Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fish Report 5/13/17

Fish Report 5/13/17 
A Reef Thank You
Sea Bass Begin 
Fluke & Sea Bass: Another Regulatory Massacre 
Spit In Einstein's Eye

Sailing Daily For Sea Bass Weather Permitting - Monday (opening day & a bit shaky wind wise!) & Tuesday have special hours. After that - Saturdays 6:30 to 3:30 @ $125.00 -- rest of the week 7 to 3 at $110.00. 
Tuesday On Looks Like A Pretty Week Coming. I anticipate good fishing. 
Look forward to fishing every day possible..

Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Are Common - 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..

Bonine Is Cheap Insurance! Crystalized Ginger Works Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure.  If You Suffer Mal-de-Mer In A Car You Should Experiment On Shorter Half-Day Trips First! (Wockenfuss Candies sells crystalized ginger locally - We usually have some aboard - Better is Nuts.Com.. Chewable Meclizine is a good pharmaceutical, chewable Bonine's  a "less drowsy" meclizine pill; prescription Scopolamine Patches are the gold standard.)

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Is Fine For A Few People. 
No Galley! BYO Sandwiches & Soft Drinks. A few beers in cans is fine. (bottles break at bad times)

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! 

Please Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation!
We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. 

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. 
If you have a few blocks in the backyard taking up space and just making snake reef, bring em. We'll toss em overboard with the rest.

17,431 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites: TNC's Restoration Reef 278 - Doug Ake's Reef 3,238 - St. Ann's 1,585 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,260 - Eagle Scout Reef 934 - Sue's Block Drop 262 - Nichols' Concrete 867 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 676 - Benelli Reef 341 - Capt. Bob's Reef 408 - Wolf & Daughters Reef 210 ..

The Reef Foundation Dinner was an incredible success. A million thank yous would perhaps be enough. 
This year we're going to build a reef that will last into deep time -- a reef many  generations will enjoy. It's builders will be long forgotten while the TNC Boulder Reef at the Bass Grounds is still providing essential fish habitat at every life stage. 
If the many efforts of oyster reef biofiltration restoration are at last successful in the Chesapeake & Delaware bays; and with an increasing abundance of coral in our near-coastal marine waters, we will have left the ocean far better than we found it. 
Thank You All Who Helped With, Donated To, & Attended the Reef Dinner! 

If you couldn't -- Next Year! But donations now are crucial to building the boulder reef.. Look for our Benelli Shotgun Raffle. Super-sweet..
Tubularian Hydroid - What we call Tog Grass.. When small mussels grow on the stems of these filter feeders (look close,) tog graze them like cattle.... Photo Michael Eversmier.

Greetings All, 
Looking forward to some nice sea bassing! 
Sakes.. Hauled the boat for a quick coat of bottom paint, prop check, new zincs, and a change of cutlass bearings. Rods rigged  ..tried to get my crew to sharpen the anchors too - wouldn't fall for it.  
Loaded up on bait, hooks, sinkers. 
Ready as we can be. 
Fresh Fish!!!!

Unfortunately, while doing all the Reef work to make the dinner happen and get the 2017 charts ready; to our north MRIP catch data again robbed many anglers of more season; both in fluke (summer flounder) & sea bass. 

Hey NOAA, at least Jesse James used a gun.. 

I thought this time would be different. I thought sure last year's crazy-high New York sea bass catch estimate -- where MRIP asserts NY's small private boats had, all alone, outfished every commercial trapper & trawler from NC, VA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH, & ME -- I thought that was more ridiculous than regulators could ever bear; thought, at long last, they would admit "This MRIP data is just too dumb to call science.
Instead, they spit in Einstein's eye and used the data as-is they always do. 
I'd be ashamed to death to destroy a man's livelihood with such stinking codswallop. . . . . 

