Monday, June 30, 2014

Striper Numbers.....Down or Not?

Shore fishermen seem to agree that striper numbers are
way down, especially keeper bass. Some boat fishermen
are having a good year and see no problems with the fishery.
I have a neighbor who is an accomplished boat fisherman. We got to talking the other day about striper numbers.  I was saying that the shore fishing was dismal for keeper bass, and I thought the stripers were in real trouble.  He countered that he thought the numbers were decent and there is no shortage for the boat guys.  Just who is right?
I think the numbers of keeper bass from shore are down, way down.  In fact the numbers have steadily been dropping for the last few years, and this is by far the poorest year so far.  Here is what some other shore guys are saying:
*A sharpie from Gansett who fishes every morning sent me an e-mail last week to tell me that this was the very worst fishing he has ever seen in Narragansett.  A few schoolies around and that's it.
*Another sharpie from the south shore who gets out every day reports similar poor fishing.  As of a couple of weeks ago he had gotten only one small keeper.
*A sharpie from the canal gave this assessment. "Worst fishing in over 60 years."
* A long time striper surf fisherman I know from the outer Cape indicated poor fishing this year.  So, poor in fact, that he is now fishing for largemouth bass.
Now, from the guys who say the fishing is good.  Note that all these guys are boat fishermen.
*My neighbor who fishes Block Island says there are lots of 8-15 lb. stripers all around the island.  He also mentioned some real big fish from 50-60's taken in a three day stretch. He claims the fish are still around in big numbers, but they have shifted to deeper water where the bait is.
*A respected boat captain I know says it was one of the best springs in the Bay for keeper bass from 15-30 lbs.  He says they were mostly in deep water and hitting pogies.
*This same captain fished Block Island a couple of weeks ago and landed several fifties along with a 63 lber.
*Another guy I know fishes the Cape a lot from his boat.  He says the waters around P-Town and Race Point have been inconsistent though he mentions a big slug of fish way our in 150 feet of water that was there for a short period of time.
And, here are some more facts from various organizations.
*NOAA reports that from 2006-2011 recreational catches of striped bass have plummeted in MA 85%
*Stripers Forever reports a decline of 90 % in coast wide recreational catches since 2006 (note very similar to NOAA numbers).
*In the last 6 years there has only been one good spawning year in the Chesapeake (Young of Year Index) and that was in 2011.  That probably explains all those 12-18 inch schoolies that were around in the spring.
*Recent articles in both the New York Times and Boston Globe cited a dramatic decline in striper numbers over the last 3-6 years.  They have called for new, strict conservation measures to protect the billion dollar striper industry.
So, these are the facts.  Draw your own conclusions about what is going on.