Thursday, October 20, 2011

Striped Bass Future To Be Decided November 8 in Boston

I understand that the expedited striped bass stock assessment came in as “no change”. Not surprising considering where it is coming from. So, the big fight at ASMFC’s annual meeting in Boston on November 8, 2011 – 8:00 AM – Striped Bass Management Board ( is going to see quiet a few Northeast anglers attending to support a mortality reduction. The insider, tea leaf readers believe the vote is going to be very close for a 50% reduction in rec. and 40% reduction in commercial harvest. ASMFC Commissioners from R.I. and CT. ( in particular need to hear from people that believe the reductions are necessary. If there are any people in both of those states who can roust out some political pressure very soon, it would help. I can’t express the urgency of being involved at this point. It is my opinion that the already in progress striped bass crash will be accelerated to an unknown consequence.The recent announcement of a wonderful YOY hatch in the Chessy system is wonderful news but won't help our fishing for at least five years. We need mortality reduction now.

The Maine Association of Charter Captains (MACC) has hired and filled a 12 passenger van to go to the meeting. I understand that there are people making the trip from R.I.,Cape Ann, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard to support a reduction. A few more van or car loads will jam the place. Let me know if you need some stickers MACC is having made up to show support. A rough count for extra stickers for all would be helpful.

If you can get up at 3 AM all season long to go fishing, being at an 8 AM meeting is a walk in the park. See you all there.

Here's a state by state list of ASMFC Commissioners to contact:


Patrick C. Keliher

Department of Marine Resources
21 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0021 Phone: 201/287-9972

Patten D. White

Po Box 1008
York Harbor, Maine 03911
Phone: 207/229-5449

Senator Brian Langley

11 South Street
Ellsworth, ME 04605
Phone: 207/667-0625

Douglas E. Grout

225 Main Street
Durham, NH 03824
Phone: 603/868-1096
FAX: 603/868-3305

G. Ritchie White

30 Lang Road
Rye, NH 03870
Phone: 603/964-2211

Rep. David H. Watters

19 Maple Street
Dover, NH 03820
Phone: 603/862-3983

Paul J. Diodati, Vice-Chair

251 Causeway Street, #400
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617/626-1530
FAX: 617/626-1509

William A. Adler

Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association
PO Box 397
Green Harbor, MA 02041
Phone: 781/545-6984
FAX: 781/545-7837

Representative Sarah K. Peake

State House
Room 473F
State House
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617/722-2210

Robert Ballou

RI Fish and Wildlife Division, DEM
3 Fort Wetherill Road
Jamestown, RI 02835
Phone: 401/423-1926
FAX: 401/423-1925

William A. McElroy

3229 Tower Hill Road
Wakefield, RI 02879

Representative Peter F. Martin

1 1/2 Willow Street
Newport, RI 02840-1917
Phone: 401/924-2402

CT David G. Simpson
CT Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, Marine Fisheries
333 Ferry Road
PO Box 719
Old Lyme, CT 06371
Phone: 860/434-6043
FAX: 860/434-6150

Dr. Lance Stewart

P.O. Box 177
Coventry, CT 06238-0177
Phone: 860/884-7220

Representative Craig A. Miner

House Republican Office
L.O.B. Room 4200
Hartford, CT 01606
Phone: 860/842-1423
FAX: 860/240-0207

James J. Gilmore, Jr.

NYSDEC, Marine Resources
205 North Belle Mead Road
East Setauket, NY
Phone: 631/444-0433
FAX: 631/444-0434

Pat Augustine

25 Stuart Drive
Coram, NY 11727
Phone: 631/928-1524
FAX: 631/928-3540

Senator Owen H. Johnson

23-24 Argyle Square
Babylon, NY 11702
United States
Phone: 631/669-9200

David Chanda

Mail Code 501-03
PO BOX 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420
Phone: 609/292-2965
FAX: 609/292-8207

Thomas P. Fote

22 Cruiser Court
Toms River, NJ 08753-6246
Phone: 732/270-9102
FAX: 732/506-6409

Assemblyman Nelson T. Albano

1028 East Landis Avenue
Vineland, NJ 08360-4041
Phone: 856/696-7109
FAX: 856/696-7159

John A. Arway

PA Fish & Boat Commission
1601 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9299
Phone: 717/705-7801

Loren W. Lustig

795 Stone Jug Road
Biglerville, PA 17307-9790
Phone: 410/386-2103
FAX: 410/876-8282

Rep. Curt Schroder

Pennsylvania House of Representatives
315 Gordon Drive
Exton, PA 19341
Phone: 610/524-5595
FAX: 610/524-5667

David E. Saveikis

DE Division of Fish and Wildlife
89 Kings Highway
Dover, DE 1990l

Roy W. Miller

31421 Melloy Court
Lewes, DE 19958-3863
Phone: 302/645-7103

Senator Robert L. Venables, Sr.

