Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fish Report 12/24/11

Fish Report 12/24/11
Cbass: Went & Going
Tog Soon
Jimmy's Reef
On Gulf of Maine Cod
Christmas Eve.. Still the Best Christmas Flash Mob 
Thursday, December 29th - 6 to 4 Long Trip -  $125.00 - Cbass
Saturday, December 31st - 6 to 4 Long Trip - 18 Sells Out - $125.00 - Last Cbass Until May  
Targeting Sea Bass - Tog Not Open in MD Until January 1st
Hi All,
Blowing 25 Wednesday at midnight, Our trip Thursday finished in a wonderful calm. Not with boxes full, but the weather was good. Fishing December 22 in light clothing.. I expect high man kept in the low teens while nearly everyone caught 150+ cbass..
Lot of throwbacks.
Caught triggerfish, but no cod.
Jigs were nearly useless.
Goofed-up winter fishing.
Caught plenty of dinner but I'll aim for better..
Look forward to some toggin. Do two more cbass trips first. See Trip Schedule Above.

Want cbass on the jig!
Reservations required at 410 520 2076. Please arrive 1/2 hour before scheduled departure with food, water, beverage & a medium-sized cooler w/ice for fish. Bait is provided, Jigs are not, but you're welcome to bring either. We often -almost always- leave early. Show up late and you'll see the west end of an east bound boat.
Caught wind of an impending cod closure far to our north, above Cape Cod in the Gulf of Maine.
I looked into it for similarities.
Same story, different fish.
Habitat, Spawning Site Habitat Fidelity, MRFSS, Habitat Impacts from Stern-Towed Gears: Same, Same, Same.
I believe when the new MRIP recreational catch data comes out, fishery managers will be forced to see catch restriction for what it is -- One tool among many: It cannot stand alone.
Below is a gift of sorts, a couple day's work; I hope it helps recreational cod fishers.
Gone before my time, I really like that we're catching cod again off the coast of Maryland.
That's because restoration's gaining ground up north.
See below for one of the greatest catch estimate errors yet.
Wishing All Readers A Fine Christmas Holiday,
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076
On Gulf of Maine Cod: A Comment.. 12/20/2011
A Mid-Atlantic party boat skipper who's spent a lot of time looking at recreational catch data; I thought I'd examine the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey (MuRFSS) data for cod to see if any of the common spikes in recreational private-boat catch were involved in the ongoing Gulf of Maine quandary.
Not disappointed, in a few minutes I was looking at Mar/Apr landings for Massachusetts' private boats: Where in Mar/Apr 2010 the Party/Charter fleet had only increased catch by 4,000 fish; During the same period Massachusetts private boat increased their cod catch by 554,477 fish.
Half a million more cod in two months when the average catch would seem to be about 20 thousand. If you subtracted 500,000 fish there would STILL be more than a 100% increase in recreational catch..  
To put this in perspective, I think its very safe to assert the likelihood Massachusetts private boats caught more cod in March & April 2010 than they did in all the previous 48 months-total is zero; That their being purported to catch more cod in two brutally cold months than all the for-hire party/charter boats did--not just in a single year; No, these two months of private boat catch equal very nearly three years of party/charter catch; And, not just from Massachusetts, but instead equal nearly three years of the entire Mid-Atlantic & North Atlantic regions' for-hire catch combined.
Very kindly put, this catch estimate is a misrepresentation of fact.
Massachusetts private boats did not catch more cod in two months than the entire coast's Party/Charter fleet will catch in almost three years: Didn't Happen.
Reminds me of how NJ's shore anglers caught ALL the mid-Atlantic's shore-based tog in March/April 2010 -- How those same NJ shore anglers caught 67,376 more tog that spring than ALL the party & charter boats in ALL the Mid-Atlantic.. In fact, the MRFSS estimate for those poor guys sitting on buckets at every Jersey jetty that spring --who typically have no noticeable catch then-- is higher than the whole year's party/charter tog/blackfish estimate for the whole coast.   
Sea bass, tautog, summer flounder & now cod.. Spikes reported in the MRFSS often result in emergency management action.
Data that no scientist could possibly defend is used to pummel recreational industries with ever-greater restriction.. 
Lawsuits lose, yet I just had a top scientist tell me--and I quote, "I cannot answer that... Going from zero to 72,000 fish, um; Anyone with a brain in their head.."
