Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fish Report 3/20/10

Fish Report 3/20/10
Ran Past The Bite
Fishing Thru 4/4
Extended Flounder Season?
Hi All,
Friday I took out 4 guys; Sam, who caught the current state record with me a few years back; Dennis & Alex who could set a new one any day.. And Bill who, naturally, won the pool..
Slooooow fishing.. Ran offshore; swung for the fence and struck-out. With 4 kept and 2 thrown back, it was so slow that I cancelled this fabulous day--Saturday--to await just another degree or two of water temp.
Now I hear that boats inshore did better --not smoking hot, but better-- Kane on the Judith M deserves a shout-out, some small boats too.
Tomorrow---3/21, Sunday---looks to be another beautiful day---Going. I'll try 'em inshore. Tide's right, weather's right.. We'll see! 
Also opening the book from March 25th to April 4th with April 2cnd, 3rd & 4th as special die-hard tog trips discussed below.
Regular Tog Trips: Boat sells out at 14 (it's warmer!) - Green crabs provided - Cabin heated - Leave at 7:00 for these trips (or earlier if all are aboard) - Return no later than 3 - 3:30 (usually) - $100.00 buys a spot - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation.
Special One-Time Triple Long Tog Trips By Request: April 2, 3, 4 - leave at 5:30 AM Back at 5:30 PM - I'll have bait but most will likely have their own - $140.00 Buys a Spot -- 14 sells out. Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation.
Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish can count too.
Have Coast Guard inspection in the second week of April - Will announce more trips when I get an all clear from them...........
This Week's Fishery Dilemma: Maryland DNR wrote a press release that our flounder season would close in late September.. It didn't get sent.
State Fisheries Director Tom O'Connell met with tackle shop, marina, party & charter boat representatives Saturday afternoon; He heard loud and clear that we want our fall flounder season back, That we want "Option 5" which carries through to nearly Thanksgiving..
There was overwhelming public support for the longer season too. He seemed pretty convinced..
We'll see if a different press release gets drafted.
If you have read these reports for long you know that: A) I am a very conservation minded skipper. B) I think our recreational catch estimating system is destroying whole swaths of the industry; That we are said time and time again to have gone over quota when participants wonder what parallel universe the data came from.. That despite their very real repercussions, these catches just never occurred.
Whether we caught over quota or not, we must pay for these supposed overages in reduced quota the following year..
Sea Bass are still undecided. We will shortly be hammering away at that again.
Because of insane fluctuations in catch estimation by a system already sentenced to the shredder, we may yet lose more than half of our sea bass season.
A hypothetical: If you were a commercial fisherman allowed by special "Catch Share" to land 20,000 pounds of black sea bass and the price of the fish varies from $1.00 to over $5.00 per pound depending on size: Would you ever land any of the smalls, mediums & larges that weren't worth what Jumbos are--Even if you had to throw smaller ones back dead? If it meant the difference between $20,000.00 worth of smalls or $100,000.00 in the same weight of jumbos? Would you put the resource or your family first?
Needs Fixin.
Earlier this year we saw, for the first time ever that I know of, the Science & Statistical Committee reconvened with the Joint Monitoring Committees to consider new evidence in the sea bass fishery -- Though it was work already done, they raised the quota. 
Our more serious sea bass trouble lays with MRFSS overestimating the deadliness of private boats to our north--There's some really bad guesswork up there.
Still, the SSC and JMC reconvening was good governance. We had complaints and were heard.
I saw that again today. We had a complaint about our flounder season and were heard.
Good governance.
Right at the top of NOAA there is the power to hear--perhaps even in Supreme Court fashion by oral argument--our evidence that some recreational catch estimates have been wholly implausible, that they could not have occurred.
Snowballing now for many years: When accused of going over-quota rec fishers have the overage deducted the following year. Instability in catch-estimates is like Russian Roulette with 3 of the 6 cylinders loaded---With a deducted overage in place the data can put a fishing type (shore, private boat, party, charter) over the following year even more---Then That Gets Deducted..
This system needs a big dose of truth.
I don't mean the Pravda-like stuff that consumes some, I mean as close to truth as we can realistically get.
I think there's some work to do out there; Ecosystem--Habitat & Prey--restoration work, Commercial regulatory & discretionary dead-discard bycatch work..
Find the truth of recreational catch, Find the truth of recreational release mortality, Find the truth of stock sizes and their spawning sub-stock ranges, Find the truth of reef's importance: Truth is bound to give better results.
Has to.
Imagine a huge dam long under construction that had produced electricity since day one. Now, scant months away from completion, residents are cut off from power.
For some it's an irritation that they worked these many years and now have time or they have long family generational ties; For others it is economic ruin. 
They gather to watch as water---first a trickle, then a flood---flows over the top of the dam: Yet the turbines remain still.. a water-volume/catch-estimation program said so.
We can plainly see wasted opportunity cascading over the top..
And know there are major breaches in side-valleys too.
Everything used to work - Now It Doesn't.
Needs Fixin.
Sea bass--RIGHT NOW--would be a great place to start.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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