116 Hearn Avenue
Laurel, DE 19956
Phone: (302)744-4298
FAX: (302)739-6890

Thomas O'Connell

580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: 410/260-8281
FAX: 410/260-8278

William J. Goldsborough

Chesapeake Bay Foundation
6 Herndon Avenue
Annaplois, MD 21403
Phone: 410/268-8816

Senator Richard F. Colburn

James Senate Office Building, Room 315
11 Bladen Street
Annapolis , MD 21401-1991
Phone: 410/841-3590
FAX: 410/841-3087

Steven G. Bowman

2600 Washington Avenue, Third Floor
Newport News, VA 23607-4317
Phone: 757/247-2278
FAX: 757/247-2020

Catherine W. Davenport

1005 Poplar Neck Road
White Stone, VA 22578
Phone: 804/435-2173

Senator Richard H. Stuart

Senate of Virginia
P.O. Box 1146
Montross, VA 22520
Phone: 804/493-8892
FAX: 804/493-8897

Louis Daniel, Ph.D.

3441 Arendell Street
PO BOX 769
Morehead City, NC 28557-0769
Phone: 252/726-7021
FAX: 252/726-0254

Willard W. Cole, Jr.

406 Penrose Court
Greensboro, NC 27410-3114
Phone: 336/294-3919

Rep. William L. Wainwright

NC House of Representatives
300 North Salisbury Street, Room 613
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
Phone: 919/733-5995

John E. Frampton

PO Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
Phone: 803/734-4007
FAX: 803/734-6310

Dr. Malcolm Rhodes

7 Guerard Road
Charleston, SC 29407
Phone: 843/556-4731
FAX: 843/571-2787

Chair, ASMFC Governors' Appointees

Robert H. Boyles, Jr., Chair

PO Box 12559
Charleston, SC 29422-2559
Phone: 843/953-9304
FAX: 843/953-9159

A.G. "Spud" Woodward

One Conservation Way, Suite 300
Brunswick, GA 31520
Phone: 912/264-7218
FAX: 912/262-3143

John Duren

8 Calico Crab Retreat
Savannah, GA 31411-3015
Phone: 912/598-9362
FAX: 912/598-7966

Rep. Jon G. Burns
Georgia General Assembly
Chair, Game, Fish and Parks Committee
State Capitol, Room 228
Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone: 404/656-5099
Fax: 404/656-6897

Jessica McCawley

Division of Marine Fisheries Management
2590 Executive Center Circle E, Suite 201
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone: 850/487-0580 Ext. 217
Fax: 850/487-4847

William R. Orndorf

1950 Palomino Road
Melbourne, FL 32934

Senator Thad Altman

Florida Senate, District 24
6767 N. Wickham Road, Suite 211
Melbourne, FL 32940
Phone: 321/752-3138

Friday, September 2, 2011

Menhaden Rules May Change

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC) will be taking action soon on striped bass mortality changes and rules effecting the harvest of Menhaden (pogies). The Menhaden proposed changes can be found here: (SORRY - CUT AND PASTE THE BELOW LINK - I'M HAVING PROBLEMS MAKING IT A HOT LINK.

Public comment will be accepted until 5 PM (EST) on November 2, 2011 should be submitted to Toni Kerns at (Subject line: Menhaden Draft Addendum V).

This paper isn't exactly bed time reading, but it is important stuff. This is the first time in years that menhaden mortality issues have been formally addressed by the ASMFC.

If you want more pogies for stripers and blue fish to eat in the northeast, there's a need to reduce mortality of these bait fish in Chesapeake Bay waters where the baby fish are harvested industrially by Omega Oil company for use in Omega Oil products produced for human consumption.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Maine's New Saltwater Registry Offers Reciprocity And Is Free

Below is the "new" Maine saltwater fishing registry that went into effect July 11, 2011. Basically a free system with reciprocity.

