Owners and captains facing a tough summer


Iguess I can get some cod reports from Montauk or even some bass reports from the surf but there is not much to report. Water temps are just not warm enough. Most are getting ready for flounder season opening March 23 and will hope to mix in some bass action with it. Before you head out, log ontoNJSaltwaterfisherman.comfor the 2008 rules and regulations.

Over the next few weeks, most boat owners are getting ready to get back in the water. Tune the engines, paint the bottom and get new registration numbers. Tackle and safety check. Pay the marina for slip and storage, and that should do it.

These are very strange times being a saltwater angler. This year will stand to be the most challenging year for private boat owners and charter captains.

The first challenge will be fuel prices. With prices expected to peak at $5 per gallon, and evenmore at the dock this summer, few will have the luxury of going offshore or even leaving the dock in most cases.

Fuel will drive the price on everything we do from bait and tackle, ice, dock space, ramp fees, food and beverage, and finally charter fares.

The second challenge will be the everchanging regulations and fines for each species of fish. Where can you fish for them? New York water or New Jersey water? When can we fish for them? What is the limit? How big do they need to be? Is it even worth fishing for them? My advice, if you’re not sure, let it go or you will be writing checks.

Rumors of closing down species for the year or even for good are circulating, causing even more disappointment.

Recreational anglers have been feeling the squeeze for years, and it is now at the breaking point for most charters and party boats. How can a recreational fisherman cause so many regulations and politics over something that they love and live for? How can the government apply such a blanket of regulations without a balance between the recreational angler with one line in the water and commercial long lines, nets, traps and draggers? Captains have been forced to be creative and turn fishing charters into entertainment charters, site-seeing tours and dinner boats in order to stay in business, and some are retiring early and leaving behind generations of good family business.

The Garden State has done a great job putting pressure on the middle class in so many ways that it’s being felt by all of us. It has put the big question in all of us. Should we stay and fight or should we go?

Taxes, tolls and fuel are the three driving forces pushing at all of us. There doesn’t seem to be any relief ahead. My only hopes are in the long run, regulations are working and fish stocks will be back in all categories to the way it was when I was a kid. I hope charters and party boats alike can hold out and prosper. After talking to so many anglers, I have learned thatmostwill be selling their boats or not using them at all. This could make many anglers turn to private and party boats for chartersmore than ever before.Why own your own boat, if you can’t afford it? Lately, for most it is a lot cheaper and probably beneficial to charter a boat and fish worry-free. Don’t give up. Fish on.