Monday, January 04, 2016

Fish Report 1/4/16

Fish Report 1/4/16 
Toggin' Begins 
Sea Bass & An Octopus 
Feeling Lucky Punk? 

All Winter Trips Posted Via Email. There's just no use trying to go everyday in winter..

Going Toggin' - Sea Bass Closed (Thanks MRIP)  
Thursday, January 7th - 7AM to 3PM - $110.00 - 8 Anglers Sells Out 
Saturday, Jan 9th - 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 - 16 Sells Out 
Sunday, Jan 10th - 7 to 3 - $110.00 - 12 Sells Out 

Skunks are always possible while tog fishing. 
Really. It's a frequent occurrence, even with a good bite. Not an easy fishery; the very best toggers sometimes get their head handed to them despite folks all around having done well. 
Then too, sometimes the whole boat can do very poorly. 
If you can't take the heat, and there ain't much of that either, stay out of the kitchen. 

Going Toggin Anyway! Tog Only, Sea Bass Closed. 
No Live Tog Leave The Boat - Dead & Bled - Period. (I Believe The Live Tog Black Market Has Hurt This Fishery ..But Nowhere Near As Much As Bad Sea Bass Regulations)
Agreed With Or Not, All Regulations Observed – Maryland: 4 Tog @ 16 Inches 

If You Won't Measure & Count Your Fish, The State Will Provide A Man With A Gun To Do It For You. We Measure & Count — ALWAYS — No Exceptions! 

Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - On My Rig You Can Reserve What Spot You're In. Please See For How The Rail's Laid Out..
LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Happen - 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. With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you over-slept or had a flat..

Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! (Meclizine's Better!) Crystalized Ginger Works Great Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure.  
Honestly - If you get to go on the ocean once month, once a year, or even less; why risk chumming all day? Similarly, if you howl at the moon all night, chances are good you'll howl into a bucket all day.  

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. Do Not Bring A Very Large Cooler. We DO have a few loaners - you'll still need ice. 
No Galley! Bring Food & Beverages To Suit. A few beers in cans is fine for the ride home.   

Now 12,550 Reef Blocks Deployed at numerous sites. Active presently are Doug Ake's Reef with 2,382 - St. Ann's 1,459 - Al Giles Barge 622 - Eagle Scout Reef 756 - Sue's Drifting Easy Reef 147 - Nichols' Concrete 540 - Upside Down Tank 132 

Please Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation!
We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. 
Thank You! 
Every Splash Makes Fishing Better.. 

Greetings All, 
Finished sea bass season with several clients catching near-double limits & a 6 pound flounder. Tasty. 
New Year's day we had our first tog limits aboard by 8:20.. Then, Jan 3rd ..well, not so good. We did have several anglers respectfully throwing back legal females - they could have limited-out.. 
But we had nothing half as big--even a third as big--as Capt. JP & Capt. Amanda had on the Osprey out of Atlantic City, NJ.. Theirs went over 23 pounds! 

Shaping into a warm-water winter. We caught sea bass Sunday, keeper-sized cbass, in easy sight of land. We also had numerous bluefish bite-offs on our last sea bass trip. Both species should be long-gone. 
I'm told striped bass are holding much further north than usual too. With water temps still solidly mid-50s, I can believe it. 

Also in the "That's Curious" department, we caught a big octopus Sunday. Now going on my 36th year of party boat fishing from Ocean City, MD, that was the first octopus I ever saw on a hook. There are other recent reports and we had a small octopus caught in a shell a few years ago. Whether invasive or due to warm water expansion - this is new. (Yes, that's a full-size doormat & yard stick) 

While perhaps octopus too will benefit, I believe despite increasing numbers of anglers, if we keep building reef habitat & remain mindful of fishing pressure, we will leave tog fishing better than ever for future generations. 
In fact, I believe we're well on our way  

..but we could use some help in the ocean with reef building. Most fisheries professionals will admit our temperate corals are pretty cool, but I suppose Maryland DNR has it's hands full elsewhere. 
I have also failed to convince MD DNR that having the most-studied & most-massive loss of estuarine hardbottom in the world (oyster bars in the Chesapeake) also means MD DNR should have the most advanced re-reefing strategy. With over a century of failed attempts to re-start oysters by using shell, and wonderful success of late using rock & concrete, MD DNR may one day adopt a reef building strategy which includes more than one brand new part-time artificial reef person. 

