When we launched the Striper Cup in 2006, our goal was to revive the competitive interclub tournaments of the 1960s and 1970s with a conservation-minded format that reflected the changed values of our fishing community. Over the past 13 years, we’ve adjusted the structure of the tournament every year, most often to reduce the number of fish weighed in for the tournament while increasing angler participation.
We’re proud of what the Striper Cup has become. In 2018, we had our largest number of entrants and highest level of participation. Over 4,000 people entered over 113,900 inches of striped bass in our catch-and-release category, and we awarded dozens of pairs of Costa sunglasses, thousands of dollars in Shimano rods and reels, 20 YETI coolers and a Hobie kayak to fishermen who chose to release fish rather than weigh them in.
The next step in the evolution of The Striper Cup is an obvious one. We want to encourage fishermen to release large striped bass, and so we are eliminating weigh-ins. There is not a single prize in the 2019 Striper Cup that requires an angler to keep a striped bass. Instead, with more prizes to give away than ever before, we are going to reward fishermen who submit photos of their catches rather than weigh slips.
In some ways, today’s Striper Cup is barely recognizable when compared to what it was at its inception. In 2006, we described the Striper Cup as a season-long tournament, where the best of the best fiercely competed as individuals and teams to see who could catch the biggest striped bass. Today, the word tournament is hardly adequate to describe what the Striper Cup is—it’s a club itself, a season-long event (with a great party at the end), and a community that welcomes all types of anglers, no matter how or why they fish.
The mission statement of the Striper Cup has always been “to celebrate fishing for the beloved striped bass.” That remains unchanged, and I think most striper fishermen would agree that there’s no better way to celebrate catching a big striper than to watch it swim away.