Sunday, May 05, 2013

Fish Report 5/5/13

Fish Report 5/5/13 
Two Trips 
Not Commenting Supports Opponents
Statistics Questioned

Going Toggin – Saturday, May 11th, 6:30 to 3:30 -- $125.00 — Sell Out At 12. 
Sunday, May 12th, 6:30 to 3:30 -- $125.00 — Sell Out At 12. 

No Live Tog 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 Provided. You're welcome to bring any hard bait or shrimp: 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.. 

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..

The Hall family is hosting and, as always, donating in its entirety our OC Reef Foundation fund raiser on Wednesday, May 15th from 5 to 7 at Hall's Restaurant, 59th street bayside in OC, MD. 
All you can eat Italian; This year we'll also have ham & beef carving stations served up by Anthony's Carryout. Look for great silent, Chinese & live auction items and a good time with many reef supporters. 

I have opened my reservation book to sea bass reservations. 
NMFS, however, will probably NOT announce our sea bass season until a few days before the season Starts May 19th. Ticket Prices For Sundays & Weekdays In 2013 are $110.00 - Saturdays $125.00.
Opening Day, Sunday, May 19th & Monday the 20th, however, will be Long Sea Bass Trips 6AM to 3:30PM - $125.00.. Ditto Friday & Saturday, May 24th & 25th.

Pre-regulation announcement sales will be transferable--BUT NOT REFUNDABLE.

I have every reason to believe May 19th will be correct. Unfortunately, these are dark times in Federal Fisheries Management.

Unchanged: 4,392 "oyster castle" reef blocks by the rail - 1,372 at Jimmy's Reef. 

Greetings All,
This weather.. Not one trip. Nothing. 
At least it wasn't storm force & raining. Lot of honey-dos got done. 

Did go to fishery meetings. 
I suspect the single good thing to come of bad catch estimates in the last 15 years was MD's move to a 16 inch tog limit. Get a lot more eggs from those females & there does not appear to be a shift in age at maturity. Unlike sea bass, younger tog appear to start spawning as they ever did despite larger fish being present. I've had a 16 inch limit since 1992 — years before real regulation began. 

Last year & this spring too; at times the throwback ratio was painful for fishers who only target high-pressure areas; the better known artificial reefs & wrecks, jetties and rip-rap — anywhere tog are typically taken as soon as they grow big enough. Fishers at those areas would have truly seen their catch-rate decline to nearly zero because the size limit shot from 14 to 16 inches. 
Tog at these ages grow about an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half per year. We're just seeing the first tog become legal that would have previously been boxed-up at 14 inches before the new 16 inch size limit. By early fall 2013, all & many more of those tog will have grown through to beyond 16 inches. 
When sea trout collapsed in the early 1980s, local shore fisherman discovered they had only to drop straight down for new sport — Tautog. 
Eight & ten pound fish were common in this nearly virgin fishery. There were big fish in the back-bays. No one, however, was throwing any back.   
I have over 500 tag returns on tautog. They stay where they live. 

I have argued for a 16 inch limit in every comment I've ever made for tautog going back to 1996. 
Stolen by bad estimates in 2004; I also want December back. 
Now I anticipate my exposing of bad catch estimates will help lower the size limit to 15 inches & I'm told that, "The ASMFC tautog committee will never go along with opening more season" -- they won't be giving Maryland our December back. (you can believe that fight isn't over!) 

I suspect we'll loosen regs just as a huge shot of fish become legal. Actual catch will skyrocket & who could guess what MRIP will see. Perfect.. 
I mean; What could go wrong? 
If MRIP sees a big enough increase in catch we could have a higher-still size limit with a lot more closed season — that's what could go wrong.. 
MD is taking comment on tautog. I'm sure Carrie Kennedy would be glad to hear from you whatever your position. 

I think the best thing we could do for tog is stay at 16 inches.
I'm positive we need to drop the sea bass size limit to 11.5 or so to re-kindle younger age at maturity. 
Habitat for both species needs to be recognized as a valuable component of restoration.

A lot of fishermen are tired of saying, "What in the heck makes them think we caught too many fish? Why do we have to have such a large size limit & long closed season?" 
The answer to "WHY?" is ALWAYS catch estimates: If we "catch too many" on a computer screen, management has to tighten up. (whether we really did catch too many is immaterial. Its what the estimates say that counts, the exact center of an estimate.)  
You can believe managers know full-well they're being given estimates that sometimes stray far from the truth; They know bad estimates sometimes cost jobs & drive businesses to the brink of bankruptcy — But They Have To Follow The Law: They Have to Use An Estimate's Centerpoint. 
The Omnibus Amendment (omnibus here simply means covering more than one fishery plan) The Omnibus Amendment for Recreational Accountability Measures will allow managers to be able to call bad estimates for what they are.  
They'll be able to USE THEIR HEADS, instead of just doing what an estimate makes them do.
For all the guys on all the boards and out fishing who like to moan about management — here's a chance to help make management a LOT BETTER. 
A Couple Minutes To Email A Comment Could Prevent Year-Long Closures In Sea Bass, Summer Flounder & Scup. 
What the Mid-Atlantic Council (MAFMC) does now could well define the actions of other management along the coast — the ASMFC could use the model too. 
There Will Be Opposition To This Amendment. 
Silence from recreational fishers will carry the day for those who oppose getting bad catch estimates off our back. 
Here's my comment. 

