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Archive for the 'Fishing Rules and Regulations' Category

Mar 30 2018

2018 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Season Kicking Off – New Fishing Regulations

Virginia 2018 Saltwater Fishing RegulationsThe 2018 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Season is getting ready to kick off. Capt. Ken gives us a preview of new fishing regulations for this season and what we can expect.

Spring has sprung and a new fishing season is upon us. There have been some changes for this year and likely, there will be more to come.

Shark fishing has become even more regulated this year. Anglers fishing for sharks in federal waters must now use non-offset circle hooks. They also have to have a special shark endorsement with their HMS permit. We catch sharks in state waters but if you do have an HMS permit (used to be your tuna permit) for fishing offshore, you have to abide by circle-hook rule even in state waters if you are fishing from an HMS permitted vessel. You can get this endorsement online, while ordering your permit. You watch a video on shark identification which is followed by a quiz.

NOAA has been encouraging anglers to release shortfin makos for some time. Now you will have to release most any that you catch. The possession limit is still one fish per boat but the minimum size has been increased to a 83-inch fork length.

There has been a good run of large bluefin tuna. We are allowed to keep one “trophy” bluefin tuna per vessel per year but what has become the norm, this fishery has been closed early again this year. The current bluefin tuna regulations allows for the retention of one bluefin tuna per vessel per day measuring at least 27 inches but less than 73 inches fork length.

The bluefin tuna have been large this spring. Before the closure of the trophy season boats out of Oregon Inlet, along with some boats making the run south out of Virginia, experienced great action on fish in the 500 plus pound class. On the last day the trophy fishery was open, an 877 pound bluefin was weighed in as the pending North Carolina record. Big tuna continue to be caught but now must be released.

Tautog regulations have been relaxed a bit. The bag limit has been increased to 4 fish. Minimum size is 16 inches. The season length has been greatly increased with a closure from May 16 through June. It is open the rest of the year.

Sea bass is another fishery that has been expanded. We had an open fishery this February for the first time in many years. The regulations for the rest of the year will be set at the April VMRC meeting but are expected to be an opening May 15 with the season open the rest of the year, without the one-month closure in the fall that we have had for a number of years. We also expect to have a January and February sea bass fishery for 2019 but keep following this.

The keeper-size for flounder has been reduced to 16.5 inches. The bag limit is 4-fish per person.

Tilefish regulations are undergoing major changes. We had no regulations from Virginia on north. When this fishery was “discovered”, Virginia enacted regulations while waiting for the federal system to catch up. Virginia cannot set regulations for federal waters but can regulate what is brought into Virginia. We have had a 7 fish tilefish (combined species) and a 1 fish grouper bag limit with a year-round fishery for a number of years. The federal system has caught up with tilefish (no changes with grouper so still just Virginia’s one per person bag limit). We now have an 8-fish golden tilefish bag limit and that fishery is open year-round. Blueline tilefish was closed. It will re-open May 1 and remain open through October under the most bizarre bag-limits I have ever seen. Recreational anglers will have different bag limits based on the type of boat they are fishing from. If you are on an inspected vessel (those licensed to carry more than 6 passengers) your bag limit is 7 fish. Examples of these boats here are the High Hopes and Ocean Pearl. If you are fishing from most charter boats, your bag limit is 5 fish. If you are fishing from non-charter boat, your bag limit is 3 fish. These new blueline tilefish regulations come with new federal reporting requirements. These new requirements are not being applied to those fishing under the 3-fish bag limit this year. We still have Virginia’s mandatory permit and reporting requirements for tilefish and grouper.

Cobia regulations have been very contentious the past couple of years with federal managers using data that is simply unbelievable to many. Virginia did not go along with a federal closure and set very conservative regulations for state waters. This year, the ASMFC is involved with cobia management and we are working to get better data. Based on what data we have, a 3-year rolling soft quota has been set. This gives us a number to aim for but will not require a fishery shut down if we get some crazy spike one year in survey estimates.

