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January 16, 2024

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January 11, 2024

Striped Bass Q&A: Author Peter Kaminsky

The book author, New York Times columnist, and renowned saltwater fly fisherman talked to TRCP about his love for chasing stripers and the current state of the fishery

Striped bass aficionado Peter Kaminsky wrote the Outdoors column for the New York Times for 35 years. He’s also been a contributing editor to Field & Stream, Sports Afield, and Outdoor Life. A long-time flyfisher, his books include the well-known The Moon Pulled Up An Acre of Bass and The Catch of a Lifetime: Moments of Flyfishing Glory, released in 2023, which is a collection of original flyfishing essays by talented writers asked to describe their greatest angling memory. Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., he spent decades fishing Montauk’s shores and New York City waters.

Recently, he talked to TRCP about striped bass.

Photo Credit: James Levison

TRCP: Flyfishing for striped bass is one of your passions. What’s special about these fish in particular?

Peter: One of the things that was always eye opening about striped bass was there was excellent fishing right where I live in New York City. When you dial into a blitz, it brings out the hunting instinct that we are all born with. You feel as madly wild as the gulls and gannets.

TRCP: What’s one of your most memorable experiences fishing for stripers?

Peter: If we are fortunate, between Thanksgiving and the 10th or 11th of December, if we haven’t had a big Nor’easter and a hurricane then migration patterns for baitfish [on Long Island] are inshore and the fishing can be great, if it isn’t too freezing cold. This has happened only two or three times over the last 30 years. There was one year that [striper fishing legend] Paul Dixon called and said, “If you’re ever going to come, come now.” Bait was pouring out of a cut in Southampton and there were big bass. One day we just caught big fish, forty inch plus, until we didn’t want to catch anymore.

TRCP: How has fishing for stripers changed over the years?

Peter: Well, like all species, you’ll have upticks and downturns. I have seen it go from terrible in the ‘80s to great in the ‘90s, then a sort of a roller coaster up and down since. There is an element of that simply being the way nature is. But at the same time, the degrading of the Chesapeake fishery—the major nursery for striped bass—and the unrealistically generous catch limits for recreational fishing have hurt the fishery.

Photo Credit: Richard Franklin

TRCP: Recent stock projections for Atlantic striped bass were worse than expected, which could lead to tighter fishing regulations. Is it because anglers are still getting into nice fish that they can’t believe populations are declining?

Peter: The truth is, recruitment in recent year classes is doing quite poorly. When you have really good seasons like this past one, with big fish, you tend to think it’s going to be that way forever. But if we don’t put realistic limits on keeping fish, and nothing is done to preserve traditional spawning and nursing areas for striped bass, you’re deluding yourself if you think this sort of plentiful angling will continue.

TRCP: Do you think more fishing regulation is necessary for striped bass, or more regulation of associated fisheries, such as the menhaden reduction fishery in the Chesapeake Bay—which accounts for 70 to 90 percent of the Atlantic striped bass stock?

Peter: Well, I don’t think we should be netting millions of menhaden for cat food, that’s for sure.  Just as clearly, we need to mount a broad-ranging effort at recovery of Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries along the East Coast. From what I understand, it’s the recreational fishery, not the commercial fishery, that’s affecting striped bass numbers the most. This includes high mortality of fish that are caught and held out of the water too long or improperly released. I think the “Keep Fish Wet” movement is a pretty good idea.

TRCP: Stripers are targeted both because of the fight they offer and because they make great table fare. Should harvest-minded anglers currently be keeping that slot-size fish, although legal, in light of the current striper situation?

Peter: For years, I’ve always kept a striper a year as sort of a sacramental meal, but I’m not sure I will do that anymore. Or I will at least put that sacrament on hold until the bass are out of danger. They are delicious, but catching them is even more of a pleasure. You can’t have your bass and eat them too, I guess.

TRCP: Anglers increasingly seem to pursue striped bass for the chance to post their prize photo to social media. Do you post pictures of the fish you land?

Peter: In the last year, I think I took a picture of one fish. And afterward I thought, Man, I shouldn’t have done that. You get caught up in the moment. I know how it feels, but holding up fish for photos is a habit people need to break, particularly for catch-and-release anglers. We live in a selfie culture that makes it hard not to take that grip and grin. I get it. But does the world really need another picture of you and a fish? You’ve got the memory and I guarantee it’s better than any picture.

