Monday, November 13, 2017

Fish Report 11/13/17

OK, well, speaking of things on the to-do list.. SAKES!! 
We'll get to it, but for now please send this for me..

Fish Report 11/13/17 
Catching Sea Bass
Whipping Post
WRITE!! Help Pass The Modern Fish Act!! (yes, You!)
Special Sea Bass Trip - Thursday - November 16th - 6:30 to 3:30 - (more likely to leave at 6 or so..) $125.00
Only a few weeks before the Benelli Shotgun Raffle for the Reef Foundation goes off - see below..
Sailing Daily For Sea Bass - Weather Permitting - Saturday's 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00.. ARRIVE 1/2 HOUR EARLY! We'll want an early start. Pretty rare for me to get home on time..
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 OK For Some. "Natural Dramamine" Does NOT! 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 at the White Marlin Mall location (also the post office most OCRF mail goes through) - We usually have some aboard. 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. 
2017 Reef Raffle!! Benelli USA has donated another spectacular shotgun! A Benelli Super Black Eagle II, 25th Anniversary Limited Edition, 12ga 28" in Black Cerakote.. Tix are $10.00 - available aboard and/or email if you want me to mail you some. 
If you know anyone with pallets of unsalable block, I know a fishy 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
19,324 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites as of 11/12/17: TNC's Restoration Reef 278 - Doug Ake's Reef 3,316 - St. Ann's 1,928 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,466 - Eagle Scout Reef 970 - Sue's Block Drop 545 - Nichols' Concrete 1122 - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 705 - Benelli Reef 418 - Capt. Bob's BG Reef 736 - Wolf & Daughters Reef 220

Support the Modern Fish Act..
The Girls Crushing Male Egos..

Greetings All, 
Some good to great fishing since my last Fish Report on 10/24. A lot of it was sea bass catching with enough keepers that some would land a limit of fish. No Boat Limits, but good catching nonetheless. 
Then we had a bunch of flounder taking sea bass baits.. Nice. 
But when I sent up a flare saying this might be it for fluke - one last shot - we were already too late (and the weather man too wrong!) 
Wayne limited using shrimp (what else?) in that surge of fluke..

Though we did see a few flounder this weekend, they were not caught by people targeting fluke. Had about a third of our clients limited on sea bass Sunday & some clients in double digits on a rough & windy (but calm as a lake by evening) Saturday. 
Some triggers moving south, blues & bonita too - the odd flounder - a really odd sheepshead Danny tagged. Nice fishing I think. 
Be good to get THIS tag back in a few years.. 

Trying to fish everyday. Weatherman has a say too.. As I write, Thursday 11/16 looks like the best day this week coming. I've made it a longer trip. Maybe ONLY day this week? Forecasts change..  

I've had Danny keeping me posted on what he sees while cutting flounder fillets -- he's found 1/2 the fluke had spawned-out & half were fully ripe. In other words, they're spawning NOW.

Super Storm Sandy was 5 years ago October 29th.. Summer flounder were in full spawn. The ocean floor in 70 feet of water off Delaware was stripped of sea whip--the first I've ever heard of that. With deepening impact, the storm's center was many miles above Delaware's natural coral reefs. 
A week after the storm my crew & I were exploring artificial reefs for damage off Maryland. In 72 feet of water just 7 miles offshore the water turned pitch-black about 20 feet down. That was a week AFTER the storm.. Where the sea is normally nurturing, maybe not so much that November.  
Now we have a downturn in summer flounder population. 
They begin spawning at 3 years & would be 'recruiting' to the fishery (be big enough to keep) this year.. 
This dip in population owing, I believe, to an ill-timed hurricane; they'll bounce back just fine. 

With flounder managers have adjusted regulation annually. MD's period of ultra-strict regulation was cut completely when Private Boat pulled a zero in May/June. I think our highest size limit was 19 inches - owing, of course, to recreational catch estimates showing how we awful & greedy recreational pigs had over harvested our state quota by some enormous number. When Private Boat showed no catch at all, suddenly we went back to 16 inches & 4 fish year round. 
Had we pressed, I'd imagine we could have had 14 or 15 inches and a long season.... 

