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It's a busy week for New Jersey anglers, with striped bass and bluefish regulations expected to be finalized in Manahawkin on Thursday evening, and the NJ Boat Sale & Expo cruising in to Edison through Sunday.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  February 10, 2020
A packed house weighs in on striped bass options at the September 12, 2019 meeting in Manahawkin. Now that options have been whittled down to just two, anglers will return to Manahawkin on February 13 - this time at the Stafford Twp. Municipal Building - to ultimately decide on 2020 regulations.

(Story updated 2/11/20 at 4:47 p.m.) This Thursday, February 13, there will be a special meeting of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council to choose one of a couple of options for the 2020 striped bass fishery in New Jersey; one fish from 28 to 35 inches, or one fish from 28 to 38 inches.

On February 4, 2020, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) met and reviewed state-submitted options for conservation equivalency in the striped bass fishery along the Atlantic Coast. While ASMFC’s technical committee essentially approved the suite of options submitted by New Jersey, the full board voted down all but one in New Jersey last week, that being the coastal standard of one striper between 28 and 35 inches.

However, based on the state of Rhode Island getting one of their conservation equivalency options passed by the ASMFC board for an alternative 32- to 40-inch size limit that meets the approved 18% coastwide reduction, Capt. Adam Nowalsky of New Jersey made a second motion (seconded by New York’s Emerson Hasbrouck) to approve a slot limit for New Jersey to develop an additional conservation equivalency option that would achieve an 18% reduction with a maximum slot limit of no more than 40 inches. The motion was approved by a 9-4 vote.

“The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council will consider two options for the striped bass recreational harvest, (1) one fish of 28 inches to 35 inches per person per day, or (2) one fish of 28 inches to 38 inches per day, said Lawrence Hajna with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) press office. Hajna said the second option is pending a Conservation Equivalency approval by ASMFC.

In an effort to keep the lower end size of the slot at 28 inches, that decision by ASMFC could allow New Jersey the ability to implement a maximum size limit of 38 inches on a one fish bag limit. Final word on striped bass regulations, including the future of New Jersey's Striped Bass Bonus Program (SBBP), should occur when the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council takes up the final striped bass options at 5 p.m. on Thursday at the Stafford Twp. Municipal Building on 260 East Bay Avenue, Manahawkin, NJ. The meeting is open to the public, and the public is encouraged to attend in order to provide final input for a vote.

According to the the latest tallies from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the SBBP in 2019 accounted for less than 15% of the overall allotted commercial quota of 215,912 pounds, by way of just 5,382 tagged 24- to 28-inch striped bass for a total of 31,239 pounds. The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council is expected to take up bluefish regulatory changes as well this Thursday in Manahawkin.

Hajna said the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council will be considering two options for the recreational striped bass bonus tag program, which is derived from the state’s allocation of the commercial quota: “One fish as 24 inches to 28 inches per tag per day opening May 15, 2020 and closing December 31, 2020, or one fish of 24 inches to 28 inches per tag per day opening September 1, 2020 and closing December 31, 2020,” Hajna said by email on Tuesday afternoon, adding that staff will present several options that were reviewed with the Advisory Committee for public information and potential comment.

“Once an option is selected an approved by the Marine Fisheries Council, it will be sent to the DEP Commissioner for final approval,” Hajna added.

Also on Thursday, the 2020 New Jersey Boat Sale & Expo will sail into the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center through Sunday with a full lineup of great fishing seminars presented by The Fisherman and Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA).

Thursday’s lineup kicks off with The Fisherman’s Jim Hutchinson, Jr. at 1 p.m. with a presentation on New Jersey stripers; that’s followed by Aaron Held of Octopus Yachts at 3 p.m. with layout and installation specifics for those considering the addition of a trolling motor; at 4 p.m. join local cast net expert Charlie Kay doing a hands-on cast net demo at 4 pm.

Friday, George Burns from M3 Tackle kicks it off at 1 p.m. with tactics for spoonfeeding doormat fluke; followed at 3 p.m. by Capt. Joe Matioli of On the Bite Charters for a light tackle look at NY Bight; at 4 p.m. join NJ Division of Fish and Wildife’s Pete Clarke and Spotfishing Fund administrator Brian Nunes-Vaise for an artificial reef update.

Saturday is Captains Day at the New Jersey Boat Sale and Expo, with Reel Reaction’s Capt. Brett Taylor kicking off the day at 11 a.m. with trolling motor tactics; at noon it’s Capt. Brian Rice of Jersey Devil Charters with a look at bluefin tuna tactics; Parker Pete’s Capt. Pete Sykes is on at 1 p.m. with bucktail techniques for fluke; at 2 p.m. join Capt. Anthony Grassi from Fin Chaser Charters and Navionics for light tackle techniques and strategies, with fellow Fin Chaser Capt. Frank Wagenhoffer covering trolling essentials with a special emphasis on mojos at 3:30 p.m.

On Sunday, RFA’s Jim Donofrio gives his 2020 regulatory update at 11 a.m., followed by NJFishing.com’s Gerry Zagorski and brother Joe at noon with blackfish strategies and tactics. The Staten Island crew of Guy Buono, Rob Crocitto & Ramez Hawileh from Krunch Sportfishing will showcase the NY/NJ Raritan Bay bonanza at 1 p.m.

The New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center at Raritan Center is located at 97 Sunfield Avenue in Edison, NJ. Show hours are Thursday and Friday from noon until 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Adult admission is just $10, with kids 16 and younger admitted free (when accompanied by an adult). Discount tickets can be purchased online at JerseyBoatExpo.com.

For more information call the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey at 732-292-1051 or visit www.JerseyBoatExpo.com