Photo Credit: James Manning

TRCP: What is your advice to other recreational anglers who want to ensure striped bass are around for future generations?

Peter: In 1983, I made a film with Jack Hemingway [Ernest Hemingway’s eldest son]. Speaking from his experience as Idaho’s fish and game commissioner, I have always remembered him saying, “I’m not saying killing fish is immoral, but if you want to preserve the fishery, then you need to value it more than the next meal. That’s the only way it’s going to work.” My best advice right now is that all striped bass belong back in the water.

Click here to read more about proposed striped bass management changes.

Photo Credit: Russell Kaye

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January 5, 2024

New Legislation Aims to Revitalize our Local Outdoor Recreation Areas 

Lawmakers have introduced a bill to improve outdoor recreation facilities at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed areas. 

The Lake Access Keeping Economies Strong (LAKES) Act has been introduced by Representatives Westerman (R-AR.), Womack(R-AR), and Huffman (D-CA.). Paired with the Senate version of the bill sponsored by Senators Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Cramer (R-N.D.), it seeks to better equip the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to meet the increased demand for outdoor recreation access while simultaneously growing the economic footprint of the outdoor industry in communities across the United States. 

The LAKES Act would: 

  • Revitalize local outdoor recreation areas managed by the USACE by ensuring that 80% of fees collected on-site will stay in the community. 
  • Foster public-private partnerships with nonprofits to boost community engagement. 
  • Fund infrastructure upgrades for safer and more enjoyable outdoor experiences. 
  • Drive economic growth for surrounding communities by meeting the demand for increased outdoor recreation through a commitment to conservation and sustainable management. 

“The prioritization of public recreation access and the outdoor economy is a win for local communities and sportsmen and sportswomen alike,” said Becky Humphries, CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We applaud Representatives Westerman, Womack, and Huffman and Senators Heinrich and Cramer for their leadership on the LAKES Act. It is much-needed legislation that will bolster local economies by providing more resources to outdoor recreation through improved public access, climate resiliency, and infrastructure.”  

In 2022, the outdoor recreation economy generated $1.1 trillion in gross economic output and supported over 5 million jobs across the nation.  Activities such as boating, fishing, and hiking thrived and increased their contributions to the overall outdoor recreation economy by 22 percent. The LAKES Act aims to address this surge in participation by empowering the USACE to provide more resources to invest in the infrastructure, public access, and climate resilience necessary to sustain continued outdoor recreation on Corps of Engineers-managed land and water.   

The LAKES Act is supported by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, American Sportfishing Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Public Lands Alliance, International Game Fish Association, and more. 

TRCP works to maintain and strengthen the future of hunting and fishing by uniting and amplifying our partners’ voices in conserving and restoring wildlife populations and their habitat as challenges continue to evolve. 

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to the future of hunting and fishing access here

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December 22, 2023

Hunters & Anglers Turn Out in Large Numbers to Support the Brooks Range

The hunt-fish community delivered nearly 8,000 comments urging the BLM to deny the Ambler Road permit

Today, Hunters & Anglers for the Brooks Range celebrated a successful conclusion to the Bureau of Land Management’s 2023 comment period concerning the proposed Ambler Industrial Road in Alaska’s Brooks Range.

Supported by 40 leading outdoor businesses, brands, and organizations, the coalition helped conservation-minded hunters and anglers deliver nearly 8,000 comments urging the BLM to deny the road’s permit and highlighted the invaluable fly-in and float hunting and fishing qualities of the Brooks Range.

“Hunters, anglers, and conservationists stepped up for important habitat and their outdoor traditions during this comment period,” said Jen Leahy, Alaska program manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The BLM has heard from our community and the message couldn’t be clearer: the risks for the proposed Ambler Road are significant and the project permit should be denied so future generations of hunters and anglers can know America’s most wild and remote hunting and fishing grounds.”

Known as the Ambler Road, the proposed private industrial corridor would partially bisect the home range of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, one of Alaska’s largest remaining herds.

