Friday, September 26, 2014

Fish Report 9/26/14

Fish Report 9/26/14 
Pretty Weather Window 
Three Great Days 
Florida's Left Coast 

Flounder/Fluke Are Open In Maryland. We Have A Pretty Shot Of Weather Coming Up Sunday & Monday. In my experience it bodes well for a fall fluke bite. 
Sunday, 9/28/14, 6 to 3:30 - $125.00 (because Saturday was canceled for swell and moved to Sunday there are a lot of spots open) 
Monday, 9/29/14 - Forecast Looks Calm-Calm - Bite before the storm? - 7 to 3 - $110.00 

..and then more maintenance while the next nor'easter moves through. The following weekend (October 4 & 5) looks like it will be OK. Will announce those dates in the next Fish Report.

Also Opening Saturday, October 18th & Sunday, October 19th to long sea bass trips - 6 to 3:30 - $125.00 & the rest of October until November 2nd on our regular schedule..

Sailing Only When Weather & Regulation Allow. Saturday's 6:00 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00..
Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Are Common - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way..  

Be a half hour early! We always leave early! 
..except when someone shows up right on time. 
Clients arriving late will see the west end of an east bound boat. 

Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! Crystalized Ginger Works Great Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure.  
If You Suffer Mal-de-Mer In A Car You Should Experiment On Shorter Half-Day Trips First! 

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. 
Bring Lunch & Your Refreshment – No Galley. Bring A Fish Towel Too.. 

The OC Reef Foundation Aims To Build Its Single Largest & Most Expensive Concrete Reef Deployment Ever This Fall. The Capt Bob Gowar Reef Will Become A Cornerstone Of Our Nearshore Reef Restoration Efforts. 

Reef blocks previously weighed 30 pounds apiece. We took 24 each trip. New blocks weigh very nearly 100 pounds each; we load 10 daily. Taking out more tons in fewer blocks..
10,457 Reef Blocks by the rail – 2,958 at Jimmy Jackson's – 2,136 at Doug Ake's – 1,104 at Saint Ann's – 558 at Eagle Scout Reef - 504 at Lindsey's Isle of Wight Reef and, just begun, 32 at the Brian Sauerzopf Memorial Reef.. 

Greetings All, 
Took a boat limit of sea bass home Sunday. Very nice fishing. 
Sea bass are closed now because the fellows who complain about party boats catching all the sea bass keep going over-quota. Private Boaters know Party/Charter represent a real danger to sea bass. Yet, according to the estimates, Private Boats keep outfishing Party/Charter by over a million pounds. 

Had a nasty wind early last week. Got out fishing again just as it was starting to pipe down. Fishing Wednesday, 9/17/14, was so-so with one very skilled angler catching more fluke than the rest of the boat combined. I was fishing with the same rod, same sort of rig; was fishing hard. Got skunked. 
This guy, I'll call him "Pat," landed 6 keepers.. 
Thankfully, sea bass made for some dinners around the rest of the rail along with a smattering of decent fluke.  
Thursday & Friday we caught a handful of sea bass too ..while flounder bit the bottom off the boat. 
One fellow caught more fish in the first 10 minutes Thursday than he did all day Wednesday. 
That's fishing. 
Too bad he didn't stay for Friday. Nice bite. 

Lost Saturday to wind. Whacked sea bass Sunday with just 2 flounder. 
Now sea bass are closed. 

I'm pretty sure I could get out this Saturday. 
Swell height will still be up there but spreading out - doable. I'm confident I could catch sea bass. 
But I postponed the trip to Sunday because I need flounder to bite - sea bass are closed. 
Most clients, of course, cancelled. 
Refunding instead of making payroll. 

This summer my party boat caught all-together maybe, just maybe, what we'd have caught in a week in the late 1990s. 
Maybe. Might have been just two good days worth.  
I have all the data. Have to add it up by hand for this year. I'm positive I once caught more sea bass in two days than MRIP claims all MD Party/Charter caught in 2012 and certainly caught more in one day than my boat caught all that summer.  

Catches today are down to nothing yet, "Recreational sea bass anglers have exceeded their quota" is NOAA's annual refrain. Although I think very few in management still have confidence in the estimates; no matter how hard some in management push back, NOAA will force Commissioners & Council Members to respond by the book - to further restrict catch if MRIP estimates so-decree. 

We're already headed toward a new "bubble" of MRIP catch estimation for 2014, already headed for greater catch-restriction in 2015  ..perhaps even a total closure.
Quotas are calculated by weight..
Here's All Party/Charter "For-Hire" Sea Bass Landings from Texas to Maine between January & the end of June. For-Hire operators such as myself surrender catch reports for each trip. One would hope, therefore, that this estimate stands on firm ground. 
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)

PRELIMINARY2014BLACK SEA BASS248,87226.4355,62625.1

.guv claims they have no possible way to estimate recreational catch more accurately w/o spending more money - big money. 
I don't think they have to spend any more money at all to see enormous errors & subtract them for management's purpose. 

