Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fish Report 7/31/11

Fish Report 7/31/11
Cbass & Flounder
Overfishing Stands Alone
Long Cbass/Flounder -- Thursday, August 4th, 2011 -- 5:30 AM to 3:30 PM -- $125.00  
Labor Day Special Trips: Saturday & Sunday, September 3rd & 4th, 2011 -- 10 1/2 Hour Sea Bass -- 5:30 AM to 4 PM -- $150.00 
Monday, September 5th -- Traffic Beater -- 5:30 AM to 1:30 PM - 8 Hour Sea Bass/Flounder - $100.00
Sailing Daily  7 to 3 - $100.00
Opening September 1st Thru October 11th to Reservations. Will Open November & December Trips In October. (Sea Bass are closed Oct 11 to Oct 31 because of serious recreational private boat overfishing in NJ, NY, RI & MA -- Or, far more likely, it's a bad catch-estimating program's mistake. A program that's actually being replaced because it's had so many failures, MRFSS, claims 'overfishing' has occurred.)
Reservations Required. Please arrive 1/2 hour before scheduled departure with food, water, beverage & a medium-sized cooler w/ice for fish. We often -almost always- leave early. Show up late and you'll see the west end of an east bound boat.
Many have pre-paid for boat t-shirts -- They're in and available to all.
Hi All,
Sea bass fishing remains very OK considering it's now high summer. Couple days this week could have passed for spring.
Twelve and a half inches is still a pain in the neck, but often times the catching's great. Sending folks home with several fish fries' worth  
..some aboard will have flounder too.
Had our best catch of flatties this week with fish up to 6 pounds. Hope to improve on that.
Certainly not catching flounder everyday. If you want dirty dishes caused by your fishing prowess you have to fish for what's biting. We'll find cbass or fluke for you -- hopefully both -- hang bait accordingly.
Also the odd mahi/dorado/dolphin in the mix -- just a treat when it happens. Nothing consistent.
Stumbled upon a snoozing humpback Thursday; "Logging" my whale researcher friend sez.. Inspected for injury or rope; none found. The animal went away with increasing vigor.
First inshore whale in a while: I wonder if the unusual abundance of large menhaden will draw more. I hear from the best of sources that there were giant bluefins inshore last week too... 
Friday the heat caught up to us. Sakes, what a smothering weight: No relief. 
Saturday was back in the 80s with a pleasant breeze.
Pulling up NOAA's National Hurricane Center  makes me reach for the Pepto..
I know probability theory holds any chance of a major hurricane as no different from one year to the next -- The superstitious fisherman in me sez its been a long time since OC got clobbered ..overdue.
Our blueline tile/cbass trip July 24th was among my best days ever. Electric reels are like rap/death metal & 2 dozen fingernails scratching a chalkboard to me -- I just can't do it. 
Groans & grunts, however, are sweet music as anglers set the hook and start hand-cranking from the deep.  
It'll wear you out!
Judging by continued delays on sinking the Radford; EPA & Coast Guard must have decided there's too much coral in the Mid-Atlantic..
The 563 foot ex-Navy Destroyer is cleaner than any ship ever sunk in our waters -- EVER.
EPA? Someone's holding a gun to the project.
I suppose the argument is we should recycle the steel; Highly profitable with slave labor in Sri Lanka ..not so much if paying any possible American wage without a deep pocketed Uncle Sam at your side.
I hear on the news that Uncle Sam's having a bit of a credit crunch.
Coral or Slavery: Hmmmmm..
Researching. Find MD fishing regs I didn't know we had. Under "Snapper Grouper Complex" -a group of 50 some southern species- Sheepshead are now 20 per person with no size limit. Puddingfish, which I wouldn't know if one bit me, are also included. Here also are triggerfish, spadefish; bar, buoy, rudder & amberjacks plus the grunts -- We see many of these at times in late summer.
If a small boat found a lucky piece of inshore driftwood loaded with bar & rudder jacks and also had a decent day of summer reef fishing he could overshoot the 20 per person aggregate limit; Get stopped by DNR Police ..and go on his merry way.
Maryland isn't dialed in; our Marine Police know less about these species than I do.
Done, I'm sure, to satisfy well-meaning SAFMC regulatory requirements; If we pulled a few species out for special consideration it would be Sheepshead, Amberjack, Spadefish & Triggerfish.
Spadefish & Amberjack are, I believe, in need of restoration here. They're both species where habitat fidelity is ignored.
Triggerfish are an eruptive; They only show up in big numbers every few years. Fast growers and inclined to stay in one place for summer, a 5 fish limit @ 12 inches allows many more Maryland fishers a shot at this inshore fun.
Being as I've only caught 5 or 6 Sheepshead in my life, I'd imagine the 20 per-person limit too liberal..
I very clearly remember AJs and spades by the acre in the early 80s ..then by the dozen,
now just a few.
Soon, very soon --as preacher's call & parishioners' response-- Data from our Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey, or MRFSS, will begin for the year.
Management's routine will be to plug the new catch-estimates into formulas they've long-used. 
Recreational interests will begin to determine where defense of quota is most needed.
