Sunday, April 16, 2006

Fish Report ~ Easter '06

Fish Report - Easter '06
Reef Foundation Dinner May 3rd & Public Comment Due By 4/21/06
Hi All,
Short and sweet: Tog fishing isn't fantastic every single day but it's been at least OK. (And then there was a day that you had to be under 16 to catch. 'Ol Murphy was having himself a big old time!) 8's and 10's are winning the pool, occasional 12+ pounder,  but 14's remain elusive! We caught the first sea bass of '06 this week. One on Tuesday and two on Saturday. That's 1 - as in a single fish... A few more weeks? Certainly a welcome sign! And, I almost fell over today when a fellow caught a ling (red hake). There's a fish that I don't anticipate catching well for a long time: years. Plus; what were those critters swimming on top near the inlet? Sure looked like blues!
Spring!! Happy Easter!
It will all bust loose soon enough...
'Till then, more Toggin' ~ Fishing the 19th through the 24th ~  7AM to 3ish ~ 16 people sells out the rail and crabs are provided. The month of May has been open to sea bass trip reservations since before Christmas.
The annual Ocean City Reef Foundation spaghetti dinner will be Wednesday, May 3rd at Hall's Restaurant. Local businesses contribute lots of stuff to the raffles and auction items, there's even a few party boat tickets...
That's the report - the ramblings lie below!
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076
PID Ramblings...
A pid. A what? A Public Information Document - PID. They probably come from any government body but the only ones I ever see are from Fisheries Councils/Commissions.
This particular PID can be read or printed off the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's website at  under Breaking News.
A lot of cans of worms ~ most of which stink ~ have been opened back up because the "definition of overfishing" has been changed. In it are a few gems though, and, a few things are missing too.
For instance, in item #1 you might want to tell them that the 60% percent commercial : 40% recreational split for flounder is somewhat irritating. Or, maybe you'd like to see it go down to 10% recreational. Probably not, but bet your bottom dollar that lots of commercial fishers are letting them know what they'd like to see! 
YOU can comment too, Should comment, on some of these items. Make it a simple email - a few sentences to Toni Kerns. She's a Fishery Management Plan Coordinator for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).  Subject Line: Amendment 14/15 PID
The Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council also has this work to do... and MAFMC comment can be sent to  also with Amendment 15 in the subject line. Their number sequence is the same as the ASMFC.
It's best to stick with their comment scheme - the numbered sentences - and keep it very short and to the point. List the number that you want to comment on and add a short comment. That's something I'm not very good at, the 'keep it short part', (!) but they are categorizing the comments...
Unfortunately, they also ask for 'other'. Other issues. Short and to the point?
To me, the idea of rebuilding scup, sea bass and flounder populations without any consideration for rebuilding the seafloor habitat that they once thrived on is a losing proposition.
Then there's still the problem that the MAFMC and ASMFC don't 'officially' have a clue that there are large areas of coral -or substrates where coral once grew- in the mid-Atlantic.
Perhaps that's why I think this is a good time to tell the fisheries folks that there's a lot of seafloor habitat that ought to be protected and that doing so would have a remarkably pleasant effect on their rebuilding plans for many fish.
Seafloor habitat isn't on their list, nor is it incorporated into any part of a regional management plan.
Maybe this time.
The video of some of the natural reefs in this area is still on my website in the lower right corner. I've found that what a lot of people don't get from it is that the barren rocks that look like cut soybean stubble are where trawlers towed a net across the sea whip (soft coral). The comparison is pretty dramatic; areas fished commercially by trap and recreationally by hook are full of life: the habitat remains. Trawled areas, on the other hand, are quite barren of fish and habitat.
Perhaps an 'other' comment about habitat is in order!
Finally, scup, aka porgy, are at the head of their list.
Scup/Porgy Stenotomus chrysops - The species made up approximately 1/2 the party boat landings for the first 30 years of Ocean City, Maryland's fishing history.
Estimated local population decline >99%. There is some sign of improvement.
In other words, one angler - fishing one day - aboard a party or charter boat at Fenwick Island Shoal in, say, 1955 caught more scup than the entire fleet caught in the last decade. Or two.
Scup are managed by the MAFMC
The italics below are from the NOAA website
Scup or porgy occur primarily in the Mid-Atlantic Bight from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras. Tagging studies have indicated the possibility of two stocks, one in Southern New England waters and the other extending south from New Jersey. However, because the separation of stocks is not well-defined spatially, this separation is not used here.
Management of scup has been fairly successful on the northern stock. The southern stock remains collapsed and needs separate management
Tell 'em. That's what the PID is for.
Did I mention that the scup allocation is 22% recreational / 78% commercial? And that apparently there isn't any way to calculate commercial bycatch/dead discards - so they don't count?
And that sea bass have a 25% mortality release rate calculated into the recreational fishery. Excuse me; misplace the decimal? Wasn't that 2.5%??? I think that's even high if you fish careful...
And it's due by Friday, April 21st ...
Fish Report - Easter '06
Reef Foundation Dinner May 3rd & Public Comment Due By 4/21/06

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