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Too many New York anglers appear oblivious to newly established regulations.
By Fred Golofaro  |  June 8, 2020
New striped bass regulations allow for one fish from 28 to 35 inches. Any fish under 28 inches or larger than 35 inches must be released. Brian Spreckels Photo

Despite all of the coverage, internet chatter and public hearings from last fall through the winter, and into early spring, there are apparently lots of people not up to date on recent changes to New York’s marine fishing regulations. I continue to get questions from people asking whether or not the changes in striped bass and bluefish regulations actually went into effect for this season.

The problem was compounded in the case of bluefish because while the new regulations were approved, they were not made official or signed off on by Albany until little more than a month ago. As a result, the DEC regulations posted on their website reflected the old bag limit of 15 fish, instead of the new three fish for recreational and five fish for those fishing aboard for-hire (party/charter) boats. Now I’m hearing from a lot of people witnessing others keeping more than their three fish limit and when reminded of the new limit, most had no idea. I’ve even received photos of 10 to 15 bluefish neatly laid out and caught by just one or two people. There is no season or size limit on bluefish and the three fish bag does include snappers.

The introduction of a slot limit for striped bass has also gone unnoticed by quite a few anglers judging by the photos I’m getting and fish being weighed at tackle shops that easily exceed what the largest slot fish would weigh. The new regulations call for one fish in a 28 to 35-inch slot. Translated, that means any fish under 28 inches or over 35 inches must be released. The previous size limit was a minimum of 28 inches, which allowed you to keep one fish of any size over 28 inches. Striped bass season in the marine district remains unchanged at April 15 through December 15. Also, if you are not already using circle hooks when bait fishing for striped bass, you had better start. The use of circle hooks when bait fishing for stripers becomes law in 2021.

While these changes are in effect for the marine district, there was also a regulation change for striped bass caught in the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge, where the old regulations allowed you to keep one trophy fish. The new regulations provide for a slot of one fish 18 to 28 inches, which means that all fish under 18 inches and over 28 inches must be released. The season on the Hudson remains April 1 through November 30.

It might behoove DEC to distribute posters or some form of signage to tackle shops and marinas that can be displayed in their shop windows or on doors to further help educate anglers on changes in regulations, especially for species as popular as striped bass and bluefish.