Striper Quest ‘24: A Day Of Tagging & New Findings - The Fisherman

Striper Quest ‘24: A Day Of Tagging & New Findings

“Caterpillar Marine” was the name given to a 45-1/2-inch striper caught aboard Critter Catcher off Sandy Hook during StriperQuest ’24 for angler Chris Scanzillo (center) of Caterpillar Marine, with mate Jack Glassberg and Gray FishTag Research’s Bill Dobbelear assisting in the release.

A late ’23 return as we kick off a new season of striper tagging. 

The NOAA Marine forecast for May 16th was a bit sporty with 20- to 30-knot winds and inshore wave heights expected to push 6 to 8 feet.  Under ordinary circumstances most tournament organizers might’ve pulled the plug, but for StriperQuest ’24 we literally had folks coming from all over the world for a single day of striper fishing, tagging and competition.  In fact, early in the planning process we agreed there could be no rain date for the event; come hell, high water or hurricane, the tagging show was set to go on.

The benefit of inshore fishing in the Raritan Bay and lower Hudson complex – and throughout the NY/NJ Bight region for that matter – is that you can typically find a place to get in lee of the wind and escape the pounding waves.  While the forecast itself may have limited late StriperQuest entries in this second annual “open to the public” event, the 25 boats that made their way to the 6:30 a.m. check-in outside of Bahr’s Landing in Highlands, NJ truly showed both the angler and industry commitment to the Northeast Striped Bass Study and continuing efforts to tag as many striped bass as possible through the course of the year.

“We’re here because striped bass, it’s the fish,” said Justin Poe who drove his PENN wrapped pick-up truck from South Carolina packed with rods and reels to fish and for raffle prizes exclusively for the event.  And after climbing aboard Capt. Dave Shunke’s Fish Circus with a team that included TackleDirect’s Fred Haas and Mike Caruso from The Fisherman, Poe’s team finished up by successfully tagging 13 stripers on the day for second place.  However, for the second year in a row Capt. Guy Buono and his Krunch team finished in the money for the competitive tagging portion of the event, this year taking first place with 18 striped bass caught, tagged and released (choosing to escape the wind and sea in the relative confines of Great Kills Harbor in Staten Island).  The first-time StriperQuest tagging team of Tom Streahle, Ryan Anderson, Michael Zedek, and Chris McCormack aboard the Ol’ Dirty Basser opted to nose around off Sandy Hook aboard their Shamrock, and were rewarded with 11 tagged and a third place finish for the day.

A striper named “Yo-Zuri” is released off the Jersey Coast in June by Yo-Zuri’s Chris Bishop while fishing with Capt. Rob Radloff, the fit with the fourth MiniPAT of the ’24 spring deployment.

All totaled, there were over 80 striped bass caught, tagged and released with green GFR streamer tags, another four MiniPAT devices ultimately slipped into the shoulders of a few jumbo stripers to track their movements inside the electronic circuitry (light, depth and temperature data) in hopes of providing a snapshot of where these big fish actually travel.

Data Collecting & Discovery

While the folks at Gray Fishtag Research (GFR) have been tagging marlin, tuna, sailfish and roosterfish in exotic locations around the globe since 2015, the striped bass tagging efforts which launched in the spring of 2019 in the very first satellite tag deployment along the lower Hudson River have eclipsed the popularity of all those other exotic, big game species.  “Last year our program tagged over 4,300 fish, 76 species in all, but the striped bass for three consecutive years has been our top tagged species,” said GFR director Roxanne Willmer noting that over 2,100 striped bass were tagged in 2023, up from 1,394 the year prior.

On December 14, 2023, the last two satellite tags of our 2023 research efforts were deployed in Virginia. As a continuation to our Northeast Striped Bass Study, two satellite tags programmed for 5 months were deployed aboard Sho Nuf Sportfishing Charters in Chesapeake Bay, VA with Capt. Clint Lessard, Chuck Many and Dave Nova.  These tags are programmed for a longer than usual duration with the hopes of gathering spawning, post-spawning migration and behavior patterns. The tags were delivered to Capt. Lessard at 4 p.m. on December 13, and by 9 a.m. the following day the first fish (47 inches) was tagged; 24 hours later, the second tag (49 inches) was intact.  Lord willing, we hope to hear news about these two MiniPAT devices sometime early this summer.

Striped Bass Study

In fact, GFR’s top tagging captain in the world for the entire ’23 season was Capt. Greg DeMello of Andrea’s Toy Charters who was responsible for 391 of the GFR streamer tags deployed in striped bass of varied size classes last season.  A registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, GFR represents the world’s largest cooperative fish tagging and research program powered by the top sportfishing charter captains, mates, and industry leading sponsors and advisory board members.

