Monday, April 11, 2011

Fish Report 4/11/11

Fish Report 4/11/11
Pretty Fish
A Recovery
What's Missing
Tog fishing Wednesday April 13 - 7 AM to 3 PM - $100 - 16 people sells out - Looks like it ought to be decent weather.
Going Long Tog on Thursday - 11 hour - Deeper - Further - April 14 - 5:30 AM to 4:30 PM - 16 Sells Out - $150 - No Slam Dunk; Sometimes The Harder You Try, The Harder You Fall..
Friday's going to be a regular tog trip: 16 Sells Out - 7 AM to 3 PM.
Saturday appears toes-up at this point in the forecast.
Green Crabs Provided - Clam too if you want it - Will Have White-Leg & Spider Crabs Reasonably Priced (if they stay alive!) - Reservations Required @ 410 520 2076 - LEAVE THE BEST CONTACT NUMBER IN CASE OF WEATHER CANCELATION. 
Be early. Everyone likes to leave early. Show up late and you'll see the west-end of an east-bound boat..
Hi All,
That was some pretty fishing.
We'd left in early light Wednesday: Just enough light to see the channel dredging equipment; enough dawn to see her anchor cables, to see that dredge making the water deeper, life easier. 
Let me tell you, When you don't have enough water for a boat there's no doubt what's missing.
Anchored up Wednesday; Mike's green crab got swallowed near-soon as we started.
That's good.
Gregg bows up. Rod's THUMP-THUMPING.
Put down the regular net, get the big one. Thirteen and a half pounds'd be a personal best for most; Not him. 
Lot of pretty fish. Dennis' 14 1/2 pounder takes the pool. Despite having just caught one over 20lbs with Capt. Jason, he is elated with 4 dandies in the box..
One fellow's spent a lot of time on the water, a lifetime. New to all the regulars aboard; I remember him well from the early 80s. Low man with one small keeper, yet after recent years of recovery; of surgeries & pins & plates & therapy--perhaps the most satisfied client. He's not-quite, but almost, home again..
Wednesday was gorgeous calm with a big wind pushed back to evening in the forecast. Had another hour to go; Bite long since slowed but still a good fish now and again: Wind rippled the water differently, boat swung to her port anchor..
"Up They Come Boys. Heading In. I don't like this wind shift."  
Had to be some head scratching on deck--It was beautiful.
An hour later I pulled the throttles back; turned hard into a set of very-sharp seas; would ease my way in under the beach and make for home..
Nice to have fish all around the rail. Made for good pictures, Tasty dinners.
From Wednesday afternoon on: Weather. 
Three to four foot remnant swells on Sunday--an occasional 5. No wind. Round-topped waves rolling under a glassy calm. Nice day.
Derned if it didn't make for some epic seasickness though.
Dramamine's cheap. Staying out of local watering holes cheaper.
The usual suspects bagged 'em up. Others nicked a few. A new-to-the-boat talent takes the pool with a 13lb 3 ounce fish -- Nice personal best for him. Caught it on a green crab.
First day I've ever had rock crabs, the white leggers -- no one bought in.
See if they stay alive until Wednesday..
The water was actually colder-still this trip--bite tapered: Flowers & trees blooming all over - Water can go ahead and warm-up a little too..................
Until April 7th, 2011, NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) had no photographic evidence of sea whip in our region.
When I take passengers out for tautog, sea bass, cod -- even flounder, we are always fishing over or very near sea whip: Always.
A soft coral as ubiquitous as oysters once were in our estuaries, sea whip is part of this region's natural reef community; grows where cbass & tog live ..where red hake used to.
I had to ask professional SCUBA photographers/videographers to please give NOAA some of their work: Please.
This is precisely how far we've come with Magnuson's Essential Fish Habitat -EFH- in our marine region, in the ocean closest to DC  ..where in the 1950s a little seaside resort became known as the White Marlin Capitol of the World.  
"Please" allow our Best Available Science to grow a little with some pictures..
Meanwhile MRFSS, the catch estimating system & in its dying days, finds unrestricted strength to skewer many fisheries one last time --may yet again too-- as part of Magnuson's guidance on preventing overfishing.
EFH? Not-so-much. No assertion of habitat has seemed to capture much interest.
Overfishing, on the other hand.. Any assertion of overfishing is treated as sacrosanct--unassailable by lawsuit or logic.
