Monday, March 14, 2011

Fish Report 3/14/11

Fish Report 3/14/11
Went Short
Going Long
Letters To The Boss
Going Fishing: Long Tog Trips - Thursday & Friday, March 17th & 18th, 5:30 AM to 4:30 PM - Clams & Crab Provided - $150.00 - 16 Sells Out - Reservations Required @ 410 520 2076 - Still Cold Water, But Warming. Though We'll Probably See A Few, I'll Target Cod Again Another Time.
Hi All,
That didn't work so well, Fishing last weekend I mean.
Coast Guard inspection was two-thumbs way up. Tog bite, however, was as though we were catching them while they arose from winter hibernation..
I have readers deep in fisheries: What do you call the inactive period, the toper, the dormancy of tautog as they lie in reef crevices during cold water periods?  
Ended up using clam for tog-bait. Even a nameless soul; My highly skilled Russian friend who will spare no expense and drive great distances to have live white-leg crabs for bait; Even he saw the difference.
Desperate times -- Desperate measures: Yes, even Alex was using clam..
Caught a few too. Seen worse ..but it sure wasn't what I'd like to show clients.
And the cod!
Didn't show.
One keeper on Sunday.
Well, I'd said I was going to stay inshore. It was blowing a near-gale by noon Saturday. I sure wouldn't have gotten a whole day offshore.  
Now I want to paddle on down the beach some, go a fair-piece at a fuel conserving pace..
Going Fishing: Long Tog Trips - Thursday & Friday, March 17th & 18th, 5:30 AM to 5:00 PM - Clams & Crab Provided - $150.00 - 16 Sells Out - Reservations Required @ 410 520 2076 - Still Cold Water, But Warming. Though we'll Probably See A Few, I'll Target Cod Again Another Time.
Might just see some monster tog.
Or the monster might be a skunk.
Can't take it on the chin, stay out of the cage.
It's fishing..
Have a bit of side-work for the weekend coming.. It's possible we'll fish. Will announce via this medium if we can. . . . . . . . . . .
Little record keeping here. Uncle Murfs sez our Grady & Whaler fleet --the smaller private boats-- caught the heck out of tog last year in March & April.
In fact, the official catch-estimate all fishery managers MUST USE in determining if 'over-fishing' has occurred is 18,588 tautog for MD's private boats last March & April.
Gosh fellows. Slow Down! That's what the party and charter boats will catch in 5 YEARS.
Sticking with the two month period for comparison, their 18,588 Mar/Apr estimate runs to over 15 years of charter/partyboat fishing.
Now, I've been looking, watching; Trying to see where these scoundrels are fishing.
No Luck. I have not seen a private boat fishing in March. Not Yet.
Marina personnel think most will be in the water or otherwise ready to go by mid-May.
So, for the record: 2 weeks of March and no private boats have gone tog fishing that I know of.
A few sharpies will, before the end of April, go catch some tog. It probably won't exceed 800 fish. At worst, if they are really snapping and the weather is perfect for long stretches, these fellows might--If Everyone Catches Everyday--catch 2,000 tog.
But I doubt it.
And EVERYONE in fishery management probably doubts it too; Doubts that two month estimate of 18,588 fish that is. Might not voice it ..but these are not dull-minded people.
I honestly think 18,588 tog will be caught by MD private boats during Mar/Apr in about 2 decades.
The Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey -- MRFSS -- We Say Murfs - They Say Murfis - This data is destroying recreational fishing businesses from Maine to Texas: When Crazy Uncle Murfs sez we caught way-way more than our recreational fair-share, our recreational quota, Then State & Federal managers MUST ACT TO PREVENT OVERFISHING.
Seasons are closed, size limits go up, creel limits go down; People quit coming and industry withers.
Because of the data......
Now tautog live way-up in DE Bay; have always thrived on Delaware's natural coral-beds in their ocean & on the oyster bars inside. Both habitats now greatly diminished; Tog are thriving on artificial reef being built at a faster clip than any effort in Maryland.
Importantly: Tog fishing's Mecca is The Wall. Not far from there stands the Haystacks. Both were built out of a fantastic amount of boulder to help keep shipping safe in Delaware Bay.
And both places have grown to become fantastically productive unintentional artificial reefs.
------Now it happens that Crazy Uncle Murfs has some first cousins. This close family is the scientists who believe "artificial reef only draws fish away from natural reef making it easier for fishermen to target them." I'll get back to them in another report but you might want to ponder what remaining natural reef the Wall's tog population was swiped from or how many tog would be landed in Lewes without the Haystacks and the Wall------  
So why is a Maryland skipper making tog fishers drool at the thought of fishing Delaware?
Well, one day my friends in the Chesapeake will discover that they too can manufacture a tog fishery where oyster reefs once thrived.. take about 4 years after construction--No, it will take about 4 years after complex habitat is formed. Shell has been used since about the Civil War; it's hard to pinpoint any successes.. Put some rock or concrete down, or especially that Florida Rock -- that fossilized oyster boulder -- and you'll have tog in no time. I'd bet oyster boulder is almost exactly the habitat tautog speciated to. Gosh, I'd bet a LOT of fish did..   
