Regulations Saving Stripers

As the Earth on its axis continues to turn the face of the northern hemisphere away from the direct rays of the sun, the migration of Striped Bass continued to march to the orchestration of heavenly spheres on their journey north through Buzzards Bay.

            As they passed the seasonal moment of autumnal equinox on the calendar, our own popular, old songs came to mind, bringing memories such as, “The days grow short when you reach September as well as autumnal leaves fly by my window when you reach November.”

            From my picture seaside window, the deciduous foliage has this year been painted bright colors by colder nights into deeper shades of crimson, yellow and orange, much more defined that decorates the passing pageant of migratory Bass than we remember in recent years. The Striped Bass presence comes into view with seagulls suddenly gathering and screaming overhead where they have cornered bait fish, thrashing around to the surface into crowded corners of coves.

            The bodies of Striped Bass, as in my illustration, have stout features of seven to eight continuous horizontal stripes for which they are named, mostly colored a light olive green, with steel blue on top as well as white or iridescent undersides. They often have a long life of up to 30 years, growing to 5 feet in length and weighing up to 77 pounds. Both male and females are sexually mature when they are eight years old. They have very few predators, except for sharks, seals and human fishermen.

            For centuries they have supported both recreational and commercial fisheries on the Atlantic coast. In all 16 marked-out areas, the commercial-operation systems include gill nets, haul up into boat seines, trawling and hand-held lines.

            Meanwhile in the past year, recreational harvest was estimated at 1,710,000 Bass. The latest, strict individual regulation limit is only one fish per person and that must be at least 28 inches in length. These sharply difficult criteria have increased the Atlantic population dramatically.

            Stripers must now continue their northern journey into the entrance of the Cape Cod Canal by schooling up into marching legions to fit through the narrow passage.

            Gathering large numbers of anglers with spinning rods can cast all the way across either side of the channel with artificial or live bait.

            At the other end, they can return to wider waters and leave behind their passage exposure. We wish them well to complete their final challenge under the emancipation of the catch-and-release conditions that will bring them back again for another next year.

By George B. Emmons

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