The Bright Spot

by Jerry Audet (@indeepoutdoors)

I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I have had a perpetual sense of holding my breath for at least the last week. I’m out of work, as I know so many others are right now. The timeline of this unprecedented threat keeps changing, keeps stretching, keeps getting more frightening. It seems like every morning when I wake up and check the news I cross all my fingers and toes that something will be different. But, so far, it never is; or rather it’s never different in a good way.

Unless you’re in NJ, who is already seeing a steady stream of schoolies, we’re all still some measure of moons away from getting our first fish in the surf. If you’re on Long Island, it might only be another week or two (after all, there are reports of fish already on the very western portions of the North Shore). Up here in Southern New England, I’d say it’ll be one and a half moon phases- I won’t be surprised this year if we see some little rats after the first Moon of April- during the week of the 15th.

I believe all this, yet, I still found myself fishing the surf last week in Massachusetts.

To be fair, I started in the back waters of a documented herring run. I’ve never fished it this early before, but I had heard whispers that there were already herring in this spot. I knew that even if there were (spoiler alert: there weren’t), the chances of even a hold-over fish being in this area was unlikely; or maybe even some measure beyond that. Impossible, no; more like, improbably uncertain. It’s not deep, it’s not connected or even close to a major river or anything like that. In days gone by, when there were more hold-overs and migrating fish came earlier, maybe. But not anymore.

Yet, I had to go. Right now, I think I speak for so many of us when I say I’m just craving some kind of structure to my life. I’m looking for something to ground me and pull me out of the constant negative news and media cycle (albeit justifiably morose). I’m looking for something familiar, to remind me that this won’t last forever. That things will be OK. I needed to get out of the house and do something. Go somewhere.

So I went fishing. I packed big herring plugs, and lots of plastic swimmers that look like spearing. I ignored that overpoweringly logical portion of my brain that was practically screaming at me how ridiculously frivolous this endeavor was. I went because I needed to get out. I went because I needed to remember something good. I went because I didn’t know what else to do.

It was warm and calm, and I had the immediate feelings I had when I was here last. It felt almost identical; déjà vu. The last time I had fished here, in late November, I had landed a surprising 15-pound class fish on my fly rod deep in the night. So, for at least a half hour, I kept feeling like that could happen again. The current was right. The barometric pressure felt right. The whole vibe of the place felt oh-so-fishy. At one point, I actually started to utter the words “come on, come one” like I do when I’ve had a few fish and am trying to nail a perfect drift. I really believed.

I didn’t catch anything. Didn’t even get a hit. Didn’t see a single bit of bait.

But as I fished, a knot in my chest started to loosen. I hadn’t even realized it was there; had been living with it for a couple of weeks and had grown accustomed to it. Like after you cook fish; that smell you don’t notice in the house, because you’ve lived with it for so long; until you leave to go outside and check the mail or go for a jog. Then you come back inside, and realize it’s strong. It was like that. I had left the anxiety of the news and social media behind, immersed myself in the night, and suddenly realized I was more stressed than I had realized. As I fished, I found myself unwinding, coming out of a daze.

I walked the estuary further than I’ve ever gone before. I figured this was my chance to explore. But ultimately, it was all quiet; dead isn’t the right word, because there were crabs and Geese and Owls. Just no bait fish or hungry Stripers. Not yet, but soon. After only ninety-minutes I was starting to feel my concentration lapsing. I wondered: what if the Herring are just out further? Waiting to make the run up inside? A very small part of me knew this was an excuse to stay out longer; all the rest of me didn’t care.

I decided to take a longer walk, and head out towards the open surf.

As I mentioned, it was calm last week when I went. I couldn’t really hear or sense the beach until I practically stepped onto the sand. When I did eventually turn the corner from the estuary and emerged into the tiny breaking waves of the surf, I felt the sounds and smells descend on me suddenly like a comforting presence. It felt good, it felt right. It was familiar; an old friends voice speaking words of comfort. It reminded me that soon the fish will be back. Soon, I will be struggling to keep up with “everything else” as I plunge into the sleep deprived world of striped bass surf fishing.

It reminded me that there are still things to look forward to. And there always will be.

