Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Fish Report 3/2/11

Fish Report 3/2/11
Going Fishing
Comments Due Soon
MRFSS -say- Murfs
Cod/Tog Trips - Friday & Saturday - March 4th & 5th, 2011 - 6:30 AM to 4:30 PM - 10 Hours - Green Crabs/Clams Provided - $120.00 - 16 Sells Out - Reservations Required @ 410 520 2076 - Cold Water - No Guarantee!
Hi All,
I begged-off on today's trip. That 20 to 25 knot south wind just above us didn't look to offer our best shot.
Just a few spots open for Friday & Saturday's trips. Have extended the day out to 4:30 -- a 10 hour trip ..if it doesn't go longer. Clients almost always show-up early so we can leave early. Even a 15 minute head-start can make a difference.
I hope to catch cod again as I'm already out of fresh fish. Would dearly love to see more jumbo tog too. I can count the trips on two hands that I've had two seventeen pound tog on..
Maybe one hand!
But it happened Sunday past.
Be good to see some more dandies... . . .
Soon we'll be asked to comment on the black sea bass regulations for 2011. There are numerous ASMFC comment meetings scheduled. Maryland's is March 7th at the Ocean Pines Library. They'll also be accepting written & email comments.
I'm nearly certain that a regional plan is what we'll want to vote for. But, because the data is clear as mud, I don't know which specific option--Yet.
Make no mistake: Any change from the current economically catastrophic July 1st sea bass opening is welcome relief, but only a temporary one-year fix.
Our comments will be factored in when the 2011 cbass regulations are set.
This regionalization that we now struggle to achieve is not the 'regional quota management' I write about and talk about in habitat videos; This is not a plan where reef-fish with known habitat fidelity --and therefore separate reef-region spawning stocks-- would be protected from actual-overfishing through regionalized commercial & recreational quotas.
No, all this maneuvering is just to placate crazy Uncle Murfs. Hitting a bottle of mean-spirited rot-gut & watching too many spaghetti westerns; He's got his six-guns drawn; making us dance.
The National Science Foundation ordered MRFSS--Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey--say Murfs if you're a Joe, or "The Murfis" if you're in the business: The NSF said to put Murfs down like a rabid dog and replace it with M-RIP.
Yet somehow crazy Uncle Murfs has been granted a super-stay of execution--even treated like family by management. The catch-estimating program is absolutely on its way out ..but is being used more like hard data than ever before: A dead-man-walking program with no concern whatever for recreational fishers from Maine to Texas is, literally, running the entire sport side of fisheries restoration..
"..Aww, c'mon Capt, that's mighty powerful language: The data isn't bad enough to call Crazy.
Actually, it's our Best Available Science."
Well.. I believe these catch-estimates are senseless, irrational, outlandish and ridiculous: Crazy.
I also believe anything called science has to be provable.
And: Trust me, My language here is nowhere near powerful enough to describe what this really feels like.
Every single day that I can't sell tickets to go sea bass fishing --especially in May-- is theft by bad data.
And, having dedicated over 20 years to rebuilding fisheries, I believe restoring reef fish with this bad-data is not going to work. In fact, I believe the last 6 years have been detrimental to establishing a huge sea bass population; That the last two years of unfounded cbass closures have been detrimental to the tautog population.
This exact situation, repeated over & over, is what I mean when I say bad data distracts us from the real tasks at hand.
The individual field interviews, that nearly precise face-to-face catch data, will one day soon be used in scientifically sound catch estimations. All the catch estimates we presently have can be vastly improved upon, can be back-checked, back-truthed.
But read through the following paragraph for what we're using now. Below is genuine MRFSS catch-estimate data from Connecticut's recreational sea bass fishery. Illustratively best for my argument certainly--But genuine. No states' data sets are sound.
In 1991 Connecticut's sea bass catch was up 85% from the year before -- in '92 it was up another 423% -- Incredibly, in '93 it was up another 25% -- Then, in '94, sad catastrophe: The cbass catch crashed 100% -- Miraculously though, in 1995 this same fishery saw a spike of  5,195,900%.. (yes, that is their exact number)  
Up & Down, Up & Down.. 
In 2005 CT's catch declined 99% but, astonishingly, climbed 4,257% in '06.
In 2008 they caught 425% more than in '07 followed by a 99% decline in 2009 -- Too bad for us that their estimated catch rose 5,083% in 2010.
This is the actual MRFSS data with which managers are, right now, struggling to create, to devise, a fair & equitable division of the recreational sea bass quota.
The worst decline in catch I've ever had -and it was brutal- was about 45% in 2004 -- Real improvements to fishing come steadily over time..
Good people are --as I hit send-- struggling to make sense of this MRFSS data and turn it into fisheries management.
How in the Billy Blue Blazes could we ever hope for sound governance with this data serving as its backbone...
We'll have to pick from whatever management can make of it.
It's Crazy.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076 

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