No, No, No, it wasn't the reef-building; I was concerned for my very-tog minded Delaware friends. Some of those boyz been toggin' so long they're beginning to look like their quarry!
Terrible though: Delaware tog anglers had a tough time of it last year.
Too bad really.
Almost makes me want to cry.
Delaware's shore fishers, private boats, charter & partyboats -- Indian River, Lewes, Mispillion, Bowers; All of 'em & All Together; According to the official MRFSS catch-estimate, The estimate that managers MUST USE to determine if overfishing has occurred: Delaware's anglers only put 54 tog on the docks in March & April 2010.
Yes, fifty four. 
Yet Crazy Uncle MRFSS sez just the MD private boats --not the shore fishers --not the charter/partyboats; just the small boats in the vicinity of Ocean City, MD caught 18,588.
Smells funny..
Ah, well, there is the PSE -- the Percentage Standard Error -- exactly like plus-or-minus 3% in a political poll. In the DE estimate the PSE is 83.8 which means those tog-slaying savages in Delaware could have really snuck 142 tog into their frying pans - or zero. With their ten fish limit in March; maybe what really happened was 14 guys limited out & the mate kept two---Then nobody in Delaware fished tog again until May & June.
Umm, No, I don't think that's right either.
The PSE on MD's private boat Murfs estimate runs the statistical spread out to between 9,872 and 27,302 tautog for those two months.  
I'd say these 2010 catch estimates are perfect for showing MRFSS exactly as it is: A Crock.
I'll tell you what really happened.
There's lots of poachers in the news these days --sport & commercial-- but Crazy Uncle Murfs is, BY FAR, the biggest poacher of recreational fisheries. He's robbing us blind, has been for many years..
Right now there is tremendous effort being put into saving the recreational sea bass fishery, the recreational red snapper fishery and many others. All this effort; 10s of thousands of fisher's and manager's hours, letters flying around, a new addendum to our sea bass management plan--Good People putting in unpaid overtime on fisher's behalf--All This Effort Struggling To Make Imperfect Data Fit Into Rational Models
..isn't working fast enough; and, because it is all based on untruth, won't work well enough.
We've already suffered tremendous & needless injustice because of MRFSS data..
I've enjoyed wonderful communications with many in fisheries. There is no guvmint-demon out to slay recreational fishing. There is only a system deeply ingrained in the use of data that the re-writers of the Magnuson Act thought would be more refined by now.
I think there is a guvmint institution that would like my business to resume paying taxes..
I have a family that would like to remain in our home.
The very heart of science is testing. Does the Magnuson Act truly require we use, "Any Available Science Whether It's True Or Not."
Can it even be science if it is not true?
Will the testing -now or very soon underway- of the MRFSS data prove how millions of dollars, how many careers and businesses were squandered..
I would argue that work purported to be science -yet provably untrue- is only bologna and should never be used by the government. Ever.  
Forget this MRFSS data. Use common sense recreational limits until we get it straightened out. Managers could use all that newly-freed time to discover our corals.
MRFSS really is getting replaced -- Right Now.
MRFSS really is getting tested, back-truthed -- Right Now.
MRFSS really is destroying fishing businesses and blinding management to what's real -- Right Now.
The fixes that we struggle with at Council & Commission --no matter how Dedicated, Sincere & Deeply Appreciated-- are simply vital first-aid while we await surgery.
The greatest bandage is in Washington DC -- Stop Using The Data-- and there's one surgeon in particular....
Give us our fish back! 
I now believe, however, that no one in-system, in fisheries, can change the policy of using MRFSS data.
I also believe the guy from Delaware, Vice-President Biden, could & would do so -- If he can be made to see the truth.
I know for a fact that he answers his mail--Positive of that. I also know he sends it down the hall.
People don't like the big boss coming down the hall..
And I don't like being a pain in the neck!
But now is no time for continued experimentation with bad data..
I think Vice-President Biden can see the truth of it. He's local to some of these troubles and may not be quite as busy as the other guy over there..  
See the "Contact Us" bar at the top right of this webpage. I know for a fact that he answers his mail...
When witches were burned & drowned it was in full force of law approved by Pope & King. What Courage it must have taken to risk being tried for heresy and defend a witch..
Surely it's a more minor thing, this fishing: Just a short letter. But it's history my friends; You have an opportunity to change it.
And we are.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076 

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