Thursday, January 27, 2011
Bill Cochran's Field Reports: Stripers slaughtered along Outer Banks
Bill Cochran's Outdoors
- Virginia’s hunting totals produce mixed results
- A good trade: Virginia trout for Kentucky elk
- Forget the odds-makers; Salem’s John Crews believes he can win the Bassmaster Classic.
- The good and bad of the 2012 saltwater fishing season
- Column archive
Bill's Field Reports
- Virginia General Assembly goes soft on outdoor issues
- Quail Unlimited calls it quits
- Field reports archive
Some of those big striped bass that zipped past Virginia this winter to head for the warmer water of North Carolina won’t be coming back.
There have been numerous reports, with videos to back them up, of miles of dead stripers floating by the hundreds, maybe by the thousands, in the wake of commercial trawlers along the Outer Banks.
Here’s what’s happening: The trawlers have been under a 50 fish per day limit. To get the most from their work, they cull smaller fish trapped in their nets in order to keep bigger ones. Many of the “smaller” fish are reported to be in the 15-pound range and they belly up when released.
The carnage was thrust into the spotlight when a video was posted on You Tube. That started the sport-fishing chat lines buzzing and the phones ringing at the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. High grading is not illegal, but you’d have a hard time successfully arguing that it is ethical.
North Carolina officials moved quickly to replace the 50 per day limit with a 2,000 pound per day limit. The change, which became law Monday, is intended to discourage the wasteful practice of culling. It is uncertain how fishermen will know when they have reached the 2,000 pound limit.
“It’s happened before, but this year is the worst I’ve ever see it,” said one sport-fishing captain of the culling carnage. “I saw three huge masses of dead stripers from Nags Head to Kitty Hawk. I have no clue about why they allow this kind of sickening discard.”
In the meanwhile, back in Virginia the General Assembly is considering a bill (SB 940) that would designate striped bass as the Virginia State Saltwater Fish. That could elevate the status of stripers to the point that they would not be abused in Virginia.
Abuses are occurring. The Coast Guard recently boarded a craft in the no-fishing zone off Virginia Beach and found the craft it to possess 58 illegally caught striped bass.
BIOLOGISTS READY TO HELP BRING BACK QUAIL
Want to improve habitat for quail on your property? There is help available from five Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologists newly assigned to the agency’s multimillion dollar Virginia Quail Action Plan. The biologists work out of USDA Service Centers and are anxious to hear from landowners who want to develop wildlife habitat.
The service isn’t just free, but many landowners can qualify for matching funds.
This is a first-of-its-kind effort to reestablish quail, which have all but disappeared in some sections of Virginia, said Marc Puckett, a veteran wildlife biologist who is the co-project leader. Here are the special biologists involved:
- Andy Rosenberger -- Christiansburg -- (540) 381-4221 ext. 5
- Katie Baker Martin -- Farmville -- (434) 392-4171 ext. 119
- Ken Kesson -- Verona -- (540) 248-6218 ext. 108
- Mike Budd -- Fredericksburg -- (540) 899-9492
- Tiffany Beachy -- Smithfield -- (757) 357-7004 ext. 126
>You have to be wondering just how primitive that primitive hunting will go. Montana lawmakers are considering a hand-thrown spear season. The sponsor of a bill to accomplish the season said 12 states already have legalized the use of spears in hunting.
>A long-term study conducted by University of Virginia scientists shows that Virginia’s trout streams are rebounding form acidification, although some aren’t making as much progress as others.
>The 2011 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT) soared above expectations in Las Vegas setting records for buyer attendance and media coverage. This well could mean that the hunting and shooting industry is looking to a successful year.
MEETINGS, SEASONS AND EVENTS
Smith Mountain Striper Club meeting, Feb. 4, 7 p.m., Moneta Community Center, program by Capt Bert’s Fishing Charters.
Blue Ridge Chapter Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Feb. 5, Custom Catering, Blacksburg. Tickets $20, kids under 12 free, contact Mark Worrell or at 540-342-5498.
Mid-Atlantic Sports and Boat Show, Feb. 11-13, Virginia Beach Convention
Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 18-20, Louisiana Delta out of New Orleans.
Greater Virginia Sports & Big Game Show, Feb. 18-20, Rockingham County Fairground, Harrisonburg.
Western Virginia Sports Show, Feb. 25-27, Augusta Expoland, Fisherville.
Smith Mountain Striper Club meeting, March 4, 7 p.m., Moneta Community Center, program on late winter and early spring bait fishing techniques by Mike Bendzus.
Sportsman banquet sponsored by the Appalachian Highlands Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society, March 12, Holiday Inn, Johnson City, Tenn. information from Spencer Young, 276-644-3378.
Spring gobbler season April 9-May 14.
Eleventh annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, April 16 and 17, Waynesboro.
North Carolina State University Sport Fishing School, June 5-9, Hatteras, N.C.
Got an event? Let us know: email@example.com.