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Oct 29, 2019 7:13 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Striped Bass Slot Limit Coming In 2020

Nov 3, 2019 9:01 AM



UPDATE: Thursday 4 p.m.



Federal fisheries regulators have announced that they will impose a slot-limit for the harvesting of recreationally caught striped bass starting in 2020 that will bar the keeping of any striped bass over 35 inches.

The minimum size for a "keeper" striped bass will remain 28 inches but the new rules will required the release of fish over the maximum size.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates striped bass and several other migratory marine species, also instituted a requirement for the use of circle hooks when of fishing for striped bass with live or dead bait, staring in 2021.

Recreational fishermen — which includes the captains of professional party and charter boats — had varied widely on what they wanted to see regulators change in order to reduce striped bass mortality.

Many fishermen had said that simply raising the minimum size to 35 or 36 inches would suffice to protect fish until they had spawned at least two or three times and helped boost recruitment.

Advocates of the slot-limits had argued that such a restriction would both protect large, mostly female, striped bass while allowing fishermen a better chance at catching a "keeper" for the dinner table.

Party and charter boat owners had begged to be excluded from the changes or to be given separate regulations for just their sector, so that their customers would not be discouraged from paying for a fishing trip.

Under the new regulations, each state will be required to submit a new management plan for their anglers by the end of this month, incorporation the slot limit and adjusting seasons to fith the statistical estimates of how many fish their anglers will be expected to kill.

The new rules will also reduce the overall commercial quota by 18 percent.



ORIGINAL 10/31 COLUMN:



I saw a press release from the State Department of Environmental Conservation this week about some of its officers having coordinated checks of deer stands in East Hampton over three separate days to bust a hunter for taking deer over bait.

They seized his bow and some other gear and gave him nine tickets, which I’m going to assume carry at least a couple thousand in total potential fines.

Okay, so, sure: The rules are the rules and baiting deer is against the rules — for recreational hunters. Letter of the law and all that.

But wasn’t the DEC the agency that just a few years ago gave the green light to farmers who wanted to hire “snipers” to use bait to congregate deer so that they could be shot en masse, in the dark, using rifles (which are illegal to fire outside a gun range on Long Island) with silencers and night-vision goggles? Bait. Silencers. Night vision goggles. Rifles.

And this is the same DEC that issues nuisance permits for properties all over the South Fork so that they can kill as many deer as they possibly can to tamp down deer herds that are impacting crops, understory in the woods and causing hundreds of car accidents per year.

And this is the same DEC that acknowledges its enforcement unit is woefully underfunded and understaffed for a force that is supposed to keep up with enforcement of fisheries regulations that are being violated hundreds if not thousands of times each day with actual detrimental consequences, not to mention the dozens of other environmental laws, like disposal of hazardous materials and applications of pesticides, that their officers are tasked with enforcing.

The DEC en-cons are some smart, good cops and I’ve seen them put their stakeout and investigative skills to great use, snagging those who are trying to take more than their share of fish in a world where the dwindling fish populations are a chronic issue.

But it seems that there could be some strategizing in whatever debriefings they have with their superiors so that trying to catch a deer hunter who is breaking rules that are only applicable to some people, some of the time, could be put on the back burner, at least on the South Fork.

It’s just a thought and I would hope it’s one that the East Hampton Town Justice Court might have when it comes time to levy the actual fines against whoever this hunter was.

There were at least two dead Atlantic sturgeon washed up on the beach this past week and I’ve seen photos of easily a dozen others in the last several weeks, just in our little stretch of ocean shoreline. How about putting some extra enforcement effort into figuring out who is killing numerous members of an actual endangered species?

Fishing was excellent this past week in between storms, and even during them. Huge schools of striped bass are still churning the ocean from Moriches to Montauk and up to Orient. The fish are mostly small to very small but a handful of fish in the 20-pound class started to mix into the surf bite over the weekend.

There’s still some albies to be had in Montauk and up on the North Fork and with fairly warm temps looking to be hanging in for a while, there should be plenty of shots for light-tackle fun into November.

Freezer fillers are finding plenty of blackfish and black sea bass on the rocks and wrecks and a few nice cod got into the mix this week (check out the belly on the one that hit the deck of the Shinnecock Star last week).

And there are still plenty of tuna in the canyons when the weather windows open.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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