I walked a bit further, enjoying the sounds the sand made under my boots and the luscious humidity of the warm night. I worked my way along a deep section of beach and made many hopeful, but futile, casts. I could have cared less whether the fish were there or not. The act of fishing- of casting and walking, of observing and reacting- was enough. I was beaming from ear to ear. So many memories came to me in that small stretch of time casting. Good memories; really good memories. After some hours lost in nostalgia, I made the long walk back to the car and drove home. I slept better that night than I had in weeks.

Go fishing. Who cares if there are fish. If that was all it was about, we’d all have boats and be fishing in stocked trout ponds. Go reconnect with your spots. Maybe try something new; spot, species, or technique. “Hey, you never know” as the saying goes. But don’t worry about your chances of catching something. Go, because to go is familiar in these times that are riddled with uncertainty. Shake out your old gear, test whatever you have that’s new. Warm-up casting muscles long-neglected over the last four or more months. Reinvigorate a mind distracted and burdened with “the real world”. Spend some time in the places that spark imagination and let you disconnect from reality for an hour or two.

Go fishing to remind yourself that there are still bright spots in these dark times.

Editor’s Note

This is a guest article by Jerry Audet. You can folow Jerry @indeepoutdoors

Fisherman Surf Show

It is remarkable how quickly the world is changing around us

Few years ago this blog was the epicenter of our universe and I remember Tommy telling me you should move posting to the social media and I said naaaah, that’s never going to happen.

And yet now we find that we disseminate information via instagram (mostly  because even Facebook got old)  more often than not. That’s how quickly it changed

I am feeling old 

Anyway, tomorrow is the Fisherman Surf Show

Also the only place to pick up new SJ daYTIME crEW  PsyCDedelic shirts

See you all there

PS Don’t take the changes as sign we don’t have anything new in the bag. We still got few surprises in our bag for the future and yeah, September issue of SJ too

ASMFC Draft Addendum 6 Recommendations and Talking Points

(By Ross Squire (President, NY Coalition for Recreational Fishing; 1@32 Pledge on Facebook)

ASMFC Draft Addendum 6 Recommendations and Talking Points

After much discussion and review we have formulated our recommendations for the options presented in the Draft Addendum. You will find the recommendations and some talking points and reasoning below. I am also attaching a document containing the same info. Contact info on where to send your letters and emails will be posted in the next few days.

Some quick comments. There really are pros and cons for every one of the harvest reduction proposals. Cases can be made for and against slot sizes and options that target mostly larger fish. Ultimately, we option to select the 1@35″ or 1@36″ size limit. Our greatest concern is that the impact of the slot size on the long-term health of the fishery is a huge unknown. This is clearly stated in the Draft Addendum. At this time we just did not think that it was worth the risk so we opted for the regulation that is closest to what worked last time. 1@36 was very successful in the rebuilding of the fishery and our expectation is that history will repeat itself.

The second factor that went into our recommendation is that we believe that it is important to allow as many of the small fish that we are seeing to have as many spawning years as possible before they become exploitable. We recognize the issues related to dead releases but our expectation is that along with the use of circle hooks, this option will provide the greatest protection to smaller fish.

So give this a review. While it would be great if there were overwhelming consensus within the recreational community, we encourage you to come to your own decision. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.

ASMFC Draft Addendum 6 Recommendations and Talking Points

RECOMMENDATION: Option 2: 18% reductions applied equally between recreational and commercial sector

Talking points:

• All sectors contribute to the wellness or depletion of a fishery. Given that striped bass are overfished with overfishing occurring our belief is that all sectors should share equally in the reduction.

• This opinion is supported by the realization that the commercial sector was handed a gift with Addendum 6. Their harvest reductions are based on the Addendum IV quotas and not their 2017 harvest. We have no understanding of why the Management Board would not apply the same standard of the 2017 harvest that is being used for the recreational sector. When you look at the new the new quota of 4,871,182 pounds in Addendum 6 that applies the 18% reduction, it is actually an INCREASE from the commercial harvest of 4,796,395 in 2017. When the 1.8% option is applied to the commercial sector the quota balloons to 5,833,537 pounds, an increase of 22% above their 2017 harvest.

