The striped bass have arrived, and schoolie-size fish, which typically lead the charge north, are all the way up into the Race. That would indicate the keepers are probably not far behind.
And keeper-size fish have already been taken in the Canal and along the south shore to Chatham.
That’s the good news. Unfortunately, it comes with some bad news as well. Effective this season, striped bass limits will be changing again, as on May 3 Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and its Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board announced that they had unexpectedly voted on an emergency measure to lower the upper end of the striped bass size slot to 31 inches. It was 35 inches.
The 31-inch maximum size applies to “all existing recreational fishery regulations where a higher (or no) maximum size applies, excluding the Chesapeake Bay trophy fisheries,” the emergency declaration states. “All other recreational size limits, possession limits, seasons, gear restrictions, and spawning protections remain in place. Jurisdictions are required to implement compliant measures as soon as possible.”
The measure was approved 15 to 1, with only the member from New Jersey voting against it.
Each state has 30 days to implement the new rule. Once they do, all East Coast states will have the exact same striped bass regulations, which hasn’t been the case in a very long time. The new limit will stay in effect for 180 days, through Oct. 28, at which time a review will take place to figure out how things have shaken out.
Because this was deemed an emergency action, there wasn’t a period allowed for public comments. In the opinion of this writer, the only thing this new law is going to create is more floaters than ever when there is a good bite going on. I do not understand the rationale behind this decision: currently we have migratory fish arriving in our waters and, at the same time a couple of hundred miles to our south, they are still catching bass really well. This tells me the size of the body of fish is very large.
Although I think the move is a real head-scratcher, it is what it is. We will all comply or suffer the consequences.
Some very large bluefish are in Long Island Sound and off Montauk Point way ahead of schedule. It will be interesting to see if and when they show up here. Typically, we start seeing the bluefish in mid-June, so stay tuned.
Captain Vaughn Cabral of the Cee-Jay went for a ride to see what’s around in our neighborhood and found a lot of big fat mackerel right in Provincetown Harbor. Mackerel can be taken year-round. Last year, however, the mackerel initially came into our harbor, then left for Stellwagen Bank, and pretty much stayed there all summer.
There is a 20-fish-per-person limit this year on mackerel, by the way. If you’ve ever fished for them, you know you can catch 20 mackerel in less than 10 minutes. I guess there’s another rule I don’t understand.