1. Why is the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) creating a registry of saltwater recreational anglers?

In 2007, the US Congress reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act. In the reauthorization, they included a requirement that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) develop a comprehensive list of everyone who fishes recreationally in marine waters. This is necessary to improve the surveys of saltwater anglers, which generate the information used to help manage and rebuild fish stocks. Congress gave the states the option to either develop their own registry system, or have their citizens be subject to federal registry requirements. In 2010, the Maine Legislature passed a Maine saltwater registry, thereby exempting Maine from the federal requirement. The registry is administered by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and goes into effect January 1, 2011.

2. What "marine waters" are included, for the purposes of requiring registration for saltwater angling?

If you will be fishing anywhere within the rise and fall of the tide (up the rivers to head of tide), or from a Maine port out to the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone (200 miles), you must have a valid saltwater fishing registration.

3. Who needs to register? How much does it cost?

A Maine saltwater recreational fishing registration is required for individuals 16 years of age and older fishing in Maine's coastal waters. However, individuals that possess a valid Maine freshwater fishing license are not required to register separately with the Maine Department of Marine Resources. When purchasing their Maine freshwater fishing license, individuals will be asked, "Did you fish in the tidal waters of the State of Maine last year?" By answering this question, they will meet the basic registry requirement. Freshwater license holders must possess their license when they are engaging in saltwater fishing, to prove compliance. There is no cost for the registration, for either residents or nonresidents. However, a $1 agent fee applies if you register directly through ME DMR or if you register online.

4. Where can I register?

You can register online at, OR in person at the DMR licensing office in Hallowell (directions:

5. Why do you need my phone number?

The purpose of creating a Registry of saltwater recreational fishermen is so that these anglers can be accurately surveyed by phone, to assess their level of activity. The Registry will make it much more efficient to find anglers to survey, and it will include a broader representation of anglers. Instead of asking a random sample of coastal U.S. residents if they've gone fishing (which is what is currently done), the registry will allow surveyors to call upon those who have already identified themselves as saltwater fishermen. The surveys collect information about who is fishing, when they fish, and what species and how many fish they catch. For some species of fish, the recreational catch far outpaces the commercial harvest. In addition, in many communities, recreational fishing is a major economic driver, affecting everything from the hospitality industry to fuel sales to outfitters and small businesses. Accurately capturing the many contributions of recreational fishermen will help to ensure that these interests are properly considered in resource allocation and other policy matters.

6. Are there any exceptions to the registration requirement?

You do not need to register in order to participate in saltwater fishing in the following situations: 1. When fishing as a passenger on a party/charter or head boat operated by an individual who holds a valid Recreational Operator's license. 2. When fishing for smelt from a smelt camp rented from an individual who holds a valid Recreational Operator's license. 3. When fishing with a registered guide who possesses a current guide license and valid Recreational Operator's license. 4. When fishing from a dock, pier, or wharf that is owned by an individual who possesses a valid Recreational Operator's license.

7. Are there any free fishing days?

Yes. Maine residents need not register in order to fish legally on July 4th, Labor Day weekend or Memorial Day weekend.

8. Is there any reciprocity for other states?

Yes. Maine residents who are registered on the Maine registry may fish in New Hampshire without separately registering on the New Hampshire registry. Any person that possesses a valid saltwater recreational fishing license from any state that has been designated as an exempted state by NOAA may engage in recreational saltwater fishing in Maine without registering with ME DMR. Finally, any person registered on the National Saltwater Angler Registry through NOAA may engage in recreational saltwater fishing in Maine without registering with ME DMR. NOAA exempted states include ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, TX, CA, OR, WA, AK.

9. What if I hold a lifetime freshwater fishing license from IFW?

If you are a Maine resident who holds a lifetime freshwater fishing license, you will still need to annually register with DMR. This is because Maine must be able to provide the information regarding which anglers are participating in saltwater fishing to the federal government on an annual basis, in order to meet the federal requirements. The registration is valid for the calendar year.

Questions about this Service? Contact agency at: (207) 624-6550 or Email:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Maine July 4th Striped Bass Report

With the big July 4th holiday a day away, it's time to seriously fish for striped bass in Maine waters.