But that's summer flounder. 
Striped bass & summer flounder are our Hollywood species. They get the red carpet treatment while other species come through a back door if they get any look at all. 
I've been to several federal meetings in the past where sea bass were the last thing on the agenda. After 3 days of solid meetings and with airplanes to catch, it don't make a damn whether regulation will bankrupt industry - time to go. 

Sea bass have NEVER had the ups & downs of regulation like flounder. Where flounder regs would wander up & down with the vagaries of MRFSS (and then MRIP) catch estimates, sea bass only grew tighter. 
I cannot remember the exact quote, but it was something like "although regulation could be loosened, the monitoring committee does not feel that's a good idea." 
And never would. 
When MRFSS showed way low recreational catches - regulation stayed the same.
When MRFSS showed insanely high catches - we'd lose another part of our season & see higher size limits/lower bag limits. 

With flounder MRIP/MRFSS insanity was balanced over time with regulation that slid both up & down. 
Not so with sea bass. 

In NJ this year they had their tightest ever spring cbass regulations. 
Looking at the MRIP estimates, we can see party/charter operators just gave up. They couldn't fish because NJ's Private Boats had all the reefs covered. 
Wait, what? NJ Party Charter did what?
Well, in 2015 MRIP showed NJ Party/Charter catching over 95% of that state's spring sea bass. Now, in 2017, MRIP has NJ's Private Boats catching over 95% of that state's sea bass. In fact, it's a greater number of pounds of sea bass -- 6X more-- than all Party/Charter spring sea bass from North Carolina to Maine. Yes, in May/June MRIP has ALL Party/Charter from NC to ME at just over 100,000 pounds of sea bass, while they have NJ Private Boats at over 600,000 Pounds.. Theirs was 26X greater catch, in pounds, than NJ Party Charter. 
That's some serious fishing there.. 

That estimate and a couple others are going to FORCE managers to TIGHTEN sea bass regulation again in 2018. 
Not a breath of truth - yet all recreational regulation stems from these estimates. As the blues tune goes, we're Tied To The Whipping Post..

See that blurb above about the Modern Fisheries Policy Act? You should become familiar with staffers in DC....

Here's some more "Best Available Science" from MRIP.. 
Average Weight of Shore-Caught Sea Bass in 2016.
Estimate StatusYearStateCommon Name

Average Weight (lb)PSE









2016 CT - 1.9lbs|DE - 1.9 lbs|MD - 1.3 lbs| MA - 2.4 lbs|NY - 3.0 lbs| VA 0.2 Lbs

Aw Shucks.. 
I want to apologize to my clients for being unable to catch as big a sea bass as they do from shore. 
This year VA's shore sea bass are way up -- a pound apiece! And MA too, their average is now closer to 3 pounds. 
Sheesh, if anyone tells their Chamber of Commerce I'll never get any business. 

Please know it is more likely there were NO legal sea bass caught from shore. Possible? Yes. One or two ..but not the 49,970 pounds MRIP claims from MD's shores. 
And over a pound? No. 

But this is the data that will destroy the fishery - is killing it. 
For years, 2 decades actually, I've been beating on this data. Since 2003 Private Boat catch has climbed from sometimes plausible to just impossible. 
Now even shore anglers from MD are said to have caught nearly as many sea bass as all Party Boats from NC to ME in May/June. That's clearly NOT very scientific. But it'll be used..

Because sea bass never went down in regulatory restriction--despite numerous opportunities, yet always tightened at any ridiculous suggestion of catch; the sea bass fishery withers. 
One more really bad estimate could be it -- Done -- Closed Until We Pay It Back. 

Pay what back? 
NOAA's hallucinations of catch. That's what. 

Look up your DC Reps. Tell 'em.. Even in this turbulent time they are getting some things done. If you've never written, now's a great time to start. The best punch is from a hand-written letter or typed & wet-signed. Only do NOT send it to DC -- send it to a field office. Takes too long to undergo testing in DC. 
People who only see fisheries through a computer think The Modern Fish Act will unglue all progress. They believe shore really is the Best Place to go sea bassing in Maryland.. 
Actually, they think the data has its bumps - but they smooth out. A small one as these things go; how can NJ Private Boat catching 6X ALL Party/Charter along the whole coast from NC north ever get smoothed out? 
It doesn't. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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