planter

History of Striped Bass Regulations in Massachusetts?

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We have been all over the place with size and bag limits on linesiders for at least the last 30 plus years I've targeted them. I think back then they needed to be 24". Did we go straight to 36" or did it creep up. When the limit was 36" we caught more 35" fish then I've seen in years. 

If we went back to 36 inches I wouldn't care because there is a 99% chance I'm going to release it anyway and I don't know many guys who regularly keep their "keepers". It just seems like the fishery really benefited from a 36 inch regulation but what would really help was if it covered the whole east coast and not determined on a state by state basis. Are we past the point of no return or can the stocks realistically recover.

 

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Planter you speak of one problem when they decided to go to 36 inches , they cleaned out a whole generation of one size fish and then had to regroup . You mention 24 inches , I seem to recall 16 inches as a start ? Then again I recall the times it made no difference what size the fish was or how many you could take. Not having all states on the same page also helped to increase the poaching aspect when one state had one set of selling rules that may have been less then another . They would catch the fish in one state and transfer them to other for market. Peace

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For decades the minimum size limit in Ma was 16", with no limit on the number of fish kept. I began fish in the mid 1960s, and it was 16" then, and for decades prior to that.

When the fishery began to collapse in the late 70s,  Ma initiated some poorly concieved management plans to curb it. Once again, you have to understand there really was no management prior to that. There was no quota. No one needed a license of any kind, even to sell fish. Fish markets were not required to keep records on the stripers they bought and sold. There were no bag limits. There was no enforcement. This allowed anglers to keep all they wanted, and everyone did. Fish were rarely released.

The first regulations I recall were around 1980. Baby steps at first. You were allowed to keep four (4) fish between 16-24". After that all fish kept needed to be over 24". 

This regulation was largely ignored. Even fish markets disregard it.  After a season, the 16" minimum size was dropped entirely, and it became 24" across the board. The fishery continued to decline. Ma then increased it to 28", then I believe a brief period at 34" before finally settling at 36".

 

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16 mins ago, bob_G said:

For decades the minimum size limit in Ma was 16", with no limit on the number of fish kept. I began fish in the mid 1960s, and it was 16" then, and for decades prior to that.

When the fishery began to collapse in the late 70s,  Ma initiated some poorly concieved management plans to curb it. Once again, you have to understand there really was no management prior to that. There was no quota. No one needed a license of any kind, even to sell fish. Fish markets were not required to keep records on the stripers they bought and sold. There were no bag limits. There was no enforcement. This allowed anglers to keep all they wanted, and everyone did. Fish were rarely released.

The first regulations I recall were around 1980. Baby steps at first. You were allowed to keep four (4) fish between 16-24". After that all fish kept needed to be over 24". 

This regulation was largely ignored. Even fish markets disregard it.  After a season, the 16" minimum size was dropped entirely, and it became 24" across the board. The fishery continued to decline. Ma then increased it to 28", then I believe a brief period at 34" before finally settling at 36".

 

I guess your memory is not to bad after all. Your post rang a few bells in how the progression of regulations came to be . Poaching between states also became abusive as well during these time frames. I still think that we need to get a tag system to apply for all fish caught and removed from the resource. Every one gets what ever is determined a fair removal as recreational users and also commercial all fish in hand shall have a tag inserted in the fish 

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32 mins ago, Angler #1 said:

I guess your memory is not to bad after all. Your post rang a few bells in how the progression of regulations came to be . Poaching between states also became abusive as well during these time frames. I still think that we need to get a tag system to apply for all fish caught and removed from the resource. Every one gets what ever is determined a fair removal as recreational users and also commercial all fish in hand shall have a tag inserted in the fish 

That is the rule in all the Atlantic states for commercial fish. They all must have tags attached.

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52 mins ago, MakoMike said:

That is the rule in all the Atlantic states for commercial fish. They all must have tags attached.

Mikey what a revolution that would be if we here in Massachusetts actually put that in force for both users . This is something I championed back when the first bass declined occurred, as did others on the board that met every week for months in attempting to find a resolution at the DMF headquarters, under Brother Phil  along with other ideas that if implemented may well have stopped the present declining population, but it was always all about the money and not the health of the resource unfortunately. Peace    

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21 mins ago, Angler #1 said:

Mikey what a revolution that would be if we here in Massachusetts actually put that in force for both users . This is something I championed back when the first bass declined occurred, as did others on the board that met every week for months in attempting to find a resolution at the DMF headquarters, under Brother Phil  along with other ideas that if implemented may well have stopped the present declining population, but it was always all about the money and not the health of the resource unfortunately. Peace    

RI and MA mandate that the fish buyer insert the individual tag on the fish; MA dealers usually put them in totes and weigh the tote, i.e., 100-120 lbs; RI dealers have to weigh AND record each individual tagged fish. NY, I believe the fishermen insert the tags before giving them to the dealer. NY commercial fishermen are given tags based on their catch history, and I believe if they exceed that number they can either receive more allotted tags from state or purchase them for an added fee from another in state fisherman.

