There is a pretty good swing in the amount of effort it takes to catch fish. When you have the right conditions and knowledge coupled with a large number of fish, your chances of catching fish are best. As the fish numbers decreases, the amount of effort, knowledge and time it takes to catch them increases. The number of sport fishermen also decreases with each step of difficulty. Long before any fish management authority declares the Striped bass or any other game fish over-fished, the ability to catch fish is out of reach for most.
In the past, many striped bass fishermen caught ,100, 500 and a few hit 1000 28″ keepers in a season here in Cape May County, NJ. Most of these exact fishermen have not caught a striped bass this season, let alone a keeper. Weakfish, at one point recreational fishermen would line up at fish dealers like Jack king’s, with hundreds of weakfish to sell. I doubt, if any of these fishermen could catch a single weakfish using the same fishing techniques today.
The good news is the Striped bass and weakfish population numbers are good enough for the (skill sharp) angler to consistently catch. However, an adjustment of expectations is necessary for anyone striped bass fishing this season.
Here is the new norm: 25 striped bass for the season, including shorts , is obtainable for the weekend fisherman. A 100 striped bass season is within reach for those that are able to pick their days.
Many skill sharp anglers that dedicated their time targeting weakfish, during primetime, caught 25 weakfish for the 2014 season. An elite few hit 100 weakfish for the season. I would say a good 95% of these weakfish were released.
The jury is still out on New Jersey red drum and speckled trout for the 2014 season.