In 2019 when the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) first implemented the wider 28- to 35-inch slot regulation for striped bass effective in 2020, we’d noted in an October, 2021 feature story about these striper tagging efforts (4 Out Of 5: A 2021 Striper Tagging Update) how many folks felt that the regulatory change from minimum-size lengths for stripers to a slot limit to protect the larger breeders would negatively impact many of the local for-hire captains; yet the naming and tagging of jumbo stripers has been extremely popular with for-hire customers who are kept apprised of future catch reports.

As for the green GFR streamer tags and corresponding cards collecting size information on each fish with locational specifics, smaller, under-sized stripers also provide an incredible dataset for researchers interested in cracking open our collection of information.  New Jersey charter captain and owner of Absecon Bay Sportsman Center, Capt. Dave Showell, has deployed hundreds of these streamer tags in smaller estuary fish in the Absecon Inlet and Mullica River waters, with some tag returns coming from just a few miles away up to a year or two down the road, others eventually entering the ocean waters and seemingly joining the coastal migration.

“Manhattan Cup” was the name given to a 47-inch striper tagged with a MiniPAT device during StriperQuest ’24 for angler Benn Gilmour, in town from Costa Rica for the annual event and fishing with Tyman’s Chuck Many. Photo courtesy of Capt. Clint Lessard (ShuNof Sportfishing).

One of Capt. Showell’s fish in particular was a 25-inch striper he released in Little Bay in the Atlantic City area on November 21, 2020, a fish that was later reported caught about 6 miles away up the nearby Mullica River on July 18, 2023, 969 days later.  Conversely, one of the quickest tag returns in 2023 was a 33-inch fish tagged off Long Beach Island at the Jersey Shore on November 28, 2023, a fish that was reported caught just 2 days later approximately 10 miles north off the town of Lavallette.

You can follow along in chronological order, latest to earliest, on the various tagging deployments with GFR and our Northeast Striped Bass Study sponsors by going to and selecting Striped Bass Study from under the Topics area; we’ve had some rather surprising returns on the satellite tags.  Developed by Wildlife Computers, the MiniPAT devices deployed over the past 6 years collect crucial data on light, depth and water temperature.

Before heading south for the winter (chasing striped bass down to Cape Charles, VA), Chuck Many and his crew stuck one final MiniPAT device into a striped bass in the NY Bight back on November 26, 2023 aboard his Tyman.  On Good Friday, after getting signals from the Argos Satellite passing overhead that this tag had popped free, on schedule, after 5 months, The Fisherman’s Jenni Ackerman returned to the beach at Lavallette where the tracking indicated it would be found.  “I thought to myself, this has to be the wildest Easter egg hunt I’ve ever been on,” Jenni wrote later in a Tale End feature in the May edition of The Fisherman.  Lo and behold, she found the MiniPAT device on the beach and shipped it off to Gray Fishtag Research for analysis.

“I felt a bit like Indiana Jones,” Jenni wrote.

“JS Bass #No H” was the name given to the 49-inch striper caught aboard Fish Circus during StriperQuest ’24 with Capt. Dave Shunke, TackleDirect’s Fred Haas, The Fisherman’s Mike Caruso and PENN Fishing’s Justin Poe.

Ark Of The Striper Covenant

Tyman 2 was the name of the 38-inch striper tagged in late November by Many and his crew of Bob Bowden, Alex Katyan and Cesar Carranzo enduring cold and windy weather to deploy the final MiniPAT device for the Northeast run in the NY Bight.  “In countless ways this crew has been instrumental in the success of our Northeast Striped Bass Study,” Willmer said later, noting how the Many family, along with Dave Glassberg and his family, have been personally involved from the beginning of the research through their extraordinary contributions.

“We really need to understand where these fish are going, their migration patterns, and understand how big these fish are growing year-by-year,” said Jack Glassberg who was manning the rod on May 18, 2023 during StriperQuest ’23 for a 44-inch striper that the team named Striped Critter that carried a MiniPAT device for 5 months until it was found during a Clean Ocean Action beach cleanup along the Raritan Bayshore. According to the data inside the retrieved tag, Striped Critter arrived along the area of the Nantucket Shoals around July 7, where she remained until around September 19 before heading west again towards the Jersey Shore, coinciding with yet another incredible fall run at the Jersey Shore.

