Money, money, money…part deux

Obviously many of you have strong feeling on what is going on with fisheries today, particularly striped bass. Why is striped bass so important and why do we put such a value on this particular species?

Because we are surfcasters, and stripers are one fish species that we can catch from the beach with some regularity. They migrate along the beaches, many take residence in our bays and therefore are within reach of even the worst casters amongst us, including yours truly.

This blog is written not with purpose of antagonizing anyone but instead to bring issues to the forefront, to make you aware of some things you might not give much thought otherwise and to encourage honest discussion of what changes need to be made. Antagonistic posts, insults and jokes are better left for internet fishing boards. God knows there are plenty of them out there were you can insult or be insulted if you choose to do so. We don’t play that game here…

Party boat captains, charter and fly fishing captains and even surf guides jobs are no picnic. They don’t have a benefit of sitting in cubicle on a cold day, no  chance of joining company health insurance plans, no hiding from elements or getting away from cranky fares. But then again, like I was told many of times when I complain about my job, no one is putting a gun to your head to do what you do. This is America. Land of the free and land of opportunity.

What strikes me as odd is my naiveté about party boats fleet and their practices. I love taking my kids on party boats for fluke and porgy fishing. It’s a nice day on the water with family, albeit pricey if fillets for dinner are your goal but still, it gets the kids away from their XBOX and me away from my PC. I’ve never tried striper fishing on a  party boat but after reading some of your posts, I doubt I ever will.

This practice of encouraging patrons to keep fish after they already kept their limit because the “boat” hasn’t reach the limit is illegal. Or at least I think it is. Or it should be…. Once you reach your limit you cannot keep any more fish even if you wanted to give them to ”someone else”.  Tossing the half dead fish overboard because a bigger fish was caught is not only unethical but illegal too. I do sympathize with anyone who gets on the boat to get some filets and have a good time. In today’s economy, it’s a big chunk of change to drop on the trip. Naturally, you’d like to come home with something.

But before you look at us surfcasters as some kind of  high and mighty bunch who look down on the party boat crowd take a minute and think about what we go through. We blow through more fuel in one season running around then probably some people will do in a lifetime. Lures, gear , bait, permits, all of these things cost money. Lots of it. But I’ve never seen a surfcaster culling a fish or giving away fish after they reach their limit. Why?

Because the peer pressure and conservation ethics are strong in this community, we police ourselves to some extent. Party boats however often encourage and in some cases, demand that you keep the fish in excess of your limit. They are actually encouraging and again, in some cases, strongly demanding that you break the law.

I don’t give a flying !^*#! what  they say, no one can make you do something that you don’t want to do. On my recent trip to San Diego I took family out on party boat for some rockfish. The crew were extremely aggravated that we caught most of the fish on board and what particularly got under their skin was that we threw all the fish back. They obviously would have preferred that we tossed those 8 inch rockfish into the communal bucket to be filleted latter. I love when I hear “ it’s too deep for the fish to go down”, “its bladder won’t let the fish make it all the way to bottom”, “the bluefish will eat it on the way down”. All possibilities for sure, but I’ll tell you what, the chance of that fish surviving after you filleted and threw the carcass overboard is……exactly.

Why are some of these captains encouraging breaking the law? Because they are in business to make their fares happy,. They don’t care about the sport, they don’t care what kind of fight will the fish give or what kind of experience will angler have. Their primary concern is how many pounds of meat can they get on boat while burning least amount of gas. Many will return to port after limiting on stripers instead of fishing for other species.

What does this reminds you of, this “most pounds with least fuel spent”?

COMMERCIAL operation. No recreational fisherman tells his wife “I think I want to have some fish for dinner, I am going on the boat, pier or beach.” We are not dumb, we know it’s cheaper to go and buy the darn thing in a seafood store.There is no reason their catch should not be included in commercial allocation and they should be represented by commercial interests

I’ve said many years ago that writing on the wall , exploitation of stripers by all users, recreational, for hire and commercial was in the cards. There was no way out. Flounder is gone, blowfish and weakfish do not exist anymore or are harder to find then weapons of mass destruction in middle east. Scup, sea bass and fluke are under such tight regulation that striped bass became the one specie that all commercial, for hire and recreational fleet is targeting.

And we are doing a hell of a job decimating it.

I will never be able to except the fact that patrons of for-hire fleet are allowed two fish while the rest of us only gets to keep one. No, not because I want to keep two, because I don’t think there are enough fish to even keep one at current regulation. But they got two because at the time, that’s what they were asking. Heck, we could have had two also but we turned it down.

