Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fish Report 3/27/11

Fish Report 3/27/11
Going This Week - In May Too  
Bubble-Gum Candy Pink
The Data's Cbass Slayers  
Why Sea Bass Are Considered Recreationally Overfished
Going Wednesday & Thursday - Long Cod/Tog Trips - March 30 & 31 - 6:30 AM to 4:00 PM - Going Further, Deeper - Fare $125.00 - 16 Head Sells Out - Clams and Green Crabs Provided - Reservations Required - Call 410 520 2076 - Weather Looks Good But Leave The Best Contact Number In Case It Changes.
Sunday, May 22cnd - Long Cbass - 6:30 AM to 4 PM - Regular 25 Person Rail - $125.00
Monday thru Friday, May 23 thru 26 - Regular Cbass Trips - 7 to 3 - $100
Saturday, May 28 -- Long Cbass -- 6:30 AM to 4PM -- $125.00
Reservations Required On All Trips -- Call 410 520 2076 -- Leave Your Best Contact Number In Case Of Weather -- Clams Provided -- BYO Gulp!
See for reserved rail/spot positions...
As always: If everyone is 20 minutes early--We leave 20 minutes early! Be Early!
Hi All,
Snuck on off at zero-dark thirty Saturday morning. Breeze a little fresher than any would have cared for, but very doable.
Sun-up & lines-in; First fish over the rail is a cod.
I'm starting to really like those fish.
In my business bending rods & smiling faces are the goal: Washing dishes means job well-done.
Clients understand the task at hand is to leave fishing better than we found it ..but they come to catch dinner.  
We've had a couple trips of late where super-skilled tog fishermen watch others catch; Where at fish pool weigh-ins they aren't digging through the cooler.
Not the case Saturday.
Most of the tog were caught by Alex & NY George.. The rest of us tried but were, in the end, too distracted by cod.
Mate Mike pulling anchors; I asked this young pulla {a tog catcher/able to pull tog out/a puller, AKA "pulla"} ..I asked NY George to tie a jig to one of my rods while I maneuvered the boat.
He tied it and also a single hook above the 6 ounce spoon; slipped a bubble-gum candy-pink curly-tail worm on it.
A Whaaaat! -- I thoroughly dislike pink/light red lures -- Skate Bait!
..this young man, born when I took my last "I know we're going to go out and catch cod trip" in 1982, puts a WHAT on my hook?
And he's using a hammered gold jig too! Nothing eats gold spoons except red drum..
Cod, it turns out, like bubble-gum pink far more than I.
Yeah, They like gold spoons too..
An 11 hour trip stretched 12; My last stop was the best cod fishing I've ever seen--Bar None. I had the entire rail bowed up twice-- nearly every pole bent--even some doubles: That's nice fishing.
Especially fun, the jigging. Fun to catch on bait too, but the strike on a jig seemed more aggressive--a harder fight.
Split pool: Alex pocketed the tog half with a 10 1/4 pound fish. Young man from over Tochterman's, Dave, graced the rail with a 17 pound cod..  
The only bigger cod I've seen caught was on June 13th, 1982 -- a 35 pounder. Pretty sure the state record is 64 pounds caught in 1974 on the Capt. Bunting -- But they took cod off the state record list, I couldn't double check....
It ain't Montauk; It ain't Gloucester either -  But we'll go again Wednesday & Thursday. Try to nick a few tog too!
Going Wednesday & Thursday - Long Cod/Tog Trips - March 30 & 31 - 6:30 AM to 4:00 PM - Going Further, Deeper - Fare $125.00 - 16 Head Sells Out - Clams and Green Crabs Provided - Reservations Required - Call 410 520 2076 - Weather Looks Good But Leave The Best Contact Number In Case It Changes.
Will send a short email -yeah, right- if the weekend looks fishable............
A pleasant young man, this NY George fellow. I'd credit him with the first jigged cod off Maryland in many, many decades--early 70s/late 60s.. He got me thinking about the party boats up north.
George was very concerned that the new sea bass regs were going to really hurt people in the party boat business up there.
I hear the NJ for-hire fishers aren't real happy with a state by state split either..
I'm not familiar with other states' fisheries and fishing pressures. Here I've dug through the data and simply cast it out onto the web - If the data comes from your backyard and you think it stinks write to the guy below - write to your state's top managers too..
When I assert that Maryland's private boats catching 18,587 tautog in March/April is absolute hooey, its not going to change how NMFS does business. In fact, no one even bothers to argue. They know the data's bad. 
If, however, a lot of other data sets started showing up in upper-management's inboxes--especially way-way upper management.. Well, here's a lot of sea bass data for your consideration my Yankee friends....
