I Have a Gripe

November 3, 2013

Conservation Area Fishing

Filed under: New Jersey,Outdoors — alvb1227 @ 9:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

Those of you who known me know I am a long-time fly angler and advocate of catch-and-release fishing. In New Jersey, less than five miles of the approximately 8,600 miles of streams and rivers are catch-and-release. I find that appalling and have long advocated for more conservation areas.

Well, New Jersey is finally listening.

New Jersey’s Fish and Game Council, and the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is proposing amendments to the 2014 – 2015 Fish Code. The proposed amendments include changes to conservation areas. The Big Flat Brook section to Roy Bridge currently has a liberal harvest limit of six trout with a minimum size of nine inches (yes, nine) from Opening Day to May 31 and four trout all other times.

Electrofishing surveys conducted during the summer of 2007, 2012 and 2013 indicate very few trout remaining by mid-summer. The low number of trout may be a result of one or more factors, including significant harvest by anglers and/or a variety of ecological conditions.

To determine the role harvest plays in limited trout availability, the Council proposes year round catch and release regulations for the 4.2 mile stretch, from the Route 206 stretch downstream to the Roy bridge. The regulations should result in an increase in trout abundance, improve catch rates, and ultimately enhanced angler satisfaction. As hooking mortality is higher with live bait than with artificial lures and flies, the possession or use of bait is proposed to be prohibited at all times. For similar reasons, artificially enhanced substances are also proposed to be prohibited. A 2012 Trout Angler Survey indicate that 11% of anglers who fish the first nine days of the season in the fly stretch use bait. The current gear restriction for fly fishing is also proposed to be amended to allow spin fishing and artificial lures and flies for the entire 4.2 mile stretch, including the Blewett Tract. The Division will continue to monitor the fisheries population in response to any regulatory change.

I just sent the follow comment to the state regarding the proposed change:

As a long-time angler of the Big Flatbook Roy Bridge region, I encourage the state to change the regulation to a year-round conservation area. I avoid the initial opening season time period as I find it quite crowded, but I have seen the number and size of fish anglers keep in that area and I am often appalled at how many and the size of fish are immediately taken from the region. As a result, there are very few fish left by the time I get to fish the area.

I have long advocated for more conservation areas in the state and always practice catch-and-release. There are very few conservation areas in the state as compared to the total number of miles of water available for fishing. As a result,I feel this change in regulation would not negatively impact those who practice catch-and-keep fishing. Additionally, I would like to see the state consider raising the minimum fish harvesting size to a minimum of 12 inches as opposed to the current nine. A nine inch fish provides very little meat. I see no reason why this shouldn’t be changed.

While I am a member of the East Jersey Chapter of Trout Unlimited, my opinion in no way has anything to do with my association. I have long advocated these positions far prior to my membership with TU.

I hope you will take my comments into consideration prior to making your final decision.

Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten
Fly Angler and Catch-and-Release Angler

If you are an angler in New Jersey and would like to see more conservation areas, I encourage you to submit your comments to: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/news/2013/fishcode_proposal.htm by November 15th.




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