Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Fish Report 1/9/18

Fish Report 1/9/18 
Another Trip 
Slooooooow Start 
MRIP's Shadow 

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. 
Mate Danny MIGHT have white crabs. Usually does. 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. (have hoped just that some many years now, however..)

All Winter Trips Posted Via Email. There's just no use trying to go everyday in winter.. (ESPECIALLY THIS WINTER!) 
Opening Thursday, January 11th, 2018 - Depart 7 at the latest, Return 3ish - $110.00.. Tog Only - Sea Bass Closed. Trip Sells Out At 14..

Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - On My Rig You Can Reserve What Spot You're In. Please See http://morningstarfishing.com 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 Mate USUALLY Has 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..

19,491 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites as of 11/12/17: TNC's Restoration Reef 278 - Doug Ake's Reef 3,343 - St. Ann's 1,928 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,505 - Eagle Scout Reef 970 - Sue's Block Drop 569 - Nichols' Concrete 1134 - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 705 - Benelli Reef 418 - Capt. Bob's BG Reef 784 - Wolf & Daughters Reef 220
Recent Blocks Provided By Potomac Valley Brick - Thank You!
Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation! http://www.ocreefs.org (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! 

(Dennis's 26.5 inch tagged release..)

Greetings All, 
Have sailed one trip for tog in 2018. Were it not for Dennis's 26.5 inch female tagged release; well, even Dennis's jumbo didn't save that trip from the 'miserable' column. 
Sakes. Swung for the fence & failed.. 

Been breaking ice in the marina. Some of it 3.5 inches. Bad start to toggin.. Often only have to do that once in February, or not at all. After lots of passes we do have a path. Reopened it again Tuesday. It'll clear very well over the next few days then freeze tight again. 
(Ryan, Courtney, Monty, Danny, & Nick - We stopped so Dave Messick could take a snap. The boat was locked solid.)

(Backing to open a bigger hole for Capt. Dale on the Foolish Pleasures)

(First Pass Ocean City Fishing Center 1/7/18 -- 3+ Inch Ice All The Way To The Bay) 

Wednesday my crew & I are doing some surveying for the Ocean City Reef Foundation. Ultra-boring work to go check chart bearings, but comes with the job -- have to do it. Will. 
Do have great reef building projects coming with our best funding in years & years. Still have $50,000.00 in a grant from The Nature Conservancy to build with boulder at the Bass Grounds Reef too. . . 

Thursday we go toggin. 
Thursday evening there's a meeting about MD's sea bass & flounder regs - federal regs really - for 2018. 
Lots of regs up in the air. 

Managers HAVE TO restrict catch, you know, based on reported landings from my favorite statistical guesstimate program, MRIP. 
If an MRIP Recreational Catch Estimate says we 'overfished' or 'overharvested' or 'caught more than our recreational quota' - then we have to take a deduction from this year's quota. 
Managers' party-line is "The statistics aren't perfect, but they average out just swell." 
They're thinking: If Billy has 3 oranges, Walter 4, and Becky has just 1 -- then the average of 2.6 oranges isn't too far off. 

But, as in NY's Private Boat Nov/Dec sea bass estimate from 2016 where they are asserted to have caught about as many sea bass in two frosty months as All Partyboats & Charterboats from Maine to North Carolina All Year -- That Same Thinking Becomes "If NJ Private Boats caught 15,400 pounds of sea bass in Nov/Dec 2016, and all other states from Maine to North Carolina except New York caught another 49,200 pounds; When we average in NY's 720,891 pounds to all states with Private Boat landings, then 154,732 pounds per chilly private boat fleet is about right. 
That means, even after averaging as broadly as possible, each and every state's Private Boats 'averaged' more sea bass in Nov/Dec than the entire management zone's Party/Charter fleet with 149,600 pounds for the period. 

So: If Billy actually has 3 oranges, Walter honestly has 4, and Becky's worst enemy says she has 789 (because she's only allowed 10 by law..) then the average of 274 oranges per-each really IS too far off.
MRIP is our worst enemy. 
Actually, it's managers' acceptance of the data "as-is," really. 

In 2017 we've seen NJ's May/June Private Boat catch greater than All Party/Charter in Wave 3 (May/June.) 
For the year NJ Private Boats are said to have landed almost twice what ALL Party Charter from ME to NC caught.  

Connecticut's Private Boat fleet stepped up too. They landed 1.5X what All Party/Charter landed. 

NY about tied. Massachusetts & Rhode Island put together beat every professional.. 

Five out of eight state's private boat fleets landed about or greater-than what All Party/Charter in the entire Management unit landed. 
Here's the thing, save a couple Saturdays a year, it's unlikely Private Boats EVER outfish Party/Charter on sea bass. Of all the skippers I've ever spoken with: Day after day after day we go with a nice crowd in the off-seasons & see no other boats--except other professionals. 
When we do see a load of Private Boats, it's when we're sold-out too: a holiday, opening day.. I think it was 16 or 17 boats I saw on our largest artificial reef when sea bass reopened -- by far the most ever. Yet all those anglers combined didn't equal what a few partyboats & charters had aboard. 

These estimates are bogus. They average-out bogus. 
They cannot be true. 
Yet they will surely have a very true affect on regulation -- Soon. 

Each State's Private Boat Only Landings, March through October..
Estimate StatusYearStateCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total Weight (lb)PSE
PRELIMINARY2017NEW YORK BLACK SEA BASS235,81028.4525,11328.9

All Party/Charter ME to NC combined - March to October 
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total Weight (lb)PSE
PRELIMINARY2017BLACK SEA BASS284,66910.6533,24510.7

The "Modern Fish Act" is being fought by recreational fishers who strongly support striped bass management. Years ago managers grew weary of forever battles about MuRFSS catch estimates (program before MRIP) in striper management. Same exact fights as today's but before argument on estimates had been banned. It drug out the process interminably, so managers created a different way to calculate recreational striped bass effort based on the population of fish & how it changed.  
Regulation remained constant for a very long time & only recently grew more restrictive as the mycobacteriosis plague worked through the population --- less fish, tighter regs. 

For sea bass we have catch estimates (accusations of going over-quota) that could not possibly be true affecting every aspect of management; we also have a population 2.5X greater than management had dared dream   ..and yet greater restriction with each passing year. 

If stripers still depended on MRIP for state by state regulation we'd have the Modern Fish Act passed by now. 

Instead, this powerful block of anglers calls it the "Empty Oceans Act." 
I've never gotten them to lift a finger for seafloor/reef habitat inside the 100 fathom line - but they're pouring on the effort to keep MRIP as a shining example of what governance should never be based on -- falsehood. 

YOU need to support the Modern Fish Act. Tell your Governor. Your DC reps - Tell them you're tired of bad catch estimates destroying recreational fisheries. 
When management at last discovers Biology & Ecology have potential in this fight; that it's NOT just about chasing the psychedelic catch-estimate rabbit around & seeing impossible overfishing from a state's jetties, or Private Boats from one state catching in a few weeks what all commercial & party/charter catch all year, we'll begin a more-productive phase in restoration. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star 
Ocean City, Maryland

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