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Use of Circle Hooks for Striped Bass (Freshwater and Saltwater)

Emergency Regulation Change 

Download or view the emergency regulation change

"We're trying to help conserve a stock of fish that is in an overfished condition and needs help. By using inline circle hooks, people are pitching in to that effort."- Justin Davis, Assistant Director, Marine Fisheries Program

NOTE:  This regulation was mandated by ASMFC and is being adopted by all Atlantic coast states.

Effective December 1, 2020anyone using any kind of natural bait (whether it be live, dead, or cut) on a hook with the intent to catch striped bass in Connecticut Waters MUST be using an inline circle hook. This applies in freshwater and saltwater.

A partir del 1 de diciembre de 2020, personas que usen cualquier tipo de cebo natural (ya sea vivo, muerto o cortado) en un anzuelo con la intención de atrapar robalo rayado en aguas de Connecticut DEBEN usar un anzuelo circular. Esto es aplicable en aguas dulces y saladas.

Downloadable resources

Circle hook fact sheet and Video

Best practices fact sheet for reducing catch and release mortality for striped bass and Video


Background and Additional Information

  • In October 2019, ASMFC changed the inter-state striped bass fishery management plan in response to the overfished condition of the striped bass stock. Changes included a mandate that states must adopt rules by January 1, 2021, requiring use of inline circle hooks when bait fishing for striped bass. Connecticut must abide by the provisions in the ASMFC mandate (i.e. the State has to adopt the inline circle hook rule).
  • The number of striped bass that die annually from stress/injury after being caught and released by recreational anglers is a major component of overall coastwide striped bass fishing mortality (roughly equivalent to the number of fish that are harvested annually by recreational anglers). Circle hooks are a scientifically proven way to reduce hooking injury in recreational fisheries. The new coastwide circle hook rule will reduce the number of striped bass that die annually after being released by recreational anglers.
  • In October 2020, ASMFC clarified that there can be no exemptions to the rule requiring use of inline circle hooks when fishing with natural baits for striped bass. This means that anytime you are putting any kind of natural bait (whether it be live, dead, or cut) on a hook with the intent to catch striped bass - that hook must be an inline circle hook (even if the bait is on a hook of an artificial lure that is designed to be cast/retrieved, jigged, or trolled).
  • COVID-19 pandemic and associated challenges interrupted the normal DEEP rule-making process in 2020.
  • To meet the January 1 ASMFC deadline, DEEP put forth an "emergency" regulation to get the circle hook rule on the books. That emergency regulation became effective on December 1, 2020. Therefore, the circle hook rule is in effect now.
  • The emergency regulation is temporary and expires after 240 days. DEEP is following up with a standard regulation process, which will include a public hearing sometime early in 2021, at which time the public will have an opportunity to provide comment on the new rule.
  • DEEP Marine Fisheries and Environmental Conservation Police will focus on education and outreach about this new circle hook requirement for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

Questions may be directed to Justin Davis, Assistant Director, Fisheries Division via email

Content updated December 1, 2020