Striperquest ‘24 Open To The Angling Public! - The Fisherman

Striperquest ‘24 Open To The Angling Public!

striperquest
The second annual StriperQuest event in 2024 opens up our Northeast Striped Bass Study to a 50-boat field on May 16.

Get involved in a day of fishing, science, and competition.

The Northeast Striped Bass Study was born in December of 2018 during an annual meeting of the Gray Fishtag Research advisory council.   That’s where The Fisherman’s Mike Caruso – egged on by Wicked Tuna’s Capt. Dave Marciano and former Navionics staffer Paul Michele now with CED Marine – stood up during a discussion about satellite tagging efforts on roosterfish, sailfish and marlin and said “what about striped bass?”

In May of 2019, the folks from Gray Fishtag Research showed up in New York City with the first two of three MiniPAT devices destined for deployment on what we believe today were post-spawn striped bass which had dropped out of the Hudson River, fish named Liberty and Freedom.  Later around the Fourth of July we would fit another hefty striped bass with a MiniPAT device off Montauk on a fish name Independence.

As we kick off another year of tagging efforts in 2024, the latest tally on satellite-tracking devices deployed by our Northeast Striped Bass Study team stands at 23 fish.

2019 – Liberty, Freedom & Independence (3)

2020 – Cora & Rona (2)

2021 – Navionics, AFW, Hail Mary, Seaguar, PENN, Uncle Fred, & RFA (7)

2022 – Pappy Jim, Van Staal, Seguar Striper, Berkeley, Marlin Maniac & Tyman (6)

2023 – Striped Critter, Quest I, & three additional unnamed fish (5)

Developed by Wildlife Computers, the MiniPAT is a pop-up archival transmitting tag (PAT tag, also known as a PSAT) designed to track the large-scale movements and behavior of fish and other animals.  Depth, temperature, and light-level data, among others, are collected and summarized for transmission and archived in onboard memory. On a preset date programmed by our team at Gray Fishtag Research, the tag releases from its host animal (which in this case of course is a striped bass), surfaces, and uploads a summary of the archived data to Argos satellites.

If you’ve been following along with this work, you know the amazing data that we’ve been able to compile along the way.  Go to TheFisherman.com, select Topics from the top navigation bar and go to Striped Bass Study for a complete rundown on 5 years’ worth of satellite tagging work done so far.  It is our hope that researchers, scientists or fisheries managers at some point along the way will come to us with a simple request, “can we see that data on those 23 sat-tagged stripers you’ve collected?”  The answer is an unequivocal “yes” – from the start of this project back in 2019, our hope has always been that members of the academic world might want to take look at the data collected through this unique tagging effort.

And whenever that wonderful day might happen, we’re going to continue on with our efforts to catch, tag and release big striped bass in hopes of better understanding this iconic species.  In fact, coming up on May 16th of this year, we plan on deploying three more MiniPAT devices on jumbo stripers in the NY Bight, and this time around we’re hoping to get readers of The Fisherman Magazine personally involved – hands-on as they say – in this effort.

TAGGING-WINNERS
Cash prizes for the most measure, tagged and released striped bass at StriperQuest will be awarded to the top three finishing teams on May 16, with a striped bass mount from Gray Trophy Fish Mounts going to the first place team, with other prizes awarded by Northeast Striped Bass Study Sponsors.

Striper Quest

After what we’ve referred to around the office as a “soft opening” in 2023, we’re pulling the wrappings off the second annual StriperQuest event in 2024, launching the largest single day of striped bass tagging ever.  The festivities get underway on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at the captains meeting to be held at Ross Brewery, 909 Main Street in Belford, NJ (732-835-7677).  The tournament headquarters for the event, the captains meeting is where tournament tagging kits will be distributed and all StriperQuest rules sheets must be signed and dropped off for the tournament officials.

Open to a limited field of just 50 boats, StriperQuest is a catch and release only tournament aimed at successfully tagging as many striped bass as possible on a single day of fishing.  Each tournament crew will be given a package including tags, catch cards and one tagging stick; the goal for the day is to catch as many striped bass as possible, each to be tagged with the information filled out on each corresponding catch card to be handed in at the end of the tournament day.  The official kickoff will begin with mandatory boat check-in off Bahr’s Landing in Highlands at 6:30 a.m. with lines in at 7 a.m. and out by 2:30 p.m.  The completed Gray Fishtag Research catch cards must then be brought to Ross Brewery no later than 4:30 p.m. to qualify for prizes for the most measured, tagged and released striped bass.

  • 1st Place – Cash 50%*, Striped Bass Mount from Gray Trophy Fish Mounts
  • 2nd Place – Cash 30%*
  • 3rd Place – Cash 20%*

(*15% of entry fee contribution will go to Gray FishTag Research)

For striped bass (and only striped bass) to be counted in the tournament, it must be properly tagged and released with Gray Fishtag Research green tag issued for this tournament. Boats must video with time/date stamp the fish tagged and being released with the green tag card with number included in clip.  In the event of an overall tie, the very first released and recorded striped bass of the day will be the winner. The first striped bass caught, tagged and released will receive a striped bass mount courtesy of Gray Trophy Fish Mounts.

In addition to our tournament participants deploying green Gray Fishtag Research tags into as many stripers as possible, a separate group of captains and crews will be out in search of larger post-spawn stripers in which to deploy this season’s MiniPAT devices.   In all, we are expecting to release three sat-tagged striped bass this spring, with the pricey (roughly $5K each) high-tech Wildlife Computers devices expected to stay in place for five months, which theoretically should bring us back to the fall run and the next round of satellite tagging in the NY Bight.

LADY-LIBERTY
Lady Liberty looks over Chuck Many’s Tyman as the Northeast Striped Bass Study team looks to deploy a satellite tracking device into a post spawn striper along the lower Hudson in 2020.

Getting A Boat

While there are plenty of possible participants in the NY/NJ Bight region already with boats at the ready to fill our 50-boat-field on Thursday, May 16, if you’d like to enter a team for StriperQuest ’24 and either bring your boat in from out of the area or find a knowledgeable crew to put you onto the tournament winning fish, both of those are options too.

ALREADY CHARTERED?
If you’ve already got a striper charter booked on May 16, 2024 somewhere along the Raritan Bayshore, ask your captain to consider registering your team in StriperQuest. The entry fee is $350 and an official 2024 StriperQuest performance shirt costs $25. If you’ve already paid for your May 16th charter, divvy up the additional $350 cost amongst your charter buddies and team up for the largest single-day of striper tagging along the entire Striper Coast. Point your camera phone at the QR code to submit your team information, and we’ll see you out at Ross Brewery for the Captains Meeting on May 15th.

There are multiple ramp options all along the Raritan Bayshore, but probably the most accommodating for a tournament crowd with best access to both bay/river and ocean fishery is the Borough of Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor at 2 Simon Lake Drive in Atlantic Highlands, NJ.  The marina offers transient slips with fuel and pump out services, and it’s the location of a number of charter and head boats.  Call them at 732-291-1670 (www.ahnj.com).

As for chartering, that’s also an option for anglers interested in putting a team together.  There are dozens of for-hire boats operating out of local ports from Brooklyn and Staten Island down along the North Jersey coast that can be hired to fish the day on May 16.  The New Jersey, Delaware Bay edition of The Fisherman is a good source listing for that; just go to the Fishing Reports tab of our website, and select Northern New Jersey (www.thefisherman.com/area/northern-new-jersey) for a rundown on the local reports and various tackle shops and for-hire options available.

OYSTER-CREEK
Prior to the satellite tagging efforts in 2019, Gray Fishtag Research streamer tags – aka spaghetti tags – were already being deployed locally, with this little schoolie caught, tagged and released on March 30, 2018 aboard Reel Fantasea Sportfishing in Oyster Creek, 6 months prior to the closure of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Station.
FAR & WIDE
In addition to satellite tagging, the folks from Gray Fishtag Research have been furnishing many of our Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for-hire captains with green spaghetti tags to help provide better data on striped bass migration patterns, while also helping bring the angling public into the scientific “data collection” efforts.  In 2023, one of the greatest travel distances for a tag return was with tag #GFR49923 which was a 48-inch striped bass originally tagged in Chesapeake Bay on January 2, 2023, with that jumbo being next reported off Coffin Beach, Massachusetts on August 9, 2023, a distance of 396 nautical miles in 7 months.

In terms of shorter distances and longer lengths of return, another interesting tag return came on July 18, 2023 when a striper with tag #GFR38979 was reported on the Mullica River in South Jersey, a smaller 25-inch striped bass that was tagged 969 days earlier – over 2-1/2 years – from Little Bay in Absecon, New Jersey roughly 10 nautical miles away.

While you’re browsing through TheFisherman.com, look for Capt. Scott Newhall’s article in the March edition for New Jersey, Delaware Bay called “Lock And Load” Spring Stripers On Raritan Bay for a detailed look at the amazing, world class fishery on the Raritan Bay.  “It’s during the months of April and May that fishing crescendos and bass schools may pop up anywhere in the bay and out to the mouth of the ocean,” Capt. Newhall writes in the March edition, describing big fish in the 30- to 50-pound range available throughout this region providing ample catch and release fishing opportunities this spring.

“The waters near the Ammo Pier, Old Orchard, Sandy Hook Bay, the Sticks and any of the shoals will hold oceanic schools of stripers,” he added, perhaps a little precursor spot burn of sorts as to where our 2024 StriperQuest grand champions may find tournament success come May 16.

The Northeast Striped Bass Study continues in 2024 with year six of our ongoing research work.  This season, we hope readers will join us as StriperQuest is open to the public in a field of 50 boats competing for prizes while participating in the largest single day of striper tagging in the world today!

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