Surprisingly. a point of contention at last week’s ASMFC Striped Bass Advisory Panel meeting in Baltimore was that recreational fishermen are releasing too many stripers.
You’d think that commercial fishermen would be happy to see more stripers in the waters of states which allow commercial stripers fishing as some would wind up in their nets. However, the ASMFC counts recreational releases as having a 9 percent mortality. With 90 percent of angling caught stripers being released, that 9 percent comes to such a large mortality that it puts the total mortality over the target at which an 18 percent reduction is required. That’s why the commercial advisors insisted on Option 3 which would place almost all the reduction burden on angling rather than Option 2 in which both sides share the reduction evenly.
The 9 percent figure is based on studies done in controlled conditions which have little to do with the reality of normal habitat conditions. There’s also a world of difference in the care with which a Chuck Many, Joe Massa or Vinny D’Anton releases possibly stressed bass as opposed to others simply tossing them back in warm waters. The 9 percent mortality is little more than a hopefully good guess. Yet, even if that figure is realistic, the other side of the coin is that 91 percent of releases survive. Is there any angler who feels it’s not worth releasing a striper that has a 91percent chance of surviving? That’s certainly a lot better than the chances of shorts ripped out of a gill net.
The northeast wind wasn’t as bad as predicted this morning, but Vinny D’Anton said the surf at Belmar was still rough from the offshore disturbance. Yet, it was fishable as he tried everything without getting a hit.
After getting shut out Sunday morning in the Manasquan surf under perfect conditions, I switched to Point Pleasant Canal this morning. Hits were few and far between, but there was a pick of school stripers for those willing to blind cast into seemingly dead waters with a very weak ebb current . I felt fortunate to release three bass up to a 26-incher on a Z Man 7-inch pearl paddletail. Joe Melillo of nearby Castaways Tackle also caught three bass.
Fluke pro Dave Lilly of Hazlet is equally proficient at trolling stripers as he proved Saturday morning aboard Mike Saverese’s Cabo 40, Sonny Boy. They were fishing the Hi-Mar Fall 40-hour Striped Bass Tournament and trolled big bass steadily for 4 1/2 hours off Deb’s Inlet in 70 feet. To get the hits it was necessary to stream 400 feet between wire and backing, so each bass became a back-breaker to fight. The only lure that worked was the heavy chartreuse Tony Maja bunker spoon. The white spoon wasn’t hit, and mo-jos never got hit despite the amount of weight added or the colors used. Lilly said the bite ended as the tide slowed at noon, and didn’t resume after the turn. There were thresher sharks surfacing in the area. A 37-pounder topped their 20 bass, but a 4-footer that had to be at least in the forties was lost at boatside. That bass would have been what they needed to win the two-bass total contest, and everyone was too sore from pulling bass to do it again Sunday.
Tuesday’s forecast looks better at 10 knots east with a chance of light rain in the afternoon, The big change starts Wednesday with west winds at 15 knots and gusts to 25 which should settle the surf.