Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fish Report 1/14/14

Fish Report 1/14/14 
Twelve & Sixteen Pound Tog  
"I Heard A Noise!" 

Couple Short Tog Trips – Friday & Sunday (Not Saturday) January 17th & 19th – 8AM to 3:30PM - $100.00 — Not Going Far, Just Kicking Around In The Backyard Some — 12 Anglers Sells Out. 
Monday, Jan 20th – Long Tog — 11 Hour — 5:30 to 4:30 — $150 — Big Boat Ride Likely — 14 Sells Out. 

Reservations For Tautog Trips at 410 - 520 - 2076 — They Answer 24/7. 
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.. 

We provide green crabs. You're welcome to bring any kind of crab you like – even lobster, even plastic. 


No Live Fish Leave The Boat - Dead & Bled - Period. (I Believe The Live-Fish Black Market Has Hurt The Tog Fishery, But Not As Much As Bad Sea Bass Regulations)
Agreed With Or Not, All Regulations Observed – Maryland: 4 Fish @ 16 Inches. 

Bring A (not terribly big) Fish Cooler With ICE For Your Party.. A 48 QT Cooler Is Good For 2 Guys. Even Now You Should ICE Fresh Fish.. 
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!

8,268 "Oyster Castle" reef blocks by the rail – 2,438 at Jimmy's Reef – 1,588 at Ake's – 288 at Lindsey Power's Isle of Wight Reef.. 

New Truckload Has Arrived! Big-Big Thanks To Randy (again!) & The Ocean City Fishing Center! 

See the Reef Foundation's Website ocreefs.org  if you'd care to help fund our reef building. Or snailmail a check – any check!

Ocean City Reef Foundation
P.O. Box 1072
Ocean City, MD 21843 

My @mediacombb email address is a memory. Please use mhawkins@siteone.net for correspondence. Yes, its a very old address and fills w/spam occasionally.. 

Greetings All, 
Since my last report clients have let a 26.5 & a 28.25 inch tog go by the rail tagged. Although the effort to tag & release was sincere, the bigger one, a 16 pound female, didn't make it and instead came ashore headed for a skillet. The other, a 12 bull, swam away strongly sporting his new ALS tag for all to see. 
The catching is not what it was. Being under more fishing pressure owing to sea bass closures isn't helping. 
The 16 inch limit is helping though. 
So is building reef. 
The tog fishery's biggest trouble is from sea bass catch estimates.. 
Will know more about it after Wednesday's long trip. 

TV shows abound featuring the quest for an ape no one's ever found a breeding population of, nor evidence of a single dwelling, nor any real sign of the animal's hunting/foraging. In a time when we have names for each of the remaining 400 or fewer right whales and have exquisite video of rare Himalayan snow leopards; Profiteers & outright hoaxters turn on the low-light IR cameras –the green light first seen in Vietnam War era Starlight rifle scopes— and pretend to offer evidence of Sasquatch. 
Apparently it sells quite well. 

All too similarly, when recreational catch is discussed at Council & Commission Meetings I see truth dismissed from the conversation, I see veracity shut aside & a spooky green glow take its place. 

"I Heard A Noise! Must be a Squatch just over there!"  

"Look! Weekend-Fishing Private Boat Owners In Just One State Have Captured A Quarter Of The Coast's Sea Bass Quota! Again!" 

Where one assertion offers fairly harmless diversion & profit; The other has been economically & biologically devastating while needlessly occupying much of manager's time.  
The last half decade has seen the most incredible exaggerations of recreational catch ever in the sea bass fishery. Time & again green-glow illumination of recreational catch, catches which could never have occurred, are held forth as our "Best Available Science." 
Time & again recreational seasons are cut and bag limits lowered. 

Florida catches sea bass on both coasts. With a size limit of 10' and a year round open season, their innumerable private boats are estimated to have landed 57,000 pounds in the summer of 2013. 

Connecticut private boaters do sneak a few keeper sea bass aboard in Long Island Sound. A fraction of the state's coastline has direct ocean access where better sea bass fishing might be anticipated. 
With the cbass season wide open in the summer of 2007 and fishing under a 12.5 inch size limit & 25 fish bag limit, Connecticut anglers targeting sea bass are estimated by our 'modernized & vastly improved' estimating method to have landed 986 pounds of sea bass. 
In 2010 these anglers were doing much better & caught 15,715 pounds of cbass. 
In 2012 they had 10 fish shaved off their bag limit (down to 15 fish per-person) and landed a miraculous 200,681 pounds of sea bass. (Thusly did MRIP have them contribute their share to that year's emergency closure.) 

In 2013 these guys, who couldn't scratch-up a half-ton of sea bass between them a few years back, have now had their bag limit shaved to 3 fish owing to recent Bigfoot sightings; Ah, Um, I mean recreational quota overages – Three Sea Bass Per-Person Per Day In 2013 ..and they're said to have landed 174,000 lbs. 
With A 3 fish limit!! 
Excepting 2012, That's more pounds in one summer than they've caught all added-up & all together since 1981.  
With the smallest bag limit anywhere-ever. 

"I hear a noise!" 
"Bet its a Squatch!" 
"Better Tighten Regulations Or Those Bigfoots Will Gobble-Up Every Cbass In The Ocean!" 

