Saturday, March 05, 2016

Fish Report 3/5/16

Fish Report 
NAS? Not Yet.. 
MRIP Finger Pointing 
All Winter Trips Posted Via Email. There's just no use trying to go everyday in winter.. (yes, that includes March.) 
Will Open May Sea Bass In Early April..

Going Toggin: COLD WATER BITE! SLOOOOOOW FISHING  ..but some anglers will likely do OK.  
Monday, March 7th - 7:30 to 2 - $80.00 - 12 Sells Out. (Spring Break Special. You're welcome Marc.)
Tuesday, March 8th -  6am to 4pm - $135 - 16 Sells Out. (This trip was previously listed...)
Wednesday, March 9th - 7:30 to 2 - $80.00 - 12 sells Out. (Another Spring Break Special.) 
Friday, March 11th & Saturday, March 12th - 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 - 14 Sells Out - These Fri/Sat Trips Already Iffy. Light Easterlies Are Nice. If They Blow A Little Harder - NOT NICE.

Reservations Required - See Below. Be a half hour early! We always leave early! 

Skunks are always possible while tog fishing. (Too much evidence for that lately!)
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. (See above..) 
If you can't take the heat, and there ain't much of that either, stay out of the kitchen. 

Keeps Snowing. Water's Getting COLD. But Warmer. Storms Have Flipped Temps Upside Down & Backward. An Odd Winter For Sure..

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.   

Going Toggin Anyway! Tog Only, Sea Bass Are Closed Because NOAA Has Accepted Poor Statistical Catch Estimates As If They Represented 'Certain Knowledge' For Decades. NOAA Has No Idea How Best To Manage The Sea Bass Fishery. (yet) 
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 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.   

Have Blocks Coming.. Really!
(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! 
Reef Material from the 1970s -note tire to left- Mature Growth. What we built in 2015 with concrete will be enjoyed by fishers for many centuries. 

Greetings All, 
This winter has been crazy-different since the blizzard. Wrecks have been flattened & the water column flipped. Blackwater took a LONG time to settle & temperatures are not as they should be. On my last long trip we had a single fish of 15+ pounds and no others until on the way in - My crystal ball is completely broken - UNCLE! 
That stop on the way back in with Chan's lonely jumbo, however.. we just stopped in my backyard and had bites. Caught more fish in a few minutes than in hours & hours.. 
Had a pleasant day Thursday out-front too. One fellow limited, others had a fish or two - releases & skunks. Much more satisfying than what we'd been seeing. 
It's NOT a spring bite. It's a slow cold-water bite    ..but it beats the tar out of no bites. 
Going Fishing!

I thought I'd have an email address for a comment box at the National Academy of Sciences by my next report--this report. 
With forecasts shaping up so nicely I'm sending this a little sooner than I'd thought. I anticipate hearing from NAS on Monday or Tuesday. 
We will have opportunity to comment. 

Bottom line? Our management community is required to use "..The Best Scientific Information Available." (National Standard 2 from MSA 2007 rewrite) 
Even though many in management have no confidence in MRIP's catch estimates, NOAA proclaims that because it is the only catch data, it's the best. Any recreational regulation passed by Council or Commission w/o fully utilizing MRIP catch data would swiftly be rejected by NOAA. They have final say on everything. Management cannot simply toss out MRIP data sets they don't like. Even if no one believes one bit of it - catch estimates get used - period. 

I first ran into recreational catch estimates in 1998 because of a two week sea bass closure in August. Been writing Congress ever since, really. 

Here's one of my old Fish Reports, from 3/16/14.. 
In this report I dig deeply into sea bass management's past. How just NJ party/charter alone used to be 'catching' more sea bass than the whole coast does now. I show too how a crucial estimate was created by finding just 78 sea bass (thought it was 33 fish at first) and THOSE 78 FISH became a half-million pounds of quota---what would have been in one guy's cooler in pre & early regulation almost shut all recreational sea bass fishing down completely for a year or more because of Accountability Measures (AMs).. 
Nothing has improved in the catch estimate data. Management's working a lot harder to maintain some kind of season - our catch estimates grow worse - and anglers from Montauk to Cape Cod pray for a new stock assessment.. 

I think we need Bayesian Stops. I don't believe we ever went wildly over quota. Not once. 
Where, for instance, MD Party Boat's official MRIP estimate is ZERO for all of 2015, managers could instead refer to VTRs (Vessel Trip Reports) we send in for each trip. (We'd better send them in, or else! NOAA will pull permits if out of compliance with VTR reporting.) So, now that managers know what the actual number of sea bass we caught is, they could then compare it to what we believe is a sensible "percentage of catch." 
Off Maryland's coast it would be unusual for private boats to land even 25% of our sea bass. These guys have bigger fish to fry. 
If the MRIP estimate shows MD Private boat landing 10X or 15X more sea bass than MD party/charter -- Houston, we have a problem. 
I go into it deeply in that 3/16/14 fish report & have other times as well. 
Whether it's cobia, sea bass, summer flounder, scup, tautog or among many other fisheries; where we have a long history of Charter/Party fishing, we can develop a sense of just how low is too low..and how high is just dumb. 
Plenty of dumb. 

Here's one: (Commercial catch doesn't post until a year later so I had to use 2014..)
According to MRIP it should be Commercial Trawl & Trap who are complaining bitterly about Private Boats. In 2014, for instance, MRIP has Private Boats landing 2,549,000 pounds of sea bass. All commercial effort north of Cape Hatteras, however, landed just 1,317,000 pounds. 
That makes US Private Boats nearly twice as deadly as Trap/Trawl. 
(See catch tables below. Pay special attention to that ultra low PSE. That means it's very accurate. How nice.) 

With catches so huge, the poor commercial guys can't get a break with Grady Whites fishing down the pieces before commercial men get a chance.. Guys with 3 & 4 fish limits, with an 8 fish limit; according to MRIP, private boats are the problem
The sea bass quota is split 51% recreational / 49% commercial. Private boats obviously blew through the whole quota. No amount of tighter regulation seems to control them. 
Uh Hu. 
That's how it works.
Except it really isn't. 

A system that recognizes the value of habitat, that sees plainly enormous errors in it's past and acts to correct them; a system of fishery management that seeks to enhance fisheries production by all means possible - that's where we're headed.
Mighty hard to tell sometimes. 
Brutal even. 

I hope you'll offer a well-thought out comment to the National Academy of Sciences. One that points out how ludicrous the private boat catch escalation has been & asks for STOPS - a Bayesian determination of catch that just couldn't be possible based on party/charter reported VTR catch..
And hang on to that comment. Pretty soon it'll be time to say hi to your Congressional staffers too. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

All Private Boat Mid-Atlantic & North Atlantic Combined. 
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
FINAL2014BLACK SEA BASS1,324,97612.52,549,19214.5

  • Year : From: 2014 To: 2014
  • Species : SEA BASS, BLACK
  • State : New England
YearSpeciesMetric TonsPounds$
2014SEA BASS, BLACK272.8601,4301,973,575
GRAND TOTALS:-272.8601,4301,973,575

  • Year : From: 2014 To: 2014
  • Species : SEA BASS, BLACK
  • State : Middle Atlantic
YearSpeciesMetric TonsPounds$
2014SEA BASS, BLACK325.6717,8782,432,526
GRAND TOTALS:-325.6717,8782,432,526

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