Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fish Report 9/23/09

Fish Report 9/23/09
Best CBass This Year
Road Crew 
Hi All,
Fishing has been fairly kind. Though no more limits of cbass and still an incredible amount of throwbacks; its far and away better than we've had. 
Some croakers too - just not consistent. Bigger ones have not settled.
Tailor blues, a few triggers, croakers, and cbass bend a pole; make a day - fish fry too.
Many fishers are deeply concerned with upcoming regulations. They ought to be. MRFSS data, though deeply and provably flawed, remains firmly in control of recreational fishers' fate. This 'best science available' has enough shortcomings that in no other circumstance would these statistics be acceptable as 'science'.
Late, but to the rescue, the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP, which fulfills the federal fishing license requirement) begins next year.
A fishing license gives an actual head-count to managers of the musket battalions in this modern artillery and air war. We're still going to have to deal with estimates, but they ought to be a lot smoother.
Smoother implies less friction. Less friction works better.
Work is what we need to do.
Right now our fisheries are like a huge stretch of super-highway badly in need of repair.
We've limited the trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles and pedestrians that can get on through catch restriction. We'll soon have MRIP crews counting all who enter so as to know their exact number. Some lanes are frequently inaccessible, backing-up traffic in others - as tautog are now getting pounded in our back-bays while flounder are closed. Scientists examine impassable--unproductive--sections of road and study diseases..
Study, study, study..   
When traffic slows too much protests fill the phone lines, inboxes & hallways.
Many have long since given up and now use other routes - for their recreation.
Yet few are troubled that road-crews not only remain idle, they haven't been staffed.
We need to make repairs. Big repairs.
Yet we're all fussing over numbers.
Loss of hard-bottom in the estuaries & ocean negatively effects water quality, prey abundance, and has numerous direct effects on habitat dependant species. It can be fixed. 
Striped bass infected with a fatal disease...
Lots of examples, hundreds: Fish live year-round, not just in summer. The whole system has to work or fisheries production falls-off.
Lost production always means more catch restriction.
I wrote in 2004/5 that numbers of small fall sea bass were frighteningly down; that trouble loomed. Even with the 9/10 inch limit regulations in the late-2000's it wasn't uncommon for high-angler to have a hundred plus cbass on a fall day. In the bitter-hard summers of unregulated fishing we'd catch 150/200 a man come fall. 
Yet in the height of regulation, wasn't happening - less production.
In the last several years I wrote that the size of spawning males was decreasing - that I anticipated an upswing in production because so many  more small cbass were entering the spawning stock.
Its going on now - right back where we were in 1997 or so.
Wonderful restart.
Croakers likewise - scadjillions of small croakers and weakfish inshore - whyszat!
We need to find out why and keep doing it.
Would that we could reduce friction within fisheries by declaring a truce while MRIP gets ramped-up.
Treaty signed by all parties - simple regional recreational regulations in place for several years.
Meanwhile, those who suddenly found themselves with less work could roll their sleeves up and man the repair crew.
All that brain-power unleashed with a new directive..
Just might find that simple recreational regulations were all that were ever needed.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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