Stripers in the 40 to 50 inch range have been caught all season long from New York to Maine. If you want to catch a striper of a life time, this is the season to do it as the year classes are ripe for the picking with almost any method of fishing. The 53 pound fish above was taken on Cape Cod using a fly rod. It would have been an IGFA world record if the rules procedure had been pursued, but the angler wanted the fish released quickly to avoid killing it.

Water temperature on the east side of Casco Bay haven't reached 60 degrees yet. For several weeks the reading has been between 56 and 58 degrees. That's a little cold for this time of the year, but it beats 70 degree. Bait has been good with drop back alewife and blueback herring in good supply and mackerel getting better daily. There are times when small baits work better than large for the big fish. Although a good rule to go by is to use big bait for big fish.

Right now, the best fishing for striped bass in Maine waters seems to be around the Kennebunk and Wells areas south of Casco Bay, including down to the New Hampshire border. The 2011 season is getting off to a better start than the past three years. Lets hope it continues.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Big Stripers Hit Cape Cod Shores

I have been on Cape Cod guiding for a week and fishing has been very good for large fish. This one is top prize so far, a 50 pounder on the fly.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Commercial Striped Bass Fishing on Maine's Sheepscot River - Reason for Protective Measures There

In 1990, Maine established a "special" regulation to protect valuable, local, Kennebec River spawning stocks until July first each season. Part of the regulations included a closed bait fishing and catch and release fishing within a defined border which included the Sheepscot River which is a little east of the Kennebec River and connected by tidal creeks.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA-a New Jersey based group represented by Barry Gibson in Maine)has requested that the Sheepscot River area be excluded from the ban.

Maine's Department of Marine Resources held a public hearing on the request where anglers, guides and organizations voiced their opinion on the change.

Lost on some people is the fact that the Sheepscot River was originally included in the special regulation to protect over wintering, spawning fish that were know to stage in that area. These are the big, spawning age females so valuable to the continuing effort to grow the Kennebec River striped bass stock.

During the allowed commercial striped bass fishing in Maine prior to 1990, there was a targeted commercial activity in late winter and early spring on the staging striped bass in the Sheepscot River.

Opening early season bait fishing in the Sheepscot River or the Kennebec River would be a disasterous event which will entice more angers to fish over these spawning fish as well as encourage poaching like we haven't seen in Maine for centries.

If Maine's DMR allows this request to go forward, the Kennebec River spawning stock will likely be fished out within a short few years and that will be the end of Maine's only self supporting striped bass fishery.

Contact Laurice Churchill at:

To see the suggested regulation go to:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Maine's Kennebec River Striped Bass Regulations May Change

Below is a notice from Maine's Department of Marine Resources regarding a public hearing concerning requested changes in the special regulations for striped bass fishing in the Kennebec River. The purpose of the original regulations is to protect spawning striped bass in the Kennebec River.

Department of Marine Resources


Chapter 42.03 Striped Bass – Closed Area and Closed Season

(Kennebec River and Sheepscot river areas)

The proposed rulemaking would remove the marine bait prohibition and replace it with the requirement to use circle hooks while using marine bait when fishing in the Kennebec River closed area during the established May 1 to June 30th season. The closed area is also proposed to change from upstream and inside the line drawn from Cape Small to Cape Newagen to a line upstream and inside from Fort Popham, Phippsburg to Kennebec Point to Indian Point, Georgetown, and upstream from a line in the area called Robinhood between Lowe Point, Phippsburg to Newdick Point, Westport and downstream of the Route 144 Westport Island Bridge therefore removing the Sheepscot River from the Kennebec rules and placing it under the statewide regulations.

This request was made by the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) - Barry Bibson of Boothbay Harbor who is the rep. for RFA in Maine.

PUBLIC HEARING: April 4, 2011, 6pm, Bath City Hall, 1st Floor Auditorium, 55 Front Street, Bath


CONTACT PERSONS: Bruce Joule (207-633-9505) or Pat Keliher (207-287-9973)

For more information:

Online the web link for a copy of the proposed rules is:

Or, to obtain a hardcopy by US mail write: Dept. of Marine Resources, attn: L. Churchill, PO Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04575-0008 TEL: 207-633-9584, or

EMAIL:, FAX: (207) 633-9579 or TTY: (207) 633-9500

To receive future rulemaking notices by email please use contact info above.