The 211-mile industrial corridor would cross 11 major rivers and require nearly 3,000 culverts, degrading habitat and potentially impeding fish passage for species such as Arctic grayling and sheefish.

“We are fortunate to have partners across the outdoor space who believe in maintaining quality places to hunt and fish,” said Joel Webster, TRCP’s VP of Western conservation. “We appreciate that so many leading hunting and fishing brands, Alaska-based small businesses, and other conservation partners understand the urgency of this issue and the need to convince the BLM to revoke the permit for this risky project.”

The BLM is expected to issue a final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement during the first quarter of 2024, with a final permitting decision to follow in the second quarter of 2024.

“Although the comment period has concluded, Hunters & Anglers for the Brooks Range will continue to elevate the voices of the hunt-fish community until the final decision is made,” continued Leahy. The group’s online petition opposing the Ambler Road permit can be found HERE.

For more information and to become involved with Hunters & Anglers for the Brooks Range, please contact Jen Leahy at jleahy@trcp.org.

Photo Credit: Glen Eberle

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December 21, 2023

Our Top Conservation Wins of 2023

Your support helped make these conservation successes possible

As the year draws to a close, we’re pleased to highlight some of our top conservation wins of 2023.  We’re proud to say that hunters and anglers continue to speak out meaningfully on the issues that matter most to them. Thanks to you, and the actions of our 63 partners and 29 corporate partners, TRCP secured key victories for conservation funding, fish and wildlife habitat, and sporting access.  Here are our top achievements to date in 2023.

Momentous Clean Water Safeguard Secured for Bristol Bay, Alaska

This monumental win saw momentous safeguards issued for Bristol Bay, Alaska – home of the largest sockeye salmon run on the planet – that effectively said NO to the proposed Pebble Mine. Click here to read more.

Protecting Redfish and Conserving Habitat from the Industrial Menhaden Fishery

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission proposed that the state require a minimum 1-mile coastwide buffer restriction on industrial netting of Gulf menhaden to protect redfish and Gulf Coast habitat, plus more stringent penalties for net spills. Click here to read more.

Historic Protections for the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area

The Department of the Interior and Agriculture cemented historic protections for the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area by banning federal hard rock mineral leasing for the next 20 years. Click here to read more.

New Federal Funding to Support Design and Construction of Wildlife Crossings

New federal funding was made available to support the design and construction of wildlife crossings through the five-year, $350 million Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program. Click here to read more.

Once-In-A-Generation BLM Investment Sets the Stage for Habitat Improvements Across the West

A $161 million investment to restore landscapes across the West was made by the Bureau of Land Management, allocating funds to 21 projects in 11 states. Click here to read more.

BLM Decision to Conserve Bennett Hills

Six distinct elk, mule deer, and pronghorn migration corridors and winter ranges were conserved in south central Idaho when the Idaho BLM adopted the Bennett Hills Backcountry Conservation Area.  Click here to read more.

Louisiana Commences Unprecedented Coastal Habitat Restoration Project

Louisiana broke ground on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion – America’s largest habitat restoration project to date – to promote long-term fishery health of the Gulf Shore basin. Click here to read more.

On The Horizon

As we look ahead, we know we are only getting started.  In the coming year, we remain committed to our staff and partners who work every day to create common-sense, lasting solutions — like protecting Alaska’s Brooks Range from a major industrial access corridor; directing federal agencies to digitize water and fishing access through the recently introduced MAPWaters Act; and, ensuring that the crucial Farm Bill conservation programs enjoyed by hunters and anglers are protected and adequately funded.

Commitment to Transparency

In 2023, TRCP once again received top ratings by charity watchdog groups Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and the Better Business Bureau. We work hard to ensure that every dollar you give goes as far as possible for conservation, and this recognition of where we stack up against other charities is very important to us.

Given all that we’ve accomplished this year to guarantee Americans quality places to hunt and fish, we hope you’ll consider supporting TRCP during this season of giving. SITKA Gear will match every dollar you give, doubling your impact towards conservation.  There’s no better time to get involved in conservation and make twice the impact.

Stay in touch!  Are you interested in receiving our weekly Roosevelt Report in 2024? Subscribe here.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

Learn More

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