Annapolis, MD (March 12, 2010) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service will implement new regulations March 22 addressing pre-season striped bass fishing. These restrictions will be in effect until the April 17 start of the spring trophy season. The regulations are being introduced to address a serious concern over sub-lethal impacts on pre-spawn female striped bass, that are moving up the Chesapeake Bay to their spawning grounds in March and April.
“It is never easy to restrict the access and opportunity to a resource, but let’s not forget how far we have come from the striped bass moratorium of 20 years ago,” said DNR Fisheries Director Tom O’Connell. “We are fortunate that all sectors of our fishing community benefit today from the sacrifices of past management efforts. The latest stock assessment raises some concerns that require us to pause and evaluate how our actions may be impacting the long-term sustainability of this resource. If we remain vigilant and prudent in our management of this resource, we will ensure that our premier striped bass fishery will remain available for us and future generations to enjoy.”
Preseason recreational fishing has increased since 2002 causing concern among fisheries biologists and managers over the potential effect of the stress of being caught, handled, and released.
These restrictions apply in all open catch and release areas. The catch and release fishing areas include the Chesapeake Bay from the Brewerton Channel to the Virginia line including Tangier and Pokomoke Sounds. Spawning rivers and the Upper Bay spawning area are off limits until June 1 to striped bass fishing.
The Preseason Regulations
- Stinger (trailing) hooks are prohibited.
- Barbless hooks are required when trolling. Simply pinch the barb down to facilitate the careful release of your fish.
- Non-offset circle hooks or J hooks with a gap of less than a half-inch are required when using natural bait.
- No more than 6 lines may be employed while trolling regardless of the number of anglers on board.
The spring trophy season runs from April 17 through midnight on May 15 with a creel of one fish and size limit of 28 inches or longer. The open fishing area includes the Chesapeake Bay from the Brewerton Channel to the Virginia line including the Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. From May 16 through December 15, the creel limit is two with a minimum size of 18 inches. However, only one of those two fish may be longer than 28 inches.
These actions to reduce the impact of angler encounters prior to the opening of the season should not be seen as the endpoint of DNR’s efforts to ensure adequate protection of pre-spawn stripers. DNR will continue to evaluate the situation and will work with representative stakeholders to determine if additional restrictions are prudent going forward into 2011 and beyond. Additionally, DNR will continue to promote ethical and careful catch and release practices with outreach and education efforts online and in person.
To view a chart of open catch and release and spring trophy season areas go to www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/regulations/sbrecseasons/sbregmap022.