Bass prognosis

Every year there seems to be a push to close down commercial striped bass fishing.  Groups like Stripers Forever and many charter boat captains claim that commercial striped bass fishing will ruin the stocks and bring us back to the 80’s, when catching a striper of any size landed you on the front page of the local paper. 

In Massachusetts there is a commercial rod and reel fishery that is limited to a strictly monitored quota…once the quota is met, the fishery is shut down.  The recreational fishery in Mass brings in waaayyyy more money than is ever made selling bass, which is the major argument made by folks that want to see the fishery shut down.  But here is the flaw: recreational and charter fishermen kill a lot more fish than commercial fishermen ever will.  Now that the recreational limit is two fish per day over 28″, the number of bass taken by recs. will continue to grow.  How many fish are gut-hooked and thrown back or stuffed into freezers only to be dug out and thrown away who’s to guess. 

Now, I sell a few bass from time to time if the situation is right.  I don’t every year, and generally when I do it’s because I’m not making money elsewhere.  This fishery is not for me.  Sure, I’d be bummed if they took away the option, but it won’t be the end of the world. 

There are plenty of people who get a commercial license to sell a couple of fish a year and use all of the gear, boat stuff and dockage as a write off on their taxes.  This fishery is not for them.  Sure they’d be bummed if the option were removed, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. 

This small commercial fishery is for the guys that dig clams; or fish a couple hundred lobster pots out of their skiff; or teach and need some summer income; or go to school and love working on the water when they are home; or were ‘removed’ from the groundfishery; or, basically, depend on the extra income yearly to add to the till.  Guys that generally know how to fish; how to target larger fish; and know how to properly release those which are too small.  These are not the guys that will be the downfall of the fishery.  But they will be effected by a shut-down in the commercial fishery.  A fishery, mind you, that never closed down even during the worst striper years. 

This all comes to mind as I just got off of the water having slayed fish up to 32″ (all released, for the record).  There seem to be plenty of dumb 28+” fish around this year to eat chunks of herring on the end of bluefish leader or swallow ten inch Rapala’s on the troll.  What I’m getting at here is stripers are retarded.  And fish under the 34″ commercial size limit are especially retarded.  People who pay for a piece of fish are not likely to throw it away.  People who keep two bass a day, more than they could ever eat and eventually stuff into freezers…well, not so much. 

If Stripers Forever and a handful of whiny charter captains want to help the population maintain the answer is simple: go back to one fish a day over 36″ for the recreational fishery.  The measure that helped restore the populations in the first place.   Make the size limit the same for the commercial guys.  Hell, if it will stop your bitching, make it 38″ for the commercial guys.  And stop making the argument that bass are often sold illegally.  Because when push comes to shove, there are way more short bass taken or over the limit trips in a recreational fishery that is hardly monitored at all (in twenty years of recreational striper fishing; guiding and commercial fishing I have never been checked by anyone for legal fish kept.  Really.)

Just my two cents.


3 Responses to “Bass prognosis”

  1. chris Says:

    It’s been going on since the “red hat showdown” in the 90’s and it will come up every year. I find it particulary interesting that the push for 2 fish at 28 came from the charter boat industry in ma. which includes the ” experts” i see on the river every day. go ahead boys, close the fishery. I will steal every client you thought you had!

  2. Mark Says:

    Well said Doug. I say we go with the same logic as the bluefin fishery. The logic that says don’t kill anything before it has a chance to reproduce. Most 28″ fish aren’t mature. Most 30″ fish are mature. I think personally the limit should be 34″ for both recreational and commercial. I also feel that the jump initially to 34″ will prevent a lot of people from being able to enjoy the resource and take a fish home to eat. What I do think should happen is that we should raise the limit 2″ to 30″ right away, then a couple years later 32″ and a couple years later 34″ and leave it there. All of the Stripers Forever jokers were complaining about there not being any small fish around, then all of a sudden this year, there were a bunch of small fish around. As you said, there is no reason to be able to keep two 28″ fish a day. I encourage my charters to let the bigger fish go and keep one at 30-34, however when they pay the money for the trip and it’s a “keeper” they always want to keep it. 1 fish a day, creep up the limit and we’ll be able to walk on them. Personally I think we are walking on them now, however each year there are more bass seen offshore, which is a disturbing trend and I feel is bait related. The people that are pushing to shut the fishery down have a personal gripe with commercial fisherman. They feel they have more money than everyone else, better gear, and better boats so logic should have it they should be able to catch more fish. Then they show up at the dock with them and there fishing buddies and complain that the fishing was so tough today to see a commercial guy, by himself in a 5,000 dollar boat unload 30 fish bigger than any fish they thought of catching that day.

  3. Matt Says:

    Well said Doug. I wish some of the screwheads would read your blog

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