New York's striped bass season seems to be on schedule to reach its peak in mid-October, but fishermen in New England are concerned this year's fall bite may not be as intense as expected in their waters. That's because of the belief among scientific experts and recreational anglers that the overall numbers of this popular game fish are declining along the Northeast and mid-Atlantic coast.

"According to statistics compiled by the National Marine Fishery Service, coast-wide recreational striper catches have dipped more than 75 percent since 2006,'' said Brad Burns, president of Stripers Forever, a nonprofit organization that advocates game-fish status to help conserve wild linesiders ( "Overall, our members are reporting fewer fish than in years past, and it looks as if we've lost a lot of the gains from the striper recovery that started around 1990.''

The reasons for decline are debatable, but Burns believes the targeting of large, breeding-age female fish by commercial and recreational anglers is part of the problem. So is a drop in productivity of the Chesapeake Bay striper stock, which supplies the majority of bass that migrate along the coast. That drop has been blamed on a combination of factors, including overfishing, disease, water quality concerns and degraded habitat.

Although I'm always leery of doomsday statistics, there has been significant background chatter among anglers in the New England states noting a dip in total striper catches combined with a scarcity of trophy fish. Still, Long Islanders haven't felt much of a pinch so far. That's probably because the majority of our fish come from the Hudson River stock, a significant and currently healthy contributor to local striper production but far less a factor on the coast-wide scale than the normally massive Chesapeake contribution.

I wouldn't push the panic button yet. Still, it might be time to consider releasing your next cow in favor of taking home a smaller legal fish for the dinner table, just in case. Generally speaking, the conservation of prime breeding stock is a good idea whenever game fish are involved.Bottom fishing sizzlingAs water temperatures cool in late September, mixed-bag bottom fishing usually heats up. This year has been no exception and excellent scores have been the rule with porgies and sea bass at most ports.

"We've had very productive trips for western Long Island Sound porgies during the day, and bluefish in the evenings,'' said Chris Cullen of the Island Current Fleet on City Island.

Bob Ceglowski of the Captain Bob Fleet in Mattituck said that "North Fork mixed-bag and bluefish catches couldn't be better,'' and Steve Karney, skipper of the Point Lookout open boat, Super Hawk, labeled South Shore action as "the best of the season!"

While many anglers have concentrated on putting fresh fillets of sea bass, porgies and triggerfish in their freezers, others have waited for false albacore. Powerful fighters, and a favorite of the light-tackle and fly-rod fraternity, most "albies'' are released to fight another day.

So far, the little tunny, as these fish are also called, have left fans largely disappointed. That may be about to change, however, as the high-speed torpedoes showed this week off Breezy Point, Shinnecock, Montauk and the north side of Plum Island.

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