Many of us went into this with a thought of  what is better for the species long term prosperity and not what is better for us personally. I am sure many amongst us would like to take two or three fish on occasion. After all, if you are like me, you get skunked most of the time. And you can’t blame  for hire fleet for making a grab for higher allocation which will bring more people on their boats. After all ,they are in business of catching fish and more fish they can keep and bigger they are will bring more patrons to their vessels. But after getting higher allocation, do they have to do all these highly unethical and often illegal things to pad their fish scores? I doubt that. It’s one of those things that once it becomes prevalent without complaining it becomes a “normal” thing to do. But that doesn’t mean it’s a right thing, ethically, to their customer and to the fish population.

Fish don’t vote or complain but remember this next time you get to voice your opinion on allocation. The way young of the year index has been last few years and general lack of big fish along the coast, you might get a chance to voice your opinion sooner rather than later.

Like I always said, we are all fishermen. The poachers, surfcasters, boaters, for hire fleet, we are all looking to have fun or bring a dinner to the table, but our interests are not aligned.

And if some of you think that party boats don’t limit out look at this wonderful post from Noreast Website few days old

And this is only a morning trip !

“Striped bass slaughter! This mornings 7 am trip had 53 fisherman they kept there limit of 106 stripers! Next trip 1 pm!”



I know this is an exception, but if their afternoon trip went out as good as morning one,  in one day they will take as many stripers as commercial tag holder is allowed to do in a whole year



coming up…poachers and restaurants that love them

28 comments on “Money, money, money…part deux

  1. Lou

    Made me wanna throw up when I saw it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And their captian justified it to the nines !!!! Soon he too will be mothballing that boat as there will be NO fish left..

  2. Jim Hill

    Z this issue has been all over the web and I for one am pissed!
    Party Boats,Comms,Private boats and yes even shore bound and surf fisherman are killing to many fish!We’re doomed to return to the fishing of the late 80’s and early 90’s again.The catch rate is down among Rec fisherman.The chesapeak young of the yeqar numbers are way down.Morally we cannot continue this slaughter if our children are to have this fishery.Politicians don’t care,most fisherman don’t seem to care,how do we fight this in a civilized way?I think it’s time to go MONGO on these folks who don’t respect the Bass!!!!

  3. fishinthedark

    Exactly what I have been saying all along, and again not picking on the FI fleet but if they are lucky and this year I think they were they get them in the spring and most every year get a shot at the fish coming down. 106 fish X 2 Trips a day X 10-15 boats That is devastation.

  4. Tom Schneider

    Amen Z! Great write-up. I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying. The mindset of the party boat captains and their crews have to change or the only thing they’ll be doing is a “Booze-Cruise”!

  5. gil

    i remember that one. the 1st thing i thought of was ur blog “money money money” part 1. i must admit to going on party boats myself and it kinda makes me sick to see a picture like that. i will think twice about going on one in the future…..
    thanks for the enlightenment!

  6. Allen Won

    As always Zeno, a great article. Thank you for your enlightening thoughts and observations. As Tom Schneider above me said “Change or Booze Cruise” or we’ll ALL lose.

  7. Lee Solomon

    Great info Z. This really is quite sad for the striped bass. I rember as a kid barely even trying to fish for stripers because the fish were soo scarce and I think the size limit was 38 inches. back in the 80’s. Of course back then we had all the fluke you wanted in the back bays so that’s what my family fished for mostly all summer. Yes we usually kept a few fish for the dinner table. You know I still do see older guys keeping big stripers off the beach. I thought that after catching a few big ones and many small fish and showing off for a few years that a quick picture would be enough. Aren’t the smaller fish better eating anyway? I’m 41 and have been surfcasting for about 15 years and I was toatally appalled when an old timer dragged a fish close to 30 pounds into the parking lot. Then went back out to get more. I’m sorry but i lost a lot of respect for him right then. He of all people should know better. On a side note it was great meeting you on the beach a few weeks ago with my mom who is turning 70 this year and after fishing on the boat all her life is really geting addicted to surfcasting over the last few years. I am back in Santa Cruz Ca now. Going to go to the Oneill forebay where the freswater striper bite is turning on as the saltwater bite dies off. Look up the San Luis resevior and Oneill forebay, they get some big girls out of there. Give a shout if you ever get out to Cali. I got the forecast dialed cause that’s what I do for a living and I might even take you to some of Mike Fixter’s secret spots. Ha Ha LOL
    Lee Solomom

  8. Rich P

    I’m ready for a moratorium, bring it on and teach these pigs a lesson. Better sooner than later, later may be too late.

  9. Nick

    Z this article is an eye opener hopefully for a lot of people out there. There are some in our surf fishing community who disagree with you though(me not being one of them) you would be surprised at who shows up at these meetings and actually supports the comms, when they are weeded out then change can come.

  10. Brian K

    How about the smaller charter boat captains and mates that are doing 2 or 3 trips a day and “fishing” with the charter. They (captain and mate) will be possibly catching 6 fish each per DAY! A clear violation of the “daily” limit. LOTS of guys doing it and stupid enough to be posting it as reports other fishing boards. Lets say a 6 pack charter takes out 6 guys 3 times a day and limits out each trip. This adds up to 8 guys fishing times 2 fish = 16 fish times 3 trips a day= 48 fish for just one small boat.
    Just look through some of their posts and reports on these other web site boards.
    Not looking good for the future stocks if there will be any.

  11. woodwker99

    Great article Z. Time once again to push for “Game Fish” status for the Striped Bass. we have to end the “Slaughter”. Legal or not, that photo makes me MAD!

  12. julio

    Overfishing at it’s worst! I’m with you all – completely disgusted to the point that it no longer angers but instead depresses me.
    As much as it is inhumane and utterly down right killing the species, how many of us can honestly say we have done something about it? Honestly. Not just catch-and-release, not just catch-picture-release or rant on a forum or blog but actually done SOMETHING about it? As passionate as I am, I’m the first to admit I have not.
    To remotely start to stir shit up, we ALL need to put this on the front burner as a mass. Only then will we have a fight.

  13. Zeno Post author

    you are a 100% right…the only way you can get a response is after a collapse and even then, it will be from regulars who you don’t see much now
    Johhnycomelately who got into the sport because it looked cool will be gone looking for greener pastures
    I hate to say it but you are completely on the mark

  14. Jason Colby

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words and Z, you have a good picture there. Now everyone, in your minds eye, multiply that by (at least) 1000 times and YOU will have a “real picture” of what is going on every day on the East Coast. From Maine to North Carolina there are about 100,000 bass being taken on any given day by the party and charter boat fleet. NOW, add the commercial catch, the rest of the recreational catch and the poaching (which is probably close to that number again!) and what have you got? Has anyone thought to consider that predation by seals and other mortality kills a significant amount of bass too?………..JC

  15. medic6973

    Extremely well said Z, and spot on. I have no illusions that we will still be fishing for Striped Bass in 15 years, maybe even 10. We are a fart away from another moratorium, and it is a shame. We apparently have not learned the lessons of the past, and as they they, those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    I have gotten into verbal arguments with mates on head boats. My buddy and I last season had one great day on a boat when noone else really was… “Keepers” on the first, second, third drop, while most others got the skunk. Just worked out that way. I had promised the wife fish for the table, so I kept my first fish. That was the plan, and I stuck to it. After that, I was fishing for me. Second “keeper” was just better than a schoolie. While I was removing the jig, the mates came over to help. We got it out, and as I went to put it back, they screamed…. NO THAT”S A KEEPER!! I said I already got one, and they went on to explain that I could keep two as if I had no clue. I said, nah, not feeling it. They literally grabbed the fish from me and said someone else will take it then. I did not speak to them the rest of the trip, and I felt like I was on a crowded beach in the hot spot… I had to sneak my fish on and off, hoping noone else would see.

    F’ing pathetic.

  16. Tony Marchisotto

    As I have said before this practice is criminal. Yes I understand it’s about the average Joe fisherman and the Captains living… but at least encourage conservation. Z I know this is putting the heat on SCJ but thanks & keep up the good work.


  17. Nick

    I went on a blackfish trip out of port jeff 2 weeks ago, this happened to me also. I was having a tough day, a guy next to me was killing them(hermit crabs) he caught his limit(i think 4) and everyone after that was kept also, the guy did’nt know it. when we got back he said you kept the other fish i caught, they said yes we give it out to the other customers. now when those fish were caught we were off the coast of connecticut not ny so i don’t know if its legal or not, but it should have been his choice to keep them or not, another thing, there were 2 guys from I think atlantic marine fisheries or something like that, they were weighing and measuring blackfish and they saw this go on. when we caught porgies in conn. we had to release them, when we were in ny we were allowed to keep them(rsa permit) If the party boats are doing this could you imagine what goes on with everyone else?I’m not a tough guy or anything, never claim to be, buy if that mate took my fish and walked away with it. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN RETURNED TO THE SEA. i UNDERSTAND NOT WANTING TO GET INVOLVED OR NOT WANTING TO BE A PARTY POOPER BUT SCREW THAT, I PAID YOU SERVE ME AND THATS IT.

  18. julio


    The point being is that the collapse is already here and has been for quite sometime. We all see it, all around us no matter where you’re from but we choose to ignore it. As an example, look at how many will respond to a giveaway here on this blog compared to the lack of interest on this subject – it says a lot. One or two present at town meetings aren’t doing a god damn thing. We all need to get off our computer chairs, step away from our laptops and voice this thing as a MASS. Somehow get people motivated to actually contribute on a scale large enough to do some damage. If moaning and complaining worked I would have been a spoiled child.