Virginia had the option of relaxing cobia regulations this year. We could have increased the boat limit to 4 fish, gotten rid of the “only one over 50 inches”, and gotten rid of the no-gaffing provision. A bit surprisingly, the vast majority of anglers and charter captains who weighed in favored keeping the boat limit at 3 fish and keeping the only one big fish rule. They did want to get rid of the no gaff rule. There were a number of options on the season with the majority favoring a June 1 opening and remaining open through the end of September. The second most popular choice was a May 15 opening and a September 16 closure. Personally, this second option was my favorite and I have not gaffed a cobia in years. What I supported at VMRC was what was most asked for by recreational anglers and that is what passed. I was rather proud of Virginia’s anglers supporting regulations more conservation oriented than we could have done.

So for 2018, our cobia season will begin on June 1 and you can keep fish through September. The daily bag limit remains 1 fish per person up to 3 fish per boat. Only one fish per boat may be over 50 inches. The minimum size is still 40 inches. The prohibition on gaffing is removed but please do not use a gaff unless you are sure it is fish that you are going to keep. The free Cobia Permit along with mandatory reporting is still required for an ongoing effort to get more accurate data.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Cobia Bowl. The Cobia Bowl was begun as a fun way for anglers to help gather information about Virginia’s cobia fishery and to help raise funds for fisheries research. Due to great sponsorship support and angler participation, this fishing tournament has been a great success. We are pleased to announce that we have even bigger and better plans for 2018. The Cobia Bowl is joining forces with the Old Dominion University Alumni Association for the Monarch Cobia Classic. Our goal is to create the largest cobia tournament on the East Coast. We invite Cobia Bowl sponsors and anglers to join us for what will be a fantastic event with great fishing, bigger parties, and even more fun all while supporting great causes. The Monarch Cobia Classic will raise funds to support scholarship and research. This event will be held July 19-21, during the peak of the cobia season. For more information about the Monarch Cobia Classic and to learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit www.odualumni.org/cobiaclassic .

So, what has been happening out on the water so far in the 2018 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Season? In addition to the great bluefin fishing out of Oregon Inlet, both yellowfin tuna and some bigeye tuna have been caught. Blackfin tuna are being caught out of Hatteras. As early as late January, big red drum were being caught out of the Hatteras surf during that early spring we had. Typically, about 2 weeks after that bite starts, we get them here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. It was simply way too early, but there were rumors of both red and black drum encounters on the seaside. Then winter came back and stopped that talk. Now that spring has come back, expect the black and red drum fisheries to begin soon.

We had a winter fish kill that affected speckled trout, juvenile red and black drum, mullet and even striped bass. We will see if this has a significant impact on our fisheries with speckled trout being the greatest concern. The population appeared to be healthy and growing this past fall. Striped bass have made their moved into the bay and rivers and are available for catch and release fishing until May when there are some open seasons. Anglers practicing catch and release in the rivers have also caught some puppy drum with some of those in the keeper-slot range. Boston mackerel have made a showing and some have been caught by gill-netters in the bay. Tautog are the main fishery at the moment with the coastal wrecks being the most productive location. Bay structures have produced some fish during the warm times then shut down after the snow events. The bay will turn back on quickly as water temperatures raise a bit. The fish are there, it is just their activity level that is affected.

Thanks Capt Ken for the 2018 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Preview. You can visit Capt. Ken at his charter business page

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Jun 05 2014

Why we are Seeing Striped Bass Numbers Decline – It’s not the reasons a lot of people think says Capt. John McMuray.

Striped Bass Fishing Fly Fishing Chesapeake BayCapt. John McMurray recently wrote an article explaining that a lot of people blame commercial fishing for the recent decline in striped bass along the eastern seaboard and Chesapeake bay. Capt. John suggests in the article that the real culprit is actually recreational anglers who account for for much more of the striped bass mortality. It’s an age old debate and while technically Capt. John is correct that rec anglers kill more stripers, I ask is it even worth wasting any time debating?Isn’t that whole discussion really about “allocation”.

