Monday, September 8, 2008
Maine Striper Fishing Reports : Capt Eric Wallace
Brad Burns - Stripers Forever
The battle of the striped bass is on, and Brad Burns, President of Stripers Forever, is on the frontlines, fighting to protect the fish so many of us pursue.
It’s a calling he simply couldn’t ignore.
“When the stripers disappeared in the ’70s, the commercial fishery faded away,” Brad says. “But as the fish came back, so did the commercial fishing—to the same levels that preceded the crash in the first place.”
In the last five years, anglers have seen the population of spawning-age stripers fall by nearly 20%. Spurred by a massive increase in commercial harvest quotas and alarmed by the plummeting numbers of big fish, Brad and other concerned anglers banded together to form Stripers Forever in 2003. Since then, they’ve spent nearly every waking hour working to stop the unsustainable harvest of striped bass along the Eastern Seaboard.
On those rare occasions when he’s not pounding away at policy makers—especially in May—Brad can be found tossing floating worm patterns on the south side of Cape Cod, hoping to enjoy the results of his work.
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Some Info on the great work Brad has been doing for the Striped Bass fishery!!!!
• In 1980, before the striped bass population collapsed from fishing pressure, the recreational regulations in most states mandated a minimum size of 16 inches with no bag limits –a far too liberal policy as it turned out. Today, the coastal recreational fishery operates under much stricter regulations, limiting anglers in many states to a single striped bass at least 24 or 25 inches long. In states with coastal commercial fisheries, the minimum legal size for anglers is 28 inches, which puts a bass for dinner out of reach of the great majority of rod and reel fishermen. In Maine, anglers are allowed to keep one striped bass as small as 20 inches, or one over 40, but none between 26 and 40 inches. With these highly restrictive angling regulations in place from Maine to North Carolina, fishery managers have made room for a large commercial quota at the expense of millions of recreational anglers.
• By keeping a high size limit, both the coastal recreational and commercial fishing efforts are being concentrated on the larger, mature fish. The result is that there are far fewer of these prime breeder fish in the population than is optimal for a healthy stock. The quality of the fishing suffers, the health of the stock suffers, and recreational anglers are deprived of a basic right of citizenship --- which is their historical access to this public resource.
• In Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, a major striped bass spawning area from which fish migrate up and down the Atlantic Coast, two stripers as small as 18 inches may be taken daily, a reasonable bag limit for the estimated 1,500,000 anglers who fish these waters. But the combined 11,000,000- pound commercial, recreational, and charter boat quota for the Bay area puts a very large dent in the numbers of fish that join the coastal migratory stock. The elimination of the legal commercial fishery - which receives 40% of this quota - as well as the large illegal fishery, would make it much easier to return a healthy year class distribution to the entire striped bass population.
In summary, the current striped bass management scheme under the aegis of the ASMFC has in essence privatized the resource for the benefit of a small number of part time commercial fishermen who are harvesting an inordinate number of bass in the Chesapeake Bay system and elsewhere along the coast.
What Stripers Forever Recommends.
We believe that all commercial fishing for wild striped bass should end. The ASMFC would continue to provide the framework for managing stripers; they would also take responsibility for establishing the fishing mortality levels necessary to maintain a healthy resource with a well-balanced natural age class distribution. Meeting those key conservation goals would provide a high quality recreational/personal use fishery and the significant social and economic benefits that go with it.
While it is important that anglers be allowed to catch and eat their own striped bass rather than be forced to buy them at market, converting any part of the current commercial quotas to increase recreational bag limits – or even maintaining the existing recreational limits – should depend on the successful pursuit of the conservation goals outlined above.
How Will We Benefit and Who Will Get Hurt?
The fishing public, even restrained by very modest bag limits and moderately high minimum sizes, could easily harvest all that a well managed wild striper population can provide without any help from commercial fishermen. Making the striped bass a gamefish will simply mean that those who wish to catch their own will be given priority over those who want to buy their own at market. This is the way a free society should work. Personal harvest has historically been given preference over the market when the resource was too limited to provide both. The precedents are in place -- market gunning and freshwater commercial fishing were both outlawed in the United States when they threatened personal use access to public resources. And so it must be with the striped bass, which is far more valuable as a gamefish than as a commercially harvested commodity.
The Economics Argument
The existence of proven aquaculture operations works in favor of gamefish status for wild striped bass. The marine habitat along the Atlantic Coast can only support a finite population of stripers. But the earthen rearing pond system used in striped bass aquaculture can produce essentially unlimited numbers of fish without any coastal environmental impact. Pond-raised stripers are more expensive than commercially harvested wild stripers, but the price gap is narrowing. And unlike wild bass, which are only available seasonally, aquacultured stripers can be marketed year round. In 2002, aquaculture operations raised some 12 million pounds of striped bass for the market, 1 million pounds more than the recreational, commercial, and charter boat catches combined in Chesapeake Bay! The elimination of market fishing for wild bass would provide incentives for increased production of aquaculture fish, resulting in more availability and a lower price. Nor would the public lose the food value of wild striped bass. As with other wild game, they would be eaten by the fishermen who caught them – the fairest possible system of allocation.