Cut and paste the following line of text into an email addressed to: 
(Email Subject) Omnibus Amendment for Recreational AMs 
(Email Body) In order to allow managers much more flexibility when using recreational catch estimates, I support the following Alternatives within the Public Scoping Document for Recreational AMs:  Alternative 1D — Alternative 2D --- Alternative 3C With a 3 year Average --- Alternative 4C --- And Alternatives 5D & E. 
Thank You, 
If you want to delve-in to this complex management issue, its available on the Council's website. Here's the exact link:  
This is a big deal, A HUGE BIG DEAL. Management's trying to take action on bad estimates  ..and people aren't saying a thing. 


Below I've looked into catch estimates for tautog. While not a MAFMC-managed species, they allow a view of our catch estimates not represented in management's literature: especially not the press releases showing how much better their data's gotten..
2010 was a bad year for MRFSS/MRIP estimates. You can see from the graph of total US tautog catch below that 2010 has one of 3 spikes in the last 13 years. 
I wondered if the low side of PSE (or margin of error) for the worst 2010 estimates allowed the estimate to fall back into normal ranges.. Hours of work later; Indeed. These few single mode/single 2 month wave estimate spikes drive the whole coast's catch skyhigh.. 

Just dropping to the lower PSE value of the WORST three estimates lowers the total US catch to below the lowest value expressed by PSE (margin of error) for the whole coast.. 

In 2010, lowering Rhode Island Private Boat Sept/Oct; Virginia's Private Boat Mar/Apr; And New Jersey's Private Boat & Shore Mar/Apr to the lowest PSE value lowers the total US catch by 498,991 tautog or for a new total of 624,919. 

Lowering just those three wave estimates leaves us 150,081 tautog below the lowest PSE value for the coast and would have been a below "normal" catch triggering no management.. 

Graphs below. 
We positively need to change how management uses catch data. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Tautog – All US Recreational Catch Landed
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSEPSE (margin of error) 
FINAL2010TAUTOG1,123,91017.53,905,50716.1775,000 to 1,500,000


RI Private Boat wave 5 w/weight
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSEPSE (margin of error)
FINAL2007SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG31,11330.1155,67032.010,000 to 50,000 
FINAL2008SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG46,24464.0227,73865.5Zero to 105,000 
FINAL2009SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG20,89644.693,97244.1 4,000 to 40,000
FINAL2010SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG157,40842.5691,38243.030,000 to 290,000
FINAL2012SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG62,75553.0344,13958.9(2011 = Zero)    Zero to 120,000 


VA Private Boat
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSEPSE (margin of error) 
FINAL2007MARCH/APRILTAUTOG6,19855.521,96952.4 Zero to 12,600
FINAL2008MARCH/APRILTAUTOG40,04737.2162,99836.8 12,000 to 70,000 
FINAL2009MARCH/APRILTAUTOG20,99934.588,73234.07,000 to 40,000 
FINAL2010MARCH/APRILTAUTOG110,43838.4421,15738.720,000 to 195,000
FINAL2011MARCH/APRILTAUTOG13,87856.160,21861.1Zero to 30,000
FINAL2012MARCH/APRILTAUTOG1,79376.98,13477.4Zero to 4,400


NJ – All Recreational Effort (NJ Party/Charter is estimated here in 2010 at 3,300 fish - perfectly reasonable. The 250,000 spike is mostly from Shore with the balance from Private Boat) 
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSEPSE (margin of error) 
FINAL2007MARCH/APRILTAUTOG13,95237.045,39937.2 3,000 to 22,000 
FINAL2008MARCH/APRILTAUTOG36,46860.7114,84257.8 Zero to 80,000 
FINAL2009MARCH/APRILTAUTOG31,08641.993,72639.74,000 to 59,000 
FINAL2010MARCH/APRILTAUTOG281,58359.3800,21459.0Zero to 610,000 
FINAL2011MARCH/APRILTAUTOG59,44377.5174,16478.3 Zero to 150,000 
FINAL2012MARCH/APRILTAUTOG19,02743.869,72545.22,000 to 34,000 


CT Private Boat
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSEPSE (margin of error) 
FINAL2007SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG117,98430.2444,84930.550,000 to 190,000
FINAL2008SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG142,69225.0587,05325.265,000 to 215,000 
FINAL2009SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG30798.21,13198.2Zero to 600 
FINAL2010SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG94,05127.9308,76028.840,000 to 150,000
FINAL2011SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG6,47773.819,50473.2Zero to 25,000 
FINAL2012SEPTEMBER/OCTOBERTAUTOG170,37034.1861,46733.760,000 to 280,000


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