• We long for the day when the ASMFC is consistent with the criteria that they use when computing the recreational and commercial sector harvest reductions.

RECOMMENDATION: Option 2-A1: 1@35”; anticipated total removal reduction of 18%

Talking points:

• There are valid pros and cons to all of the options listed.

• We have concerns about proposals that target small fish and also concerns about options that target specific year classes.

• While our initial reaction is to favor the option with the highest anticipated total removals, we are worried about the lack of data on the impact a slot will have on the overall fishery. We are worried when we read in the Draft Addendum that the long term conservation benefits of implementing slot limits may not be realized if effort is concentrated on fish within the slot limit.

• Ultimately, there is no way that we can ignore or discount past history. We have seen the effect of 1@36” as that was the regulation that was adopted that led to the rebuilding of the striped bass fishery.

• We are opting to trust that history will repeat itself with 1@35”.

• There are a significant number of smaller fish in the fishery. Strong year classes from 2014 and 2015 need to be protected. Option 2-A1 will allow these fish the largest number of spawning years before they become exploitable. This is critical to the rebuilding of the striped bass fishery.

• We recognize that there will be some within the recreational sector that favor a 28”-35” slot. We believe that it is important to permit smaller fish as many years as possible to spawn before making them exploitable.

• The option is the easiest to enforce.

• The option will result in more caught fish being kept out of water for the least amount of time.

• While this option will exploit the larger fish, the impact will be spread out over a number of year classes.

RECOMMENDATION: Option 2-B1 1@18”; anticipated total removal reduction of 20%

Talking points:

• We are deeply concerned about the impact of all of the Chesapeake Bay options on the critically important younger year classes. Addendum IV was unsuccessful in its efforts to protect the critical 2011 year class, which was, and continues to be, overexploited by Maryland anglers.

• In total 2,500,000 more fish were harvested by Chesapeake Bay anglers than were expected to be harvested in Addendum IV; many of these fish were part of the 2011 year class that Addendum IV was intended to protect.

• While we are not in favor of any of the options listed for the Chesapeake Bay, Option 2-B1 is expected to achieve the greatest harvest reduction. It is for this reason that we recommend Option 2-B1.

• We are deeply disappointed that the Draft Addendum 6 harvest reductions are based on the overage that Maryland achieved and not the Addendum IV harvest levels that they should have been achieving. The options presented in this draft addendum reward Maryland for the gross overharvesting that occurred.

RECOMMENDATION: Option 3.2.B Mandatory use of non-offset circle hooks

Talking points:

• All efforts should be taken to reduce dead releases. Circle hooks have been proven in multiple studies to reduce fish mortality and should be required when fishing live and dead bait.

• Option 3.2.B must be accompanied by an aggressive education and awareness campaign. Different angling methods are used when using non-offset circle hooks. If these methods are not used when fishing with circle hooks, anglers will become frustrated at their difficulty in landing striped bass. This could lead to issues of compliance and participation. Education and awareness programs will be critical to ensuring adoption of the circle hooks. The Rhode Island Saltwater Angler’s Association’s and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s CRANK, DON’T YANK education program can be used as a model.


• We have no confidence in the ASMFC’s ability to accurately assess conservation equivalency proposals and even less confidence in their ability to manage conservation equivalency proposals when they do not achieve the anticipated harvest reductions.

• As a result, we are adamantly opposed to the consideration of conservation equivalency proposals when the striped bass fishery is overfished or overfishing is occurring.

• States have used conservation equivalency to game the system and jeopardize the success of the Addendums.

• Our demand is that the ASMFC and Technical Committee incorporate the lessons learned from Addendum IV and that they improve their assessment methods. Being off by 200% in the Chesapeake Bay recreational fishery is not a rounding error. It is a process error.

• The management board should be required to take corrective action in instances where the conservation equivalency is not meeting the intended harvest reduction (variance of 25% or more).

• For the years 2014-2018, combined, the large majority of all recreational trips that primarily targeted striped bass were made by shore-based anglers and by anglers in private or rental boats. The management measures ultimately included in Addendum VI should be primarily designed to address the needs and preferences of the anglers who make the overwhelming majority of the trips, and not the very small minority of anglers who utilize other modes to access the fishery.

