Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fish Report 7/25/12

Fish Report 7/25/12
Little Shuffling
Ten Minute Limit
President OCRF
Where's The Beef?
Had wanted to do this trip Thursday, 7/26; Weather forecast seems unfavorable for the long-trip format.. Sunday Trip, 7/29/12 - 12 Hour Cbass (Flounder Less Likely) - 4:30AM to 4:30PM - $150.00
Opening Labor Day Weekend (Already?) To Three 9+ Hour Trips - Friday, Saturday & Sunday, August 31, Sept 1 & 2 - Leave 6 AM, Return 3:30 - Reef Fishing..
Sea Bass & Flounder Fishing 7 to 3 Everyday - Longer on Saturdays - Keeping Most Sundays Open In Summer For Research & Different Trips - Plenty Of Spots Open - Always Try To Leave Early & Stay Late - Reservations Required @ 410 520 2076 - We Obey Regulations Whether We Agree With Them Or Not - Bring Food & Beverage Plus A Cooler & Ice For Your Party's Fish - Cheap Styrofoam Coolers Rarely Survive A Day - A 48 QT Igloo Works Great - Dramamine The Night Before Is Cheap Insurance - Be Early, We Like To Leave Early; Rarely In On Time..
Hi All,
Really nice fishing. Some not-so-nice too.
Mostly pretty good.
Still very much a mix of black sea bass & summer flounder with an odd grey triggerfish thrown in.
Couple folks limited on flounder lately. One fellow --goes by the name of Flounder George-- got a Ten-Minute-Limit. 3 drops, 3 legal flounder..
Sea bass better some days, flounder: Its a a mix. Very nearly all clients will need hot oil for a fish fry when they get home, some will put a few fish up.
Looking forward to Sunday's long trip. Places to go, fish to catch....
Capt. Ted Green snuck out Monday with a crew of divers aboard his charter boat, "O. C. Diver" to go look at 120-some loose 'oyster castle' blocks we've dropped on a large artificial reef. The divers assembled the blocks--they're interlocking, like 30 pound Legos- 100 feet down. All but the newest blocks were already covered in tubularian hydroids--what we call 'tog grass.' In 30 years they'll be covered in coral..
Filming all the while, these scuba enthusiasts went scouting about looking for more blocks and, on return, discovered sea bass were already swimming in & around their new structure..
I am very newly elected president of The Ocean City Reef Foundation. (OCRF) It's a 501c3 tax deductable .org that was formed by the Nichols family when the State of Maryland cancelled it's barely-begun reef program in 1997.
I have many, many ideas. Want to broaden the Foundation's support base. There's a lot of nets on wrecks & reefs I'd like to see removed, old traps. Build New Reef, enliven sanded in reefs.. Its pretty simple: Grow Coral, Make Fish.
Have enough money to keep the lights on for a few more months at best.. Charts & austerity measures are first on my list.
If you want to help there's a PayPal button on the website or send a check to -- Ocean City Reef Foundation, P.O. Box 1072, Ocean City, MD 21843.
Grow more coral, make more fish.
But state & federal fisheries are still stuck in a rut, still have a single focus of fishery restoration -- controlling catch -- catch restriction does it all.
It's quite evident that if you successfully reduce catch, then spawning populations increase - we all get that.
But what about places like the original Bass Grounds reef, a place where incalculable sea bass were recreationally caught before the era of modern pinpoint electronics. All that natural growth is gone, wiped out in unregulated surf clamming during the 1960s & 70s -- I hold that catch restriction, no matter how severe, can never restore a population of reef fish to where there is no longer reef: It Can Not Be Done.
There must be habitat before there is need of fishery management.
The notion our Mid-Atlantic seafloor has only sand & mud --and no reef ecologies whatever-- is slowly dissipating in the scientific community. From a regulatory standpoint, however, there has been no forward motion: Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) in our region occurs only in a few estuarine grass beds and far offshore on some deepwater tilefish bottom -- Its all sand and mud in-between.
I do believe fishery restoration will become synchronized, that our catch estimates will become firmer & fishes' need of habitat understood and brought to the fight. I believe some species will then be made more abundant than ever before.
But I do not think for a second that the new recreational fish catch estimating program, MRIP, has evolved enough to actually improve estimates. As I'll show below, in some cases MRIP only increases errors.
So long as management continues to get all moon-eyed about their catch data we will continually be accused of fantastic 'overfishing' in our highly regulated recreational fisheries.
Please Note - I encourage the collection of catch data. What interviewers gather in the field is pristine and on file. Its what happens in tall buildings--not clipboards; In statistical estimating formulas, not the individual counting & weighing of fish, where the trouble starts. We will eventually take coarse field data and create a more truthful picture of our fisheries with it.
Below are 2 recreational catch estimates from the old program, Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey -- MuRFSS.
Now we have the new program, Marine Recreational Information Program -- MRIP.
Lot of touting - pretty press releases - "Oh What A Good Job We're Doing."
Our saltwater licenses are supposed to bring these statistical spreads at least into near-earth orbit; a head-count to stiffen fish estimates. This is exactly WHY we now have saltwater licensing, to improve recreational catch estimates.
I'm thinking Wendy's commercial:
"Where's The Beef?"
One of MuRFSS' big bloopers had Ocean City Shore fishers (bridge, jetty, bank, pier, beach) catching 36,017 summer flounder in September/October, 2007. (that's Wave 5 if you're trying to get with the program, Jan/Feb being Wave 1.)
This ridiculous over-estimate withstood every logical argument we could muster. Shoulder to shoulder & phalanx deep, those shore fishers couldn't possibly have caught that many flounder in the hottest bite ever: "That's the estimate. We can't change it."
These 36,000 imaginary dead flounder contributed mightily to management's sense of "Overfishing" and lead to an emergency closure & tighter regulations which have only this year loosened somewhat.
Here I'll illustrate how entrenched the "We'll stick with any estimate no matter how inane" mentality of regulators is.
You see, that Maryland shore estimate represents more dead flounder than ALL our region's For-Hire boats caught in ALL of the Mid-Atlantic from 2006 to 2011 -- Six years of Sept/Oct party/charter clients from Cape Hatteras to the Tip of Long Island caught 1,646 fewer fish than our scattering of shore fishers in two months..
"That's the estimate. We can't change it."
There is no statistical cap on effort, on the number of people fishing -- that's why the fishing license now exists. Regulators & statisticians had no stop whatever. If a model showed more catch, more people & more catch per-person than had ever been dreamed of before; Well, That's Fishing.
In reality I'd wager my boat caught more flounder in Sept/Oct 2007 than our shore fishers did - a lot more.
In the most recent Magnuson re-write Congress called for an overhaul of recreational catch estimates. Now Lots & Lots & Lots Of Money Later and while cbass overestimates very nearly destroyed my business and robbed my family of solvency; This brand new estimating system, MRIP, says those Maryland shore fishers didn't actually catch & keep 36,017 --- No, They really caught 39,410 summer flounder in those two months.
Well, regulators will say, now we know: Those beach/jetty/bridge/pier/bank scoundrels actually caught 3,393 MORE flounder than we'd previously thought..
All Bun, No Burger.
Spending money though.
Where's the head count?
I'd rather have rocks. At least coral grows on them.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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