Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fish Report 2/18/09

Fish Report 2/18/09
Even Less Crowded
Fluke Regs
Hi All,
Sisyphus was a mythological King said by the Greeks to have spent eternity rolling a boulder up a hill... 
So the boat is under a big tent. No TARP, just tent. A stimulus for marine suppliers..
Cutting, grinding, glassing, fairing, glassing, sanding, fairing, sanding, priming, sanding, fairing, sanding, priming, sanding, fairing, sanding...
Got to be a finish coat of paint out there somewhere!
Reglassing hull & topsides. When she's done - good for 22 more years.
It is coming together nicely. I can see where the 'boulder' comes to rest. 
Hmm, there are days though..
I have occasionally seen where, given wind and tide, five people across the stern is too tight. Sure caught a mess of fish back there but..
Spread Out! Dropping spot 23 in the transom and also taking out 1 and 20 for a sold-out rail of 22 people. (14-15 for tog still)
Figured while we had the boat's rod holders off we'd make a switch I've long wanted.
Leaving the brochures/website as they are for a while yet. Reservation staff has it dialed in - just not selling 1, 20 or 23. Those spot's will be gone as we reconfigure the fishing deck.
Book a  spot, know how much room you're going to have and, hopefully, great service & decent fishing - that's what we do. Reservations open for May & June for my normal schedule - holding off for heart of summer. Might be something different in that period.
Dropped the price too. Nicked that $10.00 'fuel surcharge' off at least.
Gee, hardly ever get to fish. Maybe with less folks aft the captain might sneak a drop now and then..
Had a great day of reef building a few weeks back. Two brand new sites within 6 1/2 miles of shore got 20+ retired NYCTA reef cars each.
Combined with the Thanksgiving deployment on the new Bass Grounds permit, recent reefing has more than quadrupled our reef footprint inside 8 miles.
Working with some of OC's commercial fishers; these were sites that I had laid on a chart ten years ago - started on their journey through the permit process. The Ocean City Reef Foundation, Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative and those that contribute to those organizations brought the reefs to fruition. (50/50 raffle too!)
No instant gratification, there will be some few years as nature does it's thing.
Only the material sunk is artificial, the life is all natural.
Lot more vacant bottom within our permits; hope to see frequent bargeloads of concrete put down too. Perhaps spin-offs of the stimulus - tearing down bridges has been great for reef building in the past...
Fishers have boats: Fishery managers have their own nether-world hillside as they perpetually roll the boulder of MRFSS data upward.
The Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS - say murfs) holds that Maryland's recreational fishers not on charter or party boats demolished the summer flounder last year. I say not on charter/party boats because those MRFSS numbers look fairly accurate.
You see, if a state overfishes --catches more than their recreational quota-- it must be deducted from the next year.
I had everyone dig through their logbooks last fall at the announcement of an emergency closure. Initially I'd thought professionals and their clients caught just over 1,300 fluke through the end of August. When all the boats had reported it was actually 1056 fluke, still a number not too divergent from the official estimate through that period for party/charters.
Yet Maryland was said to have killed 66,000 by then.
Really now, if there were that kind of a bite going on even grocery clerks would have caught wind of it as zip-lock bags flew off the shelves.
Yet somehow the shore and private boat anglers kept this mega-run of fish a secret from the guys that fish flounder every day.
Managers know it's wrong. They know stakeholders and constituents aren't going to like the data in --or regulations out-- yet console themselves in the theory that, spread over a wide enough area, the data smooths into a more and more accurate picture.
Possible to build a house from dung & straw too.
Here's a few examples from NOAA's recreational statistics website. This is real data -- what ironclad regulations are fashioned from.
Maryland shore anglers --bank fishers only mind you-- caught 978 flatties in Sept/Oct '03 ~ zero fluke in Sept/Oct '04 ~ 12,773 summer flounder in Sept/Oct of '05 ~ all of 'em got skunked again in early fall of '06 ~ and experienced an incredible fishery in Sept/Oct '07 when 36,017 flatties died.
Or not.
Maryland's managers are going to watch the generation of the data more closely they say. I hope they do.
Its not going to help this year. Accumulated bad data will become harsh regulation.
Season not yet set. Meetings still to come. We will pay for having not watched and argued the numbers more forcefully.
Artificial reef as 'recreational fish trap' and 'more reef spreads the same amount of fish thinner' examined in a piece I did for the Coastal Fisherman Starts in section 4.
"Leviathan" by Eric Jay Dolan was a great piece on America's whaling. I read it as 'our first fishery collapse' - this despite "permits" issued even during the Revolutionary War and reams of spot-on data. Delaware Bay an early hotspot.. Sperm whales in abundant numbers off our coast..
I've never seen one.
Lot of work to do out there.
Glad sea bass don't attack party boats.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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