Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fish Report 5/21/15

Fish Report 5/21/15 
Sea Bass Getting Better
Best Reef Dinner Ever 
A Failure Of Governance 

Until Flounder Show: Sailing Daily For Sea Bass. Saturday's 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00.. Fishing Is Not Hot So Far, But Will Improve As More Cbass Meander In From Offshore. 
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. (or the captain forgets bait) 
Clients arriving late will see the west end of an east bound boat. With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you over-slept or had a flat..

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! (Wockenfuss Candies sells crystalized ginger locally - Better is Nuts.Com.. Chewable Meclizine is a good pharmaceutical with Scopolamine Patches the gold standard.)

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Is Fine For A Few People. 

Small-scale reef building that adds up over time; on my last fishing trip we dropped reef-block number 11,168 over the stern rail. Now 2,188 at Doug Ake's – 1,242 at Saint Ann's - 372 at Al Giles’ Barge - 588 at Eagle Scout Reef - & 10 at an as-yet unnamed reef group on Sue Foster’s Isle of Wight Reef.. 
Please Sponsor Reef Building At - Thanks! 

Sunday’s Reef Dinner was an amazing sight. Had about 80 more people than anticipated. I have no idea how the chef made it work, but everyone who stayed was fed & fed well. Next year we’ll move to an advance ticket so we have a better idea of turnout & run the chow line faster! 
Lots of folks brought money & left without. Raised more money in one night than we did all year in 2012. 
The Ocean City Reef Foundation has come from near cardiac arrest to robust community support. Many supporters see coral in their future. 
I do too. 
Thank You All!

Greetings All, 
Good thing clients didn’t know how to run my boat.. I forgot the bait opening day & had to drive back home. By my own rules the capt should have seen the west end of an east bound boat.. 
Loaded up & underway, we dropped blocks on a reef we’re building called St. Ann's. Just twelve 90-pound blocks, you wouldn't think it would build much reef. But we go everyday; take blocks everyday.. Now at 11,168 overall - that's a lot of blocks. 
Trawl skippers "clean up" a tow by dumping any rocks they catch where they will never tow. Could be near a wreck or CG buoy; they push them over where they quickly scour-in & disappear completely from the habitat footprint. 
It is precisely as our blocks add up to increased habitat, that their rock-removals decrease our marine reef footprint. 
We've been dropping blocks for 3 years now. The very best flounder bite I've ever seen was on one of these 'block reefs' last summer.. 
They've been "cleaning up" sloughs for over 60 years..
So we dropped blocks opening day and ran a tad further to a sweet cbass spot. 
Uh Oh. 
Not much love at all. 
Universal in the party boat fleet, I think the ocean’s water level went up for all the tears flowing from VHF radios on opening day. 
Not sure I’ve ever seen sea bass behave such in mid-May. Maybe. Was as lousy a day as I’ve ever seen. Last year we had a slow May start too. Don't recall such trouble in my first 33 years. 
We are catching cod everyday. Look at the work on cod. Look closely. You'll see climate change enthusiasts have fully convinced themselves Gulf of Maine cod have abandoned the US for cooler Canadian waters. 
Goode, in 1880, surmised when GOM waters cooled to a certain point cod would come south. That's what we're still seeing on the water in 2015. Computer shows different. Computer, loaded only with "the best available science" shows Congress how NOAA can't help it if cod management's gone bad. "Fish have all gone north Mr. Congressman!

You cannot believe how funding drives science & result. What NOAA wants to find is what it funds.. 

Is that how the new MRIP catch estimates show higher & higher & higher catches from canoes, kayaks & sailboats? 

Fishing was much improved Saturday but still not where we’d want it. On Sunday the day began with a sea bass bite exactly as we would like - sweet. 
Yet the moment the current backed off - kaput. 
Monday I had VIP reef donors galore after our big dinner. Ha! Going to show these folks some FISH! 
Except no. 
Swung for the fence & struck out. Dandies - Yes. But no numbers..

Tuesday, May 19th, high man was fairly close to double digits. 
Wednesday the wind blew. We sent 56 packages for the Reef Foundation. 
Thursday I saw what we would have had all along, at least before over-estimate poison seized the sea bass fishery. Thursday I had rods bowed all around the rail. It was just one drop, and a very light rail too, but it reminded me of back when sea bass management actually worked. 

Among fishing’s troubles there is a disease of bad data that I’ve written about many times. The effect of treating perfectly ludicrous recreational catch estimates as hard science has now run deeply into all levels of marine fisheries management. Sea bass are hot on the heels of red snapper as the most screwed-up fisheries by bad recreational catch data. 

Through all of history; when science has to reach for fantastic assertions to support data or conclusions: trouble. 
Diagrams & models of a geocentric or "earth centered" solar system, for instance, required fantastic loop-de-loops in planetary motion to be correct. The implausible versus the smooth ellipses actually created by gravity; they're only seen as impossible today because we understand gravity's affect on orbits.. (I'm using 'understand' loosely. Not conversant in astrophysics..) 