As published in the February, 2024 edition of The Fisherman, data stored inside the MiniPAT device of a May 18, 2023 striper named Striped Critter shows a path outside the three-mile-line throughout much of the 5-month period of tracking, with a summer spent primarily along Nantucket Shoals.

Which is when and where we pick up again with Tyman 2 tagged by Many’s team on November 26, 2023, the MiniPAT retrieved along the beaches of Lavallette earlier this year on Good Friday.  Now that the folks from GFR and Wildlife Computers have had some time to pore over the depth, light and temperature data from that device, it would appear that particular fish was a Hudson River spawning fish.

As you look at the Tyman 2 chart try to focus on the migration path itself; while we know the larger class of fish that we’ve been looking at have spent a significant amount of time outside 3 miles, don’t but get too wrapped up with how far offshore they’ve popped up.  Instead, when we look at the path taken by Tyman 2 according to the MiniPAT data, this 38-inch fish seemed to travel as far south as Virginia Beach by early January where it spent about a week before heading north again.   She was off Delaware Bay in February with the tag popping off along the Central Jersey coast in April.  It stands to reason then that this big fish did not head into the Chesapeake for the spring spawn, but perhaps ended up heading into the Hudson River complex (including Raritan Bay) that month.

Tyman 2’s chart was created using depth, temperature and light data stored inside the MiniPAT device and shows a striper that in all likelihood stayed out in the open ocean for most of the winter, perhaps heading into the Hudson River complex to spawn in 2024.

In taking a closer look at this fish’s travels in late 2023, I referred back to our January, 2024 fishing reports for the New Jersey, Delaware Bay edition of The Fisherman compiled on December 17, 2023.  Just about the time that Tyman 2 seemed to head ashore near Atlantic City, our South Jersey field editor, Anthony Califano reported “at the same time that Wildwood and Cape May started seeing bass blitz conditions, the party boats out of Belmar were still into huge numbers of stripers.”  Anthony went on to add, “The ocean striper bite off of Atlantic City and Brigantine has been on fire according to Capt. Dave with Absecon Bay Sportsman Center.”

Major sponsors of the ongoing Northeast Striped Bass Study partnership with Gray Fishtag Research and The Fisherman in 2024 include American Fishing Wiring (AFW), Berkeley Striper Club, Caterpillar Marine, Fin-Nor, the Fisheries Conservation Trust, Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, LBI Surf Fishing Classic, the Many, Glassberg and Nova families, Montauk Surfcasters Association, New York Sportfishing Federation, PENN, Raritan Bay Anglers Club, Ross Brewery, Seaguar, Simrad, Southernmost Apparel, Yo-Zuri, and Van Staal.

If this study is interesting to you, if you’d like to see more research like this, and if you believe that gathering more data about the striped bass migration is important, then we hope you come aboard.  For a $25 tax-deductible charitable donation to Gray Fishtag Research, you’ll receive a custom decal from marine artist Carey Chen that allows you to show your support for the Northeast Striped Bass Study.  Contact Roxanne Willmer at 844-824-8353 or [email protected] or go to

For Many, the interesting part about the Tyman 2 tag is that it shows striped bass are not traveling as far south as they used to.  “Most old time articles, and even some of the less informed recent ones, talk about the stripers wintering off North Carolina and Virginia,” Many told me with a chuckle.  Truth be told, Chuck and I have discussed many articles in various publications – yes, sometimes even this one – where authors rely on longstanding science from decades past about winter-over striper locations.  “From my fishing experience of keeping my boat in Cape Charles, VA in the winter, and data from this type of research, show that is not the case,” he added.

While Tyman 2 may have spent a week or two off northern Virginia, the majority of its winter was spent off New Jersey, Delaware and northern Maryland.  “These fish are not traveling as far south and it raises a ton a questions,” said Many, while adding “Only research and science, like what we are doing with Gray, can help unravel the secrets of these great fish.”

All totaled, our teams deployed four MiniPAT devices during the spring run in the NY Bight, with three fish “sat-tagged” during the actual day of StriperQuest and a fourth deployed by Yo-Zuri’s Chris Bishop while fishing with Capt. Rod Radloff on June 4.  It was about that time actually that I received a report from The Fisherman reader Albert Shamah roughly 8 miles offshore in 70 feet of water off Rockaway, NY about a jumbo striper he caught and released while looking for bluefin.  “Sixty-pound bycatch, fought like a tuna on our tuna gear,” Albert told me.

Suffice to say, there’s so much about these big striped bass that we simply don’t know, where they travel and just how far they go.


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