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Capt. Steve Byrne

Steve Byrne is a charter captain and fishing addict. He holds the current IGFA weakfish 30# line-class record, & guided his two sons to IGFA records of their own. "Catching stripers for 40 years, I love releasing big fish to catch them another day!"

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March 28, 2012

Time to Give it a Shot

by Capt. Steve Byrne

I planned to wait until I had first-hand information to report, but there's enough confirmed action happening to justify an update. With some help from my friends, the boat went in the water Sunday and is now resting comfortably at the dock. I thought that I would be painting a house this weekend, but it turns out I will have to wait a few more days, so…. I think I'll go fishing.

This is the earliest start I've ever had for striped bass, and I'd typically expect schoolies to be on the end of the line at this time of year. However, 2012 is anything BUT typical. Quality bass are being caught on Jersey party boats fishing in the ocean, and by surfcasters and boat guys fishing Raritan Bay.

My game plan is to net bunker and live line. Again, this is not normal for this time of year, but it's what I am going with. I'll give it a few hours and let you know how it works out.

March 18, 2012

Stripers in the Bays

by Capt. Steve Byrne

I spent Friday afternoon and all day Saturday manning the booth at the Somerset Saltwater Fishing Show, and I got to meet a bunch of members. There was Billy40, MoJo (both halves), Bobby Waldbaums (with Mrs. Waldbaums), sifisherman, Cbass and several more members, whose names escape me at the moment; I must be getting old.

The show was great, but let's get to the important stuff!

Stripers are here in good numbers. Both Raritan and Jamaica Bays are producing bass into the teens, which I can't ever remember happening this early in the year. Bunker are in the bays in their usual favorite spots – harbors, coves, etc. – and guys are snagging them and chunking.

If you're going out to give it a shot, try dark colored, muddy bottoms. The mud absorbs the warmth of the sun and the fish love that warmer water this time of year. If you can, fish incoming. Low water is early afternoon for the next few days, so late afternoon and into the evening should be good.

In Raritan Bay, there are reports of bass from Keyport, Union Beach and Laurence Harbor; pretty much any area in the back of the bay is good. Jamaica Bay is holding fish also, but I have heard fewer reports from there. That is probably due to access issues – surfcasters can just drive up to the spots in Raritan to fish, but most of Jamaica Bay is best suited for yaks. It's still cold for kayaks to be on the water, and every year there are reports of kayakers drowning after falling into frigid waters.

Let's be smart here: if you do go out in the yak, go with a buddy and wear a lifejacket. Truthfully, I'm no kayak expert, but I think that if you don't have a dry suit you have no business being on the water this early in the season. Be careful.

I'll have my boat in the water soon & hope to have some first-hand reports for you.

March 03, 2012

$300,000 Boat for NOAA - added info

by Capt. Steve Byrne

If you have read any of my conservation focused angling articles, you already know that I believe poaching is one of the biggest obstacles in improving our fisheries – in particular, blackfish and striped bass. That position comes from years of on the water observation – and while I'm no fan of poachers, you can hardly blame them. The combination of difficult economic times and near-zero enforcement creates an easy money temptation that struggling fishermen find difficult to resist.

Just in case anyone thinks I'm getting soft on poachers; forget it. There are lots of us struggling economically – it's no excuse to abuse the resource and if you get busted, don't expect any sympathy from me, ‘cause it ain't happening.

Anglers have asked for increased enforcement for years, only to be told repeatedly that, "There just isn't enough in the budget."

And THAT is what makes the following story so disturbing.

In response to a freedom of information request, the Office of the Inspector General released a July 2011 report on irregularities in NOAA's purchase and use of a $300,000 luxury boat.

The boat was purchased with monies from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, which consists of funds from fines levied against commercial fishermen. Commercial anglers are using this report to support the position that the government needs to back off from fining commercial vessels, but I'm not sure I am ready to leap to that conclusion.

By all means, if fishermen (commercial or recreational) are caught breaking the rules they should have to pay the piper – improper use of the funds doesn't change that. What really juggles my onions is the misuse of money that could have paid for more enforcement units. You know, the ones they have been telling me they can't afford for the past 10 years or so.

Do yourself a favor and read the OIG report if you haven't already.

Update appears below -


I questioned myself after posting: What is the purpose of the Asset Forfeiture Fund? Can it be used to help the states marine law enforcement efforts? The answer is a resounding YES.

Not only does the AFF specifically prohibit "funding for any vessel purchases or leases," but it ALLOWS for "Reimbursement to other Federal or State agencies for enforcement related services provided pursuant to an agreement entered into with NOAA."

Check out details of NOAA Policy on Prohibited and Approved Uses of the Asset Forfeiture Fund for yourself
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