It's spooky alright.. 
The recreational/commercial sea bass quota split is very nearly 50/50.. When MRIP claims NY's private boats caught a quarter of the Rec quota, it's precisely equal that they would also have caught 25% of the commercial quota. 

The following is an exact description of the 2013 cbass estimates from the new Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). 
These estimates are based on MRIP field observers noting 51 cbass in RI, 28 sea bass in CT, 33 in NY and 38 in NJ. 
Having seen 150 total sea bass in these states before extrapolating them to over a million pounds of recreational catch; Recreational For-Hire businesses will lose at least another 15 days of season and their clients will have at least 5 more fish shaved off their daily bag limit.. 

ITS VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT I STRONGLY SUPPORT FIELD INTERVIEWERS. Without collection of honest & actual catch-data we'll never resolve this riddle. The data collected in the field is pristine: Its corruption occurs at the main office. Repair of published estimates is neither interviewers' fault, nor their job. Their data will be supremely useful when a true method of catch estimation is devised. 
For Now, Management Must Abandon Their Use Of Estimates As A Single Data Point And Use PSE Spreads..

Our coast-wide recreational sea bass quota is just over 2 million pounds. Connecticut's private boats are credited with landing almost an eighth—174,000 pounds of sea bass with their brand-new 3 fish limit—while that state's for-hire party/charter is said to have caught no sea bass at all - Zero. 

New Jersey's private boats "caught" 222,000 pounds of sea bass last summer, the summer following Hurricane Sandy, while their party/charter fleet catches 6,000 pounds. 
Recreational For-Hire party/charter boats surrender a daily report after each fishing trip – a "Vessel Trip Report" or VTR. 
Truth of the private boat catch estimate unquestioned, even within the statistical spread offered with each and every centerpoint; Another eighth of the rec quota disappears leaving recreational anglers now out 25% of their quota. 
Rhode Island private boat anglers are credited with catching 75,000 pounds of sea bass in July/Aug. RI's party/charter fleet hasn't caught that many pounds of summer sea bass in the last decade put-together, but did have a higher estimate than usual at 11 thousand pounds. 

I've discussed New York's private boat catch estimate several times previously. They outfished their For-Hire fleet 21.4 cbass to 1 and "landed" 534,000 pounds of post-Sandy sea bass. 
Funny: At almost exactly 25% of the coastal quota, that was NY private boat's best-ever summer estimate while NY's For-Hire patrons had their second worst number of fish in a decade.. 

In every state a For-Hire/Private Boat ratio could swiftly be devised by fishery participants and developed as a means of testing an estimate's accuracy. 

The NY estimate takes MRIP's unrealistic private boat estimate centerpoints to half our recreational quota. 

Half the recreational quota gone based on estimates no one believes.. 
The politics of state by state quota allowances & creation of approved fishing regulations for each recreational fishery offer challenges the uninitiated cannot imagine. The men & women in this ring must truly be skilled. Compounding their task immeasurably is the long-held management policy of using the centerpoint of these often enormously broad recreational catch estimates. There is no law that says management must use an MRIP catch-estimate's exact centerpoint. It is only a long-held policy that prevents Council/Commission work from getting bogged down in arguing the unknowable — Recreational Catch. 

I created this small comparative estimate spreadsheet for my 4/21/13 fish report. The numbers & box were all from the MRIP website. In it readers can see both the wild vagaries inherent to catch estimate centerpoints as well as in the right-hand column actual PSE spread (like "margin of error" in a political poll.) Statisticians absolutely consider the full PSE range as their "95% Confidence Interval." 
Their true answer to, "How many fish did you say them boys caught?" includes all of the PSE. 
Management, however, decided long ago to use only the centerpoint. 

Shamefully, this is the Massachusetts For-Hire scup estimate showing both the "repair" that was supposed to be MRIP & the old MuRFSS program's catch-estimate along with the full MRIP PSE spread from which management might choose a more accurate number of fish caught. 
Some repair.. 

Estimate StatusYearWaveSpeciesNew MRIP  {Old MRFSS}MRIP PSE  /  MRIP's PSE Range
FINAL2004JULY/AUGUSTSCUP752,942        {19,547}48.9    /    20,000 to 1,450,000
FINAL2005JULY/AUGUSTSCUP     1,382       {12,557}   67.3    /       Zero to 3,200
FINAL2006JULY/AUGUSTSCUP  76,908        {49,624}46.2    /      6,000 to 140,000

It's true we'll never have bank statement precision in our catch estimates. It's also true that glaringly obvious mistakes are common enough, & disastrous enough, to warrant much closer inspection. 

If you'd like to encourage management's policy change there's comment information & addresses below. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD  

This is the current ASMFC comment period that we need to have to create "Regional Management."
Email Comment with "BSB Comment" in the subject header to:  

Its also high-time NOAA & Commerce looked at what these catch estimates are doing to our sea bass fishery. Not a "comment period" just write an informed letter expressing concern over our catch data. 
You may confidently use my illustrations – There are very few errors. 
Please write to: 
Dr. Kathy Sullivan – CINC NOAA 
Room 5128 
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 20230 

Secretary Pritzker US DoC 
1401 Constitution Ave., NW 
Washington. D.C. 20230 

Blog Archive