You might have guessed: Recreational fishers are, again, (this time owing mostly to NY catch estimates,) way the heck over sea bass quota. 
The regulatory shake-out's not final yet, but it appears as though NY/NJ will take a terrible hit on their sea bass season. 
DelMarVa's appears to have survived intact. 
For now. Maybe. 
What we have left of it. 
Last man standing..

One bad estimate is all it takes. Just one. Two bad estimates can march a fishery up the gallows' stair. 
NOAA's response to going over-quota is severe. Although a Private Boat estimate would be more likely, it's absolutely possible a shore estimate from NY or NJ could close sea bass along the coast from Cape Hatteras north next year. 

I'm not making that up. 

In 2016, for instance, Maryland's partyboats officially caught no sea bass. 
Zero. (& yes, you could fairly say I make my living with a MD partyboat catching sea bass. Never let fact  stand in the way of NOAA's "best available scientific information.") 

*********From Fish Report 3/27/17***********
Speaking of Statistical Lunacy, here's Maryland's 2016 Sea Bass MRIP estimate for all modes. 
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameFishing ModeTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total Weight (lb)PSE

Average Length (in)PSE

Average Weight (lb)PSE






Party boats that advertise, target, live or die by sea bass -- what I do for a living -- We Caught Zero Sea Bass. 
Shore, where tiny sea bass are a pest to flounder & tog fishers, now that was the place to be in 2016! 

Zero cbass catch for MD partyboats.. But Maryland's shore fishers? Hey now!! Those guys racked 'em up!! 
They caught over 50 thousand pounds of sea bass -- from shore. The AVERAGE SIZE was a pound and a half. 
Darn.. Been doing this almost 40 years now and cannot catch that good without burning a fair amount of fuel.

Didn't really happen. 
It's called a statistical outlier. Looks to me like everyone deals with them harshly. Except NOAA. 

UPDATE! MRIP Changed the data!! (maybe in time for the last Council meeting, but not likely in time for all the "scientific" deliberations of the technical committee & SSC..)
Now they show Party/Charter did catch. We even managed to catch the same sized fish as from shore. Sure glad my clients didn't walk along the jetty before buying a ticket. 
Maryland - All Modes - All Year (5/13/17)
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameFishing ModeTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total Weight (lb)PSE

Average Length (in)PSE

Average Weight (lb)PSE
FINAL2016BLACK SEA BASSSHORE37,05786.149,97088.1









And so, with data exactly like that, NOAA is destroying recreational fishing businesses and severely lessening recreational fishing opportunities this year & far into the foreseeable future; have far into the past. 

Here's a look at the Fluke Disaster of 2017.. 
With "margin of error" absolute rubbish, (what PSE is, essentially, is like margin of error in a political poll) we can see all recreational anglers between Cape Hatteras & the Canadian line caught 1.5 million more pounds of fluke (summer flounder) in 2016 than in 2015. 

All Modes--Shore/Party/Charter/Private Boat -- All Year 
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total Weight (lb)PSE
FINAL2015SUMMER FLOUNDER1,580,9257.64,657,0857.9
FINAL2016SUMMER FLOUNDER2,009,8838.66,152,0468.6

That's strange. NOAA asserts everyone has had to take a major quota cut because spawning production has been off. Everyone has cut 30% off the top -- both the Rec & Commercial quotas. I don't dispute it. I too think production has been off.  
Yet one wonders how in blazes we caught so many more if the total population is down? 
Rational thought & fact aren't welcome where MRIP is in use.. 

It's often shown For-Hire catch is curtailed by real events. Hardly perfect, but I believe For-Hire (Partyboat/Charterboat) catch estimates are usually better than Private Boat. 
Should be. We tell NOAA what we catch every day.  

