Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fish Report 9/19/16

Fish Report 9/28/16
Two More Trips - A Little More Flounder Fishing
Sea Bass Reopen October 22 - Fishing Everyday
Number Nonsense

Fluke/Flounder Fishing Sunday & Monday, Oct 2nd & 3rd - 7AM to 3PM - Also
Have Sept 30th Open - $110.00.. If we have more opportunity, we'll go.
Big N'easter in the forecast late next week, plus we have to get hull
maintenance done during the sea bass closure.
On September 30th I'm opening sea bass reservations from October 22 to
November 6th with our standard trip format. Saturdays $125.00 - 6:30 to
3:30 trip, and Sunday/weekdays 7 to 3 @ $110.00) (Show up early - I often
add 20 minutes in the AM and a half hour/45 minutes extra in the
afternoon.) Flounder will be open, but not our focus.

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. 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. If You Suffer Mal-de-Mer In A Car You Should Experiment On Shorter
Half-Day Trips First! (Wockenfuss Candies sells crystalized ginger locally
- We usually have some aboard - Better is Nuts.Com.. Chewable Meclizine is
a good pharmaceutical, there's also a "less drowsy" meclizine pill that a
lot of clients like, especially Bonine; Scopolamine Patches are the gold
standard. Stay away from 'ginger pills.'
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 Is Fine For A Few
No Galley! BYO Sandwiches & Soft Drinks. A few beers in cans is fine.
(bottles break at bad times)
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 &lsqauo; ALWAYS &lsqauo; No Exceptions!

14,272 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 2,503 - St.
Ann's 1,531 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,038 - Eagle Scout Reef 880 - Sue's
Block Drop 184 - Nichols' Concrete 678 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 108 -
Benelli Reef 269
Blocks Provided By Potomac Valley Brick - Thank You!
Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation!
< (lots of reef pics here..) We're Nowhere Near Reef
Building's True Potential. Thank You!

Greetings All,
Have enjoyed OK flounder fishing through Sept. Even had a boat-limit of
flounder just before hurricane Hermine. After the mini-cane, cbass chewed
hard while clients were catching few flounder. As soon as word got around
the cbass
were chewing - they quit as our flounder landings increased..
That's fishing.
In way of illustration, I had my old friends Mike & Kirby aboard for three
trips since my last
email. On trip number 1 Mike was on fire while Kirby's luck was, well,
notsogood. We railed him unmercifully because, although the two of them
limited, only one fluke came from the down & out team. On trip 2 the tables
were turned in astounding fashion - Mike had to bear the brunt of our
teasing. On trip 3 our quarry took the upper hand. No one limited and,
although Mike did win the pool, their luck was in equal proportion.
This too, you see, is fishing. Even in situations of equal skill, you
might get your head handed to you!

We'll keep fishing, just a bit more, before hauling the boat for a short
bit of hull maintenance. I've announced some of those trips above.
As with tog fishing, we'll continue an 'announcement only' style of
fishing when sea bass reopen October 22.

Sea bass are closed owing to "overfishing" up in southern New England &
New York. We're still flounder fishing ..except now we have to throw back
the occasional pretty cbass we see.

I've done my very best to demonstrate to NOAA & NMFS why our real 'best
available scientific information' is in tag returns & historical
population growth trends: yet NOAA insists MRIP catch-estimates (that
virtually no one believes) will represent the whole of their case for
cessation of economic & gustatory removals of sea bass from Cape Hatteras
MRIP Baby! That's NOAA's best available scientific information.
Biology would be better.
Law says they have to use their "best available scientific information."
Too bad they insist on 'scientific information' which often simply
couldn't be true.

I was tagging sea bass, sometimes several hundred a day, back in the mid
1990s. My Congressman, Wayne Gilchrest, chaired House Fisheries. I was
telling him what we were seeing in tag returns; that sea bass would winter
far offshore & yet return to the exact same reef the following spring. He
had NOAA do a big study throughout the Mid-Atlantic - same findings.
I'm positive: our region's sea bass are closed for recreational
overfishing that never happened, & even if MRIP were spot-on, the reef
fish's behavior is 100% clear, scientifically clear, that no harm to lower
Mid Atlantic populations would come from any amount of northern

NOAA: "Stand back! We know what we're doing!"

And, of course, NOAA's constant refrain: "Reef? In the Mid-Atlantic?
Really? Why would that matter?"