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2 hours ago, Angler #1 said:

...... I still think that we need to get a tag system to apply for all fish caught and removed from the resource. Every one gets what ever is determined a fair removal as recreational users and also commercial all fish in hand shall have a tag inserted in the fish 

 

Carl...…...was this, ( the idea of tags for recreational users), ever proposed to the DMF? 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Joe G said:

 

Carl...…...was this, ( the idea of tags for recreational users), ever proposed to the DMF? 

 

 

Joe the answer as I recall was yes for both user groups When we presented it because every one felt that way one user group would not be treated fairly and what was good for one user group was also good for the other. It did not fly then for what ever reason , even just for one user group to start was not given any consideration. That was over 40 or  years ago, in another time frame. Phil was the DMF director when ever the time frame was, that I am sure about . To this day I still do not understand the reasoning not to do this Peace   Just think if we keep the present recreational regulations as is presently used today , that once you decided to keep a fish a tag was placed on it and it would go against your total count for the year or week or month however it would get determined was the best way to keep count of all fish being removed. Each recreational user would be given an allotment of tags , paid by the permit fees or as an add on to the permit cost. It will not be an easy decision as to how it is determined for sure on the whats and where falls. Peace 

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Tags?? I haven't heard anything on the merits of tagging and if it is a realistic approach. The problems are with enforcement. I called the EPO last year on a group of guys fishing in the canal who were filling up giant coolers with Scup and Porgys and shuttling the coolers away so they could start filling another. It was a neat operation with some guys fishing and some guys running around baiting hooks and tossing fish in the chest. I waited and waited but never saw the fish police but how thin can you spread those guys. I like the 36 inch limit Angler. I see what you mean about exclusively targeting an age class but I figure the people who are successful consistently know the importance of the breeding fish and are primarily catch and release guys.

The way the regs have bounced around on size and bag limits seems somewhat random and without much thought involved. I don't care if I ever keep a bass again but it sure would be nice to gently release a few big slobs. 

I'm curious how many commercial bass fishermen are out there and what percentage of them earn a substantial part of their annual income from bass?

I'm also curious why the states can't get together with a focus on uniformity or why the feds can't implement rules for the entire eastern seaboard. This should be a problem that can be tackled but I dont know if we will. It worries me...

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34 or 36" was the limit when i first started saltwater fishing. Stripers by then were unicorns, kind of a mythical concept. Rarely saw many caught of any size. Luckily we had lots of other species to target at the time. although you could see the start of a decline, particularly cod. The 80s might have been the best decade ever for bluefish.

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I’m new here so don’t kill me if I’m off bass with some of my commentary... I like the idea of regulations but from what I’ve seen it’s really the enforcement of the regulations that’s lacking. I’ve fished MA for my entire life and I’ve always had a license and known/abided by the regulations. Over these 34 years I’ve never been asked to show my ID or have had my license / bag / cooler checked. I spend hours fishing the canal during striper season and its rare I don’t see someone breaking the law. Like planter I have no problem calling the EPO on someone or a group - but how often does that actually result in action being taken? I was excited to actually see my first EPO arrest at Scussett this fall - but is it going to be enough? I’m sure they already have their hands full, but maybe it’s time to step up their presence and hand out those fines! 

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On 2/20/2020 at 7:56 AM, bdowning said:

34 or 36" was the limit when i first started saltwater fishing. Stripers by then were unicorns, kind of a mythical concept. Rarely saw many caught of any size. Luckily we had lots of other species to target at the time. although you could see the start of a decline, particularly cod. The 80s might have been the best decade ever for bluefish.

It sure was........And some big bruisers to boot........

 

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The lack of enforcement is maddening and a big problem. I get there's no where near enough EPO's and they have a lot on their plate. But where in the state could their time be better spent than on the service road during a moon tide? 

 

Slap on the wrist penalties are also a huge problem. A small fine isn't going to deter most poachers. $1000 a fish minimum might get their attention.

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9 mins ago, Eagles Dare said:

The lack of enforcement is maddening and a big problem. I get there's no where near enough EPO's and they have a lot on their plate. But where in the state could their time be better spent than on the service road during a moon tide? 

 

Slap on the wrist penalties are also a huge problem. A small fine isn't going to deter most poachers. $1000 a fish minimum might get their attention.

Something Ive wondered about for a long time. It would the enforcement equivalent of catching fish in a barrel. A sure thing. 

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