Saturday, March 04, 2017

Fish Report 3/4/17 Macks?

Fish Report 3/4/17 
An Experimental $50.00 Boston Mackerel Trip
More Boring Data Stuff To Come

Greetings All, 
Forgoing what would be a tog trip this Sunday - tomorrow! I'm going to try a trip back in time. What I see will affect the coming weeks schedule.

Boston Mackerel Only - absolutely no tog fishing this trip! - Sunday, March 5th, 9:30 AM (to let the wind fall out some) until 3 PM - Price For This Experimental Trip Only $50.00 - 20 Sells Out .. We will be fishing mid to upper water with artificial lures for mackerel. If you have diamond jigs & mackerel lures - wonderful. If not, we'll figure something out or sell you a rig cheap. A cooler of 54 qts is best per-person. Larger coolers on the stern or bow is fine for a group. Coffins will not be allowed aboard. (if you can fit a man in your cooler, it's a coffin.) 
Yes, we'll leave a half hour early if all reservations are aboard. If you get all snicker-bary if the fish ain't hitting, - please stay ashore until you're dead certain every cooler is being filled every trip. (at which time the run will have moved north & they'll get all snicker-bary anyway..)
And -as ever- no one wants to listen to you puke all day. Take Bonine already! 

When I was a deckhand, Boston mackerel represented my best time of year. They offered fiscal relief after a long winter. 
When I was a young captain the challenge and reward amazed. To have all your clients wanting to go home because, though an unlimited fishery--and they all were unregulated then; to have clients wanting to leave because they had all the fish they could possibly want was a wonderful thing. 

During my last year of running the old Angler, 1990, there was a joint foreign fishing venture sponsored by the MAFMC. European processor ships were allowed to moor just inside DE Bay & bought mackerel from US trawlers (& gillnetters?) for about two months. 

I'm pretty sure this was in the "Underutilized Species" category. What we might call "forage fish" or "ecosystem fish" these days; anything that swam back then was just wasted money until it crossed a dock. 

You see, it had always been the first trawler to land macks in Ocean City would get decent money - say a quarter a pound. 
Then the chase was on. Shortly - in just a few days - macks were not worth catching. The price would collapse as the market quickly flooded.
Back then I rarely saw a commercial fisher while surrounded by perhaps a dozen party/charter boats. 
With the factory processors here in 1990 and allowed to buy macks, the price remained elevated for 9 weeks as I recall. We saw commercial trawlers every day that last year..
It took a couple years to completely die, but, essentially, from 1991 to today we have not had the multi-decadal recreational mackerel fishery.

The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries had long been tasked with finding ways to exploit underutilized species..  This BoCF part of .guv then became today's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS.) They are still trying to grasp recreational fishing as if it might be of economic import. Really.
They have had recent meetings about it - will have more. Guys I know started working when "Bureau of Commercial Fisheries" was on desks in their offices..

NOAA tells us Boston Macks 'moved north' owing warming waters. That's why we do not have them. 
Well? Is it, 'Hey! Sorry about your luck boys. Can't stop the sun you know.' 
Or was it habitat fidelity, always unrecognized in our regulations, that tripped the collapse of the southern population of mackerel..
It sure seems to me a single pulse of incredible trawl effort drove a stake in the fishery's heart. 

No mater how odd, mackerel 'moved north' the very next year after that massive increase in commercial pressure. 

I have always hoped for their return, and indeed there was an excellent sign in recent weeks down in VA Beach. Used to be about when they lost 'em, we'd get 'em. 
What happened with water temps would dictate whether the "Mackerel Run" was 10 days or 5 weeks. 
Looks like it's time to go try, just judging by water temps.

Baked fresh, but especially smoked - delish! They do not freeze well for cooking. 
Others saved these oily fish for crab, surf, & shark bait. 
Sometimes commercial crabbers would load up family & friends to hit an OC party boat.  
We'd be June or July scrubbing their tiny scales off the rental rods, passenger rail and waist-cap...

Shocking I'm sure - I see exactly the same sorts of bad numbers in summer flounder (fluke) as I see in sea bass & other species. Digging in to the boring stuff. This MRIP catch estimate data is the worst of what's wrong with our restoration efforts. 
New Jersey's politicians are acting as though New Jersey's fluke regs are a problem all their own. Promise -- all this mess, all of it, stems from bad catch estimate data. Bad catch estimate data has impacted recreational fisheries in every state from Texas north. It's NOT New Jersey's problem - it's ALL Recreational Fisher's problem. 
It's so bad that it's had a negative affect -and cumulative- on fisheries science. They've become data blind in a sea of obvious..
I so wish I'd given my "MRIP - Where's the Filter" piece of last week a cold edit. Sent it too soon. I'll try to get this summer flounder piece right - more readable..

About that mackerel trip tomorrow, even if no one signs up - I'm going. 
Pic below is something else that likes to catch mackerel. Saw that dude maybe two weeks ago..

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Weather this day had fin whale spouts hanging like a cloud...

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