Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fish Report 3/23/10

Fish Report 3/23/10
Goin Fishing
Flounder Regs
CCA's "Train Wreck"
Regular Tog Trips Sailing Through April 1st: (Light Winds Thursday 3/25!) Boat sells out at 14 - Green crabs provided - Cabin heated - Leave at 7:00 for these trips (or earlier if all are aboard) - Return no later than 3 - 3:30 (usually) - $100.00 buys a spot - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation.
Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish can count too.
Stay tied-up Easter Sunday.
Have Coast Guard inspection in the second week of April - Will announce more trips when I get an all clear from them...........
Hi All,
There is a sigh of relief among the coast's flounder fishers today, Maryland DNR has reversed course and adopted a longer flounder season with a 19 inch fish.
We can officially fish until Thanksgiving.
Very nearly had a much shorter season. Atlantic Coast MSSA, Larry at the Coastal Fisherman newspaper, OC's State Delegate--Jim Mathias, myself & many other fishers, local press and even Candy Thompson at the Baltimore Sun set up an awful howl..
Different somehow.. Eh, having DNR listen isn't so new; It's having them dig in, see if there's substance in the complaint -- and respond.
That's different. Pleasantly so.
Can't swear to it, but I think the same thing is happening at the Federal level.
I was on a huge rec-fish conference call last week with NMFS director Eric Schwaab & staff; From Alaska down and around to back up the East Coast it seemed pretty evident that accumulating errors in the data are pinching the system all over---many different problems all stemming from data.
Nothing concrete yet in way of action, just possibilities: Lot of listening getting ready to happen.
NOAA just announced that Russell Dunn has been appointed National Policy Advisor on Recreational Fisheries. That's a brand new position, reports directly to the boss-lady, Dr. Lubchenco. In the same press release they announced a 22 member Recreational Fisheries Working Group..
In mid-April there's a recreational summit in Silver Spring.
Big possibilities.
There still remains the darker possibility that 2010 was the year few party boats could survive.
Black sea bass regulations are still up in the air. We rebuilt these fish with barely a care, first just a size limit, then increases in size with a 25 fish creel.. I still assert that we do not have a management plan on sea bass that can actually work, but even in its scientifically-impaired fashion we somehow have a better sea bass population than before management.
We just can't go fishing.
With cbass closed that fishing pressure shifts--All along this coast tautog fishing will not be made better because of the extreme reaction of closing sea bass over highly-suspect data.
That's just the tip of it.. Plenty more fisheries in similar trouble.
Closing sea bass--reacting to the data in such fashion--was just wrong. We ought to know by now that the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey--MRFSS--is being replaced for good reason.
Just today one of the guys that is always digging into data, Buddy, sent me a bit of raw 2009 MRFSS flounder data -- 44 observed fish from private boats in July/August are tossed into MRFSS's computer---just 44 observed flounder.. These practitioners of the statistical dark-arts turn 44 into 45,281 flounder caught/kept and 595,190 caught/released.. Pow!
That's so cool. Reminds me of the guy that used to sell tickets when I was in my early twenties.. Always biting -- Always filling up sacks..
Crunched a bit, just back of the envelope stuff; 45,281 flounder means 91 boats with 3 people aboard limited out everyday it was fit to go --- the rest of the boats had a solid bail of smaller ones.
Hmmm.. that's not how I heard it.
No, I don't think so..
Looked at another way: During the same period (July/Aug 2009) 725 flounder are said to have been caught/kept on the party boats that fish exclusively for flounder in the back bays and a few on the Chesapeake. MRFSS also has 18,325 thrown back--released.
Using just their fish data and a ball park guess of clients, I estimate the back-bay party boats caught/kept 12.8 fish per day on average or 0.04 keeper fish per person.
Party boats turn in daily catch data so we should be able to see almost exactly what they caught. Sometimes it seems like MRFSS is using that data, sometimes not. Given my familiarity with the fishery I see no reason to seriously doubt these <3 mile from shore/inland party boat estimates.
Main thing is, if they average 0.04 keepers per-person and the private boat guys catch keepers just as well then to have caught 45,281 keeper flounder 1,120,000 people went fishing. At 3 per boat that's 6,222 boats targeting flounder -- at 4 per boat that's 4669 boats targeting flounder. Everyday.
Everyday for two months.
Must have been a great year to be a boat dealer.
Hmmm.. Not how I heard that either.
But that IS our data. It is exact centerpoints of statistical spreads---It's what we caught whether there's a lick of truth in it or not. Its why we had to fight tooth and nail to keep a rod & reel fishery open until Thanksgiving: Why we'll throw back an insane number of fish this year too.
And, comparatively, that wasn't too crazy a data set.
This is messed up. So messed up that even the Coastal Conservation Association--CCA---appears to have come over -- is opposing data. I have long been a member of CCA and will always be indebted for their spurring Maryland back into artificial reef construction.
I'm really, truly glad to see this huge recreational fishing organization coming in off the sidelines for a data fight.
From CCA's recent Press Release: Google--CCA Train Wreck.
"...We have the most conservation-oriented law we have ever had governing our marine resources, and the agency does not have the data, assessments, science or, frankly, the attitude, to adequately implement it," said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA's National Government Relations Committee. "The result is that the agency has been reduced to managing fisheries by closure which was not the intent of the law when it was passed by Congress.
.....There is a great deal of frustration among recreational anglers, much of it attributable to an agency that doesn't have the ability to properly manage us," said Pat Murray, president of CCA. "The shortcomings of NMFS have to be fixed, either administratively or by Congress. Recreational anglers deserve both a meaningful law, and an agency capably of implementing it." http://www.ccatexas.org/coalition-seeks-to-avoid-fisheries-management-%E2%80%9Ctrain-wreck%E2%80%9D/ 
I'm in. Where do I sign up?
Getting all the players to the table and exposing data to daylight could save my industry..
What if Big Environment sat down too?
For the fish the worst that could happen is we go back to a size/creel/season that worked previously.
And we take people fishing.
Pay taxes on our earnings.
Buy fuel, fishing poles, bait.
Visiting fishers rent a room, go to dinner.
Some might even tip my mates.

Almost like a mini-coastal economic recovery plan. 
The fish are fine.
Its the people that need help.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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