Greetings from sunny Bonita Springs, Florida where Fish On is hiding out until May.
Fishing had pretty much wound down when we left Shelter Island on October 12 after a riotous wrap up to the best false albacore season in the past six years and the worst striper season for sport fisherman in over 10 years.
While some bass did show at Montauk Point right at the end of the migration it was still a paltry number compared to past years. There really is no question that the number of bass available for our taking has fallen off a cliff.
I had mentioned in an earlier column the Atlantic States Maritime Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) was holding hearings on the decline of bass populations up and down the Atlantic seaboard on October 27 in Mystic, Connecticut attended by representatives of each state affected.
The ASMFC listened to recommendations from all interested parties, including charter boat captains, fishing clubs, commercial draggers, individual fishermen and ASMFC scientists, during the 10-hour meeting and decision session.
The plan was to come up with changes in the bag and minimum size limits to reduce the mortality of the stock, allowing the breeders to live long enough to replenish the population of stripers within a short period of time. In a nutshell, it appears as if bag and size limits in New York for the sport fisherman will stay at one fish per day of 28 inches or longer.
Bag limits based on complicated formulas are being imposed on other parties involved in an effort to cut the bass mortality rate by 25 percent all along the Atlantic Coast in the first year — a good start, but there are complications. The main one discussed is the amount of poaching and other illegal fishing activity taking place both inside and outside the federal waters. Plans are being made to bolster efforts to curtail those activities.
Personally, I’m disappointed with the outcome and not sure that much will be accomplished with these new regulations. I’m not alone in strongly believing that a one fish, 32-inch limit or a “slot” limit of one fish between 26 and 30 inches would do more to help the fish stocks.
The slot concept provides food for those who want to keep some fish and lets the larger (breeders) live on. It cause the release of the large breeding females that provide most of the spawn. It’s been an incredibly effective factor in the recovery of the snook and redfish fisheries here in Florida.
For example, a 12 pound, 33-inch snook was released when I caught it in March since it was just over the local slot limit. It was caught in an area where the snook population had been almost annihilated by a prolonged cold spell several years ago and the slot limit really accelerated their return.
Let’s hope that the ASMFC plan works and our striper population grows geometrically, and soon. By the way, the 2015 fishing regulations for New York State will be forthcoming so be on the lookout for them in December or January.
Here’s How Corner
Now that you have the leaves all raked, what can you do to make sure that you’re ready for fishing next year?
Saltwater is nature’s perfect corrosive and your reels, the reel seats on your rods and rod guides are probably full of dried salt and corrosion. Start by removing the reel from the rod and examine each guide and the tip carefully to make sure the ceramic ring (assuming it is a ceramic guide or tiptop) is not chipped or broken.
Clean the rod’s reel seat with warm water and soap using an old toothbrush to scrub the crud loose and continue washing the rod scrubbing the guides. If the threads on the guides are frayed you might be able to save them by coating them with a thin layer of clear five minute epoxy and slowly turning the rod as it sets up.
Next, you should look at the lines on the reels and if they need replacing, I either reverse the lines putting the “fresh” line underneath on top, or remove the top 100 yards or all of it and replace it with new.
Now it’s time to look at the reel. If it’s a spinning reel, wash it carefully with warm water and soap with special attention to the bail. Make sure the roller that controls the line is not grooved since this will cut your line under pressure, and replace it if it is.
Apply a thin oil to the roller and the control area that anchors the bail to the reel — the part that swivels out and in on each cast. Take the spool off, clean and lightly lube the stem that goes into spool with a little reel grease (not oil). If the reel is conventional model, clean and wash it thoroughly and use reel grease to lube both axels and the levelwind, if it has one. Store all your reels with the drag totally loose so that the drag washers do not get flattened out over the winter, leaving you with no drag when the big one hits in the spring.
Store the rods vertically or horizontally, but not leaning in a corner, and you’ll be all set for the spring. By the way, if you need parts, advice or someone to replace broken guides, contact Jack’s Marine on Shelter Island, Tight Lines in Sag Harbor, We-Go in Southold or MudHole.com.
My next column will cover what you want for Christmas and where to send Santa to get it.