I can tell by using the MRFSS official catch estimate data, precisely the same data as any Fishery Manager gets, that private boats in NY used to catch about the same amount of sea bass as the party/charter fleet. Then, just last year in fact,  NY private boats caught 31 keeper sea bass to every one on caught a party or charterboat in Sept/Oct 2010.  
Truth be known, were it not for the private-boat MRFSS estimates in RI, MA, NY & NJ - We wouldn't have any sea bass troubles at all.
The "Over Fishing" of the last two years sources from wild catch-estimate increases in private boats.. Massachusetts and NY private boats are now catching INCREDIBLY more 12 1/2 inch sea bass with a creel limit than when there was only a 9 and 10 inch size limit and no cap on how many an angler could keep..
Hmmm.. I sure remember a lot of days where high man would have 40 or 50 fish in late spring, nearing 150 per-man come October & November. Fishing still got better & better with just a size limit day I'll get 'em to look at that habitat thesis -- Search Maryland Corals on YouTube.
I do not believe it really happened, I do not believe that Massachusetts private boats caught 200,000 more sea bass than they used to --essentially 2 or 3 years' worth-- in the months of May & June last year..
I do not believe NY private boaters caught 7,381 sea bass all year in 1998 with only a 9 inch size limit and no creel, Yet caught 443,884 in 2010 with a 12 1/2 inch limit..
Since our quota shrank to it's lowest number of pounds ever with the shortest seasons; private boaters have been "just crushing" the sea bass.
This while often the For-Hire sector's catches are declining..
The "For-Hire" boats, the Party & Charterboats, have much better data than private boats or shore fishers because we surrender catch info everyday. It's hardly perfect -Hardly- but it is much better than the shore & private boat estimates. 
MRFSS can scarcely guess how many people are even fishing; That's why M-RIP has a license, so statisticians can get a head count. If, for example, they knew perfectly--exactly--that the average angler catches 2.7 sea bass and throws 1.3 of them back, it would do no good at all in estimating total catch without a count of how many went fishing.
Unless, of course, you were willing to wing it.. and they do.
They have to.
It's our "Best Available Science."
The very core of science is skepticism. If I make-up some crazy thing like "tautog are warm-blooded" you can fully expect scientists to expose my fiction with data. But when MRFSS asserts all of Delaware's tog-slayers caught 54 tog--Then that's what managers have to use.. It's their only available science and don't you dare argue..
Main thing is the party/charter data is better by far ..except for Massachusetts: I tried to get hard-data on their for-hire catch.. Wasn't happening in state waters. 
I very much believe there are errors so huge in the MRFSS that its use as suitable data to prove over-fishing has now become the equivalent of Witch Pricking--This where sharp needle-like instruments were used to probe a person; If  a mark was found and the witch-prick drew blood and caused pain -- Well! There was evidence of a Witch!
So analogous to our situation now in recreational fishing.. You had only to accuse someone of being a witch. No one ever sentenced to death was really a witch..
They died anyway.
See Monty Python's Witch Scene - "Witch" and "Greedy Over-Fisher" are interchangeable..
Look: The MRFSS system is living counted days; MRFSS is absolutely, positively on its way out, But it certainly appears as though MRFSS is going to take the reef-fishers out with it before M-RIP can effect a rescue.
That's how it will play unless we can get a very high chief to say "Enough!" 
I really believe that everyone in-system is doing what they can with an untenable situation; That they've heard about the MRFSS data for so long that their skin is bullet-proof where complaints of data are concerned: I believe if anyone in-system, in fisheries, could stop using the data--They All, Everyone Of Them, Would.
There have been lawsuits that quietly fade away; States have sued--MRFSS wins time and again ..yet EVERYONE in fisheries knows that MRFSS is a dead-man walking, that M-RIP is coming; That M-RIP was created for the express purpose of getting rid of MRFSS, especially given the increasingly important need of far tighter estimates, of getting much closer to the truth..
VP Joe Biden is the only chance I see..
It's not just going to be sea bass; Tautog will very soon be a heated topic. And what if Crazy Uncle Murfs sez the mid-Atlantic's sport fishers kept 100x more flounder than they really did this year--Again. There will, without question, be an emergency closure.
We know fantastic growth in fish populations has occurred with less stringent regulations. Anyone who fished 15 years ago saw sea bass skyrocket without even benefit of a creel limit.
There's lots of work to be done but regulating from the child-like made-up fantasies of the MRFSS data simply has to stop.
I firmly believe stamping out all the many regulatory fires MRFSS always creates will allow greater scrutiny on other aspects of fishery restoration.. Stuff we really need to get busy on!
Write to this guy:
I'm not kidding. Use the 'contact us' button....
