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Maryland’s Regular Striped Bass Season Opens

State Expands Conservation Message and Outreach

Photo of various types of hooksMaryland’s regular striped bass season gets underway on May 16, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers that conservation regulations put in place last year are in effect through the end of 2019.

When fishing in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, anglers must use non-offset circle hooks when live-lining or chumming, and must use circle hooks or “J” hooks when using fish, crabs, worms, or processed baits.

The minimum size striped bass that may be kept is 19 inches. Catch limits are two fish per day between 19-28 inches, or one fish between 19-28 inches and one fish over 28 inches.

With these regulations, Maryland took the lead last year in addressing the most pressing problem facing the Chesapeake Bay’s striper population: the significant volume of “dead discards” in the recreational fishery, where many striped bass are caught and released, but do not survive when they are returned to the water.

“These regulations were designed to address the shared concerns of anglers, charters and conservationists who reported high mortality rates of sublegal rockfish,” Fishing and Boating Services Monitoring and Assessment Director Michael Luisi said. “The public input from these stakeholders along with our best available science helped us establish an early effort to curb this mortality.”

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources further encourages all anglers to do their part by implementing voluntary conservation measures, including handling fish more carefully and reducing the number of fish they catch and later release. The department has several recommendations and resources, including new videos, available online for easy reference.

Key recommendations are:

  • Use larger circle hooks in the 8/0 – 9/0 size range
  • Keep fish in water when unhooking
  • When releasing striped bass, minimize handling and get the fish in the water as fast as possible
  • Minimize heat stress by avoiding fishing days when air temperatures are above 95 degrees
  • Have appropriate de-hooking hardware on hand
  • Keep hands wet to help fish maintain their protective slime layer

Anglers can also help department scientists by providing their catch information to the state’s striped bass volunteer angler survey. This data helps the Maryland Department of Natural Resources characterize recreational striped bass catch and harvest. The department relies on this information to manage striped bass to keep this species thriving.

Maryland will continue to make conservation decisions based on the best available science for the long-term future of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay. Staff will continue working with stakeholders and the Atlantic States Fisheries Management Commission on practical solutions to preserve, protect and restore our striped bass populations.