But that's wrong: These are really clever people. Managers think they have to use whatever statistic is on screen or paper--It has nothing to do with whether there's a "brain in their head" 
..its whether they want a job, whether they want a roof over their head; a paycheck.
The new MRIP (MuRFSS Rest In Peace or Marine Recreational Informational Program) data is due out January 13th. I anticipate it will turn management upside down for a while: We'll have to get past it.
Getting further into the potential shutdown of the northern cod fishery:
From the North East Fishery Management Council's (NEFMC) website there's a Power Point presentation made by Chris Legault, a stock assessment biologist with North East Fisheries Science Center. (NEFSC) In it we see 100% mortality is, for the first time ever, now assigned to all cod discards -- even recreational throwbacks.
I tag cod off the coast of Maryland. They swim back down and, often times, get recaptured.
There's been lots of tagging studies; None could have ever had a result --not one fish ever recaptured-- if anything approaching this 'best scientific information' on release mortality were true.
Using 100% mortality in the recreational fishery is a poor substitute for accurate science -- disingenuous even.
I believe its due to success in GOM restoration efforts that we even have cod here again: Between 1982 and 2009 we did not.
Ain't Stellwagon, but we are catching a few on our reefs. The cod population must therefore be increasing despite ongoing catches: That's how management's supposed to work.
Deeper still: From the Stock Assessment Workshop 53 (SAW 53 document posted at NEFMC's website) Gulf of Maine (GOM) commercial catch was 5,356.4 metric tons (MT) in 2010 with 241 MTs of discard cod bycatch.
There's also 3,506.0 MTs of recreational landings & 2,288.9 MTs of recreational discard (throwbacks) for 2010. 
Recreational fishers landed an average of about 1500 MTs in the GOM during the last decade.
I think it very curious total recreational catch & discard is suddenly higher (at 5,794.9 MTs) than the total commercial catch of 5,597.4 MTs. That's not within the historical mean. In fact, the Mar/Apr Massachusetts private boat catch estimate alone offers Three Million, Two Hundred Forty Four Thousand Pounds difference or 1,476 MTs of new catch.
Now adding 100% release mortality, for the first time ever, creates another Five Million Pounds (2,289 MT) of Recreational Cod Removals..
Chris Legault's presentation then fantastically claims the 2010 recreational spike in catch is of no consequence, has no effect on the new stock assessment.
That's odd.
This new assessment asserts recreational fishing was responsible for over half the GOM's cod mortality in 2010. Yet management claims this larger share of catch has no muscle in a stock assessment?
I'll let the players figure that out.  
Smells like Bad Science, like Bad Statistics to me.
Fishers should impose sanity on the new recreational discard mortality figures. 
Fishers should also demand the MRFSS spike be defended or removed: Could private boaters have possibly caught that many cod in March & April?
Perhaps MRIP will offer an answer.
Very few understand that what we're doing, this Fisheries Restoration, is supposed to be about Restoration In Its Entirety. We're fishing on remnants of habitat that are expected to fulfill suddenly increased demands based upon certifiably bad data.
The strength of restoration's demand--of increasing fish populations, sources from the 2006 Magnuson rewrite.
However, in that same document were requirements for firming recreational data by 2009 
..and Essential Fish Habitat.
We're still waiting.
Can kicked many times; January 13th, 2012 is the new MRIP data release date.
To truly restore fisheries we must restore production from the various lost habitats.
Cold-water & temperate reefs may not be as pretty as their Caribbean counterparts, but they're just as vital to the fish that live on them.
Catch Restriction has come as far as it will..
Time after time we see where habitat & habitat fidelity could play a key role in fisheries restoration: Its not being used.
To regain the geometric stock growth that should accompany stretching out/filling in spawning populations of any species, we have to turn production back on: We have to ensure spawning success in size-limit protected fish.
Use Habitat, Use Habitat Fidelity, & Use Fishes Response To Fishing Pressure To Bolster Spawning Populations.
Catch Restriction is part of fishery restoration, not all of it.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Species: ATLANTIC COD - Private Boat  - Massachusetts - Wave 2 - Mar/Apr - Fish Landed
2004 1,344 n/a
2005 171,137 n/a
2006 7,713 n/a
2007 40,555 n/a
2008 39,542
2009 24,442 n/a
2010 578,919 n/a

Blog Archive