Another great essay by Charles Witek on striped bass management policy failure

If you fish for and love striped bass, Charles Witek is a national treasure. He stays on top of nearly every important meeting, issue, and decision regarding striped bass stock management, and reports back to us. Here’s a terrific essay from his blog, One Angler’s Voyage, “ASA Striped Bass Webinar Omits Key Rebuilding Issue.”

I can’t remember the last time I took a legal fish. Might have been Block last summer.

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Block Island Report: If you can say, “It’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht,” then you’re not catching stripers.

Those of us who grew up with off-the-boat Scots grandparents know the song “Wee Deoch an Doris” well. For the uninitiated, as you have not heard it, I shall proceed to translate and offer context. The song is about having one more drink before you head home. “If you can say it’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht” (if you can say it’s a good bright moonlit night), then you’re a’ richt, ye ken (not nearly as intoxicated as you may think). So, have another.

That also made me think of Chip Diller getting his paddling in the Omega initiation scene from Animal House.  I might as well have been saying “Thank you sir, may I have another,” to the moon this past week, because when it was out and braw and bricht I took a right spanking.

To misquote Starbuck, moonlight feels wrong. I lost the moon lottery big time — quarter going into full is by far my least favorite time to fish for stripers at night.

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I won’t bore you with the minutia, but here’s the story in numbers: Seven nights. Three skunks, including two in a row. The last time I took such a beating was 2012 or 2013. For context, I had one skunk in my last 15 Block outings over the past two years. I ran into an angler — I’ll call him “J” — whose response to me telling him that I hated fishing under the full moon was, and I quote, “you’re crazy.” Now, I appreciate J’s enthusiasm and confidence. And I desperately wanted to be proven wrong. But the fact is, whether flat or surf or dredging deep bottom, I scored a big, fat zero — not even a courtesy tap — on every night the moon was out.

To continue the kvetching, size — or lack of it — continued to be an issue. Used to be that I could count on Block to produce a high percentage of legal fish. Heck, in 2018, a third of the bass I landed were over 28″. This year, not a one. OK, so there were no micros in the mix, and a 24″ Block bass battles like a 30″er from the Hous…but the continued lack of bigger striped bass from the shore is disturbing, although not surprising.

Was it all misery? Heck, no! I had four fun-filled nights, three with double-digit numbers. I played around with my fishing schedule and was able to beat the moonlight — even this old dog can adjust. One night the weather gods appointed a magnificent cloud bank to shroud the Island. The stripers said yes. And I got in some seriously wonderful trout fishing for stripers.

I’ll tell you more about it soon.

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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Zoom thanks and summer Zoom hiatus

Thanks to everyone for another well-attended Zoom. It’s refreshing and encouraging to see so much interest in flatwings! I know Ken was pleased to hear about it.

As far as future Zooms go: this has been great. But now that summer is unofficially here, I’d rather we all spend our Tuesday evenings fishing. So we’ll take a summer hiatus after next week’s Zoom. Depending on how things shake out, this is something we may resume (get it?!?) in the winter. Stay safe, be well, go fishing!

More flatwing/bucktail hybrid secret sauce. This one’s on a Crazy Menhaden: 70 hairs, 6 colors. 

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ASMFC Striped Bass Update from ASGA

Good words from the ASGA: “We don’t want to be tone-deaf on the major issue at hand. However, life must go on and we still have to keep everyone informed on fisheries management issues.”

ASMFC is meeting today; striped bass management is scheduled from 3-4pm. For more details, click here.

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A podcast for Blockheads: Surfcasting Around the Block with Dennis Zambrotta

Peter Jenkins of the Saltwater Edge continues his excellent podcast series with surfcasting legend Dennis Zambrotta. Yeah, I know, the focus isn’t fly fishing. But if you’re a total Block (Island) Head like me, you’re going to want to give this a listen. You can find the Saltwater Edge “Surfcasting Around the Block with Dennis Zambrotta” podcast here.

Pay particular attention to what Dennis has to say about seaweed…

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Striper Report 4/8/20 and a great piece on fishing and social distancing

First, to the ohfer. That’s right, folks, I blanked yesterday at the Mouth of the Hous. On the one hand, I feel like the kicker who misses a chip shot FG in OT. On the other, it’s not like the river was en fuego (fifteen anglers spaced out on both banks where I fished, and I saw two bass landed in nearly three hours of fishing). Not exactly the stuff from which legendary days are created.

The tide was massive and the currents and rips were in full moon form, but for now I’ll hang my hat here: you cannot catch what isn’t there — or doesn’t see your fly. And I made sure they could see my fly.

While the Mouth of the Hous in April is not a place you’d normally go to practice a CDC-Approved space between you and the next person, the number of anglers was eye-opening. This was 70 degrees and sunny Saturday afternoon traffic. Solitude seekers, you will not find your bliss here. Except maybe today or Friday when the winds are supposed to be in the 20s with gusts to 40mph. (Thanks, I’ll pass.)

I can see it. You can see it. But if there are no bass to see it…

Rod-Fly-Grey

~

Second, here’s a terrific read from Joe Cermele: Don’t Blow This for the Rest of Us: How We Keep Hunting and Fishing During the Pandemic.  Joe was my editor at Field & Stream, and this article is worthy of your time.

Please stay safe and healthy, and thanks for reading.