Saturday, February 19, 2011



Proposed Maine Legislative documents LD 210 and 308 might be the beginning of an effort to combine the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) into one super agency of conservation.
The LD 308 summary reads as follows: “This bill repeals the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 12, section 6312 establishing the saltwater recreational fishing registry and Title 12, section 6032 establishing the Marine Recreation Fishing Conservation and Management Fund and does the following.
It provides for voluntary saltwater recreational fishing registration.
It directs the Commissioner of Marine Resources to work with the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to establish a system that allows a person to register on the voluntary saltwater fishing registry online, by checking a box on a freshwater fishing license or watercraft registration or by mailing in a postcard distributed by the departments.
It prohibits the establishment of a fee for registering on the saltwater recreational fishing registry and directs the Commissioner of Marine Resources and the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to administer the saltwater recreational fishing registry within the departments' existing resources.”
Sponsor of the LD 308 is Representative Jonathan McKane and co sponsors are: Rep. Chipman of Portland, Rep. Olsen of Phippsburg, Rep. Prescott of Topsham, Sen. Snowe-Mello of Androscoggin, Rep Tilton of Harrington and Sen. Trahan of Lincoln.
Another Bill, LD 210 sponsored by Senator Trahan of Lincoln is about the same concept and reads as follows: “This bill repeals the laws that established the current saltwater recreational fishing registry and the Marine Recreation Fishing Conservation and Management Fund and does the following.
1. It establishes a saltwater recreational fishing registry under the jurisdiction of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
2. It directs the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to establish a registry system that allows a person to register online, through an agent or in conjunction with the purchase of a freshwater fishing license.
3. It provides that a fee or online system fee, and in most cases an agent fee, may not be charged to a person registering on the registry.
4. It requires the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to administer the saltwater recreational fishing registry within the department's existing resources and provides that the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Commissioner of Marine Resources may not expand enforcement activities regarding the registry beyond existing department resources unless federal funding is secured to cover the costs of those expanded enforcement operations.”
The Bill is cosponsored by: Representative CLARK of Millinocket
Senator COLLINS of York
Senator LANGLEY of Hancock
Speaker NUTTING of Oakland
President RAYE of Washington
Representative SANDERSON of Chelsea
Senator SCHNEIDER of Penobscot
Senator SNOWE-MELLO of Androscoggin
Representative TILTON of Harrington
It appears that these legislations disguise a step closer to combining at least two state agencies into one. Why would a saltwater permit/license/registry be administered by a fresh water agency? And why would bills pointing to Inland Fisheries and Wildlife management be assigned to the Legislative Marine Fisheries Committee? Doesn’t make any sense to me. Mix apple juice with orange juice and you don’t get citrus juice.
I am one of the first to admit that Maine’s current saltwater registry law is a convoluted system that needs change. My solution is to have a real saltwater fishing license, controlled and administrated by a real saltwater agency – DMR – and use the funds to enhance Maine’s valuable, recreational, saltwater fisheries. No money coming into DMR means NO Enforcement, NO Enhancement, NO Future.
Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife finances its operation by selling license to hunt, fish, trap, and registers numerous machines used in the outdoors. Maine’s Department of Marine Resources is expected to address recreational saltwater issues with no internal funding mechanism. So, it must use commercial funds to do anything for the recreational community under its jurisdiction. I don’t think the commercial fishing community wants its money being used on recreational issues!
The old adage, if it costs nothing you get nothing in return is most appropriate to LD’s 210 and 308. People should contact their legislators to appose these bills if they want Maine to have a future on our coastal shores, especially the valuable striped bass fishery.
Ever wonder how the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine might feel about one super conservation agency? Call and ask them. If they support these two legislative bills we may be seeing the beginning of the end to two separate conservation agencies, one for inland and one for coastal. Maine – “TheWay Life Should Be” – should have good fisheries management to support that motto. A real saltwater fishing license will help to establish good marine fisheries programs.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Maine Adopts Circle Hook Law and Two Hook Reg. For Lures

Maine has new saltwater fishing regulations. Below is the new information on law changes on Maine’s salt waters. Note the below is directly from DMR so there aren’t any interpretations.


