I  attended last nights meeting of the NJ Marine Council in Manahawkan  and it was a packed house,it actually may have been the largest crowd  I have seen in my 19 years attending

UNFORTUNATELY, on Striped Bass, it did not make much difference in outcome….,NJ had little to offer as the first 4 proposals NJ submitted  to ASMFC were all REJECTED…NJ came back with 2 additional proposals but as of last night ASMFC had not come back with answer to proposal and today is last day so NJ expects their newest proposal  past last night by Council  to be accepted. IF NOT NJ will have to accept the BASE PROPOSAL
BASE proposal is  1 BASS   28-35″
NJ new proposal is   1 BASS 28-38″      ALL OPTIONS COAST WIDE WERE FOR 1 BASS
Lots of conversation on this resulting in not being able to keep a large bass AND the possibility of not being able to record a World Record if caught but these conversations went nowhere as did most other comments from the audience
 ON THE GOOD NEWS SIDE   NJ bonus bass  program  ( which is result of no commercial bass fishing allowed for striped bass in the State) that has been run in the Sept-Dec time frame the past few years will NOW be May 15th thru Dec 31  BUT you will NEED TO APPLY  for a bonus tag which you can find on  NJ DEP website and NJ Marine Council website. BONUS SIZE is one fish 24-28″
BLUEFISH was the other fish discuss and once again NJ had very little input on outcome, Bluefish is controlled by Feds  coast wide….. They presented charts that reflected the yearly results against the Target and the trends.( I will point out that the target for Bluefish to be fully recovered HAS NEVER BEEN MET). But the trend lines over last 25-30 years has been fairly consistent which to me demonstrates the Target is ridiculous and will never be met
(  There were several comments about the migration patterns of Bluefish over the years . There were also reports of enormous schools of Bluefish the past 2 years  that were well  beyond the 25-35  mile range and in waters where  Tilefsh were being caught . Clearly there was a lot of frustration in the room but none of it had any impact on the end result as the Mid-Atlantic had set the target… The only other option that NJ may have been able to get approval on for  few more fish was a closure in  Sept/Oct  and of course this didn’t go over well with anybody
BLUEFISH for 2020
3 bluefish for recreational fishermen\
5 bluefish  per fisherman for the For Hire and Head Boat fleet
   This is all the bad news that came out of the meeting,There were numerous  well spoken comments from  fishermen in the huge audience which was a good sign. HOWEVER it was rightly pointed out that the NJ Marine Council has very little ability to change what comes down from Federal Agencies responsible for Saltwater fish….Fishermen and those making a living from recreational fishing  HAVE TO GET INVOLVED in the meetings of the Federal agencies in person or at least by writing letters with copies to elected State and Federal Representatives OTHERWISE ,you have to sit back and watched recreational fishing as we know it DIE
All meetings are POSTED on the Mid-Atlantic and ASMFC websites
  One final editorial comment that is primarily a Cape May County issue.  Beach Replenishment is and has been destroying inshore and surf fishing and given the amount going on will continue to impact fishing in negative ways. Destruction of off shore sand piles and refilling beaches with  sand and  nothing to hold sand in place is destroying life in the surf and on  beach front….This results in aninsufficient amount of food in surf line and  on out 2 miles for migrating fish . The Fish  are smart enough to know they don’t need to be inshore where there is no food and  they stay off shore as the migrate    THINK about  it and would love to hear comments  positive of negative on this subject
Good Fishing in 2020
Bill (bucktail willie) Shillingford