Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fish Report 9/13/09

Fish Report 9/13/09
Flounder Go Out With a Fizzle
Sea Bass Bite - Weeding
Hi All,
The ocean settled well after that NE wind all last week. Average sea height 20 feet at 2AM Friday morning - was a nice day Saturday.
Not too surprising was the flounder's response to all the foul weather. Well, I don't know their 'response' precisely - but they sure didn't bite!
Nicked a few flatties but changed focus to sea bass. They were biting.
Biting just as well as an old-time November pull, only now we have 2009 regulations. A lot had to go back.
I suppose krill are too camouflaged in the now-very dirty water for sea bass to feed on. Back to the bottom; best bite I've seen since May.
Weeding in September? That's what I call it when you catch a lot of smalls to every keeper - usually late October through November.
One poor guy had to bear his buddies catching a nice keeper here and there while he worked defense -- doing his best to keep the smalls busy & away from their hooks. Forty seven shorts in a row.. His line breaks with a 3 pounder at the rail. He did come back - put some in the box.
That's sorta like 10 weather cancelations in 14 days.
Ocean's completely jumbled up: sand sharks, small croakers, small sea trout, small blues - fish I would expect to see just off the beach were found offshore in 100+ feet of water.
I hope to find croakers settled by size shortly. Fish like Cathy's 18 incher Sunday would be nice.
I will focus mostly on cbass through at least October, but will mix it up with croaker if worthy.
I've also saved a lot of tags for the inevitable fluke that we'll have to release now that they're closed..
MRFSS, the marine recreational fisheries statistic survey, has become not only the single greatest threat to my and other recreational fisher's livelihood - it remains the foremost distraction to real fisheries restoration.
Slaying the beast is MRIP - the new federal fishing license that will allow the collection of much better data. Designers say the acronym means Marine Recreational Information Program. I'm thinking it really means Mrfss Rest In Peace.
Would that it might..
I/we can never prove there's been an overestimation. There's always a data-poor situation in which 'there could have been more fishers' -trained killers at that- who might have caught the rest of the estimate. That's why there needs to be a license - to count all participants.
Strikes me that if something's not falsifiable - its not scientific.
There's a big divide between the politics of fishery management and fisheries science. In an attempt to close that divide managers have had to use MRFSS statistics like hard data because that's all there is - there is no other source.
Except what fishers tell them. 
Though we can never prove they have overestimated; time after time it can be proved that MRFSS has under-estimated.
No one can disprove -falsify- a fishing overestimate. Dern sure we can falsify some underestimates.
Should be a stake in Dracula's heart - scientifically dead. Won't be.
As I pointed out last week, on a one day tagging trip in 2002 with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) - Maryland DNR Fisheries & Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council staff (MAFMC) there were 1,150 BSB tagged. We boxed-up a bunch for dinner too. 
Now MRFSS has the entirety of Maryland's 2009 recreational cbass catch --all charter, party & private boats --everyone-- forecasted at 1,192 fish.
Tagged 1,150 in one day, on one boat - The whole fleet killed 1,192 in a year. 
That 2009 data point is from the very set that almost closed the whole coast's scup, sea bass & fluke fishing.
If everyone in fisheries, people that would never question the validity of the day's tagging data, believed this year's estimate I'd hope for a serious investigation into the crash of sea bass.
Instead, I doubt seriously that MDDNR Fisheries, MAFMC, ASMFC, NOAA, NMFS, nor anyone else has faith in that 2009 estimate at all - not a soul.
Since they can not believe that number, management then ought to gather an estimate that's more realistic. They would have to turn to fishers for that.
Perhaps while they're at it --redoing a MRFSS estimate-- they, using reasonable proofs that participants offer, may want to change some overestimates that we fishers don't believe..
In a few short years MRIP will have fully replaced MRFSS. Catch estimates will be much firmer.
As simply as Dr. Semmelweis' hand washing after autopsy prevented many women's birthing deaths -- allowing common sense evaluation of catch estimates could save this industry...
And turn our attentions back to the real problem at hand - fisheries restoration.
Chinese panda restoration focused on stock replenishment - making more bears. Zoos must now be found for newborns because there's not enough wild habitat.
Shall we house our wild stocks in aquariums until we resolve habitat & prey issues?
There is a tremendous amount of discovery left to do. Work that will not even get started while opponents are hunkered in the trenches. A very simple set of creel limits set coastwide --with some wiggle room-- could be made while MRIP comes alive.
I know what overfishing looked like. This ain't it.
Our focus must broaden in order to achieve our goals.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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