Chapter 42 - Striped Bass

42.01 Statewide Striped Bass Size Restrictions, Harvest Methods

1. Method of Taking.

A. It is unlawful to fish for or take striped bass in the waters of the state territorial waters, except by hook and line. It is unlawful to use a gaff to land any striped bass.

B. It is unlawful to use multiple (more than two) barbed or barbless treble hooks on any artificial lure or flies while fishing for striped bass in territorial waters.

C. It is unlawful to use treble hooks when using bait.

The following becomes effective January 1, 2013:

It is unlawful to use any hook other than a circle hook when using bait. For purposes of this chapter the definition of circle hook means “a non-offset hook with a point that points 90º

back toward the shaft of the hook”.

D. Any striped bass legally taken from the territorial waters shall be immediately released alive into the water from which it was taken, or killed at once. Any striped bass killed becomes part of the daily bag limit in accordance with Chapter 42.02.

2. Size Restrictions.

It is unlawful to take or possess striped bass which are less than 20 inches long or greater than 26 inches total length but less than 40 inches total length. It is unlawful to possess striped bass unless the fish are whole with head on and are between 20 and 26 inches total length or 40 inches and greater total length.

42.02 Striped Bass - Limits, Personal Use

It is unlawful for any person to fish for, or take or possess striped bass in or from territorial waters the waters of the state, except for personal use. The sale of wild striped bass caught for personal use or by commercial fisheries in other States or jurisdictions is prohibited in the State of Maine.

It is unlawful for any person to take or possess more than one (1) striped bass each day which may be between 20 and 26 inches in total length or 40 inches or greater in total length.

Note: No other changes are proposed in Chapter 42.


Chapter 43 - Bluefish

43.01 Bluefish Limits

1. Method of Taking

A. Daily and Possession Limits.

Except as provided in 43.01(BA)(1) it shall be unlawful for any person to take, catch, kill, or possess more than 3 bluefish per day.

(1)B. Exemptions. The daily limit and possession limit shall not apply to persons licensed

under 12 M.R.S.A. §6501 and §6421. The possession limit shall not apply to persons licensed under 12 M.R.S.A. §6851 and §6852.

B. It is unlawful to use multiple (more than two) barbed or barbless treble hooks on any artificial lure or flies while fishing for bluefish.

C. It is unlawful to use treble hook(s) when using bait.

The following becomes effective January 1, 2013:

It is unlawful to use any hook other than a circle hook when using bait. For purposes of this chapter the definition of circle hook means “a non-offset hook with a point that points 90º back toward the shaft of the hook”.

D. Any striped bass killed during the take of bluefish becomes part of the daily bag limit in accordance with Chapter 42.02.

Basis Statement

Chapter 43 Bluefish

The Department is required to work within the framework provided by the ASMFC Management Plan that limits options when considering state management plan changes and

has explored rule changes that could protect bluefish. Fishing for bluefish with bait is an efficient means of catching bluefish during the spring, summer, and fall and a popular method

of catching all sizes of bluefish. There are advances in gear types that can enhance the conservation of current bluefish stocks without imposing stricter bag limits, seasons, or

closures. One area where improved conservation could occur is reduction of the discard mortality for bluefish caught and released by recreational anglers. The discard mortality for bluefish is~69% for bluefish that swallow a baited hook, and/or are hooked in the stomach, and then released. A study conducted to look at the survival of bluefish caught and released by hook and line (Williams, E.H. 1995. Survival of fish captured by hook and released. Masters Thesis,

University of Rhode Island, Kingston. Studies conducted separately on striped bass, for comparison to the bluefish studied, indicate that mortality with the use of circle hooks can be as low as 0.08, or less than 1%. One of the best studies conducted may be found online at

This was a Maryland Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), Maryland Charter Boat

Association, and Maryland Saltwater Sportsman Association Study.

Regarding multiple treble hooks; based on angler and staff observations when two or more sets of treble hooks are “impaled” in a bluefish the amount of handling time is greatly

increased resulting in injuries that subsequently lead to increased mortality It is the Department’s position that these conservation measures are necessary and takes into consideration requests to allow tackle inventory to be sold (similar to the process used when converting from lead sinkers to less toxic sinker materials that lessen or eliminated

the tackle shop’s economic impact); and to use the next two seasons as a period for education of the public and guides, plus address the use of bait on treble hooks to reduce deep-hooking

mortality, Chapter 43.01(1)(C) would be modified to delay the use of bait on hooks other than circle hooks until January 1, 2013. Plus, during the interim period, as suggested by comment, the use of bait on treble hooks would be prohibited, thus giving an interim period to adjust to the new restrictions. These modifications are not considered substantive changes to the proposed rules as they offer a mechanism to find a balance to the range of comments and suggestions.

