Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fish Report 3/21/12

Fish Report 3/21/12
Went & Going
ACLs & AMs
Sea Bass Reservations Are Being Accepted From May 19th On.
New Tog Trips:
Friday & Saturday, 23rd & 24th - 6 to 4 - Tog - $125 - 14 Sells Out.
Green Crabs Provided.
Reservations Required - Leave Your Best Contact Number In Case Weather Forecasts Change.
This Is Tog Fishing - It's Likely Some Clients Will Be Skunked.
Fishery Regulations Followed Or Exceeded.
Passage does not include exact location of fishing spots - Ever - GPS units float tested.
No Live Fish Leave The Boat.
Bring A Cooler w/Ice For Your Party's Fish.
Hi All,
Had some decent fishing this week. 5 guys on the rail one day - fun. NY Charlie's Shimano Talica 8 caught my eye. Nice lever drag. Perfect in a very high-end way for most of our fishing. He said if he caught a new state record I could have it.
American made Avet reels in SX & MX models work very well too, and for less than half the cost -- just not quite as smooth, not as many ball-bearings..
Sunday's extended trip was moderately fruitful. Must have been something to it; We tagged 30+ legal tog up to Gene's 13 pounder - but I believe John's fish took the money..
Monday we were well to sea by moonrise. Calmest of calms with a clear sky; Sagittarius lay high and bright on the SE horizon, our galaxy's more distant starfield, the Milky Way, backlit the constellation.
Hasn't been so very long ago that nautical twilight--when stars are still bright but pre-dawn sunlight creates a crisp, easily defined horizon; a pre-electronic time when a calm, clear morning such as this would have afforded a ship's navigator an excellent opportunity to fix a position with his sextant..
Stunning morning. Few more memorable.
Perhaps Admiral Yamamoto thought similarly on the morning of June 4th, 1942 before his defeat at Midway..
Fishing, you see, wasn't what we'd had in mind.
Having paddled offshore a fair-bit, the day started well enough with a two anchor set.
Quiet & unassuming in a Clark Kent sort-of way; one angler reached for a trusted 8 foot custom graphite stick. Running both hooks through a small white-leg crab, he turned and lowered his 10 ounce bank-sinker toward the bottom. No blackfish beneath him stood a chance: Twenty Pound Bob was at the rail
..but so was twenty pound Dennis and a host of 19 pound sufferers including Alex, Stelly & Frank.
Undeterred by such luminaries, Gene again set the pace by quickly releasing a 14 or 15 pound female of 27 inches.
Try as I might, it was the best tog I could find Monday. . . .
Fished close to home with Tuesday's light rail. Fair amount of catching--lot of putting back. Tagged about 30 legal & sub-legal tog, re-released 3 tag returns; Sent everyone home with dinner..
Built four more tog condos for Jimmy's Reef Friday - ready to go. Volunteers Terry, Bob, Walt Jr, Frank & Capt. Kane stopped by - Made the work simple & swift.
We'll get the new units offshore ASAP.
These are demo units - I envision these concrete pipes w/block inside in multiple rows & stacked 2 & 3 high with rock overtop & around - A Very Toggy Reef.
First to video how well they work.
Just as yesteryear's mariner needed a clearly defined horizon for a starting point to gather accurate position data, so do today's fisheries managers need precise measures to gauge restoration efforts.
Where in reality we have unclear & foggy recreational catch data infecting fish population estimates; Some believe today's data so accurate we deserve "Accountability Measures" & enforcement of "Annual Catch Limits" much like the 2009 emergency sea bass closure that very-nearly bankrupted my business..
At their base, both of these terms refer to overfishing (going over quota) and assure anglers will be rewarded with emergency fishery closure or greatly reduced landings.
Its pretty much how the Mid-Atlantic Council has always managed our fish.
Right now we're guessing where the horizon is; Guessing Where Recreational Catch Really Lies.
Annual Catch Limits & Accountability Measures won't fix regional quota issues. Quota management of today does not seize upon habitat fidelity's importance: The number of fish that can safely be removed--a fishery's quota--must be defined in regions, must be defined from real-world habitat-based spawning stock sub-populations.
For instance, imagine all recreational summer flounder (fluke) fishermen of every state gathered in DE Bay for the opener. It's pretty easy to see how DE Bay's fish would be swiftly over-pressured. Here the fish using only Delaware Bay and never Long Island Sound or Chesapeake Bay are overfished, but such a convergence of recreational effort would be an unlikely event.
However, its certainly possible with industrial trawl pressure--especially during winter when populations are most compacted in deep water & therefore vulnerable.
Were a multi-state convergence of deep water trawl effort to occur on one region's fluke population--but those fish were brought ashore in the many states where boats have permits--management would maintain all was well when, in fact, a single regional sub-stock had just been pummeled into pre-management.
This is exactly what happened to DelMarVa's sea bass in early 2004. Most of that decline was due to bycatch in the fluke trawl fishery.. What a waste.
Its entirely possible that 'timing' could develop where industrial effort shifts up and down the coast in a manner similar to 'resting' a wreck or reef.. While an effective fishing strategy, if management doesn't calculate these pulses of effort into stock estimates and creation of quota--And Now Accountability Measures & Annual Catch Limits--Their paperwork & computer screens will declare all's well ..while at sea there's a different result.
Now, 3 years late, we have Congressionally mandated changes occurring to catch-estimating formulas via MRIP -- the "New & Improved" recreational catch data.
Where I have often illustrated MRFSS miscalculations with the New Jersey, March/April Only, Caught-From-Shore, Tautog estimate of 72,000 fish--a number that means far more tog were caught along New Jersey's jetties in a few weeks than all professional party/charter tog effort caught all year: Now the new & improved MRIP catch estimate claims, "No! It wasn't just 72,000 Tog -- It Was Really 173,000 Tog Caught From New Jersey's Jetties In April 2010.."
Who's accountable for that?
The data taken by a fish-counter aboard my rig Sunday is perfect - Why can't we test catch-data's statistical manipulations for plausibility?
Will the Mid-Atlantic now be denied access to the reefs and reef fish populations we've created because Accountability Measures have come into place?
Will this opiated data-set cause a multi-year tog closure?
The tog my boat's caught this winter number in the hundreds & have created A Real Effect On Our Tog Stock.
Recreational catch estimates need an honest overhaul before management sees a crisp horizon; Can get an accurate fix.
Coastwide Focus where ecoregional fishery production is central to restoration hampers rebuilding efforts. The sooner management cuts to the core--manages with fish quotas defined by how fish actually live--the sooner we'll see real & lasting success.
Wouldn't hurt to discover our coral reefs either..
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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