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Article Published April 1, 2021

Public Comment Mounted During Striper Amendment 7 Talks


Public Information Document for Atlantic Striped Bass Amendment 7 was batted around when an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission virtual meeting, hosted by the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, took place on March 24. At issue is the overfished status of this resource where overfishing is continuing and how to adopt a plan into the Fishery Management Plan that would best abate the current condition.

The biomass of striped bass has deteriorated over the years for a number of reasons, with over-harvesting one of the major concerns and habitat another. The last plan was adopted way back in 2003. It is past the point of timely and all in attendance agreed that a change in management direction was needed. What to achieve and how to get there is the issue.

Most of the input came from recreational Connecticut and New York fishers representing the private and for-hire sectors, as well as spokespeople and attendees from various associations and industries. After a brief history and presentation, questions were taken, followed by public comments for the record. In essence, the commission is seeking input on what Atlantic striped bass management should look like in the future.

The 10 key elements being considered during this series of 11 webinars include fishery goals and objectives, biological reference points, management triggers, stock rebuilding and schedule, regional management, management program (conservation) equivalency, recreational release mortality, recreational accountability, and coastal commercial quota allocation. It was brought up that the female spawning stock biomass performance changed from 250 million pounds in 2002 to 160 million pounds in 2016, below the 2013 target.

Input was energetic when it came to waiting for more current assessment numbers and the reliability of early Marine Recreational Information Program data. Comments favored letting the slot limit settle in order to gauge its management effectiveness, while statements seemed to favor coastwise management as opposed to state and regional options, thereby treating the stock as a whole. Management triggers were thought to remain status quo. Additionally, release mortality and seasonal closures were discussed, including recreational harvest limits. When it came to conservation equivalency, agreement seemed to favor eliminating that alternative.

On the Water

Inshore Long Island Sound water temperatures popped to 45 degrees just prior to the weekend and seem to be on schedule for a better than average start to the blackfish (tautog) season. Air temps waffled a bit after a typical warm spell, but we are on our way. March winds varied, dispersing patchy morning fog as seas periodically kicked up in the Sound before finally settling down.

As we headed into April, the Trout Management Lakes reverted to their normal spring season regulations. All in all, trout catches took another spike as stocking continued and the weather more than cooperated, despite a few downpours. Both the early morning and late-day bites were generally the best times of the day to be casting live shiners, lures, and flies.

Fly rodders were definitely in the groove, working the rivers and streams with nymphs, streamers, and dries. When the temps soared and hatches materialized, trout began rising to the top as the end-of-the-day bite saw some nice catch and release breeders caught. Mostly though, live shiners, worms, inline spinners, and scented baits caught most of the fish.

There was more largemouth and smallmouth activity this past week as warmer than usual water temps prompted additional pre-spawn activity. Pickerel were definitely biting, as were yellow perch and black crappie. Northern pike action looked to improve in the coves and other inland waters. Channel catfish were on the move, along with some early carp frequenting the shallows and interested in various stink bait concoctions.

Atlantic salmon fishing in Connecticut waters temporarily closed on Thursday, April 1 and will reopen at 6 a.m. on Saturday April 10, running through Aug. 31 to a one fish daily limit, trout and salmon stamp required.

As inshore water temperatures approach the 43-degree mark, holdover striped bass activity is showing daily improvement. Key tidal rivers are logging catches (mostly releases) of schoolie striped bass under the slot limit as fishers wait for larger fish to come down the rivers and the spring migration makes its way into the Sound. Keep in mind that inline circle hooks rigged with bait are now mandatory, fishing artificial lures with bait attached are exempt, and incidental catches of these striped bass when using other terminal tackle not in compliance must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.

April 1 is the day tautog season opens. The slight cooldown from last week’s unseasonably warm weather will do little to alter the bite. In spite of the species being overfished, there should be some early activity by the warmer walls and some of the deeper holes and rock piles. The month of April offers two fish at 16 inches and, as we approach mid-month, the bite should pick up. The feeling is that there will be a limited number of white chins caught and more in the range of three- to five pounds as numbers of smaller fish are released falling short of the minimum size.

Contest

Captain Morgan’s 16th annual Codi and Bubba Memorial Trout Contest is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, April 10 at 6 a.m. Registrations are now underway. Fish anywhere and bring your catch to the shop for weigh-in. Five bucks gets you in and kids under 12 fish free when accompanied by a registered adult. Donations gladly accepted. Prizes for the top trout weighed. Date subject to change pending any new pandemic restrictions. We are looking forward to another fun-filled event.

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 permits, 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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