In fact, here's one. This is MRIP's estimate for all Massachusetts' Grady Whites & Boston Whalers (Private Boats) from Cape Cod to the Massachusetts/Rhode Island state line. (a not-very-big area with an 8 fish limit) (I Added Comment In The Last Box)
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSEPounds Greater Than 
ALL U.S. For-Hire 
Sea Bass Catch

PRELIMINARY2014MAY/JUNEBLACK SEA BASS207,83642.3603,44244.2247,816

Rhode Island Private Boats Fishing About The Same Area - Immediately Adjacent. 
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)


How much money did You have to spend to calculate it's derned unlikely some trailer boats in Massachusetts outfished the entire US party/charter fleet by almost double.. 
.guv already spent big money to fix MuRFSS -- NOAA created this MRIP mess. Call it their, "Best Available Science." 

There are managers who will look at the above estimates and know something's very wrong. However, they've yet to find a method of attacking what's wrong with using such putrid estimates in fishery management.

Here's just a little more data..

Maryland For-Hire, including my boat that dutifully sent in daily catch reports, is estimated to have caught ZERO Sea Bass in May/June. 
I can't show you the table because MRIP's web page will not create a table: there is no Maryland sea bass catch for May/June with which to create a table. 
Season Was Open. We were catching some at least. 
Every legal For-Hire operator told NOAA what we caught. 
NOAA: "Eh, a ZERO's OK for them boys." 
The expression, "Close enough for government work" was never more true.  

I averaged ALL the Atlantic Coast commercial sea bass landings for May/June from 2009 to 2012. (2013 & 2014 are unavailable. Commercial fishers tell NOAA what they caught the day they land it. I can't imagine why website data lags two years.) 
The 4 year average for ALL commercial sea bass landings along the entire Atlantic Coast in May/June was 523,000 pounds. 
According to MRIP's May/June estimate then; Massachusetts private boats, fishing an 8 fish limit, likely outfished every trawler & trapper on the entire Atlantic Coast by almost 100,000 pounds.

NOAA: "Yup. Must be what happened. It's our Best Available Science."

I think there's very little faith left in the estimates. 
But they're still used by management as if carried down by Moses himself. 

It is because of estimates EXACTLY like the above Massachusetts May/June 2014 Private Boat that I cannot take clients sea bassing right now. 
It's those estimates that make recreational fishers appear "Over-Quota" 
..with more & more frequency since "The MRIP Repair." 

There's more to it. Even though Mid-Atlantic catch is at nadir - the lowest ever - sea bass population numbers are in decline. 

Along Florida's left coast, the Gulf Coast, sea bass get no respect. 
Managers in the North-East look at recreational catch estimates and start arm-waving; "Sea Bass Are Moving North Because Of Global Warming!!
Florida's managers don't hardly worry with sea bass at all. 
Mid-Atlantic management thinks uncontrolled recreational private boat catch & climate change are why our sea bass are not responding as they first did to early regulation. Sea bass populations back-then shot skyward when management began in 1997. 
Now they are declining despite incredibly more strict regulation and fantastically lower landings. 

We can hear fishery managers rude yawn from Florida's left coast..
There's no recreational quota in the Gulf. Along Florida's Gulf Coast a recreational angler is allowed ONE-HUNDRED POUNDS of sea bass per-day. What any unregulated species would have. 
There's no commercial quota either. 
Both teams, however, have to abide a 10 inch limit. 

Surely, with only a size limit to protect them, sea bass must be on the brink of localized extintion throughout the Gulf. With no quota to stop the evil darkness of overfishing, plus the fact it's a heck of a lot warmer along the Gulf than along the Mid-Atlantic, sea bass must be all but lost. 

Funny thing. 
When we had quotas no one could reach in the early years of management; and just a nine, ten, or eleven inch size limit with no recreational bag-limit, our sea bass population grew exponentially: Fishing Swiftly Became Better Than Anyone Could Remember. 
We went from the very, very bottom of industrial overfishing - the era of enormous fishing ships, the foreign factory trawlers; We went from real, honest, perceptible overfishing to the highest sea bass populations of the last 50 years with just a size limit, and accomplished that in just a few years. 

I think that's because, as scientists then predicted, every sea bass over 7.5 inches was spawning. 
Since the recreational size limit hit 12 inches our population has declined. 
I think that's because sea bass now begin spawning at 11.5 inches at the earliest - two years later than in early management. 

So what about the Gulf? 
The warm water monster lives there - that's his cave. I suppose if a Mid-Atlantic angler did catch a sea bass from waters of Gulf temperature it would already be boiled.  
No need for quotas to slam the sea bass fishery closed when 'overfishing' is seen in MRIP-like estimates or commercial reported landings. Sea bass must be in such bad shape, so overheated & unprotected, quota management is unneeded. 
As was the case in the mid/late 1990s here, Gulf managers are busy, busy. Too busy to worry with sea bass. 
And, as was our experience, Gulf sea bass are responding with unprecedented increases in production despite the heat & increasing fishing pressure.  