Shouldn’t the real focus be on the “total number of stripers killed by both recs and commercials” if we are going to try and save the east coast striped bass population?

And even more important I might suggest is that it is not the recs or the commercials that are responsible, it’s the fisheries managers. Recs and commercials (at least the ones who follow the rules on both sides) follow rules that are made by Fisheries Managers.

If anyone really wants to get something done, I would not waste another word talking or writing about what the recs do or what the commercial guys do or how it is split, that’s allocation. If that is important to you then roll with it, but if you are worried about the overall population, spend the time focused on the total number of striped bass killed and talking about the Fisheries Managers who make the rules. Get the Fisheries Managers to change the rules that recs and commercial anglers follow. Anything short of that is not going to get anything done and is just good water cooler conversation to shoot the sh*t .

Read Capt. John’s article and you decide if my take is right or wrong.

note: Capt. John and I are friends and I respect all his opinions; we’ve had some good debates and in general agree on most things. However, in this case I believe we need to all get focused on the right subject to actually get something done.

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Feb 11 2011

CCA North Carolina Seeks End to Trawling to Save Striped Bass

North Carolina Trawlers in Fishing Clothing Lateral Line BlogIn response to a rash of massive striped bass kills along the coast, CCA North Carolina will request the NC Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) to eliminate trawling of any kindas a permissible fishing gear for striped bass. The incidents, photographed and videotaped by recreational anglers in the area, were the result of commercial trawling operations in state waters and have prompted outrage up and down the East Coast. CCA North Carolina will request decisive action at the MFC meeting in Pine Knolls, Feb. 10-11.

“The MFC has an obligation to responsibly manage these resources,” said Jay Dail, Chairman of the CCA NC. “Allowing a fishery to dump thousands of dead stripers over the side as a regular course of doing business is not responsible management. At the very least, the Commission should immediately outlaw the use of indiscriminate, highly destructive trawls in state waters in favor of more selective gear.”

In response to the first of the striped bass kills on Jan. 21, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries implemented regulatory changes to address discards of striped bass in the commercial trawl fishery. The Division replaced the previous 50-fish-per-day commercial trip limit with a 2,000-pound-per-day trip limit. The action was intended to allow the commercial industry to keep fishing while avoiding regulatory discards. The plan failed as another fish kill event, complete with trails of dead, floating bass, were again witnessed and recorded.

CCA North Carolina will request the MFC to establish a commercial hook-and-line only fishery for striped bass, a far more selective gear that will prevent the tragic waste of striped bass common to trawls.

Sadly, the NC Fisheries Association’s response to the recent fish kills wasn’t about the unwanted loss of striped bass, but one of location, “The federal government obstinately refuses to allow an increase on commercial quota or any percentage rollover, and the EEZ is still closed. These boats wouldn’t be anywhere near these recreational boats who were taking all the videos if they didn’t have to stay within three miles.” stated its director.

“This isn’t a question of ‘getting away with it.’ It’s about a flagrant waste of a public resource. On top of that, the economic hit of denying those fish to recreational anglers should be a significant concern to the state,” said Jim Hardin, President of CCA NC. In 2000, a study by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science indicated Virginia stood to generate about $181 million if the state allocated 100 percent of the striped bass to the recreational sector. Allocating 100 percent of that state’s stripers to the commercial industry would generate about $24 million. “Allowing this kind of destructive fishing practice to continue off our coast does not make sense at any level. It has to stop and we expect the MFC to take appropriate, effective action.”

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Feb 20 2009

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Holding Public Meeting on Summer Flounder to Reduce Recreational Limit by 32% for 2009

Maryland Flounder Regulations 2009, Flounder Fishing, Fluke Fishing, Saltwater Fishing for FlounderThe Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service will hold a public meeting at the Ocean Pines Library located at 11107 Cathell Road in Berlin, MD to discuss regulations for the 2009 summer flounder fishery on Monday, February 23rd at 5:30PM.