Commercial interests will, as we have done, hunt for quota overages and shout "Make 'em pay!"  
The Environmental community, as a whole, will encourage the drowning of witches. We evil sport fishers, causers of untold loss and marine catastrophe, are well-known for our wild swings in catch--It's plain to see in the catch estimate data. They follow along as ravens in medieval conflict. Estimates announced & battle engaged; their caws echo, urging--goading management to greater catch restriction, ever hopeful that the corpses of recreational fishing might nourish a newly flourishing sea..
This is the constant and forever clashing over quota that distracts from many other issues. Nearly all of recreational fishing's management is derived from MRFSS catch-estimate data. (they say Murfis - we say Murfs)
When MRFSS numbers indicated that MD's 20-some private boats interested in early tautog fishing, guys who ventured out maybe a couple days in March/April of 2010; When those few boats are said to have caught more than the entire coast's party boats for the same period--That's Bloody Well What Happened You Greedy Overfishing Imbeciles: Accept Your Fate.    
The possibility that the MRFSS tautog estimate for MD in 2010 is correct is zero; Yet the possibility that this incorrect estimate will be used as a stand-alone 'scientific' measure of recreational catch to manage the 2012 tautog season is quite nearly 100%.
I saw overfishing. Some of it. The tail-end of it.
We threw nothing back except skates and spiny dogfish -- ever. I made a guy throw back a 16 inch sturgeon in 1981 (they grow to 10/12 feet) we almost came to blows.
Some people did throw marlin back even in the 60s. They were odd. Charter captains would not carry them or didn't like to. 
I was taught --ordered-- not to throw fish back in 1980 - "They all die."
Fisheries of today no longer resemble the past.
Before management had gotten around to sea bass, many OC party boats were already fishing a self-imposed limit.
I had a day this week where we approached 1,600 cbass caught -- we iced about 180 of them. I did not have a sold-out boat.  
I'm positive that very nearly all of those fish will again see a bait; that at least some of them will bite again..
Also had a day this week where the sun was too hot, the air too still, and the water too calm. Resembling the Gulf of Mexico, our discard/release mortality would have been sky-high -- except we vented every release.
Bringing fish up from the deep expands the air bladder several times. In all but the rarest of days our region's fish survive barotrauma just fine and swim back down on their own.
Scientists say the 16,000 tag sea bass study circa 2002/03 can not be used to demonstrate eversion/barotrauma  survival because they used internal-anchor body tags.
Belly surgically cut with a scalpel, tag inserted; Excess air now released, these fish swam back down. The return rate was quite high for any tagging study.
It's very rare here, only when air temperatures create a hyperthermic -too hot- condition while the sea is so calm that there is no cooling overwash; However, when venting is necessary that tag study makes it demonstrably survivable.
We use a Team Marine venting tool. You can quite plainly hear the venting occur.
If the stomach is visible in the mouth - that's where NOT to poke a hole. Go under a scale behind the swim fin right along the white border.
Habitat fidelity demands excellent release survival..........
Stories of recent abundance, habitat loss, habitat production, habitat increase, regional collapse in modern overfishing, fish population growth in fortunate underfishing -- Any comparison of MRFSS catch-estimate data to real-world fishing: All and plenty more are roundly discarded by management and 'environmental' interests -- There Is Only One Enemy: Overfishing.
Nevermind that three quarters of a century of fishing occurred off our shores with highly destructive & effective fishing gear; That any terrestrial loss of habitat is instantly seen as encroaching on a given land-species' ability to maintain or increase in population. As I quoted last week:  "Adding more habitat is not the issue," said James A. Bohnsack, a research fishery biologist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries. "You need to protect the fish populations."
..from Overfishing.
A lot of MRFSS's catch estimates never happened. Management should execute a new kind of "Emergency Regulation" and lower the size limit for sea bass by a half inch. This week would be good.
A lot of habitat loss did occur. Rolling rocks off a barge can fix much of it.
Catch Restriction's successes will dwindle. Other aspects of fishery restoration must be brought into use.
Five bargeloads of boulder a year would generate incredibly more tax revenue in commercial & recreational fishing sales than any additional catch restriction: Keeping catches level from region to region would stabilize fish populations and allow for far better management: Combined with catch restriction into multi-focus management, the results would be stunning.
Restoring all year classes to the sea bass spawning stock would be a giant first step.
Begin lowering the size limit.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076 
Digital Coast Webinar: Using Benthic Data for Ecosystem-Based Management - From 2:00-3:00pm eastern on August 3rd, Susan Schlosser (California Sea Grant) and Mark Finkbeiner (NOAA Coastal Services Center) will be presenting a webinar on using benthic habitat data for ecosystem-based management. This webinar will present a case study demonstrating the use of nearshore benthic habitat maps to develop subtidal and intertidal habitat goals for California's Humboldt Bay and Eel River Estuary.  The presenters will also highlight the collaborative partnership that was formed by the NOAA Coastal Services Center, the private sector, and local stakeholders for this mapping effort. To register and learn more about upcoming events in the Digital Coast webinar series, visit:

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