Survey … Delaware Proposes To Change Striped Bass Creel Limit


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Melina Jones with a short striped bass from the surf

Last night I attended the Tidal Finfish Advisory Council meeting.  There was a neat presentation on the history of the tournament fish program that DNREC does, I will tell you about that later.  John Clark asked the advisory board to consider a change to the size limits of striped bass based on concerns voiced by Delaware anglers.  Apparently people are upset that most of the fish they catch fall into the 37 to 44 inch slot limit and have to be thrown back.  I literally saw a guy in tears one day because he had to throw back the fish of a lifetime. This is why I said from day one, stick with one fish at twenty eight inches and above, but everyone wanted to keep two fish.  Now they are all throwing back eighty percent or more of what they catch due to the slot limit, which in my opinion is a good thing, but not good for businesses.  Throwing back all of your catches on a paid charter is hard on captains and anglers, with a one fish limit they would at least get to keep that one fish.  Maryland, about  six months ago, changed their Atlantic coast limit back to two fish from one, they just had to make sure they still complied with the ordered reduction.  Again people wanting to keep two fish instead of the one.  Last year DNREC busted people trimming tails down to get the fish down to 37 inches, they are looking for that now.  Just a heads up.

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Ben Smith with the Delaware State Striped bass record at 52 pounds

From John Clark … Just to refresh your memory, under Addendum IV to Amendment 6 to the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fisheries Management Plan, the size and possession limits must reduce Delaware’s recreational striped bass harvest (those striped bass anglers keep plus an estimated of striped bass that are released by anglers, but then die) by 25% from the 2013 harvest. Our current size limit has the slot (28”-37”, ≥44”) because that was the only way we could have a 28” minimum size and a 2 fish possession limit. If anglers want to get away with the slot, we either have to reduce the possession limit or increase the minimum size. As I stated last night, Delaware can go to ASMFC-approved option of a 1 fish possession limit and 28” minimum size without further ASMFC approval as this measure would likely result in a 33% or greater reduction in the harvest. Either option below (2 fish) would require going to ASMFC for approval before we changed the regulations. In addition, if Delaware wanted to add a summer slot season to the 1 fish at 28” minimum size, we would have to calculate the reduction we get from the 2013 harvest and then ask for ASMFC approval.
      The first option (new for 2 fish) is the minimum size with no summer slot, the second option includes the summer slot. As you can see, the summer slot season does take enough striped bass that the default minimum size must be much larger to achieve the required reduction. Yes, 27.4% is greater than 25%, but if the minimum size for either option is reduced by 1” , the option will be below the 25% required reduction.”

New Options … In order for Delaware to comply with the ASMFC reduction for striped bass we would have to do one of five things.

Leave the slot limit we have now at 28 to 37 inches or 44 inches and over, and we keep the summer slot season for the Delaware Bay.

1 fish at 28 inches year round minimum without the summer Delaware Bay slot season

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1 fish at 28 inches year round minimum with the summer Delaware Bay slot season

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2 fish at 37″ Year Round Minimum; 20-25″ Summer Slot season in the Delaware Bay

I asked for the one fish option to be included.  One fish at 28 inches and above would reduce us by 33% and guarantee you can keep a fish most of the time you are out there.  Also we wouldn’t need an act of congress to make this change if we skipped the summer slot season.  However we all like the summer slot season.  It would also reduce the number of big breeders killed.  That is just my opinion, and not very popular with most anglers.

I put together a quick survey to see what everyone would want for a new option and included the current limit.  Please take the time to select an option so we can help the State of Delaware.  I will submit all the results to DNREC next week, and publish them on the website.   This is not an official survey for the state of Delaware.  Two of the questions about the 28 inch fish are not official we are just curious what people think.  The one fish option may or may not be able to have a summer slot limit.  Thank You.

Fish On!

Rich King

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