Habitat's potential aside, it looks to me as though the hardest part of making--and keeping--a robust tautog fishery will be figuring out what is truly our best size & creel limits as more charter & party boats enter the fishery. 
It's getting crowded out there..

NOAA, whose wisdom sources from MRIP recreational catch estimates, may never see what I'm seeing out on the water. 
After all, they have a brand new estimating system telling them NY's small private boats, in just a few weeks of tog fishing, out-caught all US party/charter & commercial for the year. 
Or Two Years. 
In fact, MRIP shows NY's private boats boxing-up more pounds of tautog in Nov/Dec 2014 than ALL US PARTY/CHARTER CAUGHT IN 5 YEARS. 
There's a similarly bad estimate for Connecticut in 2014, but two months earlier. 

With eager acceptance of such nonsensical codswallop, we have no assurance NOAA is capable of grasping any regulatory nuance in any recreational fishery. 

The reality of the tautog fishery is nowhere to be found in MRIP's catch estimates.
I'll include tables below after my signature. (they are also discussed more deeply in Fish Report 10/30/15) 
Just those estimates alone will upend any chance of realistic tautog management in the near future - especially around Long Island. 

Sea bass too are victim of bad data. They are closed until mid-May owing ONLY to many instances in NOAA's recreational catch data where one state's Grady Whites, Boston Whalers & kayaks caught more sea bass in a couple weeks than all US commercial trawl & trap catch in a year. 

That's why sea bass are closed. 

Oh, except where NJ's charter boats caught 89X more sea bass than their state's private boats during May/June 2015. Odd, just a few years earlier NJ private boats caught 11X more than their Charters. 
Must have been just dumb-luck for Capt. Jeff on the Voyager, a highly skilled party boat operator out of Point Pleasant, NJ, to land a new NJ state record sea bass a few weeks back. According to the data, after all, party boats account just a teeny-tiny bit of the recreational sea bass quota every year. 

What a mess. 
According to NOAA's most trusted 'science' --and MRIP catch estimates are positively considered their 'best available science'--  charter boats are just starting to realize there's a species called sea bass. 
Also according to MRIP, party boats still have no idea there are wrecks and reefs where we could anchor even 120 people and catch fish. 

Here's what a regulator would see given only MRIP-created tunnel vision for the 2015 sea bass season: 
Taken all-together from Maine to Cape Hatteras, Private Boats & Charters took 3,332,000 pounds of sea bass last year - That's 3.3 million pounds. 
Party Boats, in the same giant region, are thought to have landed 182,000 lbs - not even a quarter-million pounds. 

NOAA needs to back recreational fisheries out of this box. 
Where new cbass production is occurring in newly-warmed rocky bottoms, insanely low recreational limits of 3 to 8 fish per-person can never hurt that region's sea bass fishery 
..but scientific strength granted by regulators to the worst estimates ever sure can. 

It remains NOAA collectively has no idea of seafloor habitat nor any inkling we might be able to increase spawning production - that's all just left to luck. "We got lucky." 

And NOAA routinely allows an entire recreational fishery's biological & economic output to pivot on MRIP data no one has any right to believe. 

We depend on luck for habitat, spawning production, & catch estimates. 
It's as if NOAA borrowed Clint Eastwood's .44 magnum and loaded it with new regulation.. 
Feeling Lucky Punk? (coarse language) 

Yeah, no. 
Not feeling lucky. 
Time to bring some real science to this endeavor. 

See three easy MRIP tables below. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

NY Nov/Dec Private Boat ONLY - What A Dramatic Increase..
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)

CT Sept/Oct Private Boat ONLY.. 
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)

Maine to Cape Hatteras - ANNUAL - All Party & Charter Boats - ALL OF THEM - ALL YEAR 
Five Year Total = 965,000 pounds ..vs over a million pounds by private boats in just weeks.
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)

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