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Striped Bass Circle Hook Requirement
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)'s fishery management plan for striped bass, effective January 1, 2021, anglers must use non-offset (inline) circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with natural bait in all waters (see the December 23, 2020, announcement). Using non-offset (inline) circle hooks significantly increases the survival of released striped bass.

Since announcing the circle hook requirement, ASMFC and states up and down the coast have received questions and concerns about the new requirement. On February 3, 2021, the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board (Board) met and approved by consensus the creation of an ad hoc committee to address the public's concerns by developing a standard definition of bait and methods of fishing that would require the use of circle hooks as well as how to handle incidental catch. The ad hoc committee will report back to the Board at a special meeting in early March 2021 or as soon as possible. Once the Division receives clarification and further guidance from ASMFC the following FAQs will be updated.

Q. Are anglers required to use circle hooks when fishing with natural bait for all species or just specifically when fishing for striped bass?
A. This specific requirement only applies to anglers fishing for striped bass with natural bait.

Q. Are land-animal products (e.g. pork rinds) included as natural bait?
A. ASMFC will provide specific definitions of bait and methods of fishing that require the use of circle hooks by early spring.

Q. Do artificial baits such as Gulp require the use of circle hooks?
A. ASMFC will provide specific definitions of bait and methods of fishing that require the use of circle hooks by early spring.

Q. If I attach bait to a lure, am I required to use a circle hook?
A. ASMFC will provide specific definitions of bait and methods of fishing that require the use of circle hooks by early spring.

Q. What if my lure has multiple hooks and I only attach bait to one hook?
A. ASMFC will provide specific definitions of bait and methods of fishing that require the use of circle hooks by early spring.

Q. Can I still snag menhaden (bunker) for bait?
A. Yes, you can use another hook type (e.g. treble hook) to snag menhaden. Once you've snagged a bunker, you'll need to transfer it to a circle hook to target striped bass. You can fish live menhaden or as chunk bait once on a circle hook. "Snag and drop" fishing for striped bass (when you snag a menhaden with a treble hook and immediately live line it) is now prohibited.

Q. What about using bucktails with real deer hair? Is that a natural bait and will it require a circle hook?
A. ASMFC will provide specific definitions of bait and methods of fishing that require the use of circle hooks by early spring.

Q. What if I am fishing for another species using a baited j-hook or treble hook but I catch striped bass?
A. ASMFC will provide guidance by early spring.

Q. How does the Division determine how many striped bass were caught by recreational anglers?
A. The Division works with other state, regional, and federal partners to implement the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) to estimate the number of trips anglers take and the number of fish caught and harvested, including striped bass. There are three separate surveys that make up MRIP which include in-person, telephone, and mail fishing surveys:

Division staff help administer these surveys in NJ. Also, the Division uses data collected from the Striped Bass Bonus Program (SBBP) to supplement the data collected from MRIP.

For more information about the MRIP, please visit NOAA Fisheries site.

Q. How are the estimates of release mortality determined for striped bass?
A. The MRIP provides an estimate of the number of striped bass that have been caught and released alive. There have been numerous studies on striped bass hook and release mortality. Those studies show a range of mortality estimates depending on factors like hook type, hooking location, and temperature. An analysis done on these wide-ranging studies put the average release mortality at 9%, and that is what is used in the assessment and for management.

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P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: February 12, 2021