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Article Published October 29, 2020

Important Decision for Striped Bass Fishers

After the 79th annual Meeting Webinar of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the verdict was in regarding the use of circle hooks when fishing for striped bass. The Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board met to consider approving state implementation plans for circle hook measures as required by Addendum VI, receive a Technical Committee (TC) report on release mortality in the recreational fishery, and review the first draft of the Public Information Document (PID) for Amendment 7.

The intent of the circle hook provision is to reduce release mortality when fishing with bait in the recreational striped bass fisheries. An enforceable definition of a circle hook is defined as a “non-offset hook with the point turned perpendicularly back to the shank.” For enforcement purposes, it was important that all partner states and jurisdictions be on the same page with that standardized language and that no exemptions for the use of circle hooks be made, even though it would require two states (Maine and Massachusetts) to undergo legislative changes. A motion prohibiting any exemptions from the use of circle hooks unanimously passed 15 to 1.

During the meeting, the board reviewed a TC report on release mortality in the recreational fishery, something that “constitutes a significant proportion of total fishing mortality on the stock.” Among other concerns, the report highlighted potential management actions that the board could pursue to reduce mortality in the fishery, in addition to hearing from the public on this same issue.

The board also reviewed the first draft of the PID for Amendment 7. Included are the following nine management issues discussed at previous meetings: fishery goals and objectives, biological reference points, management triggers, stock rebuilding, regional management, conservation equivalency, recreational release mortality, recreational accountability, and the coastal commercial quota allocation. As the striped bass Fisheries Management Plan further develops, look for regulations regarding the use of inline circle hooks to take hold for the 2021 fishing season.

On the Water

Unseasonably warm fall weather temperatures continued into the weekend before a cold front moved into the area. As we hit the end of October, the temps in the 70s have gone a long way toward stretching out the season. Inshore Long Island Sound water temperatures hung in around 62 to 63 degrees, which was warmer than what some of the air temps registered. Dense morning fog permeated the coast, but generally burned off by the afternoon. When stiff winds calmed, seas settled down to ease uncomfortable conditions.

Blackfish (tautog) remain the fish of season to hook and bring home. Depths less than 15 feet continue to be at a comfortable temperature, keeping these fish close to shore. Most of the rock jetties have maintained the warmth of the sun, thereby setting up good fishing conditions, especially when winds died down. Crabs remain the No. 1 producer whether fished with rigs, jigs, or solo hooks, even though clams were a good alternative. Be prepared to weed out fish less than 16 inches until getting your limit of three and be happy with ones weighing around five pounds, despite the few double-digit white chins that will be caught.

There still remains plenty of bait around including large schools of Atlantic menhaden. We are seeing more diving bird activity, but numbers of blitzes are still not where they should be. Slot limit striped bass and larger are being caught in the bays and tidal rivers on both artificials like poppers and swimmers as well as bait including eels. These fish are taking advantage of the availability of baitfish and the warm October water temperatures. Early morning tides have generally been most productive time of the day, although sunset tides are also working out on the reefs, where trolling and jigging have been producing fish. Drifting chunks and live eels has been another fall-time favorite.

Both porgy (scup) and black sea bass continue to be caught fishing from shore or on a vessel. This year has been a good one and there are plenty of fish and time left for all to take advantage of the waning season. Sea worms are still available, but slowing down. However, clams and squid are acceptable alternatives.

Time is left to hook into some bluefish while trolling, jigging, or dunking chunks. There’s season left even for these toothy critters, but don’t wait too much longer as they are already pointing south. Another cold blast will just about do it for them. A fisher might even squeeze out a few more sea trout (weakfish) while fishing out by the reefs.

Fall trout and salmon fishing improved now that we have had more of our much-needed rain. Mostly all rivers have finally been stocked and, judging from how long it took for word to get out, there were anglers that had many holes all to themselves. There are only a few waters left to be stocked, so get out and enjoy the catch. Basses, pickerel, perch, and other active fall fish are once again proving why fall is one of the best times to fish the lakes and ponds.

Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and international fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media.

For all things fishy including licenses, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan

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