Here's another curious development in my thinking: Disciplines within
fisheries science are coming to realize we need true paths to fisheries
restorations - catch restriction alone cannot repair broken habitat
production models.
I believe ALL early fisheries works were based on pounds & NOT "numbers of
fish" because it would have been a pain to calculate individual numbers of
fish from commercial landings in pounds; conversions everywhere would have
introduced unneeded error.
Now, however, as recreational fisheries begin to gain recognition in
fisheries science, we see where very good recreational counts can be
fashioned - but translating those counts of individual fish into overall
pounds of fish introduces error - huge errors.
In fact, the director of MRIP, Dave Van Voorhees, told me himself that
MRIP's worst performance was in calculating pounds...

Say, for instance, VA's cobia averaged 48 pounds apiece (and did last
year). Lots of estimates from early management & pre-management have cobia
under 20 pounds. Even very recent estimates have them far smaller, in
average, than 48 pounds. Here are the 2015 dockside intercepts in pounds:
17.2 - 17.2 - 17.2 || 22.6 - 22.6 - 22.6 || 48.7 - 48.7 - 48.7 || 52.3 -
52.3 - 52.3 || 69.6 - 69.6 - 69.6 || 78.8 - 78.8 - 78.8...
That's odd.. 18 cobia with only six exact weights.
Turns out, if "the computer" needs more samples - it just makes them.
There were actually only 6 fish intercepted in VA during May/June. Because
this particular sample leans toward the high side of cobia weights - and
because 'overfishing' is determined by weight - cobia underwent severe
restriction this past summer.
Cobia are closed in federal waters to recreational fishing because we went
'overquota.' That situation was largely calculated with these 6 fish..
I see us going down the same regulatory path as striped bass. Because
stripers are often found outside 3 NMs from Ocean City, MD in early
winter; and because our trawlers continued to land striped bass outside
state waters during MD's emergency closure beginning in 1985--which forced
the fed to close the EEZ outside 3NMs in 1991; stripers have been
effectively closed to the MD For-Hire recreational industry since 1985.
I might see miles & miles of stripers 8 miles out in coming months: they
remain closed.
Will we now lose cobia also as men vie to maintain quota for their sport
at the expense of others? One stroke of the pen - cobia lost for good.

We react to fabrications of bad data because they create very real
regulation. Those regulations are then fought against, or supported,
because of economic opportunities improved or destroyed in their

It's not biology driving our fisheries restoration/regulation system, it's
catch data. Recreational catch, in pounds or number of fish, and rarely
accurate in any way, forms recreational regulations.
NOAA to fishery managers: "This is the best data - Use It. Don't argue.
Don't even think about its plausability. Just use it."
Recently there's been more & more push-back from managers about bad catch
data. Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences recently undertook a review
of MRIP. We await their findings..

Here's another quick 'for instance' situation. It has nothing to do with
factual effects to regulation, but consider the differences here:
In 1992 MuRFSS (NOAA's catch estimates predating MRIP) thought Maryland
recreational For-Hire landed 653,000 individual sea bass - just MD. MuRFSS
thought those fish averaged 0.6 pounds & 10.9 inches. I had just begun
regulating sea bass on the 90 foot Lydia party boat I was running. We had
a 9 inch limit.
So, just Maryland Party/Charter (and virtually no charter effort on sea
bass back then) caught 653,000 sea bass.
Not pounds, individual fish.

In 2009 NOAA's Regional Administrator, Pat Kurkul, closed sea bass from
Cape Hatteras to Maine using Emergency Authority.
MuRFSS claims these 2009 fish had a 1.3 pound average at 13.7 inches. The
entire For-Hire industry from Hatteras to Cape Cod was thought to have
landed just 420,000 fish...

Just Maryland partyboats in 1992 - 650,000 tiny sea bass.
All Party/Charter from Cape Hatteras to Canada in 2009 - 420,000 nice sea

MRIP has private boats landing fabulously greater & greater numbers of
fish. As size limits increase, those fish weigh more. As quotas decrease,
fish that weigh more hurt worse come regulation season.

There's an emergency.
But it's not in overfishing.
If we're landing just big fish, and assume spawning production remains
apace (or even improving considering that's what fisheries theory holds -
bigger females/more eggs = greater spawning production) ..then removals of
numbers of fish less than were historically taken should allow fabulous
success in population restoration.
But because 'pounds of fish' in the recreational fisheries are so very
badly mangled by MRIP, and because those 1992 fish weighed 391,000 pounds
while the 2009 fish weighed 546,000 pounds - fishery managers consider the
higher weight a far greater impact.

It would be better to concern ourselves with actual spawning production,
and how well that production will fare on the habitat in which it must
survive to maturity so that it too may spawn.. Successful & increased
spawning production; that's where fishery restorations will come from.


Capt. Monty Hawkins
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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