A technical correction has been made to Chapter 43.01(1)(B) removing the text ‘in territorial waters’. This phrase was removed based upon a question that resulted in a review to

find that this should not have been in these rules and was a typo carried over from the similar striped bass rules. Similarly, section D was also found to be unnecessary and removed based

on a commenter’s question regarding the use of bluefish when fishing for tuna.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Big Flies and Big Stripers On Tap For Maine During 2011 Season

Fly fishing for striped bass in Maine during 2011 is most likely going to be for big fish from 30 to 36 or 40 inches and larger as the viable year classes migrating to our shores will fall into that size range and there aren’t prolific other year classes of stripers roaming the Atlantic Ocean.
The National Marine Fishing Service’s recreational angler survey (“MRFSS”), states recreational striped bass catches along the Atlantic coast declined by 66% from 2006 to 2009. Expect striper fishing during 2011 to provide quality not quantity fishing.
The Chesapeake Bay year classes likely to provide numbers of fish are: 2001, 2003 and 2005 with a few from the 1996, 1993 and 1989 classes. Striper sizes will likely be as follows.
The best year class out there is 2001 which will be 35 to 36 inch, 10 year old fish. The 1996 year class is meaningful in mass with fish being 44 to 45 inches, 15 year old fish. The 1993 class provides the best chance at a fish over 50 inches. This year class will be 18 years old, 50 to 51 inch fish. A striped bass at least 60 inches long and 22 years old will be rare and come from the 1989 year class or earlier. 2005 fish will be 6 years old and 26 to 28 inches .
The class of 2003 will provide a few 8 year old, 31 to 32 inch fish.
These are the six remaining year classes that had a meaningful, successful spawn in the Chesapeake Bay. They are the classes we will be fishing over for several years.
So, now is the time to prepare for those larger fish. Big fish like big flies, at least most of the time they do. That means begin tying or purchasing larger flies and learn how to cast them. Be certain you have the proper fly rods, lines and leaders to accomplish the job.
Most fast action nine and ten weight fly rods should do the job. While using floating or intermediate density fly lines it might be advisable to use a fly line at least one weight higher than the rod is rated for. Don’t be afraid to go two weights higher. Integrated sink tip fly lines such Cortland Quick Descent lines in 350 to 650 grain weights should be the line used most, even in shallow water. It always amazes me while fishing a 650 grain head in three to five feet of water how often I don’t get hung on the bottom.
Keep your leaders short to turn over big flies. Three and four foot leaders are enough. My system is mostly a length of 20 pound fluorocarbon. If I’m fishing close in to ledges I might tie on a short section of 10 or 12 pound tippet so I can break off easier when caught up in close with a heavy sea following.
Fish the large flies slow and deep. Change the pace a little and stall your retrieve occasionally. Big fish will approach a fly deliberately rather that quick and aggressively like schoolies do.
These big fish classes will be around for a few years until they get fished out. Then what? Stripers Forever’s Brad Burns summed it up in a press release summarizing a yearly survey of anglers and guides. “The results in 2010 were by far the most disappointing that we’ve seen for both anglers and guides” said Burns, President of Stripers Forever. “In our 2010 survey, 76% of all anglers reported catching fewer or many fewer stripers per hour of fishing. This is up from 66% in 2008 and 72% in 2009.”
“The Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission continues to report that officially, things are fine with striped bass, but there are a lot of people out there who would not agree with them,” Burns continues. “This year’s survey was completed by 1,068 anglers, including 109 fishing guides representing every coastal state from Maine to South Carolina except New Hampshire. The vast majority of these fishermen have more than 10 years of experience fishing for striped bass.”
Stripers Forever is a non-profit, internet-based organization advocating for the conservation of wild striped bass by designating them as game fish and managing the resource for the estimated 3 million recreational striper fishermen and the vast industry that they support on the Atlantic coast. In-depth studies show that the game fish approach would yield the greatest financial and social benefit for everyone involved in the fishery. Stripers Forever has more than 16,000 members.