It was an early summer morning in the summer of 2019. I was fishing the Cape Cod Canal roughly around 4:15 am when all of a sudden my Mag Darter felt like it hit a brick wall. My reel screamed the glorious buzz every fisherman loves to hear. My drag was pinned and this fish was hauling line down the heavy current of the canal. I glanced over at my close buddy fishing 20 ft to my left and his rod was also curled over. We shared a glance of excitement and he just screams, "They're here!" From that moment on, It seemed as if everyone on the rocky coast line was doubled over with a fish. What I witnessed over the next 3 hours from my fellow recreational fishermen was the exact reason I started Surfcasting7Stripes.
From left to right, I witnessed fisherman mishandling fish to the point where I wasn't even upset, more-so just disappointed in the lack of respect and knowledge on how to properly handle these fish once retrieved. To go a step further, I watched guys haul in slot fish, throw them on the rocks only to haul in a larger sized fish and throw the previous one from the rocks back. The fish ended up belly up! Guess that's what happens when you leave a 30 pounder out of water for 30 minutes. Sarcasm aside, after witnessing all that carnage I knew something had to be done.
I scoured the internet for some sort of conservation policies that were in place to manage future striped bass populations. I began reading about the ASMFC and how there were new laws and regulations that were in the works. I studied the data and how it correlated to current statistics on striped bass age, size, and reproduction cycles. I finally came to a conclusion. The largest issue at hand was the recreational fisherman. The mortality rate of a fish over 30lbs was around 60%. That meant that for every 10 fish caught at the canal that day, 6 of those fish, if released, died from improper revival. I wish I could say I saw people reviving fish, outside of my buddies and I. When the bite died that day, every one and their mother was walking back with one or even two 'fish of a lifetime' to fill their coolers.
It dawned on me that statistics are telling me that recreational fisherman are the ones who contribute to the high striper mortality rates and here I was watching that very statistic come true before my very eyes. Having fished for these line sided beauties for years, I decided that I was going to become more involved in the preservation of the future populations. Come January I connected with Taylor Ingraham, President of Tightlined Conservation Coaltion. Taylor was just another normal conservation-focused angler like me. He started his own non-profit that focused on education, as well as supporting and promoting, individuals and organizations that are working to conserve our fisheries and marine resources. This guy even started his own tournament, called the Tightlined Slam, which took place for it's second time in October of 2019, raising over $27,000 that went towards conservation. I told Taylor I was looking to design some simple UPF50 long sleeves with the Surfcasting7Stripes logo on it! I wanted my logo to stand for something! Unified awareness, unified etiquette, unified respect and unified efforts towards striped bass conservation among the recreational community. I offered to donate 30% of my profits to the conservation efforts of Tightlined. I couldn't promise him millions, but I did promise to make an effort to help him in his endeavors.
After 6 months of testing fabrics and dealing with unreliable manufacturers, the shirts had finally made it to my front step. If you have purchased one already I want to thank you and take a moment to let you know exactly what your purchase stands for; unified conservation efforts among recreational fishermen and women. This means focusing our efforts on the resource, striped bass, and less on the weight of our coolers. It means educating our fellow anglers if we witness the mishandling of fish or improper revival techniques. We cannot blame people for wanting to catch this amazing species, we know why people target these fish all to well. Rather, lets utilize our experience from past years to teach in a clear and united voice.
Buy a piece of gear and join #teamSC7Stripes and our efforts in changing the future! Please shout us out in our gear and we will post you on our page! Better yet, send us a video reviving a fish in our gear and we will make sure you get posted to the page. Let's bring cohesiveness to our voice!