Fortunately, this year anglers in Pictou County will have expanded opportunities available to them with both a longer retention season and an increased bag limit. In 2017 the tidal water season runs until the end of October and you are now allowed to keep bass every day of the fishing season. There are no mandatory catch and release periods.
From June 15 to Aug. 31 you are now allowed to retain two bass a day. From Sept. 1 until Oct. 31 the bag limit is one per day. The fishery for this species was closed a number of years ago when population numbers dropped to very low levels. Thanks to management measures brought in by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans the population has rebounded extremely well and anglers will be able to take advantage of this increased abundance.
Similar to 2016 the following management measures will also apply during the 2017 striped bass recreational fisheries:
– The size window for the retention fishery is established at a minimum length of 50 cm (20in) and a maximum length of 65 cm (26in). The length is measured in a straight line from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail (total length).
– Angling activities begins two hours before sunrise and ends two hours after sunset of each day.
– The use of a non-offset barbless circle hook is mandatory when bait is used while fishing for striped bass in tidal waters.
The most popular saltwater sport fish in Eastern North America, striped bass are large, robust fish, which school in coastal waters, returning to fresh water to spawn. There are two populations of stripers in Nova Scotia. The fish we find off our shores come from a population of bass that spawn in the Miramichi River in New Brunswick. The second population is found on the Atlantic Coast. Those bass spawn in the Shubenacadie and Stewiacke rivers in May and June.
Female stripers produce up to 100,000 eggs, which are released near the surface and hatch in two or three days. Young bass grow rapidly on a diet of plankton and invertebrates such as insect larvae and worms. Later growth is dependent on the availability of fish such as silversides, mackerel and herring. Striped bass in the Northumberland Strait spend the summer feeding off our coast. After spending a few years in our waters they return to the Miramichi to spawn and complete the cycle. Generally speaking, stripers in the Gulf do not reach the size of bass found on the Atlantic Coast.
This expanded season is a great opportunity to fish for this species and I hope local anglers get a chance to take advantage of it.
Don MacLean is an outdoor writer and biologist who lives in Pictou County.