2. Recreational Sector Jobs
The economic argument for the elimination of commercial striper fishing and the subsequent expansion of recreational angling is ironclad. In 1993 a study by Southwick and Associates revealed that the economic value of the recreational fishery at that time was more than 500% that of the commercial fishery, and recreational participation since 1993 has grown enormously. Bait, tackle and other marine-related businesses, including guiding services and destination travel by anglers eager to sample new striped bass haunts, would all increase dramatically with an increase in the quality of the fishery. Employment in these recreation-based businesses is usually year-round and employee benefits often include health and retirement plans.
From an economic standpoint, we are literally throwing money away by continuing a commercial striped bass fishery that has outlived its usefulness to society.
Quality Of Life
Striped bass are widely distributed up and down the Atlantic Coast, they are fun to catch and good to eat, and they grow larger than any other inshore saltwater sport fish. Millions of recreational anglers spend an estimated $1 billion dollars each year pursuing stripers from Maine to North Carolina. The pure pleasure they derive from chasing these great fish and from bringing home the occasional bass to grace the family dining table are vitally important quality of life experiences that should no longer be seriously diminished by a commercial fishery which is economically unrealistic and which wreaks havoc on a very valuable public resource.
Coastwide report from Lateral-lines and Capt Eric Wallace
Saltwater Fishing Reports
Same kind of bass action in central and New Jersey as we had last week. Lots of big stripers under bunker schools down there and folks live-lining them are doing a number on’em. Inshore, the action is slow as the water temp is beginning to get up there. Still, lots of schoolie bass blitzing under birds off of Breezy and the Rockaways. There are scattered pods of bunker just east of Breezy, but there doesn’t appear to be much on them at the moment. Hopefully that will change. The sand flats on the backside of the point are really beginning to work well. Lots of sandeels up on them and plenty of cruisers. Very technical and difficult fishing though. If you don’t have you’re A-game, don’t expect to catch fish. Believe it or not, Jamaica Bay fished really well this week. Lots of schoolie bass and big-ass bluefish along the sod banks. We’ve been catching the shit out of them this week on poppers and sliders. Nice to not have to burn all that gas! Across the island it’s been a similar situation with the schoolie bass. The fish only seem to be in or around the inlets though. On the north shore there’s been some pretty good schoolie action in the early mornings, and there were a bunch of reports of some really good cinder-worm hatches going off this week and last. Out east there are some really big bass on the South Side. The flats fishing on the inside is standard for this time of the year. A pretty good amount of bait, but mostly schoolies. There are some big bluefish as well, which make for great fun in the skinny stuff. On the Connecticut side, it’s schoolies to the west and big bass to the east. Someone took a fish in the high 60 pound range last week at orient point. In Rhode Island the fishing has been very consistent. Plenty of fish in the 20-pound range eating plugs and flies. Block Island is just sick right now. If you can manage, get out there! There are some quality bass being taken from the shore as well as by boat. And, the bluefin are beginning to fill in, and anglers are getting some legitimate shots. On the Cape, there have been major bass blitzes off or Race Point and other such rips. Some of these blitzes are composed of fish north of 20-pounds. The tuna fishing has been slow though. Still some fish popping here and there but very difficult to catch. No official reports from the Boston area, but unofficially, there appears to still be plenty of schoolies around. Not much in the way of big fish. Unless of course you’re a bait guy. The Merrimack/Joppa area is relatively slow as well. Increasing water temps are undoubtedly having an effect. In Maine, they continue to have the worst bass season in recent memory. It’s an enigma really, but it’s not a good sign. Still, the aces were able to pull some nice fish off the flats.
Rhode Island Fishing Report
Capt. Greg Snow from Snowfly Charters reports from Block Island:
July 7, 2008. Game On Kids! Block Island is now seeing some of the best striper fishing it has seen in the past decade. Heavy fog has kept the boat traffic to almost nothing while square miles of sand eels siphon in some absolutely remarkable numbers of striped bass. Lots of legitimate shots of fish tickling 40pds have been a common occurrence on the fly with cookie cutter 20 pound fish being the norm. Hot southerly breezes are pushing in the fog and swell which churns up a sand eel cocktail that bass and surprisingly few bluefish are stuffing there faces on daily. The BFT action is quiet only because the fog and quality bass fishing has left most fisherman staying tight to BI. I can tell you however that with these sand eels getting chewed on every day and night that Charlie is sniffing them out and they are not far from the island. I will be looking for fast fish on Friday with a hardcore client that understands the difficulty in trying to find these fish.
