Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fish Report 1/11/17

Fish Report 1/11/17
More Trips - Some Long
Neither great, nor even good
Anchor Master?

Folks - This is WINTER tog fishing. A trip can go south fast. Tog DO NOT always bite! 
(If they did they'd more closely resemble the distinguished portly rotundity of a partyboat skipper..) Yes, my clients have caught 7 tog over 20 pounds   ..but there were many other days when we paid dearly. 
My crew MIGHT have white crabs, usually do. The boat provides green crabs. Reservation staff hardly know what species we're after, let alone whether there will be a certain kind of bait. 

Sea Bass Are Closed. I sincerely hope this will be the last year of that nonsense. 

All Winter Trips Posted Via Email. There's just no use trying to go everyday in winter.. (especially THIS Winter!)
Tog Fishing Monday - January 16th - $150 - 5:30 to 4:30 - 16 Sells Out - (When swinging for the fence we try twice as hard; sometimes fail twice as hard too! Very, very long boat ride..)
Tuesday - January 17th - 7:30 to 3:30 - $110.00 - 12 Sells Out. 
Wednesday - January 18th - $150 - 5:30 to 4:30 - 16 Sells Out - (When swinging for the fence we try twice as hard; sometimes fail twice as hard too! Very, very long boat ride..)
Thursday - January 19th - 7:00 to 4:00 - $120.00 - 16 Sells Out. (this trip is tentative in a big way..)

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..

My Crew Have (usually 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.   

Skunks are always possible while tog fishing. 
Really. It's a frequent occurrence. Sometimes even the very best toggers 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 Are Closed Because NOAA Has Absolutely No Real Idea* How Best To Manage The Fishery. 
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! 

It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure. Bonine seems best because it's non-drowsy. Truly cheap & effective insurance. 
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.   

In winter waterproof boots are almost a necessity. (and great socks! like over the calf smart wool .) While some rarely, or never, wear gloves for fishing, you'd not likely see me fishing this time of year w/o at least the half-finger wool gloves. 
Layers are best because, believe it or not, sometimes it can be very pleasant offshore--especially when the wind lays down. In winter it's warmer offshore owing to warmer waters. In summer it's cooler..

15,452 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 3,121 - St. Ann's 1,555 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,125 - Eagle Scout Reef 904 - Sue's Block Drop 184 - Nichols' Concrete 762 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 156 - Benelli Reef 341 - 230 Wolf & Daughters Reef..
Blocks Provided By Potomac Valley Brick - Thank You!
Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation! (lots of reef pics here..) The OC Reef Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit with no payroll & no rented office space -- We Build Reef. Also registered w/Amazon Smile. We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. Thank You! 

Greetings All, 
Snuck out Tuesday post snow storm to see a giant water temp drop & an incredibly calm day. I feared the drop might have shut down the bite completely, but that was not the case.. 
Sure wasn't a great day of fishing, nor was it even good. But I did have great clients aboard who enjoyed the day regardless. You might even say they were professionally stoic.. 
That's because I had friends Amanda & JP aboard, owners of the Osprey V now toggin up in Atlantic City but usually on Long Island's north shore, & their crew on the rail. Yes, ours is a special ailment: the need to fish....
Ended up with 4 legal females tagged -one of which was JP's & split the pool with one of the coast's flounder highliners, Bob- and not even a dozen other keepers. 
Was a life lesson in the day. One I'll pass on to other skippers & future skippers in this report. 
I've been anchoring structure for over 30 years. Even before that when captains I worked for let me practice.
Been running 2 anchors since 1991 
..and on this beautiful calm day I struggled to get anchored up. Lost an anchor & 250 feet of 5/8 nylon when the line laid down and got hung in structure -- bent an anchor to trash when I drug it into the wreck -- and, on what was to be our best spot of the day, I needed 4 attempts to get it right. 
I lose an anchor 2 or 3 times a decade. Never lost two anchors in one day before. 
Ended up single anchored & swinging - but catching. 

Oh Grace, where art thou..
I'm telling you - in the wheelhouse - brutal. 

But the windows didn't turn blue with cussing. I gave 'em an extra hour & 45 minutes of time. The ocean was beautiful and we weren't stuck in traffic nor in a blizzard. 

Never give up, never give in. For my next report I hope to have tales of jumbo tog lost & caught; broken rods, broken rigs, & personal bests. . . .  .

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released their report on MRIP - Marine Recreational Information Program - our recreational catch estimating system. 
Man - have I been waiting for this.

But, unless there's some secret code in the report I'm missing, they didn't see too much at issue. 
They did note that in 2006 the NAS recommended exploring electronic reporting, and, by 2016, MRIP was almost there by going first to snail-mail.. A Pony Express repair in the smartphone era.

This is a really big deal. From what I read, we just got it wrong again.

Our fisheries are managed by quota. When commercial guys land fish they cross a scale. Sure, some guys cheat---and some of them get caught too; but managers have a pretty firm grasp of what they caught. Even where they caught it to greater & greater extent. 

On the recreational side there's no scale involved--no accuracy whatever. MRIP makes what might be a truly wild statistical guess, and we're stuck with it. 
If MRIP says we 'overfished' --regardless whether anyone anywhere in fisheries believes that result-- then we wear that albatross. Accused & convicted with no recourse.

I've been beating on recreational statistics since 1998. I just could not believe my eyes when I first saw 'the numbers' NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) was using to manage recreational fisheries with. 
I was among many voices calling for improvements when Congress mandated repair of that first catch estimation system, MuRFSS, in 2006 or 07. When finally revealed in 2012, the new repair, MRIP -- in it's first-ever data sets -- claimed one of the dumbest estimates I've ever seen (when MuRFSS showed 73,000 tautog from New Jersey's jetties in March/April 2010, a number far more likely under a 100 actual fish) MRIP added 100,000 fish---literally. 

Around when the MuRFSS estimate came out I wrote: There's NO WAY that NJ's shore anglers caught ALL the mid-Atlantic's shore-based tog in March/April 2010 -- There's NO WAY those same NJ shore anglers caught 67,376 more tog that spring than ALL the party & charter boats in ALL the Mid-Atlantic.. In fact, the MRFSS estimate for those poor guys sitting on buckets at every Jersey jetty that spring --who typically have no noticeable catch then-- is higher than the whole year's for-hire tog/blackfish estimate for the whole coast.
And then the "new & improved" MRIP repair raises that completely incorrect assertion of catch more than double. 

We fish in an ocean thought as blue as it ever was, where reef ecologies inside 100 fathoms mean nothing, and where any number whatever can represent our catch. 

More to follow.
More work to come.

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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