Tell him: When Magnuson was reauthorized in '06 no one foresaw that the new recreational fishing statistical catch model, MRIP, would take so long to create. Now up against rebuilding timelines--especially in the data-poor reef fisheries--the old-system, MRFSS, is destroying whole swaths of recreational fisheries while MRIP undergoes testing.
Look into assertions of MRFSS data gone terribly wrong.. Nowhere is MRFSS truly correct. 
MRFSS is destroying fisheries more surely than the foreign factory trawlers of decades ago; The data is just another cause of citizens' loss of faith in governance.
..and so easy to fix by executive order.  
Fishing effort isn't nearly as difficult to predict as those who must use MRFSS' data believe; its MRFSS that's impossible to predict.
While ignoring MRFSS management plans can be made that function perfectly well to uphold recreational fishers' burden of fisheries restoration.
By continuing to use MRFSS the United States will cripple fishing businesses with data that a 4th grader could sensibly ridicule.
Mr. Vice President, This Needs Fixing.
Or write your own!
I've included a lot of data below. Don't let it glaze your eye, just ponder whether any two months could be so dramatically different from year to year.. These are not locations where I'm expert--Readers will have to make their own case.. Looks as though opportunity abounds.
Based on my calculations, we are accused of being 588,769 fish over-quota in 2010: Remember that as you peruse the data below. 
Personally, I doubt we caught our quota -- ever..
Look at each of these data sets. There's only one that didn't give me pause. Sakes!
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076 
The Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey -- MRFSS -- we say Murfs -- They say Murfis -- Was ordered replaced by the National Research Council a couple years back. A new program, MRIP is supposed to be running now but is just starting to be tested.
Below are the data sets for May/June - July/Aug & Sept/Oct for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York & New Jersey.
Remember that the data turned really rancid in '09 -- the Emergency Closure that fall -- and coincided with the lowest recreational quota ever.
In Ocean City, Maryland private boats were tied up far-more than ever before in the recession.. yet up north incredibly many more people went sea bass fishing--and were REALLY good at it!
Massachusetts Sea Bass May/June Private Boat
Year # of Fish  
2007 28,281
2008 65,376
2009 26,827
2010 218,790
Massachusetts - June/July - Sea Bass - Private Boat
Year # of Fish 
2007 13,062
2008 13,548
2009 164,483
2010 137,720
Massachusetts - Sept/Oct - Sea Bass - Private Boat 
Year # of Fish 
2007 84,246
2008 49,975
2009 52,711
2010 49,579
Rhode Island - May/June - Sea Bass -Private Boat 
Year # of Fish 
2007 3,601
2008 0
2009 989
2010 36,460
Rhode Island - July/Aug - Sea Bass - Private Boat
Year # of Fish 
2007 7,654
2008 20,944
2009 14,459
2010 70,597
Rhode Island - Sept/Oct - Sea Bass - Private Boat
Year # of Fish 
2007 32,053
2008 15,907
2009 6,357
2010 23,350
Rhode Island - All Party & Charter vs. Private Boat - Total Year's Catch - Sea Bass
Year # of Fish For-Hire # of Fish Private Boat
2007 9,768 43,307
2008 14,114 36,851
2009 10,436 21,805
2010 13,807 130,406
NY - May/June - Sea Bass - Private Boat
Year # of Fish 
2007 26,288
2008 21,628
2009 94,646
2010 14,452
NY - July/Aug - Sea Bass - Private Boat
Year # of Fish
2007 52,271
2008 41,595
2009 140,227
2010 113,373
NY - Sept/Oct - Sea Bass - Private Boat
Year # of Fish
2007 42,352
2008 54,352
2009 105,256
2010 314,266
NY - All Party & Charter Boats vs. Private Boat - Total Year's Catch - Sea Bass
Year # of Fish For-Hire # of Fish Private Boat 
2007 190,454 121,350
2008 68,721 156,195
2009 101,623 345,748
2010 135,959 443,884
NJ - May/June - Sea Bass - Private Boat
Year # of Fish
2007 18,116
2008 160,799
2009 32,815
2010 234,048
NJ - July/Aug - Sea Bass - Private Boat
Year # of Fish
2007 146,566
2008 25,970
2009 215,624
2010 108,715
NJ - Sept/Oct - Sea Bass - Private Boat
Year # of Fish
2007 18,116
2008 160,799
2009 32,815
2010 234,048
NJ - All Party & Charter Boat - Total Year's Catch - Sea Bass
Year # of Fish For-Hire # of Fish Private Boat
2007 414,052 592,154
2008 214,373 241,160
2009 199,744 408,595
2010 137,963 396,527

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