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I’ve probably caught 10,000 striped bass in my lifetime, and I’ve released a good 99.5 percent of them. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I’m in it for the stalk, the hunt, the fight, the fooling of the fish, and everything coming together. All simply to see the striper released back into the surf. But I am spoiled too. I am fortunate to live at the beach and can fish whenever I care to, whereas others may have to drive hours just to fish.

On occasion, I’ll bring a striped bass home for the table or give one away to a friend or family. I actually love the taste of striped bass. But others exercise the right to keep their legal limit every time they go out. Problem is, with stripers, sometimes I think the limits are a bit too liberal, especially when I see stacks of stripers stacked like cordwood on the deck of a boat.

fishing

So I ask, where do you stand when it comes to keeping your catch or filling your legal limit? Does it depend on the species of fish or the size of the fish? Personally, when it comes to bottomfish like flounder, sea bass, or blackfish, I generally swing those fish right into the cooler—unless it’s a fish of trophy proportions, which I feel compelled to release. What are your criteria for the catch, release, or kill? Is it the time devoted to targeting a species? The distanced you had to travel to catch the fish? Because you want to put food on the table? Or solely for the sport? Do you always exercise your legal right to keep your limit of fish?

Fire away with comments. I realize that this can be a very contentious topic, but would love to hear your opinions. Meanwhile, I’ve already released a striper back into the surf this morning, but am going out tomorrow to put some blackfish in the cooler for dinner.

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