Florida's ten-inch sea bass size limit regulation began in 2003 on the Gulf Coast. 

All Gulf Commercial Effort Along Florida's West Coast: These are pounds of fish sold. 
  • Year : From: 2004 To: 2012
  • Month : ANNUAL
  • Species : sea bass, black
  • State : Florida, West Coast
YearSpeciesMetric TonsPounds$
2004SEA BASS, BLACK47.9105,64268,156
2005SEA BASS, BLACK24.353,55440,502
2006SEA BASS, BLACK12.126,73926,317
2007SEA BASS, BLACK16.335,98231,152
2008SEA BASS, BLACK31.970,29963,187
2009SEA BASS, BLACK64.2141,517148,893
2010SEA BASS, BLACK78.3172,525159,644
2011SEA BASS, BLACK198.6437,860403,326
2012SEA BASS, BLACK292.3644,322664,133
GRAND TOTALS:-765.91,688,4401,605,310

Sure looks like a familiar pattern to me. Table stops at 2012. Bet it keeps increasing into 2014. 
Bet they're all spawning. Bet every sea bass in the Gulf is participating in spawning.. 
Population's increasing. So is catch. Why I bet one trap boat could catch in two weeks what all of DE & MD trappers catch in two months.. Really. 

Yup. NOAA thinks Global Warming & ghost-like apparitions of catch no one ever sees on the water is ruining the Mid-Atlantic sea bass fishery. 
Yet compared to the Gulf we remain quite temperate & have vastly more strict regulatory controls.

As management has long-since done here, I bet FWC could make their sea bass population diminish with a 12-plus inch size limit. 
I bet at 12-plus inches sea bass would delay their 'age at maturity' down there by at least two years too. (spawn later). I bet curtailed spawning production would very swiftly more than mimic the age of unregulated industrial overfishing. 

I bet FWC could regulate a fishery collapse of their new sea bass fishery just by size limit. 

In fact, I bet FWC will regulate a sea bass collapse if they do not grasp the truth of NOAA's overfishing-witch-hunt, of regulating w/o regard for biology, of computer-screen only fishery management's failing.  

See table below for Mid-Atlantic commercial sea bass landings. Regulation began in 1997. Recreational size limit, with its greater effect on near-shore spawning grounds, crossed the 12 inch threshold in 2002. 

Management sourced from unsound data can be just as bad, worse, than overfishing. 
Foreign factory trawlers couldn't ruin the Mid-Atlantic sea bass fishery in overfishing's heyday ..but NOAA's demand of management is. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

In 1995, 1996 & 1997 you can see the utmost bottom of unregulated fishing. Commercial Landings were plus/minus One-Million Pounds in the Mid-Atlantic. Regulation took effect in 1998. An enormous spawning stock was size limit protected until 2002; the population swelled. 
Now, despite lower & lower catches, the sea bass population dwindles because very few are actively spawning. 
Fishery Managers will have nothing to do with 'Age At Maturity' or Population Biology or Habitat Ecology in sea bass restoration. So long as NOAA believes they are "controlling overfishing," NOAA believes they're doing their job regardless of how poor the result. 

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is getting ready to shift entire quotas because fish are "moving north." I believe we must first ascertain biological effects & subtract any MuRFSS/MRIP estimate data.. 

  • Year : From: 1995 To: 2012
  • Month : ANNUAL
  • Species : sea bass, black
  • State : Middle Atlantic
YearSpeciesMetric TonsPounds$
1995SEA BASS, BLACK448.9989,7301,372,621
1996SEA BASS, BLACK671.81,481,1291,449,162
1997SEA BASS, BLACK507.91,119,7141,460,771
1998SEA BASS, BLACK323.6713,4971,163,118
1999SEA BASS, BLACK321.2708,0161,230,268
2000SEA BASS, BLACK371.7819,4171,439,425
2001SEA BASS, BLACK417.9921,2071,158,384
2002SEA BASS, BLACK417.2919,7981,664,812
2003SEA BASS, BLACK453.71,000,2851,998,656
2004SEA BASS, BLACK468.41,032,5492,041,425
2005SEA BASS, BLACK390.4860,7382,151,580
2006SEA BASS, BLACK370.3816,2652,388,973
2007SEA BASS, BLACK348.5768,3782,499,844
2008SEA BASS, BLACK292.1643,9371,824,914
2009SEA BASS, BLACK151.4333,7361,043,650
2010SEA BASS, BLACK231.3510,0001,620,980
2011SEA BASS, BLACK217.9480,3461,594,966
2012SEA BASS, BLACK210.6464,2991,581,520
GRAND TOTALS:-6,614.814,583,04129,685,069

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