Inline circle hooks required for ocean striped bass beginning Jan 1

circle hooks

Rule applies when using natural bait in coastal ocean waters

Recreational anglers will be required to use circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with natural bait in coastal ocean waters beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

The requirement pertains to all recreational fishing (including possession) using a hook and line with natural bait for striped bass. The circle hooks must be non-offset and made of a non-stainless-steel material.  The circle hook requirement does not apply to recreational striped bass fishing in internal coastal waters.

circle hooks
Inline circle hooks (left) are required. Offset circle hooks (right) are not allowed.

A non-offset (also called inline) circle hook is a hook with the point pointed perpendicularly back towards the shank and the point and barb are in the same plane as the shank (see diagram at right). Offset circle hooks and stainless-steel circle hooks are not allowed for striped bass fishing.

Inline circle hooks reduce mortality

Natural bait is any living or dead organism or part of an organism (animal or plant).

The circle hook requirement complies with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan and is designed to reduce release mortality in the recreational striped bass fishery.

For more specifics on the regulation, and other requirements for recreational striped bass fishing in ocean waters, see Proclamation FF-1-2021.

For more information, contact Division of Marine Fisheries biologist Charlton Godwin at 252-264-3911 or

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