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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

 

Monday, January 02, 2012:

At least two January stripers caught in the surf by two different anglers. Both were small fish but there is this rush catching bass this late into the year. Nope, it's not officially the 2012 bass fishing year yet. 

 

Well, if you’re out there and a-fish, you must officially have your 2011 NJ Angler registry Card, via the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry at http://www.nj.gov/dep/saltwaterregistry/index.html.

 

I redid mine in under 60 seconds.

 

By the by, there’s no excuse for not having one. Here are some of the many such excuses that won’t work (Hint: None do).

1)   I registered but I left me card in my other computer.

2)   No one checked me last year so I figured I didn’t need one.

3)   I did two tours of duty in Vietnam.

4)   I couldn’t afford it. (Not to worry, I’ll lend you all you need.)

5)   I’m a Jehovah’s Witness. And would you like one of these pamphlets explaining why you should join us? (While this doesn’t work as an excuse, per se, many a Fish and Wildlife Enforcement officer might slip off before even seeing a New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry card.)  

 

By the by, the honeymoon is over starting with this year’s registration. Things will be a lot stricter. Bet on it. While I got some secondhand reports of anglers being asked for their registration last year (2011), I personally know of no one locally being asked to show their card.

The last I checked (today) the fines remain insane for being out of compliance. However, as most of you know, a bill is on the Guv’s desk that would drop noncompliance fines from between $300 to $3,000 down to a very sensible $25.

 

One of the bill’s prime sponsors, Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic), said,  “The purpose of creating the state registry was to prevent individuals from having to pay a $15 federal fee to fish. Imposing an initial fine of up to $3,000 for failing to register with this free database is completely unacceptable,” said Van Drew. “This bill scales back the penalties for noncompliance significantly so that anglers are not forced to fork over hundreds, or possibly thousands, of dollars simply because they were unaware of the new program.”

 

I’m told our Governeater is behind the bill.

 

I’m still not sure where those ridiculous first-offense fines came from but a standing legend had the Division of Fish and Wildlife so angry that the registry was free – meaning they, once again, had no real source of revenue – that the division was going to make up for it with crazed penalties for anyone not in perfect possession of “the card.” Hopefully that is either not true or the Fish and Wildlife folks have calmed down.

 

I should note that JCAA and other angler groups had said they understood the hard times the division is going through and we’re anticipating finding a way to acquire better funding for via the department’s mother agency, the NJDEP. Can’t say if anything came of that verbal effort.

 

I have no doubt this year will show the actual cost of NJ running a free registry. That’ could rear up if the registry’s costs tap too deeply into the state’s unsympathetic budget.

 

I can’t see any way our Guv would hesitate to sign the above-mentioned bill for lower fines simply because steep fines might theoretically help pay for the free registry. It just wouldn’t happen that way. Pissed off anglers would simply stop surf fishing.

 

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