State to make bonus striped bass vouchers available beginning May 1

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced today that bonus striped bass vouchers will be available at DEEP Offices beginning May 1.

A striped bass voucher allows an angler to retain a single small striper measuring at least 22 inches but less than the standard minimum legal length for striped bass, 28 inches. The Bonus Striped Bass Voucher Program will run May 1 through Dec. 31.

There is a limit of one voucher annually per fishing license holder. One person may pick up at most two vouchers by presenting valid fishing licenses for two anglers. Children are also eligible to receive a voucher by signing up for a free Youth Fishing Passport. Vouchers will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for as long as supplies last.

"The bonus striped bass fishery is an opportunity to harvest a limited number of smaller striped bass - from 22 inches to less than 28 inches - from May through December this year, both in the marine and inland districts of Connecticut state waters," David Simpson, director of DEEP's Marine Fisheries Division, said in a news release.

The bonus fishery program was approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Striped Bass Management Board, he said. The board oversees the conservation of this species throughout its range.

"This program directs the state's formerly unused commercial fishery allocation of striped bass into a unique fishing opportunity for anglers," Simpson said.

Commercial striped bass harvest is prohibited in this state. The unused commercial quota equates to 4,025 fish available for harvest under this program.

Anglers are encouraged to use this program to introduce a friend, neighbor or child to fishing or to harvest one smaller fish and release a larger "breeder." The department also is interested in encouraging and enhancing urban and shore fishing opportunity and will be distributing vouchers at selected fishing locations throughout the season.

A limited number of vouchers are also being reserved for programs such as "Take a Kid Fishing" and "Take a Veteran Fishing" - municipal youth and urban fishing programs. For information, contact Marine Fisheries at: deep.marine.fisheries@ct.gov or (860) 434-6043.

After experiencing a population collapse in the early 1980's, the Atlantic striped bass population rebounded under strict management controls put in place by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission with the support of the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act of 1984. The stock was declared restored in 1995 and the species recovery has become a model for fisheries management, the news release said. In 2013 East Coast anglers caught more than 10 million stripers and harvested more than 2 million fish while maintaining an adult female biomass of more than 120 million pounds.

In eastern Connecticut, DEEP offices offering vouchers include: Marine Headquarters, 333 Ferry Road, Old Lyme, (860) 434-6043; Eastern District Headquarters, 209 Hebron Ave., Marlborough, (860) 295-9523; Franklin Wildlife Management Area, 391 Route 32, Franklin, (860) 642-7239.

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