forever “Release A Breeder Club”

This just arrived in the mail and it seems like an artifact from another age. While I’m proud to say that I’m a three-time member (all on the fly while wading, which makes it even more of a challenge) it didn’t happen last year and I don’t see it going down this year, either. Of course, I’m quite willing to be proven wrong.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Stripers Forever is an organization whose mission is to make the striped bass a gamefish. The “Release A Breeder Club” was started years ago to encourage anglers to release stripers over 36″. In today’s climate, that’s a no-brainer. Plus, you get a spiffy certificate to display your worthiness. Keep the fight short, keep ’em wet, let them do their job to repopulate the East coast!

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Last week’s ASMFC meetings: politics and striped bass

In case you missed it (I know I did), here are a couple good, quick reads on last week’s ASMFC striper meeting. First up is Captain John McMurray’s take. Next, Charles Witek warns of history repeating itself in this trenchant blog post.

I hope you’re all safe and well. These two fine pieces will keep you entertained as well as informed.

I’m going to be tying some of these (Crazy Menhaden flatwing/bucktail hybrid) soon.

Crazy CU

More Stupid Striper Fishing Tricks from Maryland

The incompetence of the Maryland Department of Natural Resource DNR continues to expand endlessly like the universe. As proof, I offer Maryland, COVID-19, and Fishing: An Arbitrary Double Standard that Endangers Public Health, written by Tony Friedrich and William Goldsmith of the ASGA. You really can’t make this stuff up.

I know what he’s thinking: Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain.

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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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Why New Jersey is called “The Garden State” (Warning: contains adult language to describe NJ’s striper management meeting procedures).

It’s easy to see why New Jersey is nicknamed “the Garden State:” It’s from all the bullshit.

The manure was flying even before Thursday night’s “public” comment (say the P-word with your tongue planted firmly in cheek) session for the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council.

Tony Friedrich of the American Saltwater Guides Association wrote a scathing summary that outlines the (Corrupt? Rigged? Incompetent? All of the above?) outrageous behavior of the Council. You can read it here.

Fish are considered stupid because they have small brains. However, all stupidity is not limited to small-brained creatures.

An in-depth, must-read synopsis of Tuesday’s ASMFC striped bass meeting from one of the commissioners

Captain John McMurray (NY), to whom I gave high marks as I listened to the chaos of the webinar, has put together a wonderful synopsis of Tuesday’s meeting. John had the advantage (or as some wags might suggest, disadvantage) of being there, witnessing, and participating in the entire process. This is a must-read, folks. You can find it here.

In the meantime, if you fish for stripers in Rhode Island, please send an email to RI commissioner Jason McNamee asking to reconsider voting in favor of the 28″-35″ slot limit. Ask for your comment to be entered into the public record. They’re meeting on it this Monday! I’d like to see a roll call of everyone who sends an email in the comments section.

Congressional listening tour on stripers, Magnuson-Stevens, and ASMFC

Amidst the recent doom and gloom surrounding the fall 2019 ASMFC session, a ray of hope: Congressman Huffman, Chairman of Water, Oceans and Wildlife, is hosting a national listening tour regarding the concerns of anglers, scientists, and policy makers. Here are two short reports from people who spoke at the Baltimore meeting that you should read:

The first is from Charles Witek’s blog, One Angler’s Voyage.

The second is from Tony Friedrich, Policy Director of the ASGA.

The quote of the month comes from Tony, who wrote: “Here’s one more thing to ponder. The American Saltwater Guides Association isn’t even a year old and we had a seat at the table for an event sponsored by the Chairman of Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. Let that sink in folks. Profound change doesn’t happen overnight. You have a work and grind at it every day. That’s what we have done from the start at ASGA. We have already won and lost a few. This goes into the “W” column.”

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Two Critical Points on Comment Participation and Conservation Equivalency forAddendum VI

For those of you who don’t know Addendum VI from King George VI, my apologies. Well, maybe not. This is important. Even if striped bass aren’t your thing, what follows is a good, quick read. And we could really use the support of all conservation-minded anglers. It’s from the ASGA blog. The last paragraph is probably the most important. You can read it here.

Definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

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Three major takeaways from yesterday’s ASMFC vote

I wanted to take a 24-hour grace period before I responded to yesterday’s disappointing session. It’s dicey trying to predict outcomes when nature is one of the variables, so I’ll just stick to what I know to be true.

  1. The ASMFC manages stripers as individual state playthings rather than a shared coastal resource. This is, after all, a migratory species. If you watched the live feed or heard some of the commissioners speak, you know that this group is infected by special interests. It’s discouraging to see that some states, like Maryland and New Jersey, believe their agenda is more important than that of other states — or the fishery as a whole — and maddening that other states don’t call them on it. States’ agendas rule rather than the good of the fishery. Unacceptable.
  2. When it comes to conservation, the ASMFC is incapable of forward thinking. John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things,” and the fact is that the ASMFC has an abysmal track record when it comes to managing fishing stocks. In their decades of existence, they have never rebuilt and successfully maintained a single stock. Of the 26 stocks they currently manage, 17 are overfished, depleted, or “condition unknown.” That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. What’s more, it points to incompetence. So yesterday’s choice of Sub-Option 2-A2, 1 fish 28-35″ slot, is compelling evidence that they are managing not for the future but for right now.  Want further proof? A moratorium was never even on the table. The closest choice to a hedged bet was the 1@35″ slot, similar to the most recent rebuilding tool of 1@36″, which was successfully implemented last time we did this. But the ASMFC would rather go to the casino and roll the dice than invest in a conservative, fundamentally sound plan with a proven track record of good returns.
  3. The vote of the active, conservation-minded majority doesn’t matter to the ASMFC. The ASMFC constructed a Potemkin’s Village of inclusion with public hearings in its member states, and continued the sham by inviting public email comments. While the response level was disappointing — about 1,000 people — the result was nothing short of a mandate: Sub-Option 2-A1, 1@35″. Incredibly, this vast majority directive was wantonly ignored. So, we get it, ASMFC. You really don’t give a shit what we think.

Search the parks in all the cities, you’ll find no statues of committees.

The fighting is rounds. This is round one.

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ASMFC Votes tomorrow on Addendum VI — and how WE all voted, or: too much waste!

The ASMFC will decide on the Striped Bass Addendum VI options tomorrow, Wednesday October 30 beginning at 2:45pm. The meeting will be broadcast online. To register to listen in, click here.

Now, to our voices. The ASMFC received 5,500 public responses. 4,500 of those were form letters. Absolutely useless! What a waste. Could we not have taken 15 more minutes to compose an original thought to try to save our stripers? Nearly 900 people attended hearings in ASMFC states. (Thanks to all who came out!)

The most telling stat is that of nearly 1,000 individual comments, too many people did not take a specific stand on the primary or sub options. Very disappointing. Apathetic or positionless responses do us little good. But, I try to be optimistic: of the individual responses and public hearing comments, the vast majority — decisively — voted for Primary Option 2, equal % reductions. The vast majority — decisively — voted for 2A1, 1@35″. The vast majority — decisively — voted for 2B-1, 1@18″ Chesapeake.

So now it’s in the hands of the ASMFC. Will they take a leadership position? Or will it be business as usual? We’ll know tomorrow.

For those keeping score:

ASMFCLetters