DNR is required to reduce the 2009 recreational summer flounder catch in Maryland by 32%. This reduction is necessary to mitigate exceeding harvest targets last year.
Options being discussed at the meeting will include increasing minimum size limits, reducing creel limits and shortening the fishing season.
Public comment at this meeting will assist DNR in deciding on the options that will be presented as proposed regulations in the coming weeks.

More information is available online at www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries.

Options selected by the DNR will be available for public feed back on the draft regulation website after the meeting.
For more information, please contact Steve Doctor at 410 -213 -1531 or Mike Luisi at 410 -260 – 8341.

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Nov 12 2008

North Carolina Commerical Fishermen Will Be Required to Attend Gill Nets More Carefully

gillnet, gill netCommercial gillnet fishermen in North Carolina have been put on notice that regulations will take effect this week impacting times and places they are required to stay within 100 yards of and ready to work their small mesh gill nets.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel issued a proclamation that implements attendance requirements passed by the Marine Fisheries Commission last week in conjunction with the adoption of an updated Red Drum Fishery Management Plan. The new attendance requirements become effective Thursday.

The new regulations will:

–  Require year-round attendance in the lower Neuse River for nets smaller than 5-inches stretch mesh set within 200 yards of shore from the N.C. 17 bridge to the mouth of the river;

–  Lengthen a small mesh gill net attendance season so that it runs from May 1 through Nov. 30 in all primary and permanent secondary nursery areas and modified no-trawl areas;

–  Implement a May 1 through Nov. 30 attendance requirement for small mesh nets set within 200 yards of the shore in the Pamlico, Pungo, Neuse and Bay rivers and bays;

–  Require May 1 through Nov. 30 attendance of small mesh gill nets set within 50 yards of shore in Pamlico and Core sounds and in waters south to the South Carolina state line, except for Core Sound and waters south during October and November;

–  Modify the small mesh gill net attendance line in the area between Rodanthe and Gull Island to straighten a line and allow for non-attended nets in areas of deeper water;

–   Modify the attendance line in the area of Oliver Reef near Cape Hatteras to allow for non-attended nets in deeper water.

Daniel had received more than 300 letters from the public asking him to immediately implement the small mesh gill net attendance requirements once the commission adopted the updated Red Drum Fishery Management Plan. The commission voted 6-1 to ask Daniel to issue such a proclamation.

Permanent rules implementing recommendations in the Red Drum Plan will not be finalized until at least February. Other permanent rules approved by the commission as recommended in the Red Drum Plan include:

–   Establishing a 3,000–yard-per-vessel limit on large mesh gill net used in inshore waters;

–   Requiring the use of circle hooks, short leaders and fixed weights when fishing at night with natural bait using large hooks (greater than 4/0) in the Pamlico Sound and its tributaries from July through September;

–   Splitting the annual commercial red drum harvest limit into two periods: 150,000 pounds allotted for Sept. 1 – April 30 and 100,000 pounds allotted for May 1 – Aug. 31.

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Oct 30 2008

Virginia 2008 Striped Bass Rules and Regulations Set for Chesapeake Bay Fishing

Virginia Striped Bass Season Rules Regulations for 2008 Fishing SeasonVirginia NEW STRIPED BASS RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR THE REMAINDER OF 2008

The new striped bass regulations have been set. They are for the 2008 fall striped bass season inside Chesapeake Bay’s Virginia waters.

The CHESAPEAKE BAY regulations will remain the way they have been until December 21, 2008.
From now until December 21,2008 you are allowed to keep two (2) striped bass per person with a minimum length of 18 inches. No fish may be kept between 28 and 34 inches long. One (1) of your two fish may be 34 inches or longer.

That changes on December 21, 2008. From December 21, 2008 until the bay season ends December 31, 2008 you can only keep one fish per person. It can be on either side of the no-take slot limit.

The Atlantic Ocean Fishery Regulations are UNCHANGED. The regulations are two (2)  striped bass per person with a minimum of 28 inches.

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