Striped Bass Circle Hook Regulations

by Paul Haertel
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association February 2021 Newsletter)

While you may have read about the mandatory use of inline circle hooks when fishing for striped bass, the issue of how New Jersey’s final regulations will read once they are written is still slightly unclear. Our Bureau of Marine Fisheries is currently working on this but the actual law which is done by Administrative Code has not yet been completed. This past fall, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC) mandated that inline circle hooks must be used when bait fishing for striped bass. Various other stipulations regarding the use of circle hooks were included as well and each state was charged with developing their regulations. These regulations may be stricter than those that were mandated but may not be more liberal. Previously, some states were denied certain exceptions regarding the use of circle hooks. However, the ASMFC Striped Bass Board will be revisiting this issue at their meeting that is scheduled to take place from 1:45-3:45 on February 3rd. More specifically, the prohibition against using pork rind, rigged eels, eel skin lures, and tube and worm rigs may be discussed further. New York intends to implement a law that would require all stripers caught while bait fishing with other than a circle hook to be released. While that is not currently mandated by the ASMFC, it could be discussed. While a law like that would help close the loophole for someone claiming to be snagging and dropping for bluefish, it would negatively impact someone fishing a mullet rig for bluefish or a fluke rig who inadvertently lucks into a striper.

You may submit comments via email on the circle hook situation at the following link. Instructions as to how to register and listen in on the webinar are also there. You may have an opportunity to comment during the webinar as well.

Additionally, JCAA board member, George Browne, submitted questions regarding the use of circle hooks to New Jersey Fish and Wildlife. Below are the questions and answers he received. While they are likely to become law, they may be revised depending on the outcome of the ASMFC meeting.

Q1. Will there be a clear definition of “natural bait” that Conservation Officers will be using in the field? And can you share that? A1. Natural bait means any whole living or dead organism (animal or plant) or parts thereof. Q2. Are natural baits only baits that live in salt or fresh water such as eels, clams, fish, etc.? Or do natural baits include animal products such as pork rind baits or other land-based animal baits? A2. Natural bait includes all animal products, including pork rind and other land-based animals. Q3. If I put a natural bait on a lure, must I then have inline circle hooks on the lure? A3. Yes. When fishing for striped bass with natural bait, an inline circle hook must be used even if it is attached to a lure. Q4. If my lure has multiple hooks on the body of the lure and I attach a natural bait to only the tail hook, do all the hooks on the lure need to be inline circle hooks? A4. All hooks should be circle hooks. Q5. Are products that use bait scent (i.e. Gulp) considered natural baits? A5. Artificial or synthetic baits, such as Gulp, are not considered natural baits.
[News Contents] [Top]