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  1. I use this bag, 28 inches long and cost about $15, I carry 42" striper with no problem and easy to carry on shoulder .The best thing about it is wash and dry very quickly
  2. I'm in, thanks .
  3. By Doug Fraser dfraser@capecodonline.com July 30, 2011 SAGAMORE — Standing on the pier at Scusset Beach State Park on the Cape Cod Canal Wednesday morning, Dulce Hernandez of Plymouth hoped for a big striped bass like the ones she'd seen fishermen hauling back from the pier. "Maybe they are professionals, or we need to learn how to do it," she sighed, while untangling a bird's nest of snarled line. This year, even the experienced are sharing Hernandez's fishing frustration. The recreational striped bass fishery in Massachusetts saw a 74 percent drop-off in the number of fish caught between 2006 and 2010. "Anybody will tell you it's declined tremendously over the last five years," said Rob LaBranche of Blackbeard's Bait and Tackle in Eastham. Depending on whom you ask, seal predation, overfishing or poor management are to blame. But the real culprit for the current decline of striped bass may lie far to the south of the Cape. In the Chesapeake Bay, where most striped bass spawn, environmental conditions, both natural and man-made, have been conspiring against their success for at least eight years. "It's clear to us that the main signal is environmental," said Michael Armstrong, deputy director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Armstrong discounts overfishing and seals as the culprits. The total number of spawning fish today equals that of the 1990s, when large numbers juvenile fish each year rebuilt the stock to historic size. The female striped bass population, for instance, is 148 percent over the threshold of what is considered a healthy number. Even so, there hasn't been a strong contingent of juveniles born since 2003, said Armstrong, and others believe that heavy spring rains, combined with poor water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, may be wreaking havoc with the larval and juvenile survival rates. Steady, moderate rainfalls allow larvae and the zooplankton they feed on to remain near enough to one another that there is a good food supply for the developing fish. Downpours can wash prey and predators away from one another and flush young bass from their protective habitat into more open waters where they, too, become prey. The Chesapeake Bay also has a man-made environmental problem. Similar to the Cape, but on a much larger scale, the Chesapeake is plagued by nutrient enrichment, mainly from farm fertilizer run-off, that feeds algal blooms. The respiratory cycles of these plants rob the water of oxygen, killing fish or stressing them to the point where their immune systems are compromised. A huge "dead zone" of oxygen-starved seawater, covering one-third of the bay, is rapidly growing in the Chesapeake this summer after heavy spring rains flushed nutrients into it from rivers. Scientists have found that at least 50 percent of the striped bass in the Chesapeake show signs of being infected with mycobacteriosis, an opportunistic and potentially fatal bacterial disease, according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. "The research is saying that the nonfishing mortality in striped bass has significantly increased since the late 1990s," said Kate Taylor, the striped bass fishing management plan coordinator for the commission. Fish that migrate out of the Chesapeake into cleaner northern waters can fight off the disease, she said. Patrick Paquette, a community organizer who represents bass fishing organizations in Massachusetts, agrees that water quality and disease problems in the Chesapeake are major factors in the population decline, but he also blames a striped bass food shortage along the East Coast caused by industrial-scale fishing of coastal herring, mackerel and menhaden. "The huge number of striped bass that do exist have gone offshore and deep in search of better forage," Paquette wrote in an email. This summer, the fisheries commission, which oversees management for species caught in more than one state's territorial waters, will consider a new addition to the striped bass management plan that contains a combined 40-percent cut in the harvest for commercial and recreational fishermen. Armstrong believes that might ultimately translate into a 25-percent cut in the commercial quota and limiting recreational fishermen to taking home one fish per day instead of two. Some fishermen believe that is not enough. With bass numbers down 25 percent in 2008 from the peak population size in 2004, there has been a renewed call by groups such as Stripers Forever to end the commercial harvest and cut the recreational daily catch limit from two fish to one. At least one bill in the Massachusetts Legislature asks to declare striped bass a game fish to accomplish those goals. The Massachusetts coordinator for Stripers Forever did not return calls to the Times this week. But fishery managers think that effort is misplaced and won't solve the problem. The striped bass stock is still very healthy, they said, arguing that the problem is with juveniles, not adult fish. "The problem is in the perception (of the recreational fisherman)," Armstrong said. State statistics show the numbers of keeper-size striped bass — 28 inches and over — landed by recreational fishermen has remained stable, or gone up a little. But the smaller fish that were born in the lean years after 2003 are fewer in number, and fishermen who used to catch 50 small ones before they kept the one big fish are disappointed in the lack of action. "The ASMFC and all the states are not sitting still and waiting for things to get desperate," Armstrong said. "They are being proactive." While what he calls the "mainstream" recreational fishermen do not currently support making striped bass a game fish and ending commercial fishing, Paquette said that could change if ASMFC doesn't take substantive action this fall. He believes state legislators are also keeping the game fish bill on the table until they see what happens at the commission. "We'll see if (the commission) fuels more extremist positions by not taking moderate actions ... to correct the overall situation," Paquette said.
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