January 31, 2019. There is a VMRC public hearing on March 26, 2019 at 380 Fenwick Road, Ft. Monroe, VA 23651 on the issue of towing striped bass and cobia. Please take a few minutes to respond this poll question to see where anglers stand on the issue. Share this poll with as many anglers as possible to get the word out. The more anglers responding the better.
Note: We are running 2 poll questions. Please consider both poll questions before responding. Responses are limited to IP addresses so one voter cannot vote multiple times.
Do you support the draft VMRC rule that prohibits the towing of a striped bass or cobia by a line behind a boat that is in gear?
- Yes, the towing of striped bass and cobia while in gear should be banned. (76%, 241 Votes)
- No, there should not be a rule against towing. (24%, 78 Votes)
Total Voters: 319
Argument For: The practice of towing striped bass and cobia behind a boat that is in gear should be banned. With a boat in gear the forward motion of the boat while trolling can be from 2 to 5 knots and the fish attached to the towed line is not likely to survive and can possibly be mutilated. Anglers wanting to tow fish are likely wanting to cull (release) that fish in case a larger fish is caught. In many cases that fish will not survive if released after being towed with the boat in gear at 2-5 knots. Additionally, towing can force water into the stomach adding weight which creates problems at weigh stations for the citation program and tournaments.
Argument Against: It should not be the business of VMRC to regulate towing. If a tournament has an issue, they can write a tournament rule but we don’t need a state regulation rule. Once an angler decides to keep a large fish that fish belongs to the angler and should be never be released later for a larger fish. Now once an angler decides to keep that fish it should become part of the boat limit. The angler can tow it, put a party hat on it, or do whatever. The angler can’t mutilate it or clean it beyond recognition while on the water so a marine police officer can’t ID the species and size. There is already a rule against mutilation and cleaning on the water. Putting a hole in the mouth is not mutilating beyond recognition. Some anglers don’t have large fish boxes and keeping that fish in cold water attached to a line is a method of keeping that fish fresh longer to enjoy the meat later. In gear, out of gear does not matter. Towing should be legal as long as the angler does not try to release it later just because a bigger one was caught. Fishing is already over regulated with too many rules in place, let’s not create new unnecessary rules. There are unethical anglers out there that will not follow the rules creating. Creating new rules will not change the behaviors of bad anglers.
Second Poll Question:
Question 1. Should read (question is too long for poll box): Yes, VMRC should prohibit the culling of large fish. No culling (releasing) of large fish (36 inches or bigger) from the fish box, live well, cooler, towed line, deck, or anywhere within or connected to the boat . If the fish is out of the water for more than 2 minutes it will be considered caught.
Do you believe VMRC should instead create a rule against the culling of large fish?
- Yes, VMRC should prohibit the culling of large fish. No culling (releasing) of large fish (36 inches or bigger) from the fish box, live well, cooler, towed line, deck, or anywhere within or connec (78%, 240 Votes)
- No, VMRC should not create a new rule for the culling of fish. (22%, 66 Votes)
Total Voters: 306
Some unethical anglers will catch a large fish and try to keep it alive in case a bigger fish is caught. Some will even toss a fish back that has been in the fish box on ice. The smaller fish is released (culled) so the larger fish can be kept. The survival rate of the culled (released) fish is questionable. There are many ways to cull a fish (not just towing). Perhaps the issue that needs to be addressed is the culling of large fish. We can argue over what large is but a schoolie can be kept alive in a live well for a long time and survive if released. The issue should be focused on culling because many are against the releasing of larger fish (36 or higher my opinion) that could die just because a bigger one was caught. Should the practice of culling large should be illegal….or the towing part.
July 11, 2018. VSSA has requested that VMRC measure fish in a consistent manner with other states. Presently the way Virginia measures fish is confusing and results in unpleasant encounters with marine police officers. VMRC is addressing this issue with a new regulation. This is not just a rockfish measurement issue. This issue applies to the way Virginia measures all fish, it just became a highlighted issue when measuring striped bass. A public hearing is being requested on July 24, 2018 for an August 28, 2018 public hearing. Stay tuned for the specific language VMRC is putting together.
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING Proposal to amend Chapters 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass;” 4 VAC 20-280-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Speckled Trout and Red Drum;” 4 VAC 20-320-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Taking of Black Drum;” Chapter 4 VAC 20-380-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Grey Trout (Weakfish);” 4 VAC 20-500-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Eels,” 4 VAC 20-510-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Amberjack and Cobia;” 4 VAC 20-540-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Spanish and King Mackerel;” 4 VAC 20-620-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Summer Flounder;” 4 VAC 20-910-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Scup (Porgy);” 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Black Sea Bass;” and, 4 VAC 20-960-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Tautog,” and to establish Chapter 4 VAC 20-1340-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Measuring of Finfish,” to establish a uniform definition and process for determining the total length of fish species.
Striped bass measurement is confusing in Virginia. Here is what the guidance from VMRC states which does not allow pinching:
VA Measurements…………………..Size limits are total length measurements; fish must be measured tip of nose to tip of tail, except black sea bass, which are measured from tip of nose along the centerline of the body, to the center of the tail.
Maryland: Size limits are generally based on the total length of a fish. The total length of a fish is the maximum length with the mouth closed and the tail pinched together measured from the snout to the tip of the tail. The best way to obtain this straight line measurement is to push the fish’s snout against a vertical surface with the mouth closed and with the fish lying along a tape measure and then pinch the tail fin closed to determine the total length.
Florida: Total Length is measured from the most forward point of the head, with the mouth closed, to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed, while the fish is lying on its side.
Even Virginia’s fresh water fish program measures fish differently than Virginia’s saltwater fish. https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/trophy-fish/how-to-certify/
How to Certify a Trophy-Size Freshwater Fish
Certifying Your Fish By Length and Photo:
- Lay the fish on top of or beside a flat measuring rule. Do not lay the rule over the curvature of the fish’s body.
- Close the fish’s mouth and squeeze the tail lobes together.
- Measure from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail to the nearest ¼ inch. See diagram.
- Have an observer verify the length and complete the witness information on the application. Or, take a picture of the fish and complete the length witness information yourself.
- Fish certified by length only (no certified weight), do not qualify for “Angler of the Month & Year Awards”.
Certifying Your Fish By Weight:
- Take your fish to a store with certified scales.
- Have a clerk weigh the fish and complete the weight witness information on the application.
VSSA is working with VMRC to possibly adjust our seasons for striped bass. Our fall season does not even get going until after Thanksgiving and sometimes even later leaving us with just 2 or 3 weeks of fishing in December. Please provide your input to this poll we are running on the topic.
VSSA letters relating to rockfish: