C&R Bay Stripers Question

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Posted by Paul on 2013-04-29 22:01:16

I started my FF life maybe 30 years ago catching a rainbow trout from my school's stocked pond on a fly. I promptly bonked it on the head and brought it to the cafeteria to have them cook it for my dinner. That was an option back then/ there, you would either get the standard fare or, if you caught a fish, (old school East coast boarding school) you could get it (poorly) cooked for you.
Since then I have had a bunch of phases; Stripers and Blues off the cape on plug (always eaten). I caught pan fish and eels on bait in MD where my family had their home and flounder and whiting in FL (the FL fish were always eaten when good). Then I moved to CA about 20 years ago and rekindled my interest in fly fishing. I went after trout in the rivers within a 5 or 6 hour drive of SF - lots in the Sierra, most up near Shasta & since then have never intentionally killed a trout and done my best to release, with a decent chance of surviving even to the point of eschewing the fish pic, to leave it in the water and just turn the barbless hook over to watch it swim away. I’ve also done a lot of C&R for bones, permit, tarpon, etc.
This leads me to my (now home) waters of SF Bay & this conundrum started at the following fact: I bought a boat. Since then I’ve been out on a lot of non fly fishing trips; dropping balls for Salmon off the Marin coast, rock fishing off that same coast, drifting for Halibut in the Bay off Alcatraz or Red Rock island. (I’ll leave the fruitless sturgeon trips out). Now there is no joy in trying for and releasing a halibut on a fly from what I can glean (if it’s possible). Mixed into these outings with friends is fly fishing – I always try to bring an 8 or 9 weight with a shooting sinking line. These are all gear guys so you get the obligatory comments about your fancy gear. That pretty much stopped after, when during one of our 1st outings, the only two fish caught all day were 2 keeper stripers on a fly on my fly rod.
So the thing about keepers, shakers, schoolies etc. is how you treat the 1st bunch. Do you just mark them as keepers and plunk them back in to go about their day or do you take them for a spot on the BBQ. It’s a bit like looking at this internet board vs. other boards - when you hear keeper on the other board you assume they took them and they are in their bellies of freezers whereas here, on this board, they would usually say something like “keeper size” which implies they were large enough to keep but for whatever reason they released them – read you don’t care about meat or it’s only the sport or the survival of the species is paramount (I am just a steward).
This is the sports fisherman designation that will now be applied to you. This actually happened to me on the Kenai river. There were hundreds of guys lined up for meat for the salmon run and I was fishing behind them with a fly – when I explained to one of the curious in the combat line-up & I told him he yelled at the top of his lungs “Hey! We’ve got a sportsman here!” I caught a bunch of bows behind those guys and sent them all back to eat more eggs.
So now when I go out with friends on my boat & I catch the only stripers (flies seem to do very well in the Bay) I’ll keep my lot if the other guys don’t have a limit yet – I’ll keep a fish for my wife if she has asked me to before we went out & give my other fish to a fishless friend.
I do feel guilty though whenever I visit this board as everyone is constantly catching and releasing & never seemingly bonking on the head. I would love to see Stripers last forever in great numbers in perpetuity in the Bay and delta.
This is a long winded way to ask: Legal stripers; release or eat? Is it an anathema to the Bay Area FF community to keep 5-10 legal fish a year?

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