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04/05/2018 12:00 AM

Breakthroughs Made at the National Recreational Fishing Summit

Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet (left) and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (right) addressed the Recreational Fisheries Summit in Arlington, Virginia last weekend. Photo illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan

We are seeing an evolution in the world of fisheries management that has not been seen before. More people are fishing worldwide in a pool of fish that is dwindling. The United States and its territories encompass tremendous coastlines that almost lie dormant, while we import more than 90 percent of the fish that Americans consume.

Our ways of fish management are being surpassed by technology; stock regulations often react to older assessments, instead of newer data. Meanwhile, $38.2 billion is spent annually by the recreational fishing and boating community and, along with other outdoor activities, comprises two percent of our gross domestic product as we endure non-productive waters. Additionally, recreational fishing supports 437,000 domestic jobs by adding immeasurably to the quality of life. Fish habitats need rehabilitating and enhancing, our recreational fishers need to be better understood, and our oceans need to become more vitalized through increased aquaculture.

The 2018 National Recreational Fishing Summit recently adjourned in Arlington, Virginia. The event was attended by fishers, scientists, fisheries management, research institutions, leaders in the field of fishing, and representatives from government agencies, including Chris Oliver, the assistant administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Fisheries, which is the ultimate governing bodies of our fisheries. Around 85 people from throughout the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, the Pacific Island chain, Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, were invited to participate for two days of brainstorming on improving opportunity and achieving stability in recreational fisheries.

This holistic approach to a complementary collaborative effort proved to be an outstanding platform to share information, identify opportunities, and discuss implementing strategies and solutions to better apply the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Innovative management strategies, use of electronic data collection and reporting, and conservation were among the topics delved into. Overcoming challenges was an overriding theme.

The current administration in Washington took a giant step forward in recognizing the efforts put forth by the recreational fishing community and is making inroads to address many of these important issues. It recognizes how important recreational fishing is to the economy, conservation, and the quality of life. It demonstrated this by not only prioritizing these issues with the Commerce Department and NOAA Fisheries, but also by having Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, the assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and the acting undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, take part in these important discussions.

By having the NOAA and these stakeholders collaborate, the hope is to tighten the relationship, strengthen trust, and develop a suite of innovative management approaches that will benefit all concerned, especially the fishery and those who fish it. At the conclusion of the summit, the mood was upbeat and cautiously optimistic with participants already looking forward to the next one. As Secretary Ross said, “If the fish are there, the fishermen will come.”

On the Water

Except for the chill, a threat of another brush with winter, and the transition to a rainy pattern, spring is gaining steam as Long Island inshore water temperatures creep back up into the low 40s. Air and water temps have been clashing and producing familiar foggy conditions, although winds have subsided and are coming from more southerly and westerly directions. Weather down in the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia region has been similar and is still affecting the slow migration of bait and striped bass.

However, our holdover stripers seemed to have perked up as action in the lower tidal rivers and harbors increased. This would indicate that more localized bait schools are congregating along the shoreline. Schoolie bass are being caught with some holdovers reaching the mid-30-inch range. Certainly, April’s Full Fish Moon had a positive effect on any hatches that might have occurred. Winter flounder and blackfish (tautog) season is now open!

With only one week left until opening day of trout season, Saturday, April 14 is shaping up to be another cool start, if not a damp one. Currently, water levels still remain on the high side with greater than moderate flows. The catch and release areas remain open, while the Trout Management Lakes are now closed until opening day. Stocking continues throughout state waters with an emphasis on the trout parks where they will get an extra dose on opening. It is a good time to take the family and experience firsthand what the excitement is all about! Get to your spot early, somewhere between 9 and 10 a.m., since the stocking truck is ready to show off its load and let the youngsters assist. Incidentally, if you are older than 16 years old and intend to fish for trout, you need to purchase a trout and salmon stamp.

For those not addicted to the adventures of opening day of trout season, lakes and ponds unstocked with trout have woken up and already are quite fish-able. Water temps have edged upward as waters have turned toward spring. Fishing them has been a windfall, especially with smallmouth bass that are slamming soft grubs and craws. Bucketmouths have also been active, as well as pike, pickerel, perch, and catfish. It’s time to think recreational fishing and tourneys.

Enter Today

Registrations will be accepted until 5:59 a.m. on Saturday, April 14 for the annual Codi & Bubba Memorial Trout Contest. Fun for all who participate and a fantastic opportunity to bond with the family. Kids under age 12 fish free when accompanied by a registered adult. Prizes for the first, second, and third place for the heaviest trout. Fish anywhere, weigh in at the shop. A worthwhile cause and an great opportunity to celebrate the boys’ memory.

Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and international fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media.

For all things fishy including flies, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan

twitter @captmorgan_usa

Among many topics discussed at the Recreational Fisheries Summit was one concerning innovative management strategies like incorporating barotrauma devices, which allow fishers to safely return deepwater fish to the water. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan