Monday, August 25, 2014

Fish Report 10/25/14

Fish Report 8/25/14 
Catching Flounder w/a Few Cbass 
Three Reefs 
If MRIP's Estimates Were Real . .

Taking Reservations for what's left of August & September to the 22nd for "Whatever's Biting On The Reef Trips" - We're Catching Sea Bass & Flounder. There's No Possible Way To Know Which Species Will Bite Better. Both Delicious: If you only want cbass or only want flounder you can watch the swallop-barrel to see which day you wanted to go ..that won't mean the same species will bite better again next trip!! 

Sailing Daily For Sea Bass & Flounder. Saturday's 6:00 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00..
Reservations Required 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 always leave early! 
..except when someone shows up right on time. 
Clients arriving late will see the west end of an east bound boat. 

Sea Bass Are Closed For A Month This Fall, But Not Just October. They Close Sept. 22 & Re-Open October 18th. (Unless MRIP Catch-Estimates Again Claim Some Small Cluster Of Private Boats Caught More Sea Bass Than All Historical Recreational Landings Combined: Then, Despite Well-Understood Inaccuracies, Sea Bass Will Be Closed By "Accountability Measures" Until Our Children's Children Are In Charge..) 

Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! Crystalized Ginger Works Great Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure.  
If You Suffer Mal-de-Mer In A Car You Should Experiment On Shorter Half-Day Trips First! 

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. 
Bring Lunch & Your Refreshment – No Galley. Bring A Fish Towel Too.. 

The OC Reef Foundation Aims To Build Its Single Largest & Most Expensive Concrete Reef Deployment Ever This Fall. The Capt Bob Gowar Reef Will Become A Cornerstone Of Our Nearshore Reef Restoration Efforts. 

Donate - Please Sponsor Reef Building At
Thank You! 

Greetings All, 
Been catching flounder. Even some pretty ones. 
Not catching any of these fluke away from reefs & wrecks – they're being caught in the structure. 
Since structure's my specialty – we're catching. 
Ain't all gravy. Sometimes a completely unskilled angler can do OK. 
Sometimes they're given an opportunity to strengthen their skills for next time.. 
Sometimes they walk with the pool-money and a big grin. 

I had three separate days last week where I fished reef we'd built off the back of my boat with Oyster Castles, the concrete blocks we've lobbed over the rail for two and a-half years. If they were all in one place 10,294 of them would make a big pile of block.. 
Capt. Jeremiah recently took a bunch of photos of block Capt. Ted & crew have built into castles on existing reef.. Pics are at  
Now too expensive, we're employing our many friends in the concrete block world to find mis-cast & odd-lot blocks to build reef with. 
Our first truckload came Saturday. These crazy-heavy 100 pound retaining wall blocks were free – had only to pay the trucking. Saved over $4K.. 
Will deploy most of these on the places we've been building. 

It was on places where we've dropped a thousand or two or three oyster castles where we had some pretty good fluke fishing this past week: catching flounder where I hope to also raise innumerable tog & sea bass. 
Umm.. I can't seem to recall the exact coordinates, but we also had the single greatest flounder bite I've seen this year; maybe ever seen.. 
For an hour and ten minutes or so clients pulled singles & doubles in "drop & reel" fluke fishing – awesome. 
Then a shark picked up a bait and swam around the stern. Happened fast; I thought spectra line represented an incredible hazard to human necks so I cut it. 
Then another shark bit – a juvenile tigershark – awesome. 
And ANOTHER shark bit. 
Flounder bite history, we caught 8 or 10 more fluke during the last hour and went home.. 

Because you just read about an incredible flounder bite does not mean you will experience one if you go this week. It's far more likely that we'll have to work for a catch as we often do and did several other days last week. . .

Because NOAA is in charge of restoring/protecting all our marine fisheries & because flounder/sea bass/tautog & sharks all use what remains of our natural reefs as well as accidental/catastrophic wrecks and, increasingly, artificial reefs, does not mean NOAA will find any value in the habitat. 
Fantastic sums of research dollars are being spent to discover even a single coral beyond canyon's edge (and Bravo!) yet this vital part, the corals, of our nearshore ocean's ecosystem gets NOAA's Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award. 

They have no interest in nearshore reef. 
None at all. 

Some scientists would, of course, be keen to study undiscovered habitat. 
In need of a paycheck, however, they all have to follow orders from above. 
Not interested.. 

What an odd world our current attempt at "fishery restoration" has created. 

Using catch estimates as stringently as fishery managers do while creating regulation, I could make a very strong case demanding Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) where No Private Boats are allowed  
..but commercial trap & party/charter fishers would be. 
According to the multi-multi million dollar MRIP estimates; to protect sea bass from overharvest we must prevent private boats from having access to the sea bass fishery. 

According to MRIP estimates, private boats from just one state – any state – can outfish the whole coast's party/charter fleet. In 2013, for instance, NY & NJ private boats are credited with annihilating the coastal sea bass quota. 

These private boat guys have the audacity to complain about party boats cleaning off wrecks & reefs - even when it's PERFECTLY CLEAR IN THE ESTIMATES THAT PRIVATE BOATS TOOK 95% OF NY'S CATCH. 

Worse still are NJ's private boats – those monsters took 97% of the sea bass caught in summer of 2013. 
But ninety-seven percent's not enough! You won't have to look far to find private boats complaining about party/charter catching MORE THAN THEIR SHARE.. 

In Massachusetts we see party/charter muscling-in for a full 8% of sea bass in 2009. 
MRIP's recreational private boat catch estimate of 372,231 pounds in Massachusetts is based off observers witnessing 10 (ten) sea bass. 
The following year MRIP observers would report seeing 2 (two) sea bass in July/August. Those 2 (two) sea bass would become 616,512 pounds of quota-crushing recreational catch. 

Those private boat estimates are why party boats can't fish for sea bass from mid-Sept to mid-Oct. 
That's why we can't catch sea bass from January to mid-May either. 

From these estimates I can build an excellent case for closing off huge areas of ocean reef to private boats – It's made plain in the estimates that regulation does not control them. 

How odd then from my own personal experience, a lifetime in the fishery, that I could far more logically build a case for having reefs where ONLY private boats could fish – so they could actually catch a few. 

Very few. 

That's what private boats really catch compared to party/charter. 

NOAA's use of catch estimates as perfect data has created an atmosphere rarely seen in science today, perhaps only in reef fisheries. 

There's no practical use in management or scientific/technical staff worrying about what's real in the sea bass fishery. Their real life; the honest, actual, day-to-day life experience of modern fishery managers--their non-fictional life experience--is all about responding to what's ludicrous, about reacting to catch estimates that could not possibly be true. 

No Amount of Reef Habitat Could Matter, Nor Whether Reef Is Gained or Lost. 
No Biological Forcing of Maturity Will Be Explored For, Nor Will Any Use of Habitat Fidelity Occur In Quota Management. 
Because There's No True Notion Of Actual Recreational Extraction, Any Population Response That Might Have Been Made Plain With Good Estimates Is Impossible To Recognize. 

A sheriff friend in rural Dorchester County described responding to 'gun shots fired.' 
An old timer, sitting in his living room, was shooting flies on the wall with his 30/30 deer rifle. 
Who could imagine what he was thinking & Who could imagine what MRIP is thinking – Modern recreational fisheries management based on MRIP catch estimates offer regulation's surety decreed by a crazy old man.. 
Another part of our season gone.  

NOAA's wordsmiths will make Congress beam with pride when they read about sea bass – if they read about sea bass. 
The sad truth: While warming water has added an incredible new rocky habitat footprint up north, and surely their sea bass have--starting from near-zero--increased; yet the coastwide population has been cut in two over the last decade. 

We actually did catch the heck out of sea bass while the population was doubling every couple years during early management. 
You'd think folks tasked with restoration would pursue a strategy where populations double. 
You'd think scientist would be keen to find out why. 

Instead, following a catch-estimate-only based regulatory pathway to restoration, the coastal sea bass population now plummets 
..while management awaits new estimates to inform them of their next regulatory strategy. 

I can show every estimate, every flier, every statistical outlier that has blinded NOAA to sea bass's reality. 
If the ocean hadn't warmed and that rocky habitat up north hadn't become suitable sea bass spawning territory, the very real decline we have here in the lower Mid-Atlantic would garner scientific interest. 

Instead, yawn, the population's only been cut in two since the seventh year of management when it had already doubled several times. 
Can NOAA tell Congress they're doing great with sea bass? Can NOAA call sea bass 'fully restored?' 
You betcha. "Sea bass are at biomass target!" 

They'll tell Congress they had a little trouble with private boats but now it's under control. 

Season Soon Completely Closed Save Some Small Sliver, And Then With A Creel Limit That Wouldn't Feed A Single-Child Family For One Night, NOAA Will Tell Congress – "We Did It!" 

Destroyed A Fishery Is What They've Done. 
A Fishery That Rebuilt Itself Now Almost Lost. 



Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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