Hi-Grading of Striped Bass - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 06-28-2006, 07:11 AM
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Hi-Grading of Striped Bass

After observing EVERY gear guy tethering TWO live striped bass of keeper size at an undiclosed location last weekend, and STILL FISHING I wanted to point out the regulations for this action:

To prohibit the practice of high-grading, recreational fishermen may not retain legal-sized striped bass and release said fish in favor of another larger legal-sized striped bass captured subsequently. It shall be unlawful to keep striped bass alive in the water by attaching a line or chain to the fish or placing the fish in a live well or holding car. Striped bass are measured from the tip of the snout or jaw (mouth closed) to the farthest extremity of the tail.

I was a little uneasy about what they were doing now I see it's unlawful. The way I see it, you catch your limit you are done. If you want to fish, don't keep the limit.

I am going to seek clarification on that aspect as well, when a limit is retained the fishing should stop. This is as important a rule to prevent high-grading as the already established rule above and I think it should be clearly stated in the regulations. High-grading or not, it's common sense - you keep the limit, you are done. This is the rule in most states for most species.
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Old 06-28-2006, 07:30 AM
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juro- Not everyone high grades after catching their limit, I have in the past caught my limit and kept fishing and released all of them. Some may high grade, but then again some keep everything they catch, which is no different to me. Should fishing only be allowed during the daytime when the EPO's are around? If the law is being broken then its up to us to notify the authorities so they can deal with the problems. When I have caught my limit I just leave them on the beach until I'm ready to leave, and this may mean usng a stringer to help me keep track of them as I move a bit while fishing. Just my $.02 Ron
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Old 06-28-2006, 08:31 AM
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Wether or not they were high grading, if the fish on the stringers were alive then they were breaking the law and a call to the authorities would be in order. If someone could post the apropriate number (DEP?) I'll make sure its programmed into my cellphone.
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:02 AM
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Part of this boils down to people not knowing the rules and the rules not sending the right message IMHO. The rest is intentional law breaking.

I am going to try mentioning politely that I read tethering is illegal but not call the first time. However if I see them doing the same thing over again then it means it's being done with knowledge of the law and in defiance of, thus I think the EPO's should know about it at that point.

IMHO - if the law stated that the second fish retained means you're done that would make a big difference. You'd always get to keep the first one and have a reason to fish well for the rest of the day.

BUT this automatically incriminates an angler for throwing out another cast into the same hole where they killed the previous two, but not if they killed only one. Otherwise there is a hole in the reg and the striped bass suffers again.

All coastal states were given two fish bag limit by the ASMFC. MA only adopted it to have something to concede when/if the governing body decides to demand a cut-back from MA as has been the case historically (due to highest mortality occurring in MA).
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:03 AM
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Juro did you actually see someone remove a smaller bass from a stringer and replace it with a larger specimen? Otherwise what leads you to beleive these gear fishers where high-grading and not simply C&R the rest of their catch?

High-grading is wrong however I see no problem with keeping your limit and continuing to fish C&R. I have done this on occasion over the last couple of years due to gill-hooked fish, etc.

When I keep fish while wade fishing I string them up onto my wading belt and drag them along behind me while i fish. I do not consider this unlawful and will continue to do so.

I don't see that the folks you saw were doing anything unlawful. However if I saw them swapping fish already on the stringer I would have been the first to call them in: MA DEP Poachers Hotline: 800.632.8075 - this # should be in every sportsman's cell phone directory.
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:16 AM
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Dave -

Whether you consider it lawful or not does not matter, it is written up as unlawful in the regs and if you do so you are breaking the law.

I did not say I witnessed the actual exchange. However we all know it happens, and I can not agree that we as anglers should put our selfish desire for meat ahead of the welfare of the fish - specifically I am saying I hope the state amends the law to prohibit fishing once the second fish has been killed.

If you gill hook two bass and kill them to keep fishing I have to ask who the hell are you feeding the salvation army?

In other states the regulation is tied to the method. If the officer sees your method as one that is targeting the same species, then it is a violation. Most cases are written up and you can argue with the judge that a pencil popper is a good technique for fluke etc.

The purpose of the two fish limit is not to kill twice the fish.
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:21 AM
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If you continue to fish after having taken two legal fish, according to the regs above, then the fish on the stringer must be dead:

"It shall be unlawful to keep striped bass alive in the water by attaching a line or chain to the fish or placing the fish in a live well or holding car."

There is nothing in this statement about intent. The way I read it, even having a single live striper tethered in the water is illegal.

If the tethered fish are dead then continuing to fish C&R should be fine, unless the regs say otherwise. I'm not sure what happens if you accidentally kill a legal fish having already taken the two fish limit?

Presumably you have "accidentally" broken the law?
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:23 AM
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Also if you gill hooked the previous two what makes you think you aren't going to gill hook more?
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:52 AM
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Whoa...touchy, touchy TOUCHY!

Maybe I missed the point that the fish has to be alive on the stringer to be an infraction of the law.

When I have kept a fish "tethered" to my belt it has been killed first. I kill the fish not becuase of the semantics in the rule book but because it's the humane and respectful way to harvest a fish IMHO.

Regarding keeping 2: this has only happened when one was already designated for the dinner table and another happened to get deeply hooked late in the day. I would rather take responsibility for killing that fish, clean it and share it with the family, than feed the crabs. Call me crazy.

