Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fish Report 12/12/13

Fish Report 12/12/13
Some Fishing To Do 
MRIP & A Witch Pricker
MAFMC Meeting 

Another Tog Trip. A Special Tog Trip. 
Friday, December 13th – 6:30AM to 3:30PM – Scientific Collection.. Tickets @ $110.00. Twelve anglers sells out. Be some scientists aboard too. Green Crabs Provided. 

Sailing for Sea Bass Saturday, December 14th & Wednesday, December 18th – Last Of The 20 Fish Limit I Fear — Depart 5:30 Return 4:30 — $150.00 — 18 Anglers Sells Out — Expect Long Rides.. 

Will Open More December Sea Bass Trips Via Email Only Pending Weather Forecasts. 

Bring A (not terribly big) Fish Cooler With ICE For Your Party.. A 48 or 54 QT Cooler Is Good For 2 Guys. Even Now You Should ICE Fresh Fish.. If You're Keeping Bluefish – Bigger & More Ice.

Reservations For Sea Bass Trips at 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.. 

Be A Half Hour Early - We Like To Leave Early.
Clients Arriving Late Will See The West End Of An East Bound Boat.. 

If You Won't Measure & Count Your Fish The State Will Provide A Man With A Gun To Do It For You. We Measure & Count — ALWAYS — No Exceptions!

Bids (still) Too Low! 
A Gift From Tom Jackson, There Are Three Jimmy Jackson Prints – Numbered 1 of 1, 2013 –  on display & set up as silent auctions at Ake Marine, Ocean City Fishing Center & Sunset Marina. Stunning. Proceeds & payment made to Ocean City Reef Foundation, a tax deductible 501c3.. Auction Ends December 15th @ 5PM..  
8,076 "Oyster Castle" reef blocks by the rail – 2,414 at Jimmy's Reef – 1,444 at Ake's – 288 at Lindsey Power's Isle of Wight Reef.. 

Need a new batch of blocks REAL soon. See if you'd care to help fund the next truckload, or snailmail a check – any check! (Thanks George & Jason!) 

Trying to keep a large selection of OCRF long-sleeve & ss t-shirts aboard.. Best Stocking Stuffer Ever! (aside from Morning Star Gift Certificates) 

Need a new deckhand.. Part Time for now. Do not call if interested – email only. Responses Take Time.  

My address is dead. Please use for correspondence. 

Greetings All, 
I'll tell you all the good news from our last tog trip.. 
(this space intentionally left blank)

Did have one about 13 pounds, but it was a slow bite. 
As every fisherman everywhere; I hope tomorrow's bite is better. ASMFC Science Trips: Need to get this aging study done.. 

Did limit-out on my last cbass trip though. Hope to see them bite the jig again. 

OC Reef Foundation barge, John B Holden, and Tow-Boat US crew dropped a barge-load of pipe at Lindsey Power's Isle of Wight Reef last week. All cabled together, it went down in a heap amidst several stainless subway cars. 
Every single reef-set counts: There's a lot more nearshore reef now than when I first started 30 some years ago 
..but nowhere near as much natural nearshore reef as there was in 1950. 

The people in charge of restoring reef-fish populations that once lived on multi-square mile & now long-lost reefs met in Annapolis this week to discuss further catch-restriction of sea bass.  
If not for incredible effort on several managers part, including the very top of the MAFMC, to write the Omnibus Amendment for Recreational Accountability Measures, sea bass would have been closed for all of 2014. 
The original recreational accountability measures were as dire as Captain Bill Carpenter's famous 1966 decision to call in a napalm air strike on his own position: If MRIP/MuRFSS recreational catch estimates said we were over-quota, we would have had to payback every pound before the fishery could recommence. 
Perhaps influenced by some of my work, managers decided even the new recreational catch estimates lacked accuracy/veracity to bankrupt an industry over catch that probably did not occur. 

Having crossed that bridge, we now face a new set of "new & improved" recreational catch estimates. 
Here's one: Among the New York party/charter fleet are some of the coast's most experienced captains. Armed with multi-generational knowledge and the latest fishfinding electronics plus a client base well-known for reef fishing ability; these skippers had a difficult summer of sea bassing, catching just twenty-five thousand pounds of sea bass in July & August. 
Not unusual. Summer offers a tougher sea bass bite. That's just how it is. 
These professional skippers send in "Vessel Trip Reports" (VTRs) for every trip with an solid estimate of their day's catch. Our 'new & improved' MRIP (Marine Recreational Information Program) catch estimating system is supposed to utilize those VTRs to estimate total party/charter landings. 

