By Bill Biswanger
Field & Stream Writer
It's a Saturday morning and you have waited all week for this moment to go fishing. But where should you go? The striped bass are reported to be in but homework is needed.
The North Shore and up into Maine has loads of small stripers and a few keepers to 25 pounds. There is plenty of action, especially in Maine where the schoolie action (any fish under 28 inches) is strong.
There are plenty of fish from Plum Island on up but most of the keepers are about 32 inches. The good news here is there is a generous supply of open beaches and free parking so you can get on to a beach and fish for miles.
Down in the greater Boston area the striped bass action has been good also. A big school of menhaden moved in and stayed put. This school of millions trails from Hull to Revere and is candy to the linesider. So the big 25-pound bass found them and stayed for two months.
There is a good size school of small bass trying to compete for these pogies but they were pushed around and ate the leftovers. They were pushed north to meet their cousins and eat like kings on herring fry. Parking is difficult as is access to fish most of the Boston Harbor.
The South Shore including the Cape and Islands saw some mixed action. Cape Cod Bay was most interesting with a huge school of stripers that never left the bay but these were just barely legal fish. Most were in the 28-32 inch range.
So what does this all mean you ask? Why now a conversation on the most sought-after fish in the salt.
Well, there is a cry out there from commercial fishermen, some sport fishermen, guides, charter-boat operators, etc., who are not happy with the overall size of the fish this year. They might not be happy for their business but if they all would think about what is about to happen and they had some patience this will change very soon.
So this is what is about to happen. Those millions of short fish will become full size 32-34 inch stripers in a 1-3 year range. These are breeder striped bass so let's protect them a bit longer and make the limit 30 inches and keep the one fish per day kill in place.
The commercial fishery should be dropped to 550,000 pounds and kept at 36 inches per fish. Fishing should be three days per week. All fishermen should consider barbless hooks when in the vicinity of short bass.
The Feds need to step up big time and make a few big changes. Number one is more law enforcement from Maine to Florida. When you catch a poacher you own the poacher's boat and fishing gear and it will cost $500 per fish over the limit. In addition the southern states must have the length limit changed to 30 inches from 14 as it is now -- and one fish per day, not six.
The fishery is in better shape than many people think. There were striped bass caught in big numbers this year in Canada. The future is bright, but let's make sure it stays that way.
Time for everyone to pony up a few dollars and buy a new fishing license and add a saltwater tag with it. Don't forget the New Year means you will be fined without one.
Outdoor news & notes
This Saturday is the annual Ice Fishing Derby at the Townsend Rod and Gun Club. Starting at 8 a.m. with doors opening at 6:30. Cost is $17. The club is on Emery Road in Townsend.
The state of New Hampshire counts its deer kills much faster than Massachusetts . They just love to drag their feet in the Bay State, unlike the old days when the deer harvest would be out in a couple weeks. The Granite State harvest is a new record of 14,350. Many big deer over 200 pounds were taken, indicating a healthy population.
The Granite State bear kill was huge. Some 1003 record bruins were taken during their season. New Hampshire allows baiting for a few days and dogs for a few days to help up the take. But the state has a very healthy population with the White Mountains having the most.
The Massachusetts bear kill was just 201. John Pitts of Dracut took a 10-point buck with a gross score of 140 BC. That is a huge buck. Congrats!
Bill Biswanger's email is firstname.lastname@example.org