One fish 28” to 31” slot limit – The new NJ Striped Bass regulation took effect July 2, 2023 and will last through October, most likely the entire fall 2023 season.
The circle hook (inline, non-offset) mandate remains in effect when targeting striped bass with bait. Learn more about Fishing For Striped Bass With Circle Hooks. Also it is illegal to gaff a striped bass!
The NJ Striped Bass Bonus Tag Program remains status quo. Anglers with permit may keep a striper at 24″ to less than 28″ from May 15 until December 31st.
On May 2, 2023 the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC) took emergency action mandating a coast-wide one fish length slot at 28 to 31 inches. States were to “implement compliant measures as soon as possible and no later than July 2, 2023.” These measures must remain in place for 180 and can be extended for up to a year. I heard through the grapevine these measures are expected to be extended until the 2024 assessment is released.
Why? The action addresses a handful of issues that striped bass face…
ONE: We must remain on track to rebuild female spawning stock biomass (SSB) to the target level of 235 million pounds by 2029. Remember SSB currently has an overfished status with a 2021 value of 143 millions pounds.
TWO: The MRIP (Marine Recreational Information Program) 2022 data (F2022) stated recreation harvest nearly doubled from 2021 (F2021). Let’s face it, we had a banner year fishing in 2022. Lots of anglers participated in the fishery, both catch and release as well as harvesting. A lot of striped bass were caught and handled.
THREE: New projections took the F2021 probability of 95% and flipped it to 15% with F2022. This is far too low to responsibly move forward, especially knowing that so far 2023 has been a very good year of fishing. Expectation would reasonably point at possibly another large MRIP number for F2023.
FOUR: We must reduce harvest of the 2015 year class which was the 4th largest young of the year (YOY) on record. These fish are currently 8 years old and in the 31-32” range. Recent years were below average making rebuilding dependent on the 2015 year class. The YOY study dates back to 1954 and tracks the reproductive success in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries which are the primary spawning and nursery area for 70-90% of the Atlantic coast stocks of striped bass.
- 90% of the coast wide striped bass fishery is caught by recreational anglers and only 10% by the commercial sector.
- Of all recreational live releases, there is a 9% assumption of release mortality. Recreational catch and release mortality actually exceeds recreational harvest. In 2020 release mortality was responsible for 54% of total striped bass removals.
We all must recognize our footprint and do everything in our power to decrease our release mortality.
The Striper Situation & Outlook
For the past couple of seasons New Jersey has experienced great striped bass fishing. Last fall the Jersey Shore had great weather, great conditions with bait and the striped bass migration and as a result great surf fishing and boat fishing. There was an abundance of striped bass in the area. There were some really big fish too, most likely due to the 2020 slot regulations prohibiting the take of larger striped bass. But this great fishing doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem looming on the horizon.
What it boils down to is, our effort, desire and love for striped bass fishing exceeds the current stock resource and forecasts. Our fishing pressure is enormous and nature just isn’t making enough of them. It is very hard to rebuild a species that has poor recruitment. For this reason emergency action now was important to hopefully protect the good striped bass fishing for the next decade and beyond.
Hindsight is always 20/20! It’s the same with fisheries science too because there’s just too many complex variables to forecast. Looking back it is easy to say “could of, should of, would of.” But that’s where assessments come in and tell what happened previously and where the stock sits.
Fortunately we have the 2024 stock assessment to provide updates and projections on the rebuilding process and how things look in regards to the 2029 deadline.
Do you love striped bass fishing? How much do you know about the striped bass situation? Read more about bass… www.asmfc.org/species/atlantic-striped-bass
Here’s youth angler Anthony Butch with his first striped bass and his dad Tony. This was one of many striped bass that were caught and released with Capt Greg Cudnik aboard Fish Head Charters.