Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fish Report 3/21/13

Fish Report 3/21/13
Couple Trips
Rational Rebuilding
Long Tog - Saturday & Sunday - 3/23 & 24 - Cbass Closed - 6AM to 5PM - $150.00 - 14 Passengers Sells Out - Even Very Good Anglers Could Be Skunked - Resolute Anglers Only!
Reservations Required @ 410 - 520 - 2076.
LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Are Common - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way..
No Live Fish Leave The Boat - Dead & Bled - Period.
(I Believe The Live-Fish Black Market Is Hurting The Tog Fishery)
All Regulations Observed - 4 Fish @ 16 Inches.
Green Crabs & Shrimp Provided. You're welcome to bring any hard bait: Lobster, White Crab, Blue Crab, Hermit Crab: Even Gulp Crab .. No Squid, No Clam = No Dogfish.
Be A Half Hour Early - We Like To Leave Early.
Clients Arriving Late Will See The West End Of An East Bound Boat..
Will Open Reservations For Summer Sea Bass When (the really nice people at) NOAA & NMFS (who I never-ever bicker or quarrel with) Have Given Approval To The Council's Sea Bass Plan.
3,936 "Oyster Castle" Reef Blocks By The Rail. (1,144 @ Jimmy's Reef)
Hi All,
Thinking only of long-time clients, I cancelled last Saturday when the forecast changed to RAIN & NE winds.
A gorgeous day instead; sunbathers were applying lotion by noon while Mike & I did dock work wearing t-shirts & sunglasses.
Did fish Sunday. Despite very-sporty N winds @ 20, Walter took everyone's pool money with a 15 pound tautog. There were a couple other double-digit fish; couple skunks too. Pretty decent day.
See what happens with this weekend coming.
Had my Coast Guard inspection this week. Four inspectors combed through everything.
Mate Mike's hard work scrubbing bilges really paid off; inspectors were impressed.
We found a few things needing repair pre-inspection and took care of them. That's what its really all about - making sure your rig's taken care of..
Passed. Ready to go.
I wish recreational catch estimates had some manner of rational inspection to pass too.
Its always been that ANY number the system spit out was a good number--The Best Number. Any wildly high estimate or ZERO (when everyone fully understands there's catching,) automatically becomes "The Best Science Available"
..even though an estimate may be absolute rubbish and fully understood by EVERYONE INVOLVED to be rubbish.
Now -right now- among Maryland's coastal flounder fishers we are torn between doing what we perceive as right for the fish & doing what's right for the regulatory estimate-game. Far under-quota, this past year's May/June private boat estimate of ZERO summer flounder allows us to consider our most liberal flounder season & limit in a long time. By liberalizing regulation we also create a "cushion" where an over-estimate in the future could cause us to "tighten" back to where we are now (17 inches & 3 fish) rather than more loss-of-season & crazy high size-limits..
I'm urging all to be more restrictive: a small spike could send us back to where we were, but a HUGE spike in the estimates could bring on Accountability Measures as we now face in sea bass.
Its Still Possible That 2014 Could Be CLOSED.
However, I suspect the desire for a Chesapeake flounder season (smaller size) will drive regulation. When the Chesapeake has more catch, MRFSS/MRIP will go crazy & we'll be accused of being over quota.
In place of a zero, we'll have a data spike ..and another emergency closure.
Instead of a rational management approach to habitat-based fishery production, we have surrendered our recreational fishing economy to a miserably inaccurate catch-estimating system: We teach people not to go fishing in unfounded Emergency Closures and in more & more restrictive regulation while remaining clueless of vital fish habitat's influence on future production & catch.
All of today's troubles come from wild swings in recreational catch estimates. A regulatory system that can ingest and respond to a zero in MD flounder despite the fact anglers were catching great and everyone knew it; and also ingest that enormous spike of 174,000 March/April shore-caught tautog in Jersey when they weren't catching at all - and everyone knew it: MRFSS/MRIP estimates do a disservice to all who need truthful data to form scientific opinion & regulatory policy.
As I mentioned, Maryland's coastal flounder fishers are torn between doing what we perceive as right for the fish & doing what's right for regulatory defense. That May/June zero estimate in private boat now allows us to consider our most liberal limit in over a decade which MIGHT create a barricade against mid-season closure..
The New Jersey/New York fluke discrepancy is a sad bit of realpolitik sourced from bad estimates: This Very Real Regulation And All Its Economic Influence Is Based On A Single Year's Set Of Catch Estimates..
I think for purposes of ecosystem production & equitable recreational regulation the very waters that create political boundaries, the rivers & bays that divide our states, should be centralized for eco-regional fisheries regulation.
People fishing the huge rocky debris fields of NY granite construction waste off northern NJ should have the same fish limits. People fishing Long Island Sound - same.
When Massachusetts' sea bass season opens weeks before we do along Maryland, Delaware & Virginia, we'll all be wishing regulators an empty elevator-shaft ride..
When southern NJ sea bass fishers are tied-up with no fishery and MD/DE party charters are fishing tri-state shared reef bottoms I'm sure they'll be experiencing regulatory warmth.
When I finally get to video impacts to our nearshore reef ecologies from last October; NMFS & NOAA will not allow any diminishment was possible to sea bass & flounder production from reef loss.
If there's a CRAZY spike in our catch estimates, however, NOAA & NMFS will 'just follow the law' and close fisheries by emergency regulation.
Here's where we're at in way of rational fisheries rebuilding: An estimate no one believes can factually shut down a recreational fishery and its economy; While regulators have no idea reefs (that don't officially exist) are of primary importance to reef-fish populations.
In my next report I'll have a "Catch Estimate Primer For Your DC Reps."
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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