Stripers Forever members - The results of our 2005 SF annual fishing
survey are in. We want to thank all who participated. We are sending
the analysis below along with the survey questionnaire and the Excel
spreadsheet that contains all the responses to the state fishery directors
on the ASMFC for their consideration in future management decisions. We
have not attached either the spreadsheet or the survey form because anti-
spam software frequently blocks attachments, but both documents are
readily available on our website by going to News and Announcements and
downloading the attachments posted there.
If you are too busy to wade through the analysis below, a two-second recap
is that our members report catching smaller and fewer striped bass than in
the past. There is a great and growing sentiment that we should be taking
our harvest mostly from the smaller stripers and letting the larger ones
live to breed. Most members advocate a stamp program to buy out the
commercial fishery for striped bass. Brad Burns
Stripers Forever 2005 Annual Fishing Survey Analysis
In 2005 we compiled 459 surveys, the largest number since we started the
survey in 2003. We had double digit returns from most states from NC to
ME, and approximately 100 each from MA and NJ. We feel that this year?s
survey has produced a good representative sample of angler sentiments from
fishers all along the Atlantic Coast.
The complete Excel spreadsheet of survey responses is posted to our
website. Find ?2005 Fishing Survey? under News and Announcements on the
right side of the home page www.stripersforever.org
Here is a summary of the answers by question #.
2, 3. About 70% fish predominately from boats, and about 30% fish mostly
About 75% of those who responded have more than 10 years of experience
fishing for striped bass.
4, 5, 6. The quality of fishing question, #4, is quite subjective. For
example, some members selected ?Improved Somewhat? and went on to answer
the size and frequency of catch questions much the same as respondents who
said their fishing was ?Much Worse?. Still, in the 2003 survey, 43
percent of the anglers indicated that fishing for stripers was improved,
versus about 30 percent who felt it was worse ? note that not all anglers
perceive a change either positive or negative, so positive and negative
sentiment will not equal 100%. In 2004, those numbers reversed - about 43
percent felt that fishing was worse while only 33 percent saw an
improvement. In 2005, 43% again regarded fishing as worse, and 35% felt
that it improved.
The 44% of respondents in 2003 who felt the average size of the stripers
they caught was declining grew to 50% in 2004 and 55% in the 2005 survey.
In 2004, 51 percent of respondents said they caught fewer or many fewer
fish. This number was up from 39% in 2003. For 2005 this number came in
at 44%. While this was a slight improvement over 2004, it is largely
attributable to the number of very small stripers from the huge 2003 year-
class that was available in 2005.
7. The interest in guided trips has ? thankfully ? remained constant in
all three years that we have done the survey, ranging from 58 to 60% of
respondents being the same or more likely to book a guided trip.
8, 9, 10. The percentage of anglers who felt that a small fish should be
allowed for food was at a three year high of 75%. The responses to this
question can be a little confusing. Many respondents who said no to
allowing a small fish said yes to a small fish slot limit; this would seem
to indicate that they liked the idea of small rather than a large fish
being taken for food, but did not want a blanket reduction in size. We
feel from both the answers to the survey, and the comments on tab 2 of the
spreadsheet, that there is strong and increasing sentiment that we should
be putting a lot less pressure on the large fish. A 66% majority of
respondents ? the same as 2003 and 2004 - think that this smaller fish
should be allowed instead of, as opposed to in addition to, a large fish,
although there are regional differences in that opinion. All states south
of New York felt that small fish should be allowed in addition to a large
Twenty-eight inches remained the most popular minimum size for anglers who
do not want any harvest of smaller stripers.
11, 12. Support for a slot limit to take the pressure off large breeders
remained very high at 75%. Votes were quite evenly split, though, on what
the slot should be, with 20-26 being the most popular, but by just 5 votes
13. The mission of Stripers Forever ? to achieve game fish status for the
striped bass -- is frequently challenged by those who claim that all we
want is to take for ourselves all the fish presently caught by the
commercial fishery. The results from all three of our annual member
surveys show just how wrong-headed that interpretation is. About 85% of
those surveyed want at least half of the commercial catch reserved for
conservation, and not to be assigned to increased recreational bag limits.
14, 15. The popularity of using a stamp to buy out the commercial fishery
increased slightly to 77% of the respondents, and about 72% of those who
favor the stamp thought it should continue after the buyout to pay for
management and enhancement of the fishery.
In 2005 we received surveys from 59 guides, the largest number since we
started the survey in 2003. The number of guides who felt that their
business had improved was almost exactly equal to the number that felt it
had slipped. As in 2004, though, many guides agree that it has become
increasingly difficult to find large stripers for their clients.
We received a variety of comments that can be read on the second tab of
the spreadsheet that is posted to our website at [
]www.stripersforever.org. Comments that
were seen repeatedly included: put an end to the commercial fishery; use
more ?fish-friendly? tackle like circle hooks; and adopt management
measures to take the pressure off larger striped bass.