By Dan Radel
This winter the U.S. Coast Guard will be stepping up its patrols off the New Jersey and Delaware coastline looking for striped bass poachers.
"There will be more (boat) boardings and inspections to ensure federal regulations are complied with," said Petty Officer Nick Ameen, U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson.
Striped bass are not allowed to be caught, harvested or possessed in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which begins three nautical miles from shore and extends out to 200 nautical miles
Striped bass are typically found closer to shore, however changing sea temperatures can cause them to migrate farther than three miles offshore, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. A person caught fishing for, or in possession of striped bass while in the EEZ is subject to civil fines.
"It's important to remember Atlantic striped bass have not fully recovered from years of overfishing," said Capt. Kathy Moore, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia. "Complying with these rules will ensure this resource is available to future generations"
The public is encouraged to report any suspected poaching activity to Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay at 215-271-4974. Calls should include a description of the activity, those involved, the location and the time of the suspected offense. Such information greatly increases the effectiveness of law enforcement operations.
After a good shot of striped bass the last week, Bobby Mathews at the Fishermen's Den said the bass may have had a case of lock jaw this weekend.
"It was an interesting weekend, anglers had good readings but tough catching," said Mathews.
He had a few bass come in. A 29 pounder was caught by anglers trolling by boat over rocky bottom. In the surf the action wasn't much better as only a few smaller sized bass were brought it.
"The bright spot this weekend was the terrific (winter) flounder fishing in Shark River," said Mathews. "It was common to catch a dozen nice fish from the bulkhead, of course, you can only keep two."
The fish were hitting clams,worms and mussels, said Mathews.
Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen reported anglers caught lots of fiesty bluefish on Saturday's trip. They had some keeper striped bass on the boat, including the pool winner, which weighed 15 pounds.
The short stripers were also getting to the hooks, Santee said.
The keeper fish that were cleaned had stomach's full of small weakfish, croakers, and butterfish.