Striped bass season opens on Wednesday in Maryland – and it opens with new emergency regulations pertaining to the use of bait, gear and hooks – in effect through October 12. The new regulations address the shared concerns of anglers, charters and conservationists who have reported high mortality rates of rockfish not of legal catch size – the minimum size has been reduced to 19 inches. Maryland Department of Natural Resources is looking to make the regulations permanent – a public hearing will be held on Thursday, May 17 at 6pm at the Annapolis Friends Meeting House – comment will be taken through May 29.
Effective May 16, 2018, in Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries:
- Anglers must use non-offset circle hooks when live-lining or chumming;
- Anglers must use circle hooks or “J” hooks when using fish, crabs or worms as bait, or when using processed baits; and
- The minimum size for striped bass is 19 inches.
“The new rockfish regulations seek to address the shared concerns of anglers, charters and conservationists who have reported high mortality rates of sublegal rockfish,” Fishing and Boating Service Director David Blazer said. “The new rules aim to increase fishing opportunity and success while reducing unnecessary mortality in the bay.”
While the emergency regulations are in effect, the department is also moving forward with regulations aimed at making them permanent through the reminder of the 2018 and 2019 fishing seasons. Public comment is being accepting through May 29, 2018, with a public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. May 17 at the Annapolis Friends Meeting House.
Staff have begun a proactive education and public relations campaign to ensure that anglers, bait-and-tackle shops, charter boat captains and the Maryland Natural Resources Police understand the new striped bass minimum size and corresponding gear requirements.
After the regulations sunset in 2019, the department will use new stock assessment data to determine if the new conservation actions were preventing mortality as designed and intended.