Story by Tom Pagliaroli

You can’t say you didn’t know it was coming.

Concerned with declining striped bass stocks in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission this past Thursday to review and approve options that would reduce the recreational angling harvest of stripers by a whopping 20% starting in 2020.

The cuts are based on recent stock assessments that illustrate that the linesider resource is being over-fished and is over-fished. No news there, as this was and remains the hot topic among anglers at tackle shops, marinas and post-tournament cookouts. While it’s been a source of concern for the past couple of years, the assessment is not without its detractors. This is a given as fisheries data is oftentimes viewed as “flawed”, and no doubt this is sometimes the sea bass being the prime example.

Photo by Tom P
Photo by Tom P

The common denominator about the options is that the take, i.e. possession limit, will be one fish. Un. Uno. Ein. Shuzi yi. Susja hana. One is the  bottom line, pun intended.

The slot limit, championed by many and discounted by just as many, is one of the options. As you read this, next year’s legal harvest will be one of the following: one striper no less than 35-inches; one between 28 and 34-inches, or one between 32 and 40-inches.

Oh, yeah. One other thing: circle hooks will be mandatory when fishing with bait so as to reduce hook-swallowing mortality. Not a fan of this style metal back when they were introduced in the mid-nineties, I’ve come around to the effectiveness of the circle hook when utilized correctly. So from this corner, the mandate is a positive step.

The NJ Bureau of Marine Fisheries will be scheduling a number of public hearings, tentatively one north, one central and one south, sometime this month and next, as the decision must be made by October. These will be posted on the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s website,, and will sent as press releases to periodicals and online publications. If you are a striper angler, here is your opportunity to voice your opinion.


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