Friday, February 10, 2017

Fish Report 2/10/17

Fish Report 2/10/17
Volunteer Reef Builders 
Been Toggin Some, Going Some More 
Never-Ending Statistical Trouble..

On Facebook now too (a little..) Morning Star Fishing

Reef Building Trip - (Low Budget!) Taking 5 or 6 tons of concrete block out on Saturday, Feb 11th, starting at 9. Volunteers wanted. No forklift. No cranes. Strong backs fueled by fried chicken. Bring boots & gloves - wear layers. We'll get the chicken. Contact Monty at if you'd care to sweat on a chilly morning.
We'll break 16,000 blocks on this trip. 
If you know anyone with pallets of unsalable block, I know a toggy place or two we can store them. Forever. Will pay for trucking. 

Folks - This is WINTER tog fishing. A trip can go south fast. Tog DO NOT always bite! 
Sunday - Feb 12th - 6:30 to 3 - $125.00 - 14 Sells Out..
Saturday & Sunday - Boat Show Weekend - Feb 18th & 19th - 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 - 14 Sells Out..

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. 

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 (but learning) 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..

15,818 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 3,145 - St. Ann's 1,555 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,155 - Eagle Scout Reef 904 - Sue's Block Drop 214 - Nichols' Concrete 804 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 396 - Benelli Reef 341 - Wolf & Daughters Reef 230 ..
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,
Had three nice days in a row a while back. Some limits, not many. A few. Some skunks too I'd imagine. 
Was at sea Monday 2/6 for some survey work - looking at nearshore reef sites on a beautiful calm, very fishable day. Needs done for Army Corps permits. Ain't no state/fed signed up to do it. 
Saw a bunch of small reefs were there didn't used to be any; a growing habitat footprint. They'll all go away too if we don't keep after it. 

Have a gigantic environmental .org interested in building a boulder reef where there used to be natural reef. Very close to a done deal.. Seems like a couple rec-fish.orgs might help. Be a new day if an saw reef building as a tool in marine fisheries restorations. Believe me, most consider our reef building an enemy.

For me? I do not believe restoring--fully restoring--our fisheries is vaguely possible w/o seafloor & estuarine hardbottom restorations. 
Turning the Mid-Atlantic blue requires oysters in the trillions in our major estuaries. Until then we'll have a "deep green sea"..
Need of restoring temperate marine reefs--this 'seafloor habitat' I always write about; these reefs now down to square yards but were once measured in square miles; our need of restoring still-undiscovered habitat is made plain in fishing's history. 
Getting fed.guv to accept that task, or even look into it, has been rather challenging. 

Took a reporter, Gino Fanelli, out with us on our last low-budget reef trip. A nice article.. Not sure he connected oysters/corals as two different places--as marine/estuarine, but he got most of it. 

Black sea bass regs are being debated. Fed has the population at 230-some percent of target. Yes, 100% would be a perfect success, but I suppose they "Need" the 2-plus X cushion to feed their computers' families. What? 
Yeah no, I don't get it either. 
Before management of sea bass began in 1997 there were numerous scientific documents, many of which I own & have read, even a couple times. In 1977 science was quite sure "a catch of large sea bass (10 inches) would all be male." 
Key in on 'large'.. 
The 1977 NMFS Sandy Hook "Blue Book" on Black Sea Bass Habitat: (page 15) "Since black sea bass are protogynous hermaphrodites, (they start female & some switch to male) sex ratio varies with age & size of the fish. Larger fish are all males. Nearly all fish >25 cm (9.8 inches) are males. Thus catches of large fish will consist of males."
Any of y'all seen a catch of legal sea bass that was ALL male? Heard anyone call a 10 inch sea bass "large" in the last 20 years?
Our size limits are all greater than 10 inches - some up north by a lot. Whatever your state's size limit, if you look at 10 fish you're sure to see a bunch of females. 
I'm confident an 11 inch size limit is where we need to be. For now we throw back "smalls" of even 14 inches in some places. 
That's because the fed is scared "overfishing" will overrun "their" restoration, (the restoration on their computers,) if they relax regulation much at all
..yet if they showed fellows who did work on sea bass in the 1950s/60s & 70s today's populations, those scientists of yesteryear wouldn't believe the change. 

I argue that by size limit regulation alone we've changed their age at maturity. Have been trying to fix sea bass management a long time. Here's one effort among many. 

The common thread blocking rational thought throughout the management period is NOAA's recreational catch estimates. Once MuRFSS & now MRIP; NOAA claims they're science and must therefore be used -- "It's the law." "Best Scientific Data Available - Have To Use It."
By allowing data that's not at all true, and sometimes not even in the same universe, we stumble along with no ability to manage for bioeconomic stability & restoration. 
Every year since 2009 there's been a spike in the landings somewhere that drives the entire recreational sector over quota. 
We have that this year too - big time - and it's all up north again. But we also have a new sea bass population assessment. It's UP - a lot.
Our regs should loosen. Should. 

Are MRIP catch estimates an aid to management? I jumped on a conference call, the "Sea Bass Advisory Panel" call, and, with no preparation whatever, instantly pulled up two MRIP catch estimates that could not possibly be true. 1) Maryland party boats landed zero sea bass in 2016 - & 2) Maryland shore fishers landed 57,000 pounds of sea bass in Sept/Oct 2016.. 
On & on & on. Every Year. Bad Science abbreviates impolitely..

If your job is to use MRIP data--if your family depends on a marine fisheries management paycheck, then what's on your computer screen is "true." NOAA sez so.
Lots more grumbling. Lot more dissent. 
In fact, almost no one actually believes recreational catch data anymore. 
But they still use it. 

Accepting what is not true as a foundational aspect of fisheries management is what's causing our pain. 
Recently the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a look at MRIP. 
Great Scott.. Their kool-aid must have been spiked with xanex while hundreds of puppies played at their feet. "Awwww, MRIP is trying so hard. We advised they explore electronic reporting & they wisely began with a mail survey!" 
Managers have already laid down the law: "We will not use MRIP for in-season adjustments" (closures). 
NAS - "What a swell idea, managers! Don't use MRIP for in-season adjustments." (you meanies)
Yeah no. We'll get no scientific help. 
But don't worry, NAS will take another look at MRIP in ten years. 

Working on it a long time. And just one voice among others. Not much progress. 
Real hard to have quota-based management with imaginary landings data. We're allowed so many millions of pounds, a hard number--that's our quota--and our official MRIP catch estimates forever fly skyhigh, or stupid low, in the face of logic. 
We need to use a "percentage of the fishery" test to see if an estimate is even ballparkish.... 
Here's a long report at Fishing United I wrote on the NAS study and my suggested repair. 

Cheers All,

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