Ray Stachelek from Cast-a-Fly Charters checks in this week from Block Island, he reported:
BLOCK – Buster on the 4th of July
Since the start of the striper season back in early May, all of our angling has been in upper Narragansett Bay. And why not! There was some good striper fishing here in our own back yard. There was no reason to leave. There were plenty of double digit stripers following the silversides and bunker when they cooperated. But every day was different. The striper fishery lacked the consistency of last year. Still there was no reason to complain. Sure, gas prices were higher this year, but nothing compared to the record fuel prices we would see in July. Fishing was hit or miss but you didn’t have to run far. June’s weather pushed us further south toward Jamestown and cooler waters. Providence still had its flotilla of bait dunkers and the place continued to fish well. We never got the boat north of Gaspee Point. It was just too stress to enjoy the experience in a war zone of boats. Fast forward, the summertime has changed the fishing season once again. We splashed the boat for the first time on the ocean front on Fourth of July weekend. The weather/winds were favorable as we made the break through the West Wall gap. We pointed our bow toward Block Island. The seas were calm as we headed into the fog of Block Island Sound. Today we had two extra pairs of young eyes on watch. Jeff Paul and his friend Steve were college friends at Boston University, somehow landed work together in New York City. It took Jeff awhile to get acquainted with our GPS system. He kept saying TOM… TOM, not Garmin. We don’t use that stuff out here! That’s only for street wise people. After a 14 mile run we started working the high cliffs on the western side of the island. Steve had no experience whatsoever with a fly rod but did have some knowledge with spinning tackle. He talked about his many adventures on Martha’s Vineyard casting plugs into the surf. Our drifts were slow. We started to cover more ground by trolling small tubes on mono. It is a good method of locating a few stripers rather quickly in calm waters. It wasn’t long before Steve’s rod was bent over fighting a feisty striper. After a few stripers on the tube we felt we had found them. Steve switched to casting plugs while Jeff started to fly fish. Jeff landed some nice fish in the next two hours. The action curtailed. The captain gave the orders for all lines in. As you would have guessed, the last cast before moving produced an experience Jeff would never forget. Jeff has been tying a few flies for several years now. He’s finally getting deeper into all aspects of the game. He decided to tie on a very large deceiver type of green and yellow he dreamed up during the winter months. Jeff has worked to be an excellent caster. Soon that large bulky fly flew through the air 90 feet. After a short pause to let it sink and a few strips, the line went tight like never before. This is Jeff’s best catch to date on a fly especially noted that he created and tied the pattern. Oh’ what a feeling! Jeff Paul is tired but all smiles after a lengthy fight with a 19 lbs Block Island striper. He released the brute unharmed on Independence Day giving her its freedom. Steve enjoyed the day casting plugs into the clear waters. He is now contemplating taking up fly fishing after watching his friend enjoy the experience.
The 4th was a Blockbuster for sure.
Massachusetts Fishing Report
From the Vineyard, Capt. Tom Rapone from Highly Migratory Guide Service reports:
It’s been a busy and productive couple of weeks here on Martha’s Vineyard. True summer fishing patterns are beginning to persist now, and as water temps climb steadily, those willing to get out on the water EARLY in the AM are getting the best shots at quality fish on fly and light tackle. We’ve had numerous fly rod fish topping 20-pounds in last couple of weeks, but low light combined with fast-moving water has definitely been key. Predominant baits have been squid, sandeels and ocean herring.
The summer bluefish are now in full swing, and some of the east-end shoals are holding a mind-boggling amount of 4 to 10-pound choppers. In addition, sandeels are absolutely stacked up in the oceanside rips; at the rate the water has been warming, the first bonito of the season should be just around the corner.
Capt. John Mendelson from Boston Fishstix Guide Service reports:
The fishing has slowed some overall but we are still catching good numbers most trips. Things were on the slow side over the 4th of July holiday weekend with the boat traffic but have rebounded since. We are finding bass feeding on a combination of small mackeral, pogies, and young herring. This morning the Ocean Lure Sand Eel lure did a good job imitating the juvy herring. Still not many bluefish in the harbor which is unusual for this time of year. The tuna fishing has been on the slow side too, though the fish are here, just not feeding hard. We will be running a mix of bass/bluefish trips and tuna trips over the next few weeks. Even though the fishing is not red hot, get out while you can. You never know what you’re going to find!
Maine Fishing Report
Capt. Eric Wallace from Coastal Fly Angler reports:
Reports coast wide have been improving on a daily bases, more fish are moving in and we had a good week of stable weather witch prove to provide some fun fishing. We are still behind in the numbers of fish we should have around but we do have some very nice fish on the flats in Casco Bay and lower Kennebec River, the bite has a very short A.M window. The outer ledges have fish on them but the water temp has been cool, Capt John Ford was running out looking for tuna and said the water outside was 62 got near the outer islands of Casco Bay hit 56 then back to 64 near the flats. More reports of schoolies and slot size fish state wise and today we got our first fish bluefish of the year in Casco bay and reports of blues in small schools north to south, Looking forward to next weeks tides and warm weather and the continue push of fresh fish, things are improving up here for sure.
And just like that,,,, They are here, not in number and still spotty but the baits and small schoolies are starting to show, check back ...
Click on the movie below for a short trailer 4 min trailer, Striper fishing on the Eastern US Coast has never been so completely ca...
Brad Burns - Stripers Forever Maine, U.S.A The battle of the striped bass is on, and Brad Burns, President of Stripers Forever, is on the...