Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fish Report 10/23/08

Fish Report 10/23/08
Et Tu Fluke Counters?
Going Cbassin'
Toggin' Too
Hi All,
A joyful celebration of this year's flounder season is in order. Kind words, remembrances of a few good days; perhaps a tip of the bottle as my Irish friends would have it.
Our flounder season is dead.
The official estimate of the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey, or MRFSS --say murfs, and try not to say it with unkind inflammatory words or exclamatory interjections that you wouldn't otherwise use in gracious company-- MRFSS is the only estimate allowed to be used in management decisions in this fishery. Period. Lawsuit tempered.
MRFSS sez Maryland's caught over 66,000 summer flounder, and that's that.
Dang. 66,000 fluke. That's a fair many. I missed it. My clients missed it.
Apparently, everyone else on Maryland's coast missed it too.
Not MRFSS though. Slick rascals.
We were only allowed 60,000. Over quota by mid August it would seem. DNR was right to take action; to close the season. They had to.
Still, when in the Billy Blue Blazes did any one throw those kinds of numbers on the dock?
I've been trying to find out. Called and emailed everyone I could that's in the bottom fishing industry here. They gave me their catch numbers through the end of August - the period when MRFSS sez we killed 66,000 flounder.
All of us together, ocean and back-bay boats, professionals with thousands and thousands of clients not catching their 3 fish limit:  1,318 fluke.
Not a stellar year. Weather, water; sure didn't happen offshore.
Of course we're not the only fishers, not by a long shot. Lots of the private boat guys are as trained ninjas when it comes to their flounder fishing.
So I put together an estimate based on info from a few not-for-hire highliners. Through the end of August - 25 boats -sharpies- the gear heads; 558 fluke lay iced in the cooler.
Still a long way to 66,000 -- 64,124 to be exact.
I know there's a lot of boats. I know there's a lot of shore effort. I know the Chesapeake has a fishery too - with a 1 fish creel limit.
The for-hire landings times 50. That's what it would take to cross the threshold. Somehow, somewhere there's the equivalent of 50 more party and charter boat fleets out there - fishing everyday.
I know when a fisheries survey person comes aboard my boat that the data they gather is rock-solid. More perfect than what I gather everyday.
Converting that hard data into the far-softer whole state's catch...
Must be some of that fancy here-now physics string theory alternate universe stuff.
Ah, betcha they laid them boys off that were working up the numbers on those mortgage-backed securities.
Make 'ol Albert Einstein blush, it would.
Tell you strait-up; I think its Bad Science. The smelly barn-yard sort of Bad Science.
Its also Buck-Shot square in the north end of a south-bound captain.
Here's the good news. We're going to take the fishing pressure off flounder, a stock at populations never seen off coastal Maryland, and put it on sea bass and tautog, whose numbers aren't in such an envious position.
That's some clever management...
Its not MD DNR's bad. They are doing what they think is right to protect next year's quota. The fed writes the rules.
But DNR does have a lot of data feeds. Maybe they'd use some of that to make a case to have MRFSS reexamine their numbers.
We have a while before the weather breaks nice enough to do some serious fluking. Maybe someone back-checking the input over at MRFSS will find a misplaced comma. Like 6,600 fish instead of 66,000.
If only DNR weren't as broke as their fisherman.......
Going everyday the weather will let us. Target sea bass; catch them too. Some keepers even. And - when the weather's right and the bite is on, we're going to tag some outrageous sized flounder.
A few long trips for tog too. Creel limit opens back up to 4 come November. Hunt some jumbos. Tag some of those too I 'spect.
Special trips will be announced with my next email. Promise. Might even have a special fluke tagging trip.
Fish Report 10/19/08
Great Fishing
Long Faces
'Nother Whale
Hi All,
Shoulda been here last week.
If you like catching flounder anyway..
4 days fishing -MTWT- 4 days with a boat limit of fluke.
Double-headers of keepers even.
We're only allowed 3 per person at 17 1/2. But if the limit were 20 fish at 16 inches a couple guys would have gone there too.
Lot of good tags by the rail - 'till I ran out. Just reloaded.
An old friend asked where I'd been fishing. Unaware that he'd just asked a lady how old she was; I replied, "the Economic."
"Never heard of that spot" he said.
"No? Its a wreck.."
A restaurateur; said he'd been fishing there for some while too......
Anyway, I'm getting reports of flatties from inside the bays to 30 fathoms. Despite having not done as much with them this summer, I think they were about; that the nasty pea-green water kept them off the bite.
September's water became clearer, but the enemy of all who seek fluke is the dreaded swell. Having barely gotten 12 trips of the 30 available because of weather; swells stole September's fluke show.
Wandering around here a bit. That because the "I thought you were killing 'em." conversation is coming.
Lost Friday and Saturday; as I write Sunday at noon, waves are 13 feet in 30 knot winds. The forecast has things piping down Monday afternoon.
{What was the name of that wreck?}
We did have good fishing.
Now we're going to start a new data set.
Amidst extremely satisfied customers this week were some long faces.
They'd come for sea bass. We'd had some fair catches last weekend, but with the flounder bite on....
In a perfect ocean -with perfect weather- I could offer many different fishing trips. Sea bass, fluke, tog, ling, bluefish, scup, croaker, a mix; even giant sturgeon or -heavens- sea trout in this perfect place.
Fall of 2008?  Not-so-perfect. Find something biting with the emphasis on cbass and flounder.
It's not going to be a memorable fall cbass run. In a few weeks we may find ourselves with high man in the mid-teens; higher still perhaps as more leaves fall away. I seriously doubt we'll see any boat-limits of sea bass.
It's a good year to be flexible.
Many times I've seen anglers start out targeting tog, yet be unable to resist changing baits when cbass were coming up two-at-a-time.
So too the cbass fisherman when big fluke are being netted nearby.
Fully focused effort on one type of fish reduces the likelihood of catching another.
Also true that focused management efforts to rebuild summer flounder and striped bass have reduced the likelihood that other species will flourish until they are in the spotlight.......
Another whale tale.
I have seen hundreds of whales in my years. Not many compared to those in the 'staging areas' where whales congregate, but a fair-many for these parts.
Returning home Wednesday, a mega-yacht skipper out to enjoy a day on the wrong side of the tracks spotted a humpback in full breach. I saw the splash and slowed to allow customers to watch a while.
Unfortunately, the whale had already finished its acrobatics for the day, but did -thankfully- stay in eye-shot.
Continuing to mosey on south, we got a couple more looks. After a long dive it reappeared some 200 yards away and I put the boat in neutral. It came up again 25 yards off the port bow.
And stayed there.
Time and again it would barely submerge and then blow.
The fin whale last week was slowly submerging and swimming to wherever before returning to the same spot on our port-side to blow.
This one was just chillin'.
Pretty good stuff.
So was the fishing.
So long as you fished for what was biting.
'Spect we'll see more of a mix this week.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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