• Segments of the recreational sector seeking a smaller slot size can apply for conservation equivalency exceptions. To be considered, any conservation equivalency proposal should be required to at least meet the State’s adopted harvest reduction percentage.

Striped Bass News

Striped Bass Draft Addendum Released: A Quick Summary

By Ross Squire (President, NY Coalition for Recreational Fishing; 1@32 Pledge on Facebook)

As we know, the recent striped bass technical assessment revealed the fishery as overfished with overfishing occurring. Their analyses indicated that a reduction of 17% over 2017 harvest levels is required to restore the fishery to acceptable levels.

The ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board tasked a team to develop a Draft Addendum which would include a set of options that would achieve this harvest reduction. The Draft Addendum was made public yesterday and here are the options that they arrived at for the recreational sector:

Option 1 calls for the Management Board to take no action – basically status quo. Nothing would change and the intended harvest reductions would not be achieved.

Option 2 has multiple components. It calls for the recreationaland commercial sectors to both absorb an 18% harvest reduction from 2017 levels. To achieve this in the recreational sector they have offered 3 sub-options:

2-A1: 1 fish per day @35″ minimum for ocean states which would result in 18% reduction

2-A2: 1 fish per day between 28″-34″ slot which would result in 19% reduction

2-A3: 1 fish per day between 32″-40″ slot which would result in 21% reduction

The season for striped bass fishing would be unchanged.

For the Chesapeake Bay the options include:

2-B1: 1 fish a day @18″ minimum which would result in 20% reduction

2-B2: 2 fish a day @22″ which would result in 18% reduction

2-B3: 2 fish a day @18-23″ which would result in 19″ reduction

2-B4: 2 fish a day @20-24″ which would result in 19% reduction

The fishing season for B1 and B2 would remain unchanged.
The season for B3 and B4 would not include a trophy fish season.

Option 3-A includes a 20% reduction for the recreational sector and a 1.8% reduction for the commercial sector. The sub-options are as follows for the ocean:

3-A1: 1 fish a day @36″ minimum for ocean states which would result in ~20% reduction

3-A2: 1 fish a day between 28″-33″ slot which would result in ~22% reduction

3-A3: 1 fish a day between 32″-40″ slot which would result in ~21% reduction

Option 3-B includes the following sub-options for the Chesapeake Bay fishery:

3-B1: 1 fisher per day @19” minimum (MD) or 20” (PRFC, DC, VA) resulting in a 29% reduction

3-B2: 1 fish per day @ 18” minimum resulting in a 20% reduction

3-B3: 2 fish per day @23” minimum resulting in a 20% reduction

3-B4: 2 fish per day between 18”-22” resulting in a 21% harvest reduction

3-B5: 2 fish per day between 20”-23” resulting in a 20% harvest reduction

3-B5: 2 fish per day between 22”-40” resulting in a 21% harvest reduction

Option 3-B1 and 3-B2 would have the same seasons and trophy season as 2017.

Option 3-B3, B4 and B5 would have the same season as 2017 except the trophy season would start no earlier than May 1.

Option 3-B6 would have the same seasons as 2017; same trophy season and minimum sizes except with a 40” max size limit

The entire Draft Addendum can be found at

So as you can see lots of options to be considered. The Draft Addendum will be a topic of discussion at the ASMFC Summer Meeting being held on August 8th. The Board could decide to accept the Draft Addendum and put it out for public comment or they can request changes to the Draft before the public comment begins. The preliminary plan is to have the Draft Addendum voted on during the October ASMFC meeting with the new regulations in place for the 2020 season.

The bottom line is that these are crucial decisions that will be made. In 2014 a 25% harvest reduction was placed on the ocean states with a 20.5% harvest reduction in the Chesapeake Bay. It did not achieve its intended goals and that is a discussion for another day.

It is important that each of us remain educated on what is going on and there are some excellent sources of information that you can rely on:

1@32 Pledge page on Facebook
Charles Witek’s One Man’s Voyage Blog which can be found at
American Saltwater Guides Association which can be found at

Now is the time to stay informed. Ask any questions that you might have. When prompted write those letters and emails. Attend those meetings. Strength comes in numbers and your help is sorely needed.