A big part of the recent sea bass regulatory fiasco stems from the soon-to-be-replaced catch estimating program having nabbed NY's private-boat anglers. Apprehended "red-handed" for their Sept/Oct 2010 cbass slaughter, they are said to have caught just as many sea bass as they did during the entire previous decade, as many in two months as in twenty. Estimated to have caught & kept 314,266 cbass last fall, yet only 5,000 to 9,000 cbass in 2000 & 2001 with just 10 & 11 inch size limits and no creel. Hmmm, That's backward from how I remember catches tapering.
Then there's one of Capt. Adam's favorites, Where NJ private boaters are officially estimated to have caught 34,349 cbass in Mar/April 2009. That estimate actually represents more sea bass than the party/charter fleet had from 2004 to 2009 in that late winter/early spring period--And I Do Mean All The Mid-Atlantic's States Party/Charter Fleets Between Cape Hatteras & Cape Cod, In All 6 Years Combined are not estimated to have caught that many sea bass..
If you MUST use and at least pretend to believe this data: "Statistically Valid: You Know Angler Effort Is Hard To Predict."
Standing outside the fight: "Boy, that doesn't look right."  
If you actually fish during March & April: "What a crock."
Fishing perhaps the habitat equivalent of 5 very-large wrecks and several smaller hangs; I found a data set recently where the MD coastal-bay boats in our wee-small back-bay area caught more tog in July/Aug than the whole rest of the coast all put together.
It Never Happened.
A lot of catch estimates never did ..yet that's the quality of the data that's being used to wipe out  rec-fishers & associated businesses financially.
The official MRFSS catch estimates grow worse as need increases.. NOAA/NMFS really ought to freeze a 5 or 7 year average on MRFSS data; Use the data without it's wild spikes until M-RIP comes online.
Funny; I try to tell people unaccustomed to fisheries that MD private-boat tog fishers are officially thought to have captured and iced 18,587 tog to all of Delaware's 54 for March/Apr 2010 --That this is the data used to accuse us of overfishing-- Folks on the street just don't believe anyone would honor these numbers let alone the government: It's too obviously incorrect; They don't believe I have the story right..
But I do. 
(Worth noting: I have not seen a private boat fishing for tog yet. If the whole private boat fleet catches 200 tog this March/April I'll be surprised - The estimate could be off by two orders of magnitude. In fact, I'd bet we've never caught 18,587 all year/all together in MD -- Ever.)
Wildly over-estimated MRFSS recreational catch estimates could easily hide real overfishing situations--Or leave fishers no access to well-restored fisheries: The data is so unsound that there really isn't a firm knowledge foundation for restoration, let alone sound footing to cause this ongoing game of economic & regulatory Russian roulette..
MRFSS is sewn into & throughout our fisheries restoration efforts. It is used to decide all manner of regulations and is an important part of fish population assessments: Nowhere is reason now found; soon though they tell me...
We're managing reef-fish absent any knowledge of habitat; Yet we know reef habitat can be easily damaged by fishing gears commonly used here. And, intuitively at least, we know that there could be no reef-fish without first there being reef habitat, that it's very important..
I'm telling you, That's what's missing.
Habitat is missing from NOAA/NMFS' photo/video library, Missing from the science, Missing from the missing habitat restoration plan & Missing from our seafloor where it was once plentiful: The fish that are missing from the missing habitat haven't a prayer of real restoration if the best minds and best science in fisheries are missing all knowledge of habitat.. 

While MRFSS's illogical catch estimates have created a bayonets-fixed regulatory aura, Opportunities for real science to accelerate fisheries restoration slip away.
There are truly brilliant and dedicated people who are trapped by MRFSS: The inevitable result of poor data must be a poor management ..unless we're lucky.
Freeze MRFSS from regulatory duty, develop a real set of catch estimates through the MRIP model.
Discover Habitat.
Discover Fidelity.
Create Economic Stability.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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