The long-awaited preliminary striped bass stock assessment shows that the most important inshore game fish along most of the northern Atlantic coast is overfished — and that overfishing is occurring.

Triggers in the Striped Bass Management Plan have been tripped, and there was only one vote at the recent ASMFC Striped Bass Board meeting against asking the Technical Committee to provide the commissioners by the next meeting in May with recommendations for reductions in mortality that will bring the stocks back to desired levels.

Since this was only a preliminary report, there’s little chance of any reductions being made this year. However, there could well be some significant changes proposed for 2020. Some commissioners may instead favor changing the trigger points which they may feel are too conservative. That’s a reasonable approach in the cases of sea bass and summer flounder as the original statistics were very questionable due to recreational catch figures from decades ago being little more than guesswork — and the obvious abundance of those species. In the case of stripers, there were good catch statistics over a long period of time — and most coastal anglers are complaining about the quality of  the coastal migrations. The N,J.-N.Y. area has been fortunate in having the Hudson River stock to provide a good local fishery with that stock which usually doesn’t migrate as far as  those from the Chesapeake and Delaware bay areas.

This will surely be a contentious issue as commercial and some charter interests seek more quota while sportsmen are more concerned with having a larger stock to fish on even if most have to be released.

Correction: Before sending out yesterday’s blog about the ASMFC decision to maintain status quo regulations on sea bass I forgot to eliminate the reference to the Mid-Atlantic Council in the first paragraph.

Needless to say, today was another blowout. A gale watch is up through Wednesday night, but the weekend is looking better.  West winds of 20-25 knots with gusts to 40 on Wednesday drop a bit to west 15-20 with gusts to 30 on Thursday. There are only southwest winds of 10-15 knots on Friday, but with a chance of rain in the morning and a likelihood in the afternoon.  Saturday may be fishable after all that ocean-calming west wind as the forecast is for northwest 10-15 knots with only 2-4-foot seas and a chance of rain.

The N.J. Fish & Game Council meeting went on as planned this morning, but the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association meeting tonight has been postponed

Fred Golofaro, editor of The Fisherman magazine Long Island edition, had good news about the passage of bunker bills in both the N.Y. Assembly and Senate that will prohibit bunker seiners from operating in N.Y. waters. I thought that had been the law there for a long time, but Golofaro said there was a “sunset”  provision which opened up the opportunity for seiners last year. There had been an unusual  run of bunkers into Peconic Bay, but the seiners even went there and cleaned them out completely. The governor is expected to sign that legislation.

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA) is holding an all you can eat beefsteak dinner and fishing seminar on Saturday in the Forked River Tuna Club, at 18 Bay Avenue. The $50 ticket also covers the seminars by the JCAA’s Paul Haertel on fisheries issues and Anthony Arcabascio of Tony Maja Tackle who will detail trolling his father’s spoons for big bass. Haertel needs a count by Thursday. Call him at 973 943-8201 for tickets.

Surf Day will be presented Saturday at Brookdale Community College, 5 Newman Springs Rd. in Lincroft from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with numerous seminars. For details visit jerseyshoresurfcasters.com. The New Jersey Boat Sale & Expo runs from Thursday through Sunday at the N.J. Convention Center in Raritan Center in Edison. Fishing seminars are also available. For info visit jerseyboatexpo.com.

Fishing flea markets continue, with the Southern Regional H.S. Fishing Show at Southern Regional Middle School, 75 Cedar Bridge Rd, in Manahawkin from 8-2 on Saturday. Admission is $4, and free for kids under 12.

The Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County Fishing Flea Market runs from 9-3 Sunday  in the Hasbrouck Heights VFW at 513 Veterans Place. Admission is $5. Call 973- 234-9618 for info.

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