I have only been fishing hard for the past 5 years so I can't comment on 10 years ago, but most of the guys I fish with have plenty to say about how garbage the cast-to-catch ratio has become.
I do remember lots of trips on my uncle's boat back 12-15 years ago when I was a kid and we could almost always catch big 8-12lb bluefish here on the northshore of MA without even looking for them. I don't think I've caught a bluefish or even heard of one being caught from shore in this area in at least 7-8 years. And it's no secret that the huge stock of bunker/pogies that used to flood Boston harbor has all but disappeared which is probably why the blues don't show up any more.
From what I've read, not only have the big striped bass schools declined but so have the enormous schools of particular baitfish that they usually devour. Herring, sandeels, and bunker are rare finds up here now and I've heard from several contacts in Long island and from John Skinner that the legendary sandeel and whitebait runs of yesteryear haven't occurred in a long time.
It's all connected, it's not just the bass stocks that are down, everything is down. Too many commercial fleets, too many party boats, too many private charter boats, too many recreational fisherman, too many illegal immigrants culling fish of all species that aren't even half of the legal keeping size by the hundreds (follow the coastal states EPA reports and you'll see huge busts almost every other day) and also, with the introduction of the internet, it's now too easy for rookie fisherman and/or weekend bait soakers to very quickly learn the good tactics and hot spots. What used to take years to learn on one's own can now be learned by spending a weekend reading through the SOL threads. With all of that added together, the fish don't stand a chance.