This table is For-Hire Recreational (Party/Charter) Only From Cape Hatteras to Maine -- Down 350,000 lbs - Down Nearly Half. This supports NOAA's assertion the fluke population is down.  
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total Weight (lb)PSE
FINAL2015SUMMER FLOUNDER272,06721.6813,76521.2
FINAL2016SUMMER FLOUNDER144,34615461,32418.2

Yet here is Private Boat all year..
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total Weight (lb)PSELandings (no.) without Size Information
FINAL2015SUMMER FLOUNDER1,264,8838.23,733,6778.70
FINAL2016SUMMER FLOUNDER1,810,7789.45,536,3919.40

Population of fish down -- Catch up -- Way UP!! Almost 2 million pounds up. Not at all by the guys who go every day - Just Private Boat. 
Only in MRIP Data... 

This table shows where most of last year's catch increase occurred -- New Jersey. 
According to MRIP estimates (which NOAA treats like a bank statement,) New Jersey Private Boat was up a million pounds (while the fluke population was down.)
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total Weight (lb)PSE
FINAL2015SUMMER FLOUNDER390,52713.51,109,70013.4
FINAL2016SUMMER FLOUNDER707,48912.52,158,61712.3

Now surely if NJ's Private Boats were up a million pounds, NJ's party/charter guys also got in on that fishing. 

It almost never works that way. The guys who go fishing almost every day caught substantially fewer fluke in 2016. A lot less. (which supports the "population is down" theory.)
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total Weight (lb)PSE
FINAL2015SUMMER FLOUNDER85,16916282,97118.6
FINAL2016SUMMER FLOUNDER25,83624.985,98325.9

And That's Why NJ's Anglers Are In Such Turmoil. Everyone other state has been there too. 
Again, & again, & again--and in species after species from Maine to Texas; Catch That Never Happened causes enormous over-regulatory response. 
And it's almost always in Private Boat. 

Managers who show such bravery telling us "how it has to be," become gelatinous in the face of bad data. 
They will not stand up to data they themselves do not believe. 
I don't think there's anyone left in the management community who actually believes MRIP data. 
There are a tiny few at the top of the food chain who will publicly proclaim belief  ..but it's too dumb. I don't think any rational human would buy it. 

Forcing managers' acceptance of bad catch estimates "As Is" has done unmeasurable damage to recreational fisheries. It's destroyed any faith fishers once had in regulators. 

Not hammering out the data keeps meetings short and productive.  
It's also made a complete mess of fishing's potential. 

It really needs fixing. 
See Fish Report 4/25/17 for a slightly more in-depth look at a possible repair & further examples of bad data's affect on regulation. 

Folks in DC are mighty busy these days. Still, if you do not know your Senators & Congressman -- but rant away on Facebook -- you'll need to redirect some energy toward folks who could actually fix this. 
Make no mistake, save very few in DC, fishing is generally seen about even with having heat in the Bingo hall. They have Chinese & Russians crawling around inside our computers, & that nice, stable young man just north of South Korea to worry over, among many things. 
But this is their doing. It's NOAA's policy to use this MRIP data as is. Simply allowing debate -- or better, developing a test to truth the data: either would take us to a more stable place in regulation. 

From there we'd almost certainly 'discover' habitat and biology's import.. 
But never in these forever-battles over regulations that shouldn't even be in consideration. 

But DC ain't all. My State Senator, Jim Mathias, refers to himself as "the complaint dept." 
He's not kidding. 

Write your state's fishery people. Tell your state reps what's going on. It's a sure bet they know key staffers in DC and their boss a dern-site better than you..
But write DC too. 
Once you get above fisheries level, don't try to talk to the boss. Instead, become acquainted with a staffer.. They're often young - but dedicated. A few staffers I've met are truly heroic, patriots in every sense. All are sharp. 

Some readers are going to write me saying I should list emails.. I surely haven't many readers, but they're in too many states to even begin listing contacts. Use the google & find your own..
Write. Snail Mail Is Always Best (until you get to know them.) Ask them why they think this MRIP stuff makes sense. 
Call 'em too.

MRIP's gutting our industry.
Needs fixing.
Complain to the Complaint Department!
Fight or die. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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