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Bill,
I think we all need to look at the success stories in fisheries management. Shouldn't take long right?
Redfish are a great example. A long lived fish with highly migratory adult fish and juveniles that stay inside the estuary...
slot size of 18 to 27 with no harvest of the true adult fish.
You want to ensure this fishery for future generations? That's how it will be done.
 

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A few questions for those of you that are for a slot only harvest:

1. Do you think records and the hunt for the largest fish are important to the heritage of the sport?
2. Do you believe that striped bass poplutions can be sustained without a juvenille slot only harvest?
3. Do you release all large fish currently caught without regulations?
4. Would you release a potential state or world record fish if caught on your boat?

While I believe redfish have been a success story, I also believe a part of the sport has been hurt through preventing new records from being set. I also believe striped bass are a success story while still maintaining the heritage and ability to set new records. I believe redfish could have done this as well. I also believe that there is much more to the red drum recovery pertaining to commercial harvest practices and regulations. It is also important to note that even according to the ASMFC that the slot poses two significant problems. "First, the fishery removes mostly juvenile fish in state waters, which has significantly reduced recruitment to the spawning stock. Second, data on the adult population are limited, which makes assessing stock status difficult" ( Interstate Fisheries Management ) Personally these questions in part helped me come to my conclussion that an upper and lower slot with more limited catches would sustain the species potentially better than the redfish regs that only offer smaller slots of fish under 27" and up to 5 fish per angler per trip. (why different states are able to set their own regulations based on quotas on this migratory fish is beyond me - migratory fish need conistant federal creel limits) As I stated above with consistant federal creel limits of 1 large fish and one smaller slot fish that it would reduce the harvest of spawning fish and also reduce the catch of juvenille fish that will join the spawning stock. It also provides for a bay/backwater fishery and protects the heritage of records.

Personally, I would rather eat a 48" fish from the ocean than a smaller resident fish of the bay. The option I propose provides for both.
1) That might be your definition of heritage but mine is having a fishery for future generations. Heritage is one of those terms that says "entitlement" to me. We aren't entitled to this resource... but we are entrusted to care for it. The heritage we have is an embarrassment. We should however leave a "legacy" for the young anglers out there.
2) No question. You are dealing with a long lived species that is slow to sexually mature. This is the formula to ensure a stable population. We would not be as prone to negative impacts from a bad recruitment year. Even a few years in a row... because the breeders would still be out there ready to spawn when the time is right.
3) I haven't kept a large fish in about 8 or 9 years. I plan to never keep one again.
4) Yes... I'd release it in a heartbeat. How can I say that? I've released several other popular species that I knew were world records. However, a good friend of mine is the current world record holder for striped bass on the fly 20lb tippet. I don't fault him for keeping the fish. A 50lb striper on a fly rod is an accomplishment. Since that fish was landed 2 years ago, several larger have been caught and released on the fly. So what does that tell you? World records are paper... nothing more. (no offense harry.. ;) )

The other factor with redfish recovery is the net ban in several states.

I'd like to add one thing. I have a real concern for the charter guys. They are out there every day trying to find clients and then trying to find fish. They are the first line of support for getting new people involved in the sport. I am certain this slot doesn't sit well with them. I can't change the way they think. But I can say that there are more guides, targeting more fish, more clients, and more money than ever before in the redfish industry.
A bouns tag or a trophy tag is a slippery slope. Close the door and leave it closed... keep it open with a trophy tag and you are inviting further exploitation.
 

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As a clarification.. there needs to be a coast wide standard for these fish. I hate giving that power to a federal body.. But.. there needs to be a standard that we all adhere to.
In other words... NJ shouldn't get special treatment because they have more fishermen... tougher lobby, or more charter boats. It must be the same for all.
 
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