  19. firstlight

    Excellent points, Z. In RI this year we have seen very few small fish. Just a few years ago a friend logged in 3,000 bass; this year he’s caught 600, but his present catch ratio is 1 keeper to 10 schoolies. In the past the schoolies were very prevalent, not this season, although there are some small fish passing through now. Further, what’s alarming is that the young of the year index is very low for an assortment of reasons that will affect us in the future and this should concern us all. Time to modify the two fish per person regulation and clamp down on abusers. In keeping with all this I’m reluctant to make major purchases, for example, another VS reel, if the surf fishing continues its slump. This may have an economic effect on recreational spending.

  20. Silverfox

    Z you got class and you got Balls. Your going to take heat for this but that’s just what we need more of in this country. Thanks.

  21. Jim D

    Classic case of history repeating itself. Shame on the party boat captains for allowing this. How much fish can one family really eat? I am sure many of those fillets end up in the freezer and are forgotten. the limit should be 1 fish on a party or charter boat, just liek everyone else.

  22. Jason

    I don’t think I would go as far as a moratorium. What is written is true and if you find that disturbing you will be horrified by the following.

    In the spring there is/was an amazing fishery in the upper Chesapeake Bay. A large percentage of the striped bass stock makes it way up in to the Susquehanna river to spawn, or at least that used to be the case. This area is either closed to targeting striped bass or is C&R for a period of time.

    One of the problems with the YOY, is that the bay is dying. It is dying for multiple reasons, all having to do with humans. PA and MD farmers have allowed there runoff to enter the rivers and make their way into the bay. The rapid increase in housing and golf courses has also added to drainage issues. If the farms were not enough, now we have developments and country clubs messing with the natural grade which has cased tons of sediment to make its way to the bay.

    In the spring we get tons of rain that all feeds into the bay. This rain washes all the fertilizer, pesticides and loose soil for most of March, and all of April and May. It just so happens that as this sediment is entering the bay, striped bass are spawning. The eggs are naturally buoyant, until particulate attaches to them sending them to the bottom to be covered in silt.

    I do not know the extent that pesticides and fertilizer do damage to the water system, but I have to believe that if they can fertilize plants above ground then why not those below the water. It sound like a good thing, but those plants use up a good majority of oxygen, something fish need. With the increasing water temps and decreasing O2 levels the bays become a dead zone to all sea life except plants, and even they die off when they choke themselves out.

    All the algie, plankton that once filled the bay is now out of control and killing the bay. The only hope the bay has is the oysters and the bunker. The oysters are choked out by overgrowth in plant life, receding high tide lines and silt leaving us with the bunker to keep the bays clean.

    It is good things that bunker are so plentiful and have the ability to filter so much water. O wait, we are wiping them out also. I don’t think I need to go into that, just do a search and you will find out more info than I can ever type on the subject.

    Now back to actual hook and line fishing. I mentioned earlier that the bay is closed or restricted to C&R fishing, well that only lasts so long. Fishing opens back up and the “Kill Season” begins throughout the bay. It also just so happens that this “Kill Season” coincides with when the spawning fish should be done spawning and making their way out of the bay.

    Don’t we tell our mothers to take it easy for a few weeks after giving birth? Didn’t these fish just make one heck of a run way up the bay, into the rivers, do their thing and now are exhausted and need to eat up? Yes, but instead of allowing them to do so for a few weeks post spawn (now when spawning should end, but when it actually does end) the bay fleet trolls multiple heavy tackle rods and winches these fish in with ease.

    If you look at reports from the bay “Kill Season” boats make their limit and head back to the dock asap to pick up the next charter. There is next to no C&R, just catch, kill and grill. I can’t tell you how may reports I looked at that boasted on the water times of less than 20 min with a 6 man limit.

  23. Mark

    Great Post Jason. I am definitely interested in having discussions of reducing recreational take to one a day. If the recs don’t change their ways Comms will keep pointing the finger saying it isn’t us look at all they take.

    The captains of these head boats by the way, the same ones that are posting “Striped bass slaughter! This mornings 7 am trip had 53 fisherman they kept there limit of 106 stripers! Next trip 1 pm!” will be the first ones with their hands out crying poverty once new regs hit or the bass are gone.

    Conservation is not a recreational responsibility or a commercial responsibility it is everyones responsibility. We are going to wind up right where we were in the 80’s. Imagine through out the course of hundreds and more than likely thousands of years, Striped Bass have swam the waters of the Atlantic. With little to no threat of extinction. Now in the course of 30 years we have literally pushed them to the point that the JAI is under performing and the Female bio-mass is reduced annually. This is all under the guise of responsible fisheries management. Pretty sickening really


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