The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the start of the recreational striped bass fishing season in the Hudson River and its tributaries north of the George Washington Bridge. The recreational striped bass fishing season will open on April 15 in New York State marine coastal waters south of the George Washington Bridge. DEC continues to work collaboratively with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to require the use of circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with bait. This new requirement is intended to increase the survival rate of striped bass in the recreational fishery. The circle hook regulations are expected to take effect by April 15.

In the tidal Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge, the recreational slot limit is 18 to 28 inches, no less than 18 inches nor greater than 28 inches, and the season is open April 1 through Nov. 30. In marine waters, the recreational slot limit is 28 to 35 inches, no less than 28 inches nor greater than 35 inches, and the season is open April 15 through Dec. 15. The recreational striped bass possession limit for all New York State waters is one fish per angler.

The Atlantic coast-wide harvest of striped bass is managed by ASMFC, which determined the striped bass resource is overfished and experiencing overfishing based on the 2018 stock assessment. ASMFC initiated and approved Addendum VI to Amendment 6 (PDF) of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass to reduce harvest, end overfishing, and bring fishing mortality to the target level. ASMFC required that all coastal states adopt circle hook requirements when fishing for striped bass with bait for the 2021 fishing season. In January 2021, DEC proposed regulations to meet this requirement. The 60-day public comment period on the proposed rulemaking closed on March 8, 2021. DEC received more than 800 written comments on the proposed rule and over 700 of these comments expressed support for requiring the use of circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with bait.

On March 25, ASMFC issued new modifications to guidance on the circle hook requirements. DEC is now in the process of adopting regulations consistent with these latest ASMFC requirements. Regulations are expected to be in place by April 15.

DEC encourages anglers to use circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with bait as of April 1 to protect the striped bass fishery. In addition, anglers should prepare for the circle hook requirement as of April 15, when fishing for striped bass using part or whole of any marine/aquatic organisms or terrestrial invertebrates as bait. Circle hooks will not be required when fishing with an artificial lure, whether or not they are tipped with bait as previously described. Visit DEC’s Best Practices for Saltwater Fishing webpage for more information on circle hooks and fish handling tips.

Anglers who fish for striped bass are encouraged to participate in DEC’s Striped Bass Cooperative Angler Program. For more information, anglers north of the George Washington Bridge in the tidal Hudson River should email hudsonangler@dec.ny.gov or visit DEC’s Hudson River Striped Bass webpage. Anglers who fish for striped bass in New York’s marine waters south of the George Washington Bridge can email sbcaprogram@dec.ny.gov or visit DEC’s Striped Bass Cooperative Anglers webpage.

DEC also encourages anglers to check DEC’s Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations for the most up-to-date information before going fishing and to enroll in the annual no-fee Recreational Marine Fishing Registry before fishing in New York’s Marine and Coastal District waters or when fishing in the Hudson River and its tributaries for “migratory fish of the sea,” including striped bass. Anglers can enroll in the registry online or by phone or by visiting a license issuing agent location. To enroll, go to DEC’s website.