|Happy Payne likes stipers
For the second year in a row, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced plans for a two-week closure during the recreational rockfish season, to take pressure off the struggling striper population.
The temporary closure is meant to comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s coastwide limits on striped bass—the Bay’s iconic fish, which was found to be overfished in recent years. During rockfish season, anglers are only allowed to keep one fish per day, within a set size range. And a two-week season closure imposed in the heat of summer is meant to reduce “dead discards”, fish that die after being caught and released. Catch-and-release mortality is much higher when the water is warm.
In its proposal DNR explains, “Striped bass require cool, well-oxygenated water to thrive. During the summer months, as water temperatures increase and oxygen conditions worsen, striped bass become more stressed. With peak Bay water temperatures occurring in mid to late July, the amount of cool, oxygenated striped bass habitat is at its lowest point.”
This year, the recreational and charter boat fishery closure is planned for July 16–31. Under the DNR proposal, anglers may not target striped bass during this period. “Target” would be defined as “to catch or attempt to catch.” If anglers are fishing for other species, “all efforts must be made to avoid interacting with striped bass” during the closure period.
Which is pretty tough when Stripers, Blues, Spanish Mackerel, and even Bull Redfish mill around in mixed species schools eating the same bait.
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