Laws of physics we take for granted with each cell phone call began with incorrect theories fully supported by data accepted in its time, yet untrue. 
Science moves forward by making corrections. 
We need fishery management to unweave a great amount of regulation based on untrue catch estimates. It's costing big money in business & tax revenue losses from Maine to Texas; and, at least in the case of sea bass, is costing us the first & best fishery restoration. 
True: sea bass were so responsive to early management that their populations shot to a 35 year high in less than 5 years. 

Sea bass populations in the Mid-Atlantic have been in decline since 2003 because we no longer trigger spawning in young sea bass. 
From the highest recorded population just 5 years into management in 2003 .. to today's 2015 troubles; From a population that grew exponentially in early management despite high removals, to spawning production today that cannot replace even the lowest removals in history.. 

A reef species that remained a viable fishery with no regulation at all despite massive habitat loss, even in an era when US trawlers were outnumbered 20 to 1 by foreign boats: sea bass today are being driven into the dirt by complacent management glad to lean upon NOAA's acceptance of MRIP or MRFSS recreational catch estimates as pure & proven.  

Responding to data that wasn't real has created this very real situation. Regulations devised solely in response to untrue recreational catch estimates have taken the same path of any regulation based on lies - a path to failure.

I think our long standing 'spring run' was a race inshore of spawning sea bass to again seize their specific spawning sites. That's what used to happen. Sea bass would come in as soon as the possibly could to hold their territory. Now, with the spawning stock at an all time low - and I do mean All Time low - sea bass have no urgent drive to seize spawning territory. 
No longer a spring run; they just wander in. 

Spawning site fidelity & habitat fidelity could be management's greatest tool. Ignorant of 'age at maturity' shift, the ability to manipulate (or "manage") when cbass begin spawning is instead management's greatest weakness. 

We'll see more sea bass. They just won't be in a hurry. 
Sort of like managers watching a regional population of fish, once so easily rebuilt to grand new heights, plummet to their lowest population in history & take no action - no hurry.

Experiments with sea bass aquaculture from: 
Berlinsky’s team found that females were more likely to change sex when no males were present in the tank. Additionally, the fish were more likely to turn into males when kept in crowded tanks.
By turning off estrogen production, Berlinsky says, he can turn a female fish into a male within a week. Giving 11-ketotestosterone to a female converts it into a male. “We’re studying the ways to control the enzymes that control sex reversal,” he explains. “We’re coming at the problem both behaviorally and biochemically.”

That's What's Important!!! 
Yes - Habitat IS VITAL. 
But more so is management's need of ACTIVELY regulating for production 
..or at least not regulating to minimize production. Our 12.5 inch size limit has triggered a "slow down, the habitat's full" response in sea bass since 2002. 
Now our once-famous 'spring run' of sea bass is, yawn, a slow swim to the beach. 
We used to see hundreds of under-9 inch male sea bass DAILY. Now we see 3 to 6 under nine inch males a year. I do not mean 3 to 6 hundred, just three to six - usually counted on one hand..

Management's proclamation at each MRIP/MRFSS based assertion of our having gone over-quota is profoundly similar to Spanish conquistadors reading "The Requirement" aloud. 
From within a complex ceremony, "The Requirement" was read aloud in Spanish to natives of Central & South America before they'd ever even heard of a language called Spanish.. 
Here is the conclusion of that text; a real & true part of history ..among the saddest of history: 
But if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their highnesses; we shall take you, and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him: and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us . 

Management Today: "Losses to the commercial & recreational for-hire fisheries & private boat recreational supply industry Are Your Fault and not the regulators who innocently responded to perfect data handed them by perfect statisticians in a perfect NOAA." 

Because NOAA demands management treat MRIP's catch estimates as perfect, I truly fear for my boat & business.

Ignorant of history, ecology & biology; unwilling to see patently obvious & enormous errors in recreational catch estimates: what a grand waste of a fishery. 
See small snip below..

By Bob Shipp

In all likelihood there have never been as many Gulf Red Snapper in recorded history as there are today. In spite of these soaring populations, a broken system of federal management is precluding what would otherwise be a robust and sustainable economic driver to a regional economy in desperate need of a break.

Last year the recreational season was limited to 9 days in federal waters and this year's season is 10 days. Just 10 days – with only a single weekend -- for anglers in their own boats to catch perhaps the most popular offshore fish in the Gulf.

Conversely, the commercial sector can fish year-round and, under a similar plan approved by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council this year, the charter/for-hire sector will have a 44-day season in 2015. 

The glaring inequity of those regulations has rankled everyone from regular anglers to congressmen, yet a solution has remained elusive. The road to this point is roughly 30 years in the making, and there is now virtually no escape from it under federal management.

Blog Archive