It is perhaps accurate to say that surf fishing changed quite a bit between 1990 and the beginning of the new millennium. For one thing, the striped bass moratorium ended and there was an intense renewed interest in striped bass angling. The harvesting of stripers was also reopened at a minimum size of 36 inches. The rather large minimum size had a psychological effect on anglers so that often even 40-inch fish were released. Shortly after the moratorium was lifted, the size was reduced drastically and suddenly from 36 inches to 28 inches. Within a short period of time the harvesting behavior of many anglers changed because the sudden reduction left the impression that “all was right in the world of striped bass.” However, those of us who have been surf fishing since the 1950s know that there were many more stripers swimming in our waters in the decade of the 50s than there are today. The reality is that anglers are dependent on patterns of irregular spawning success and thus the only means of sustaining a large population is to strictly conserve the fish we have. Our club believes that striped bass deserve strict protection and conservation. The recent downturn in the population supports our strong conservation ethic.
The increase in the coastal population of striped bass in the 1990s promoted interest in the New York Surf Fishing Contest that expanded from 6 participating member clubs at the contest’s inception in 1980 to almost twenty clubs at times over the years. Competition between clubs for awards increased sharply and some anglers began to move away from what had been traditional attitudes and approaches in a desire to win individual and club awards.
Some of our members were in other clubs during this time of transition within the sport and they were concerned about the changes that also included a trend towards more bait fishing in an effort to select only the biggest fish. Some of our members, who found themselves confronted with a changing paradigm and, because of a love for fishing with artificial lures, eventually came to the decision to form a new surf fishing club that would allow them to continue fishing with the same philosophy that drew them into surf fishing in the first place. Of course these differing philosophies and paradigms are a matter of individual choice, but this small band of anglers decided to go their own way and form The Traditional Surfcasters.
Seven original members started the club in 2002 with the intention of being as true to our philosophy as possible. We also took the opportunity to do a few other things differently. For example, with today’s busy schedules, we decided to meet only six times per year thus reducing the burden of attending meetings for those with long work hours and busy young families.
Although the club is small, we have done well in competition within the structure of The New York Surf Fishing Contest. We like to think that our accomplishments in this contest are a validation of our philosophy and approaches to the sport of surf fishing. At its inception, the founding fathers of the club looked forward to the day when the ranks of our club would grow and allow us to compete even more effectively in the NYSFC. Over the years, this goal has been realized.
Since the inception of the club, we have acquired about ten new members whose personal view of surf fishing matches the club’s. Each new member has made significant contributions to the club in a variety of ways and a number of them have seen their surf fishing success improve during the time spent in one of the club’s special features: the mentor program. We continue to look for new members whose philosophy of surf fishing is consistent with that of this club.