All I am pointing out is there is a big difference between intentional high-grading and keeping the legal limit imposed by MA Marine Fisheries.
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Old 06-28-2006, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDave
Juro did you actually see someone remove a smaller bass from a stringer and replace it with a larger specimen?
Touchy touche' my friend

Thanks for clarifiying; energy comes across as ire all too often on the web in both directions. I should have put more smilies, my rhetorical dander is only up to get attention

But meaning no disrespect what do you say about the gill-hook / gill-hook more argument?

If you keep fish because they are hurt, then keep fishing aren't more going to get hurt?


(IMHO / FWIW - I think the law should prohibit fishing with equipment and methods customary to striped bass fishing once the two fish limit has been killed per day)
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Old 06-28-2006, 10:22 AM
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Juro,

As we discussed last night I am not sure your argument holds water. Frankly, I don't see the difference between the guy who catches and releases all day vs. the guy who chose to keep two fish and keep fishing, which is his legal right. Keep two and bleed them out. Keep fishing. If you find yourself gill hooking fish change tatics or stop fishing that is your choice. I have heard you say you have had days where you caught and released more than 10 keepers. Why didn't you stop fishing once you have caught two keepers even if you released them. Isn't that a C&R form of highgrading using your logic?

Sean
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Old 06-28-2006, 10:29 AM
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C & R and high-grading are mutually exclusive, so simply put "no".... it's obvious that if you keep ZERO you aren't culling the catch!

Legal right is acknowledged, it's the logic behind it that is in question.

I have to admit that I get the impression this is less a matter of rational angling conduct and the welfare of the fish than it is a "rights and privileges" matter to you with all due respect.

If you keep fishing for the same species it's too late once you've gill hooked another - you've killed it.

As you know I don't fish bait but it's documented fact that mortality is related to method and if the regulations won't push things like circle hooks required for bait then they must be responsible for controlling mortality some other way.

The reason for raising the limit to two fish is not to kill twice the fish. The real reason MA adopted it is to provide a concession when the ASMFC comes to the table for cut backs due to the MA mortality rate (highest in the country).

How is it not appropriate to balance this doubling of the limit with a corresponding regulation to prevent the mortality rate from increasing in MA?
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Old 06-28-2006, 10:57 AM
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[QUOTE=juro]I have to admit that I get the impression this is less a matter of rational angling conduct and the welfare of the fish than it is a "rights and privileges" matter to you with all due respect.
QUOTE]

Juro,

I think you have me all wrong. I just don't think your argument benefits the fish any more than the current regs. As I read it the reg states you can't high grade by keeping live fish on a stringer. If an EPO is there all he has to do is walk up and ask to see the fish on the stringer. If they are alive he has a law breaker to deal with. If they are dead he doesn't. My understanding of your argument is that you are concerned with further harm from continued fishing and therefore assume a high release mortality rate. If that is the case than C&R is the true issue and shouldn't be allowed at all. We should all catch two fish regardless of size and stop fishing or not fish at all if we don't plan on keeping them. I think you are walking a fine line with this and should be careful what you wish for. I don't think there is great data available on mortality rates so I go with my judgement depending on species and circumstance and make the call on whether to harvest or not within the current regs. I usually err on the side of low mortaility and give the fish a chance. Easy for me as I don't eat fish but I understand others inclination to lean the other way. You want to talk about what is best for the fish I think we should focus our efforts on habitat, reduction fisheries of primary forage and possibly game fish status (still on the fence on that one myself.)

Sean

p.s. rereading this it may sound as if I was a little heated. I am not just didn't want to go back through and add the right emoticons.
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Old 06-28-2006, 11:08 AM
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Juro,

You cheated and edited your post to include the mortaility information after I started my response so it now sounds like I didn't read yours. I now understand your logic and it is not without merrit (assuming your underlying mortality assumptions are correct.) I think you owe us the backup to the "mortality linked to method statement" though. Big statement if you don't have the goods to back it up. Lets assume its fact though. If the same guy using bait keeps one and keeps fishing vs. keeps two, does that really help the fish if the same high mortality rates are applied. Here I think our efforts are better spent at coming up with method regs or education pamplets vs. changing it to 2 fish and done.

Sean
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Old 06-28-2006, 11:46 AM
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What's all this gill hooking talk? Everyone knows it's much more effective to gut hook 'em. I assume we're talking bait chuckers here which is great since I love the one sided debate it recieves here, but I'll leave that alone for now.

Just maybe some of these folks are practicing c&r after catching one or two fish. I like to keep a bass in the livewell, no need to keep two fish really.

Is it legal to keep one on the stringer and continue to fish c&r? I know many who have done this at the canal with no intention of keeping another fish, this is when anything under 3' was a schoolie and the possesion limit was one. Probably illegal but there was no harm done. High grading happens and I've seen the epo's crack down on the stringer thing, too bad since the stringer thing was such a great way to keep the fish fresh when a cooler isn't an option.
I guess what I'm trying to put across is obeying the letter of the law vs. recognizing the spirit of the law are two different things. I've never been a letter of the law sort and will continue to keep the occasional fish the the dinner plate legally as far as size, species, time of year etc... if it's from the boat, she's going in the well - illegal I guess, just because freshly bleed they taste better.

Does anyone have the regs on tuna - can I bite one in the belly before releasing it? That 47" fish is an entirely different animal than the 27" keeps of last year. For sport I'd prefer the Rhody 10lbers to the CCB / Northshore fish.
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