Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fish Report 1/26/16

Fish Report 1/26/15 
Post-Blizzard Toggin 
Survey Impacts Video Summer 2015
Carefull What You Ask For.. 

All Winter Trips Posted Via Email. There's just no use trying to go everyday in winter. Life Goes On..

Tog Fishing Thursday, Jan 28th & Sunday, Jan 31st - 6:30AM to 3:30PM -- $125.00 - 16 Sells Out.. 
Saturday - Jan 30th - 6:30 to 1 -- $100 -- 10 Sells Out.. 
This is tog fishing after a HUGE blow. It may not work out as we hope!

My Crew Have White Crabs For Sale AT THE DOCK for the low, low price of just $5.00 per generous dozen. There Is No Guarantee We'll Have Whites For Any Trip. Sometimes they all die. That shrinkage is why I prefer greens. We may be bringing some whites with us in the ocean. Green Crabs (not Whites!) Remain Provided As Boat Bait And Are Included In All Fares.   

Skunks are always possible while tog fishing. 
Really. It's a frequent occurrence, even with a good bite. Not an easy fishery; the very best toggers sometimes get their head handed to them despite folks all around having done well. 
Then too, sometimes the whole boat can do very poorly. 
If you can't take the heat, and there ain't much of that either, stay out of the kitchen. 

Going Toggin Anyway! Tog Only, Sea Bass Are Closed Because NOAA Has Absolutely No Real Idea How Best To Manage The Fishery. 
No Live Tog Leave The Boat - Dead & Bled - Period. (I Believe The Live Tog Black Market Has Hurt This Fishery ..But Nowhere Near As Much As Bad Sea Bass Regulations)
Agreed With Or Not, All Regulations Observed – Maryland: 4 Tog @ 16 Inches 

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! 

Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - On My Rig You Can Reserve What Spot You're In. Please See http://morningstarfishing.com For How The Rail's Laid Out..
LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Happen - 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. With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you over-slept or had a flat..

Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! (Meclizine's Better!) Crystalized Ginger Works Great Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure.  
Honestly - If you get to go on the ocean once month, once a year, or even less; why risk chumming all day? Similarly, if you howl at the moon all night, chances are good you'll howl into a bucket all day.  

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. Do Not Bring A Very Large Cooler. We DO have a few loaners - you'll still need ice. 
No Galley! Bring Food & Beverages To Suit. A few beers in cans is fine for the ride home.   

Now Out Of Block - Rats! Working On More.. Will Accept Even Small Donations Of A Few Blocks You Have Cluttering Up The Yard..
(Still) 12,593 Reef Blocks Deployed at numerous sites. Active presently are Doug Ake's Reef with 2,394 - St. Ann's 1,459 - Al Giles Barge 653 - Eagle Scout Reef 756 - Sue's Drifting Easy Reef 147 - Nichols' Concrete 540 - Upside Down Tank 132 

Please Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation!
We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. 
Thank You! 
Every Splash Makes Fishing Better.. 

Greetings All, 
I hope this video showing what acoustic bottom surveys were REALLY like on our reefs rattles some cages. Reefs in over 500 sq miles of seafloor were devoid of sea bass & flounder - right in sea bass spawning season too! 
This from BOEM..
..We received those results on July 28th. They indicate that the sound from the sub-bottom profiler used was not much different than the sound from the vessel’s own movement and propeller cavitation at the frequencies that are expected to be perceived by fish (generally below 1,000 Hertz). In fact, the sub-bottom profiler being used for the survey was operating between 2,000 – 7,000 Hz, above the hearing range of most fish. 

Pretty sure I work harder as an ocean advocate than as a fisherman this time of year. 
Trying to help science & management find footing in MRIP & BOEM's mud doesn't pay the mortgage though. Don't know what we'll see out-front after this blizzard, but here we go. 

Below is a letter I sent broadly across the professional marine community. 
Above is a link to a "survey impacts video." 
Spent most of last week at an MREP course in Baltimore that CCA MD was active in putting together. http://www.gmri.org/our-work/fisheries-convening 

I heard Russ Dunn loud & clear at the conclusion of those 3 days of lectures last Thursday in Baltimore:  He went on about how great NOAA's doing for the recreational community - "They told us they wanted big red snapper & a lot of them, and we delivered! It's not our fault they're mad at us now." Then - "Anglers wanted to combat release mortality & we did it..

Only NOAA didn't "do it" at all for the east coast - not even a little bit. (quotes close if not perfect) 

So: Deep inside NOAA's top offices the National Policy Advisor For Recreational Fisheries, our staunch defender and seeker of truth, Russ Dunn, is blaming us - the recreational community as a whole - for not being careful what we wished for.. 
Couldn't be bad estimates leading management into a dark alley, bad estimates FOREVER accusing more and more private boats in just one small state--in just a few weeks--of making catches unseen even in multi-year combinations of All US Party/Charter effort -- it couldn't be NOAA's repeated refusals to accept the work of marine ecologists showing red snapper at ALL TIME POPULATION HIGHS BECAUSE OF ARTIFICIAL REEF (including oil wells.) 

In fact, given Russ Dunn's current spin on red snapper, I won't be surprised if these recent survey impacts are painted as "my fault" - if, that is, they're recognized as impacts at all. Been ignored thus far, what's a couple more weeks, months, or years? 

Science & management of fish & ocean health would be plenty hard enough w/o being burdened with accounting impossible catches in new regulation. Blinded by catch estimates; NOAA has yet to even see the value of our corals. 

