Virginia mulls limited striped bass fishing

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Arlington, VA, United States (4E Sports) – The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission’s Striped Bass Board will develop a plan that will address the shrinking big striper population.

The move came after anglers noticed a continuous decline in the all-important spawning stock.

The drop was caused by alleged overfishing by some anglers, who dismissed dismiss marine biologists’ oft-heard claims that the striped bass population was in trouble.

For the past decade, area saltwater anglers have basked in some of the finest striped bass fishing in memory. The big mama bass, 40-, 44-, 46-inch fish, were coming over the gunnels with amazing frequency.

Originally slated to be published for public comment in May, the board said it needed more time to tweak the plan based on recent information from biologists on the state of striper stocks.

According to the board’s technical committee, anglers kill a lot of fish, especially big female spawners, which can put many millions of eggs into the Chesapeake spawning grounds in a single season.

Another factor that prodded the board into further action limiting the striper harvest was input from older anglers who only too well recall the 1970s and ’80s when many gigantic bass were being killed.

Faced with this and other new information, the ASFMC fishery managers decided that it would be wise to wait another cycle to release the striped bass plan.

Now the plan is set for release for public comment at the end of this month. It reportedly calls for a reduction in the bag limit from two to one fish per trip. Another possibility is a slot limit that will allow taking on one fish between 28 to 30 inches, thus assuring that the big spawners are left to do their thing.

The overall goal of the plan, said one committee member, will be to reduce the total striper harvest by 36 percent, an increase of 4 percent from earlier plans.

After public comment, the plan is likely to be sent to the full ASFMC in October and implemented in January of 2015.

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