I know where one healthy spawning population in New Brunswick is and it has produced fish up to 70lbs in the past. I've caught some fish in the 40" range this season and have seen pictures of larger. In the spring I'll anchor the boat and just watch the big stripers come up the river to the pool and once enough have arrived, the current is right and its dark enough they will start thrashing around and swimming along the surface, often in circles. The first couple times, we tried fishing to see if they were feeding on gaspereau, but they were not taking even live gaspereau. Often they'll swim close enough to the boat you could almost touch them. Once it is around 12-2am they get extremely active.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is not the only spawning population in the saint john river system. I've been told by those in the know that the studies conducted in the 70's and 80's were not carried out properly and very few have been done since. Those that have been done were not comprehensive in their search. I've seen big stripers spawning and they're in the river system from late april through until at least november, so to me there is no way there isn't a population of local fish.
The worst thing people could do now is tell the media about the suspected striped bass spawning they see on the rivers, then the meat eaters will over pressure those specific areas of the fisheries. Even if stripers get put on the endangered list, few or no studies will be carried out possibly resulting in a complete fishing ban on a fairly healthy sport fishery. They'll never stock stripers because the salmon anglers will complain. Not enough is being done to boost bay of fundy salmon stocks as it is, does anyone think they'll help stripers much? I doubt it.
Also, I noticed that this past season due to the attention the stripers got in the news as well as from tackle shops trying to sell more striper gear... many many new faces appeared on my local river following myself and other regulars around like shadows to their fishing holes and trolling in circles around our boats. (good thing I don't have a deck gun on my boat!
We also need to stop keeping large stripers because they are often what I believe to be local spawning fish in certain river systems. Large stripers are full of mercury and other toxins that we really shouldn't eat. Meanwhile, the smaller stripers that travel in schools are what tend to be considered the migrants and they are more plentiful. Besides the fact that they are easier to catch for the average angler and contain less harmful toxins, it would make better sense to keep these fish in a slot limit size of around 24 to 32" and make this fishery have a tagging system like that of for atlantic salmon but have the tag limit at 10-12 per year and maybe one trophy (large striper) tag per year. This way we might stop some poachers from illegally keeping the small stripers which they generally can only catch in the locations they fish. Also, if there are people out there that catch more big stripers than schoolies. I probably get 4-5 keepers to every one undersize striper and I know there is a fair amount of good striper fishermen around here that do that or better. Imagine if people like that kept every big striper they could keep legally? Well, some people do... some stories I hear would scare the conservation minded anglers and often these people don't get caught. Our wardens have a hard time patrolling the heavily fished areas because most fishing is done at night or by boat and I know I've never ever seen a warden or DFO officer out in a boat checking people fishing on the tidal rivers.
There might be more than a couple of striped bass associations in the atlantic provinces, but yet there are too few in these associations to be heard loudly. It's about time someone came up with an east coast striper association with regional chapters (ie. North NB, South NB and the same for NS etc) That way everyone could be on the same page and present itself as a larger group of concerned citizens from a wider geographic range.