The Maine Department of Marine Resources will announce Thursday a more restrictive striped bass bag limit to help the struggling population. And some Maine guides are so supportive of tougher regulations they plan to take the new law a step further to help the species.

“I’m going to be more conservative. If they do change it to 28 inches and above, I’ll implement a boat limit, and our boat is not going to harvest a fish over 36 inches. Those are the breeding fish,” said Capt. Carle Hildreth of South Portland.

The department’s advisory council will vote on a bag limit that either allows fishermen to keep one fish 28 inches in length or larger, or one between 24 and 26 inches.

Currently the state daily bag limit allows recreational fishermen to keep one striped bass 20 to 26 inches in length or one greater than 40 inches. There is no commercial striped bass fishery in Maine.

The new regulation will become law May 12.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has required states to reduce the recreational harvest of striped bass by at least 25 percent from 2013 levels. In Maine, the catch that year was 443,789.

The recreational catch here has dropped from more than four million in 2006, according to the state.

Biologists are at a loss to explain why the striper population has declined. Possible causes include overfishing by commercial fishermen, to an infectious disease in Chesapeake Bay.

Many Maine fishermen are in favor of a more conservative bag limit.

Hildreth said he already encourages catch-and-release on his charter trips.

“We need to think about the health of the fishery,” he said. “I release over 95 percent of the stripers that we catch, so new regulations will not affect me.”

Other Maine saltwater fishermen agree. Some even think a new bag limit will be anticlimactic.

“I don’t think there will be much impact as far as an uproar among fishermen. It’s a new rule with a new law and everyone will enjoy the season and continue to fish,” said Peter Mourmouras, owner of Saco Bay Tackle.

“Smaller fish tend to have better flavor, they’re more tender. And a lot of recreational fishermen don’t even keep a bass.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.