This is the result of a survey that Stripers Forever does every year, I thought everyone might find it interesting. I don't know how many of you are members, but it seems to be a good organization and it doesn't cost anything to join. Check out the answer on #6, I agree with it, seems like I spent more time fishing, but I didn't catch as many fish as in years past.
Stripers Forever - the 2004 striper fishing survey process is completed.
Below you will find our commentary on the results of the 2004 survey with
comparisons to last year's results. To view the actual spread sheets for
2003 and 2004 please go to our website www.stripersforever.org
have posted the commentary below and the spread sheets also. Thanks for
your help on the survey. Brad Burns
Stripers Forever 2003/2004 Survey Analysis
Total Surveys ? in 2003 we compiled 341 surveys compared to 275 in 2004.
Last year we sent out a final announcement giving everyone another chance
to fill out a survey. It resulted in many additional surveys as it
doubtless would in 2004. This year we did not do that because there are
so many other activities under way at SF, and because we felt that we
already had a good number from each region.
The answers ?
1. We had surveys from every state south to NC, with the greatest number
coming from between MA with 66 responses, and NJ with 56. The spread of
responses was very similar to last year.
2. Very much like last year about 1/3 of our members are predominately
shore fishermen, and 2/3 fish from a boat 75% of the time or more. This
means that both groups are very significant.
3. In both years 60% or more of our members responding have more than 10
years of experience.
4. Quality Change ? this turns out to be a very subjective question as you
get answers like Improved Somewhat from someone who then says that they
caught larger but fewer fish. Still, in 2003, 43% felt that fishing for
stripers was improved either somewhat or greatly, and only about 30% felt
that it was worse. In 2004 those numbers reversed, and about 43% felt
that it was worse while only 33% saw an improvement.
5. Average Size ? about 50% of 2004 respondents felt that their average
catch was smaller, while only 44% felt that way in 2003.
6. Number Per Hour - this was the most disturbing of the responses, but
given all the warning signs not unexpected. In 2004 51% of respondents
said that they caught fewer or many fewer fish while only 18% caught more.
Those numbers were 39% for fewer and 24% for more in 2003! That would
seem to be a steep decline in catch rates from one year to the next.
7. Guided trip interest ? thankfully ? has not changed much in the last
year. About 60% of respondents in both years said that their inclination
to take a guided trip was the same or greater.
8. The number of anglers who felt that a small fish should be allowed for
food dropped slightly in 2004, but could be well within a margin for
error. This question is like #4, and is a bit subjective. Many
respondents, who say no to allowing a small fish, say yes to a small fish
slot limit. We take this to mean that they do not want a blanket lower
size, but think it is a good policy to shift some harvest from large fish
to smaller ones.
9. The follow up question to the smaller sized fish is this one which asks
whether the small fish should be in addition to or instead of a large
fish. Those that believe it should be instead of were in a 2 to 1
majority for both years. This question generates very regionalized
results. States like ME that already allow either a small fish or a
trophy fish are very much in favor of that a practice. States like MD are
also very much in favor of allowing a small fish, and by a 2 to 1 margin
think it should be in addition to a large one.
10. 28 inches is the most popular minimum size of those who do not want
any harvest of smaller stripers.
11, 12. Those in favor of a slot limit increased from 70% to 80% this
year. While this is not a big change, we think it points to increasing
concern that we are overharvesting larger fish, and that the current
management scheme directed at only large fish is the wrong approach. What
members of SF feel is the proper slot size, though, is a matter of some
debate. This is the reason that SF does not come out for a particular
management measure. We do know that virtually all of our members are more
concerned with doing what is best for the species. It would be nice to
have the ASMFC look at striped bass management more from that perspective
and not from keeping commercial harvesters and pin hookers happy with
The single most popular slot size is 24-30 inches, but by only a small
margin over 22-26.
13. We always shake our head at those that try to interpret or twist SF?s
mission into wanting to simply switch commercial catch to recreational
catch. About 50% of SF?s members surveyed want between 75 and 100% of the
commercial catch set aside for conservation ? not simply switched from
commercial harvest to recreational - and about 50% want between 50 and 25%
to be added to the conservation buffer ? of the latter 75% them want the
conservation number to be 50% of the current commercial quota. Of the 275
surveyed only 1 respondent wanted the entire commercial quota given to
recreational anglers, and we?ll bet that he simply didn?t understand the
14, 15. The concept of using a stamp to buy out the commercial fishery
stayed consistent with around 74% of our members supporting this idea.
The number of those that felt the stamp should continue to fund
management and conservation of stripers increased slightly from about 71%
Guides Section ? about 40 % of guides felt that their business had slipped
some in recent years, and this compares to almost the same percentage the
year before. Thankfully the guiding industry is more or less holding up,
though, many guides lamented it being harder to find large stripers.
Other Comments ? we received a variety of comments that can be read on the
tabs of the spreadsheets posted to our website at [
]www.stripersforever.org. In our view, a
summary might be to end the commercial fishery, use more fish-kindly
tackle like circle hooks, and adopt management measures to stop the attack
on the larger fish.