What is unusual in NY's post-Sandy fishing is that our 'new & improved' catch estimating system says the private recreational weekend skippers had their best summer sea bass fishing ever — EVER. 
Landing Five-Hundred Thirty-Four Thousand pounds in just July & August, that's TWICE what every single party/charter boat along the ENTIRE East Coast landed ALL YEAR.. 

So, at the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Council meeting Wednesday we were again charged and convicted with being over our recreational sea bass quota. 
Our sentence: Less Season & A Lower Bag Limit In 2014. 
While some managers argued greater & greater restrictions of the last few years were punishment enough, NOAA argued last year's and this year's overfishing demanded still more restriction. 
Retribution, Punishment, Retaliation: NOAA's Vengeance Is Visited Upon Us Because The Estimating System THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO FIX Claims Overfishing Has Occurred; That's what we're experiencing - That's What's Killing The Sea Bass Fishery. 

Time & again catch estimates with no scientific merit erode the recreational fishery. 
Time & again no one in the management community believes, truly believes, these estimates are accurate  ..yet time & again no one in NOAA will accept responsibility for relieving managers & recreational fishers from the burden of reacting, in precise measure, to these estimates as though real. 

The "Best Available Science" in Salem, MA during the late 1600s was was conducted by a Witch Pricker. Using a needle they would explore every crevice of the accused's body to discover "where the devil had entered." 
Here, Today, concerning management of fish hidden beneath an ocean of water; recreational reef fishers are no better off than those poor innocents of yesteryear. With MRIP catch estimates thought to be sacred as a Witch Pricker's testimony – our fishery is continually subjected to harsher & harsher punishment.  
The Monitoring Committee "feels" the bag limit is too high: a scientific 'feeling' you can be sure. 
NY private boat anglers, with an 8 fish limit, catch more fish in summer's challenging bite than all East Coast party/charter put together.. There are more estimates like this. Massachusetts's shore fishers, for instance, caught & kept many more pounds of sea bass this past May & June than all party/charter boats in the Mid-Atlantic combined.. Indeed, Rhode Island shore fishers are estimated to have caught and kept more sea bass than Rhode Island's charter boats. 
And, almost as spectacular an invention as that NY estimate, NJ's party boats are said to have caught sixteen thousand pounds of sea bass while that state's private recreational boats caught two-hundred twenty-two thousand pounds.. 
NOAA knows – is sure – The Sea Bass Stock Is "Moving North." (John Bullard – 12/11/13 – In Council Session) Yet anglers are still catching, and NOAA's still reporting, sea bass landings from Florida. How can there be any possible effect of "Moving North" in the Mid-Atlantic except in habitat expansion? There is no contraction of the southern Mid-Atlantic sea bass stock, only northerly expansion. Management should be able to press this expansion to great effect..

Instead, our sea bass fishery is very sick. Causing the illness are MuRFSS & MRIP catch estimates.  
When the estimates are finally repaired a far different picture will emerge. Real repairs to the sea bass fishery will stem not from further catch restriction, but population biology & fisheries ecology — From Real Science, not a Witch Pricker's testimony. 

For now we must ask NOAA to repair just this one estimate; to investigate just how wrong this year's sea bass numbers are. A couple folks could sort it out in a few days. I believe just repairing the NY estimate would put us back under quota.  
Please write Dr. Kathy Sullivan, the new Boss Lady at NOAA & ex-astronaut. Ask her to look into MRIP's performance on the sea bass estimate.. There no way NY's private recreational boats did what MRIP says they did. 
It's Truly Impossible. 
Snail Mail Will Work Best. Address below. 
Readers can change this. 

Inaction, not writing, is no different than NOAA not challenging their own estimates. Erosion of season constant, we'll soon have no real fishery left. 

Write and ask NOAA's new boss to double-check the NY Wave 4 July/Aug Sea Bass Estimate. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Dr. Kathy Sullivan 
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW 
Room 5128 
Washington, DC 20230

Blog Archive