Just following up on a post from FishRatz that made me think about some of the posts over the last couple days and the "solutions" people are mentioning. I selfishly didn't want it to get buried in one of the dozen ongoing "canal" related threads, so decided to pull it out and start a new one. He mentioned at the close of a post:
"The real issue being complained here is about crowds, not the well being of the species."
And therein lies the problem in my mind.
I am and continue to be under the impression that most of the complaining and outrage should be DIRECTLY related to the well being of the species. The amount of prime breeding stock (20-40# class) female striped bass that is hammered and/or harvested along the banks of the canal on these moon tides is nauseating. It seems most people want to have their picture up on Insta-face social media for clicks/likes, and share a report of a hot bite to be revered as a "Sharpie" in their local tackle shop or social circles.
The lack of respect for this species displayed along the banks of the canal the last few years is frankly disgusting- and whether any of us individually are responsible for it does not matter- at the end of the day we are ALL contributors to the issue as this is unfortunately what WE have allowed the "sport" to become.
Too often we see/read/hear about these fish kept out of the water for minutes at a time while they snap a series of action shots and then thrown back into the water will little to no effort put into reviving the fish prior to release and they go belly up 10 feet downstream. Or alternatively these fish are harvested for the glory ride back to their cars (because you are clearly a "googan" if you don't have a 25# fish strapped to your canal cruiser), and then these fish are either thrown in the trash, or given to neighbors (who then throw them in the trash).
Don't give me the back of the napkin math showing 0.0023% of the total annual harvest came out of the canal this weekend crap...or whatever the figure is...its irrelevant to the topic.
I go back to a personal observation from Thursday AM, where a family of 6 was dragging 4 20-25# bass down the service road back to their car. Do the parents who brought their kids down to enjoy a day of fishing educate them that these fish they are harvesting had been running this gauntlet of a shoreline migration for as long as their 10-12 year old sons have been alive? Just to be harvested on a whim and killed because they are legally able to do it? What the hell is a family of 6 going to do with all that fish they harvested, besides give it away, or trash it in a few weeks once its freezer burned.
The thought that money is not primary driver to a good number of these anglers engaging in nefarious acts along the ditch is naïve at best, and I believe the black/grey market is flush with cash and equipped with an open door policy to receiving any fish they can purchase for less than wholesale costs. The idea that guys who are looking for a quick easy buck can fish the canal and harvest a couple 30# class fish and get $100 or a few free meals from the backdoor of their local restaurant turns my stomach...and dollars to donuts leads me to speculate this market is flourishing right now.
The price tag on the heads of these (relatively) easy to catch fish certainly does not help any of those who are "game fish" minded. As a whole, I really have no objection to the MA commercial striped bass industry. I couldn't even begin to speculate what percentage of commercial anglers with licenses fish the canal, or what percentage of those anglers engage in less than honest harvest for personal profit. I do think it is strange optics to have a commercial guy standing right next to a recreational angler on the canal, and watching the commercial angler being able to walk back to his car with 2 fish and the recreational angler can only legally harvest one (yes I understand its the same with a commercial boat harvesting 15 fish next to a recreational boat able to harvest 1).
Look- the canal is burnt. period. There is no putting the toothpaste back in the tube. New Moon tides will be a gigantic cluster$&% of people from all walks of life from May-October in perpetuity until we kill them all or these fish finally smarten up and take up another migration pattern
go ahead and reply and tell me the stocks are fine and we are all Chicken Littles proclaiming the sky is falling...all I know is what I see in the areas I fish and call home- lots of 18-22", a few 28-32", and nothing else...and only 20-40# breeders in the canal...this does not depict a healthy fishery in my uneducated opinion...I just see lots and lots of people outside of the canal complaining about empty water and it seems to only be getting worse.
And the end of the day...these rants will go nowhere...just yelling into the ether helps no one and only breeds vitriol and divides the angler base who all seem to want different things from the committees who manage the fisheries
You may now to back to complaining about the WalMart gear, white buckets, and the crowds who are fishing them...which are all clearly more important than the fish we are all targeting itself.
The lack of personal self control, lack of appreciation for the existing bounty of mother nature, lack of common courtesy, lack of interest to be a good steward to the future generations...We have met the enemy and he is us.