Saturday, January 25, 2020

Fish Report 1/25/20

Fish Report 1/25/20
Couple weekday trips this week.. 
A letter to my Congressman.. 

Honest truth about Tog Trips!
Do you like a good old fashioned 'drop and reel' sea bass bite? Like steady action? 
Yeah, umm, toggin/blackfishing ain't that. (Except in the rarest of occasions!) This fishery, tog fishing, is the hardest from among my target species. Skunks can and do happen! Even skilled tog fishers, and I mean from among the very best, can get their head handed to em. 
Still, because the challenge is both our test & attraction - we go! 
Last winter I had several of my best blackfish trips in YEARS. This year already too.. That DOES NOT MEAN IT'S ABOUT TO HAPPEN AGAIN!! ("Ah, Capt, I thought we'd catch 20 pounders today?") Oh Mercy! I'm just glad if clients get bit!
I'm telling you here - I had many, many anglers get skunked last winter and this year also.
This fishery is tough!
Just recently a well-skilled client had 5 double digit fish - yet some of the Very Best Tog Anglers I Know Were Skunked The Same Day! 
It's a brutal fishery.. As I saw on FB recently, "the tug is the drug.." 

I run Tog Trips light so anglers can move to the bite - or try too!
For those in need of the blow-by-blow catch reports, I post after every trip to facebook.

Tog Trips - Monday, Jan 27 - Kicking around the home turf - 7am to 4pm - $125.00 - 16 sells out.. 

Wednesday & Thursday, January 29 & 30 - Nearshore togging in light N winds - 8am to 3pm - 12 sells out - $100.. 
(Yes, I see the nice weather coming next weekend. Tog aren't the only fish in the sea. Might post tog trips - might go play!)

Reservations Required at 410-520-2076
Tog (Blackfish) Trips - zero sea bass. They're closed now.

Weather Cancellations 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
overslept or had a flat..

Trips Also Announced on Facebook at Morning Star Fishing & my personal FB page along with after action (or lack thereof) reports..

Bait is provided on all trips: green crabs for tog. (Whites Are
available from crew for a reasonable cost..) Our Tog Pool Is By Length: A Tog That's Been Released Counts The Same As One In The Boat.

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 Regulation)
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.

Except in high-summer, waterproof boots are almost a necessity unless fishing the bow - sneakers will ruin your day when the water is cold! 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. Tuck a "hot hands" warmer in the palm and life is good..
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..

Sponsor the Ocean City Reef Foundation!

Greetings All, 
Just a letter I recently sent to my congressman.. 
Dear Congressman Harris, Tim, Liz, & Bill — staff I've come to know and trust, 
I've long tried and tried to warn of fisheries catastrophes owing NOAA's use of MRIP recreational catch data. Recently I was afraid that time had finally come when my business could no longer survive 'recreational overfishing' as portrayed by MRIP's recreational catch estimates — that many species would soon be CLOSED in 2020 owing MRIP's showing unfathomably too-high recreational catches  
..then a funny thing happened. 
At the Joint Meeting of ASMFC & MAFMC's sea bass, summer flounder, & scup management board - those members sent up--and Council/Commission agreed, to No Quota Reduction whatever for scup/sea bass/or summer flounder in 2020. (Status Quo) 
This despite, as ever, MRIP showing mad overfishing in the recreational fisheries for all three species in 2019. 
I've never seen it before. Since 1997 when sea bass management began, if the Recreational Catch Estimates showed we were over-quota? MAFMC made us pay a dear regulatory price the following year. 
It's safe to say, therefore, that I'm no longer the only soul that mistrusts MRIP data. Haven't been for a long time, but here 'hallway talk' has finally made it to regulation. 
If the management or scientific communities thought, even a little bit, MRIP was in the ballpark - we'd be shut down on sea bass, scup, and summer flounder. . . 
I saw my first nonsensical fishery closure in 1998 - sea bass were closed for two weeks in August over a single mode/single state/single wave (party/charter) overestimate in NJ (yet NOAA has ALWAYS told Congress, "the estimates blend together to form an accurate picture..) That's when my fight for better catch data began. After numerous other regulatory tightenings, it was Sept 2008 when then-MD Secretary of Natural Resources, John Griffin (a man I truly respect) closed summer flounder by emergency owing a single mode/single wave MD statistical spike in catch. That was followed in 2009 by the federal 'emergency sea bass closure' which dern near bankrupted me. 
Now? I just don't know which way this will go in the coming year! 
There's an amendment to "reallocate" our fisheries based on MRIP — it's going to turn the commercial community upside down if it proceeds.  
Where sea bass, for instance, are currently split 49% Commercial, & 51% Rec — by my calculation recreational may soon get 82% under reallocation! This will happen similarly/proportionally with many species and all owing vastly inflated MRIP estimates.
Worse still — MRIP's influence on stock assessments has fish populations unrealistically sky high. 
MRIP estimates are so high I cannot cipher the true biological result of reallocation. I fear it may well be our somewhat-successful fishery restorations which suffer worst. 
I fought MRFSS recreational catch estimates for all I was worth from 1998 to 2012 when MRIP came out. 
Now I'm begging the Secretary of Commerce to replace MRIP with that very program I despised — MRFFS. 
It's the only instant repair I can think of... 
I promise: our existing fishery restorations & commercial allocations — any remaining integrity in fisheries science and management — all are in grave danger! 
In these very dark days in DC I anticipate it will be hard to punch through with something so small.. 
MRIP offers estimates so far from reality - everything will be a mess with its full inclusion in science & management. 

Capt Monty Hawkins

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