Monday, February 29, 2016

Fish Report 2/29/16

Fish Report 2/29/16 
Ugh! Tough Fishin  
Going Again.. 
MRIP's Exact Accuracy Demonstrated In One Estimate 

All Winter Trips Posted Via Email. There's just no use trying to go everyday in winter.. (yes, that includes March.) 

Going Toggin: 
Tuesday (was a Wednesday trip) 6:30am to 3:30pm - $125.00 - 16 Sells Out.
Thursday, March 3rd - 6:30am to 3:30pm - $125.00 - 16 Sells Out.
Saturday, March 5th - 6am to 4pm - $135 - 16 Sells Out.
Sunday, March 6th - 6:30am to 3:30pm - $125.00 - 16 Sells Out.
Tuesday, March 8th -  6am to 4pm - $135 - 16 Sells Out....

Reservations Required - See Below. Be a half hour early! We always leave early! 

Skunks are always possible while tog fishing. (Too much evidence for that lately!)
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. (See above..) 
If you can't take the heat, and there ain't much of that either, stay out of the kitchen. 

Keeps Snowing. Water's Getting COLD. 
Perhaps One Day Soon Our Tog Will Go Into What Is Essentially A "Hibernation." (So far as I know, no science has ever studied such. We do have many reports of tog deep in wrecks & even more reports of tog 'buried' in the bottom with just a gill & eyeball exposed. Lots of great fishery science awaits in the Mid-Atlantic---is needed actually.) 

Crew Have White Crabs For Sale AT THE DOCK for the low, low price of just $5.00 per generous dozen. There Is No Guarantee We'll Have Whites For Any Trip. Sometimes they all die. That shrinkage is why I prefer greens. We may be bringing some whites with us in the ocean. Green Crabs (not Whites!) Remain Provided As Boat Bait And Are Included In All Fares.   

Going Toggin Anyway! Tog Only, Sea Bass Are Closed Because NOAA Has Accepted Poor Statistical Catch Estimates As If They Represented 'Certain Knowledge' For Decades. NOAA Has No Idea How Best To Manage The Sea Bass Fishery. (yet) 
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.   

Have Blocks Coming.. Really!
(Still) 12,593 Reef Blocks Deployed at numerous sites. Active presently are Doug Ake's Reef with 2,394 - St. Ann's 1,459 - Al Giles Barge 653 - 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! 
Mate Mike & I building Tog Condos circa 2009 in a sea bass closure.. Pipes are 8 feet long with chimney block 3-deep in the middle. (top "condo" is turned sideways..)

Greetings All,
Not much to sing about. Nothing over 10 pounds even. One guy had 3 on his first tog trip ..while some of the coast's best tog fishers had to search YouTube for skunk remover. 
I do not know why fishing was tough Sunday. Seemed as though everything was our favor. It was not. 
I think I have a solid strategy for coming trips, but the last two were very tough. 

I did find another wreck that had been flattened; unfortunately because I was anchored there. This a barge that had been my inspiration for "Tog Condos" we've built with huge concrete pipes & block. (pic above) Part of the barge's wall structure had fallen away revealing what could be called a 'bookcase' divided into cubes. Three long runs with upright strengtheners that formed 16 or so cubicles -- each cube-space had a large tog, most were male. It was far and away the MOST LARGE MALE TOG I ever saw in one place. 
Naturally my $100.00 Walmart video recorder wasn't working. A situation made worse when a federal belly-tagged sea bass swam right through the view. . . 

Besides reefs & wrecks, we've checked several "reef block" piles since major storms this winter. They've all remained in place. 
Blizzard Jonas must have been some wicked weather. I've never had two wrecks flattened in one blow.. 

With all that's going on in fisheries, I think the most positive development is our 'new & improved' recreational catch estimating system, MRIP, being review by the National Academy of Sciences. (NAS)
When our previous program, MuRFSS, was reviewed a decade ago, NAS described it as "fatally flawed" (which is now a cliché managers do not care for..) 
At NAS's direction, NOAA killed MuRFSS & created a worse program, MRIP. (OK, I don't think NAS wanted a worse program - but that's what we got.)

I've pointed out numerous instances of estimates that couldn't possibly be true. Though disbelieved by all, and no matter how huge, are included in calculations of recreational catch. Suddenly over limit & over quota, MRIP's imaginary catches sway regulation. 
I've also described many times how since a 2003 repair to estimates Private Boat catch is climbing regardless any tightening of regulation, while Party/charter is falling off a cliff. At this point VTR daily reports were supposed to be included in recreational estimates. 
A couple years ago a freshman Congressman, Kratovil, made an inquiry to NOAA on my behalf. NOAA told him sea bass were not an important species in Maryland -- there's no catch. I think that was the same year a NOAA-funded an economic study to investigate impact of the emergency sea bass closure that nearly wiped me out. Actually it did wipe me out. Without incredibly generous clients & family, my business would have folded. That closure, NOAA told Congress, cost less than $1,000.00 per boat. (what, after all IRAs, regular savings, & college tuition savings were taken out?) 
So much luv.. I really want to return their warmth.  

NOAA demands managers toe the line and use catch estimates exactly as published, while refusing to use VTR catch data we surrender daily. 

So where's that attitude take us? What level of "Best Available Science" awaits such breathtaking obstinance? 
I consider myself a Maryland partyboat skipper that specializes in reef fish, especially sea bass. I surrender a page of data for every trip detailing, by species, everything we kept & threw back. That data's called a Vessel Trip Report or VTR. 
Here is the culmination of our "Best Available Science" where MRIP's recreational catch estimates are concerned.. 

Maryland - All of 2015 - Breakdown By Mode - This is it. Regulations will be long-decided before this data becomes "final" and isn't likely to change anyway. 
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameFishing ModeTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)

If it ever seems to you that NOAA just doesn't know what it's doing with recreational regulation, these catch estimates are probably why. 
I assure all who read - MRIP's estimates are worse than MuRFSS. 
There are numerous instances where private boats in one state, over a period of 8 weeks, have outfished all US Party/charter for years. 
There's even a tautog estimate where NJ shore fishers (from that state's jetties) outfished all US Party/Charter all year. 

MRIP is destroying recreational fisheries from red snapper to cod. 
We will soon have an opportunity to point out specific errors to the review panel at the National Academy of Sciences. 
They're going to give me an email address where YOU can land a comment. 
Brief & specific comment..

Because no string of obvious errors seems able to dissuade NOAA from using MRIP; if we are able to convince the review panel of MRIP's failings, ours may be among the most important comments ever written on behalf of sport fishing's future.
Honest & sincere counts far more than spelling & punctuation.. 
Write a rough draft anyway - polish it. 
I'll have an email address for NAS in my next report. 

This is really important. If you think MRIP's assertion that Private Boats in Massachusetts catch more sea bass in two months than all trawlers in a year; if you doubt NY private boats caught more tog in Nov/Dec 2014 than 3 previous years of ALL US Party/Charter effort - if you too think MRIP's inflating some catch, while ignoring other catch, then you'll need to write. 

We've been robbed. It's going to get worse. A lot worse.
NAS may be able to finally fix it. 
Prepare a comment..


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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