Now too there's "Best Available Science" showing fish can't even hear what drives them nuts..

See letter below about MRIP catch estimates. MRIP positively believes Party/Charter carries almost no force of catch - I heard it straight from the top.

If you are interested at all in understanding the intricacies of fishery management & science - I strongly recommend you look into the MREP courses.  http://www.gmri.org/our-work/fisheries-convening Tomorrow's leaders have to start somewhere. Indeed, not only are instructors among the most knowledgable, but some students have a lifetime of fisheries behind them.


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Sent broadly 1/22/16 - Titled "Need Help Please."

Greetings All, 
Just spent 3 days in MREP's fisheries immersion tank. These courses have been invaluable to me - they allow collections of ideas to come together &, as opportunity allows, sound them out as they form. 
In the very last moments of the very last lecture, Rob from MRIP was answering questions about something of which I know very little - statistics. 
But I know a great deal about something he knows little of too - fishing. 

He wasn't trying to be snarky like a 6th grade schoolgirl, but that's how it sounded in my ears when I asked about repeatedly high estimates in the private boat sector. Going by memory here--and there was no, "Well, Duh!" when he said, '..there are 4,500 charter boats on the coast and 4.5 million private boats so of course they catch more..

I don't think I gained an inch of traction when I pointed-out the for-hire industry carries all the folks who do not have a boat, and they vastly out-number those who do. 

I promise you all: this disconnect began in 2003 with that era's "repair" to for-hire estimates. Private boat catch has escaped reality with greater & greater frequency ever since.
It's THIS, these bad estimates, these impossible spikes, that make fisheries management form ever-greater complexity in regulation. Just as Ptolemaic-like loop-de-loops in planetary motion brought astronomy to a standstill for centuries; when you've had your Copernican/Galilean/Newtonian moment, when scientific truth is discovered--whether in elliptical orbits or in a closer accounting of recreational catch--you'll find swiftly improving science simplifies management's role enormously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copernican_Revolution 

So many fisheries would benefit in the discovery of truth. So far as I can see, it's in reef-fish especially. 
But, for me, that's where the light is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streetlight_effect Reef fisheries are those I understand best..

I have many examples of what I believe to be horribly incorrect estimates from fisheries I'm engaged in--fisheries where I know many participants & understand quite clearly the effort. 

To illustrate how simple it might be to develop a "red flag" detection program from a fishery I'm not familiar with, here's an MRIP assertion of Alabama's private boat catch in just wave 3 of 2013.. 

Wave 3 - Alabama Private Boat Only
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSELandings (no.) without
Size Information
FINAL2013MAY/JUNERED SNAPPER301,746212,912,56122.10

Now compare that to all US party/charter catch over three entire years..

All US For-Hire - All Of It..
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSELandings (no.) without
Size Information
FINAL2013RED SNAPPER181,88610.01,350,14111.10
FINAL2014RED SNAPPER46,56321.5343,65121.60
PRELIMINARY2015RED SNAPPER210,52811.21,507,60212.70

That's 3,201,400 lbs of TOTAL annual all-US For-Hire catch over THREE YEARS vs 2,912,600 lbs in 8 weeks from one state's private boats.. 

I guarantee the guys who go everyday can give you a much better idea of private boat effort. I'm also sure the incredibly bright people at MRIP, and elsewhere in fisheries too, could bore into this from several angles to better fine-tune estimates. 

Whether tautog, sea bass, red snapper, or from among many others; these crazy assertions of catch are pulling all of fisheries management & science down. 

I've include one more set of estimates below. They show, again, two instances where a single wave/single state's private boat catch is greater than all US party/charter over multiple years. If you facepalm thinking I'm such a dolt not to see how many more private boats there are in real life, you have no idea the true nature of these fisheries. 
It's a problem we can solve. 

It will not be solved by smooth glossy pamphlets telling us it's been solved. It will not be solved like Russ Dunn's recent assertion 'NOAA's done a great job on recreational release mortality' ..when absolutely no forward motion has occurred at all north of Hatteras. 

What greater enemy of statistics than certainty.. Statistical acceptance that there are vast armadas of licensed & unlicensed private boats toppling entire fisheries in our post-regulatory era creates a real problem in need of a real solution. 
Once solved--when a more truthful picture of catch emerges, I believe in the peace that follows fisheries science & management will quickly trample another pervasive thought in the scientific & regulatory world.. 
It's a sad fact many believe "restoration of fisheries" is a pipe-dream. Many have given up hope. Many professionals believe 'doing the best we can with what we have' is all we'll ever do..
I assure you management's true strengths are hidden in statistical darkness. 
I absolutely believe we can turn now-green seas blue. 
I also believe many fisheries can be taken beyond 'restored' to entirely new heights. 
..I also know 'Hope' is not a plan. 

Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) is very much a function of habitat capacity. (K)
But I've yet to meet anyone in fisheries who thought K was anything but a theoretical. 
Snip these bad statistics & will soon be staring all of us in the face.

You already have battalions in place ready to raise K.


NY Nov/Dec Private Boat ONLY - What A Dramatic Year-to-Year Increase..
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)

CT Sept/Oct Private Boat ONLY.. 
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)

Maine to Cape Hatteras - ANNUAL - All Party & Charter Boats - ALL OF THEM - ALL YEAR 
Five Year Total = 965,000 pounds ..vs over a million pounds by private boats in just weeks.
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)

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