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Old 06-07-2004, 02:21 PM
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merrillizer merrillizer is offline
The Poacher Poacher - I poach poachers
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Hampton, NH Marshland
Posts: 4,759
Default You SHOULD read this...

Found this on another site. It's written by a well known sports columnist, Gary Caputi...

This is going to raise some hackles, but it's really bothering me. I've fished for stripers for a lot of years and grown a healthy respect for them. I've been involved with groups that fought to protect them so the stocks would not collapse and later, as the stocks rebounded, to try and establish reasonable access to them for anglers and keep the commercial fishing threat to a minimum. So it is with trepidation that I make the following statement, but maybe it's time for some intraspection as a community.

We have become our own worst enemy and it is us who will destroy the incredible fishery that took twenty years of sacrifice, anguish, and hard work to save and rebuild!

What the hell am I talking about? Well, what I have been seeing going on off the North Jersey coast is enough to make me really examine what is happening. The numbers of big, beautiful breader fish that are concentrated there is simply unfathomable. It used to take skill to catch a larger striped bass and when you did it was an accomplishment to be proud of. Now big striped bass, fish over 25 pounds, are simply so much meat on the dock. Kill as many as the law says you can, every time you go out, and that's that. And the one's you release, ah, just toss 'em over the side. Don't take a minute to be sure the fish is revived and has a good chance to regain it's equalibrium and swim away, but gotta get another bunker in the water to catch another bigger one right away.

Imagine charter boats with ten people aboard gaffing bass after bass so everyone could keep their three fish, even though there wasn't a slot in the bunch. There used to be a time when concerned skippers would quietly slide off the fish a little when the charter had enough meat in the box, but now it seems that you market your business by how much meat you throw on the dock. Don't you just love the terms "keepers" and "limited out"? What it tells me is we it have lost all respect for these fish and concern for the future of the fishery.

Private boat anglers are just as bad, but luckily they aren't on the water day in and day out. At least most. I know some who do manage to get out three, four, even five times a week and some of them simply can't come back to the dock without their three fish limit. And they are the first to cry about the possibility of lossing the "bonus fish program". I know guys who still think that throwing the meat on the dock proves their prowess as great anglers. So what if they hardly ever eat fish themselves, give it away. Neighbors, co-workers, gotta let them all know how good I am.

The regs say it's OK, but when you stop and think about it what has happened to the fishery. Sure it's incredible fishing. Everyone is a striper pro today. The last few spring seasons anyone with a boat, the right bait and half a brain can go out and catch a few bass that ten or fifteen years just one of would have made your day... or season for that matter! These are fish that have taken 15 or 20 years to reach those proportions and become the primary source of reproduction for the species...the future!

I'm sorry, but I can't help but feel that stripers have become nothing more than an ocean-going carp in many angler's minds, including professionals who should know better because they lived through the bad times.

What happened to that voluntary conservation ethic we were all so proud of just a few years ago. For most it went out the window with the radical availability of these fish.

I know now everyone has forgotten where this fishery was not too long ago, but collectively people have a very short memory. I know there are those among us who still care, who find it abhorent to kill more than they need and who find no need to flop a pile of dead, never to reproduce again stripers on the dock. There are even some who refuse to kill a big fish anymore and if they do want one to eat keep a small fish or even release them all. But the greed and the carelessness and the "meat fishermen" attitude is definitely coming back in a big way and with striped bass that is a crying shame. Go ahead. Tell me I'm wrong. Then read the reports, look at the pictures, stop and re-evaluate your own attitude.

There you have it. I needed to vent and more important bring something to light that many would rather ignore. So it's now open season on me. Take all the potshots you want, but think about it.

I agree. And I am disgusted at how some people abuse this privilege.

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