To some degree it's the fault of the Department of Fish & Wildlife that decided quite a few years ago that striped bass were an invasive species that was harming salmon and thus would not receive further help from the department. At one time hatcheries supplemented natural reproduction, a special "Striper Stamp" raised money to support the striper population, and wardens enforced the rules on stripers. Given that striped bass are now considered detrimental to native species (meaning salmon) by the department, the species receives little or no help in protection. In fact, there were efforts by some in the departmet to remove all size and number regulations in an effort to eradicate the species. Unfortunately, the poor man's sportfish (striped bass) doesn't have the same support as the rich man's sportsfish (salmon). Why called that? Shore and boaters can catch stripers while most salmon are taken by those who own boats or can afford to take a trip on a partyboat.
As for the affect of anglers, we have, unfortunately, always had anglers willing to ignore the rules and regulations but in this specific case anglers are only one factor, in many, that have caused a decrease in the striper population.
IMHO anglers willing to ignore the rules and regulations not so much. It is the shame to pouch baby stripers and fishermen usually watching each other. Nobody want to have bad reputation...
Well, I do not see any long term sustained improvement unless the state changes its mind which I doubt. Some years are still good while others are not dependent, to some degree, on the rain and water releases (which is one of the many factors in the equation).
Several years ago, maybe 10 years ago, I witnessed massive schools of stripers in Rodeo and Pinole. Then I used to catch 30 fish in a day for several days in a row. I also witnessed 2 massive stripers working as a team to ambush and prey on smaller stripers. #cannibalism