Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Fish Report 7/11/18

Fish Report 7/11/18
Summer Mix Cbass/Flounder
Hurricane Past
MRIP's "Recalibration" In Effect

Weather Thursday 7/12/18 Looks Gorgeous! Hurricane past, it had no effect on our fishing. It will be plenty calm  ..but TV weather reports have everyone frightened to come within a mile of a boat! Super Light Rail Thus Far..

Sailing Daily For FLOUNDER & Sea Bass
 - Weather Permitting - Saturday's 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 –Otherwise to 3 at $110.00.. 
Flounder just starting to show up on reefs/wrecks.. We Are Targeting Fluke! (even catching a few..)

Have opened Reservations from mid-July to September 3rd. When you're wondering "how'd those guys book the stern?" - they called early! From now to Labor Day is open..

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..

Bonine Is Cheap Insurance! "Natural Dramamine" Does NOT Work! 
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 Is Fine For A Few People. 
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 — ALWAYS — No Exceptions! 

We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. 

If you have a few blocks in the backyard taking up space and just making snake reef, bring em. We'll toss em overboard with the rest.

21,262 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites.. TNC's Restoration Reef 278 - Doug Ake's Reef 3,491 - St. Ann's 2,116 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,637 - Eagle Scout Reef 982 - Sue's Block Drop 593 - Nichols' Concrete 1170 - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 813 - Benelli Reef 482 - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 1,006 - Wolf & Daughters Reef 470. 
Recent Blocks Supplied By Frank Graziano & Jeff Bauer @ Potomac Valley Brick -- Thank You!
Our First Truck Load From Chuck Burnham's Major Find Coming Soon..

In This Report I Will Attempt, Again, To Run MRIP Through With A Sharp Pen. 
Please Know, However, That The People Who Take Data In The Field Are, By & Large, Presenting PRISTINE DATA. It's what happens in extrapolation--At Silver Spring HQ--where this data is turned into compost.. One day, I believe, the work of field interviewers will allow a far better look at recreational catch. 
Still, Great Mercy, our recreational catch data has just become incredibly worse than ever under MRIP's "Recalibration".. 

Greetings All, 
As good a spring/early summer sea bass bite as I've had in 10 years is over. Yes, yes.. we still have sea bass. Just not the bite we had.
And, just like that, we started catching more flounder.. (Fluke to you northerners) Sure, we're still seeing sea bass too. In fact, most clients will certainly catch more sea bass than flounder. However, there are bound to be days where it's ALL sea bass (especially since I'm writing about catching flounder!) And also days where sea bass are absent with just fluke aboard. If you only want one species and not the other, watch the gut bucket on the dock to see which day you should have gone -- We're Going Fishing For What Will Bite! 
Our effort will have reward, but this is summer fishing. I'm hoping to get everyone a nice fish fry; not a hot, fill the freezer, flounder/sea bass bite. 
This flounder bite is work with a payoff. Recently had a fellow limit out, others with 3; some nice fish around the rail -- even made the cover of Coastal Fisherman..

I think the Hurricane Sandy effect has to work its way out of the flounder population before fluking is truly good again. Be another couple years I think. 

October 22, 2012 - Sandy hit just as summer flounder were in full spawn. Ocean waters normally nourishing to these hours-days-weeks old newly-spawned fry ..those waters were suddenly inhospitable in the extreme. 
Dropped an underwater camera down a week after Sandy. The water was still absolutely pitch black just 30 feet down or so - a mess. 
Fluke that would be nice keepers of 19 inches or so are fewer than we would have had w/o Sandy. Six year old summer flounder are +-19.5 inches. That year class population is way below average. That's why the big battles over regulation of last year & the year before-- NOAA population estimates saw a badly weakened year class and cut quotas across the board 30%. 
Then MRIP worked it's magic with their statistical hallucinations of Private Boat catch; and, having 'caught' over our allowance yet again, recreational quotas were cut still more. Given a sorely depleted population from which to extract from, MRIP "proved" NJ Private Boat fishers, (NJ especially but 3 other states also) MRIP showed their catches had DOUBLED from this depleted flounder stock.. 
Party/Charter estimates (we surrender catch reports daily) were down 30 to 50% everywhere save Massachusetts. This downturn in professional catch occurred during the same period NJ/CT/NY/RI Private Boat summer flounder catch skyrocketed.. 
Such wonders never cease. 
In fact, they've just gotten impossibly worse with a massive "Recalibration" change to recreational catch data. 

I usually agree with NOAA's "Stock Assessments" - truly scientific population estimates. They dern sure couldn't trouble themselves to update the sea bass stock estimate in time, but overall I have confidence in population data. 
A "stock assessment" is the first ingredient in regulation's manufacture. "How many fish are there?" ..then fishery scientists deduce how many can be safely caught - a quota - while maintaining, or even increasing a population. Then regulators battle it out for state by state regulation..

I almost never agree with NOAA's MRIP, however. Their "Marine Recreational Information Program" for estimating recreational catches of all saltwater species between the Canadian & Mexican borders is a sham.  
For years and years I (and some of you!) have written letters complaining about bad recreational catch data. 
NOAA's Top Brass have, time and again, indicated they have no idea how this data is being used for regulation. They'll tell us how the estimates "Average Out" coastwide to nearly pinpoint accuracy.. 

Hey NOAA! Not only is your catch data too foul to "average" anywhere near accurately coastwide; but managers ALWAYS break it down into smaller & smaller units for regulation's purpose -- ALWAYS! They do not use coastwide averages - they'll use state by state & then two month 'waves' for regulation's purpose. CT even has special shore-only regs based on Shore mode estimates. 
That's why every state has different regs. It's literally a spin of the roulette wheel whether recreational fishers in a state go over-quota and have to be further restricted the following year on any species. (It's also why DelMarVa has moved to 'regional' regulation in sea bass, tautog, & flounder. If MRIP delivers some astronomical hallucination of catch to one state, averaging the spike into the other two states often brings us back under quota..) 

Readers will have seen hundreds of bad estimates in my writings that lead to absolutely needless regulatory tightening -- even closures. 
Those tasks which we must face: Seafloor Habitat's Discovery, the job of discovering both what reef-like bottoms remain and developing a sense of our historical temperate reef footprint long-lost during the earliest years of industrial stern-towed fishing; and Recognition Of Declining Ocean Water Quality--NOAA's developing a realization the Mid-Atlantic Ocean has turned from blue to GREEN since 1960--that we MUST bolster estuarine restorations to engage the far-larger task of MARINE restoration rather than simply bay water's restoration: these duties in fisheries restoration are nowhere to be found in NOAA's planning. 
We're focused on CATCH if catch restriction alone might repair a sorely damaged large marine ecosystem responsible for fisheries productions of all our species. 
Regulatory battles based on MRIP's assertions of non-existent recreational catch vs assigned quota consume all our energy. There's nothing left, no energy, to go after true repair. By the time the smoke clears from one battle, more MRIP catch estimates come out & the battle for recreational access to our fisheries is rejoined. 

NOAA's top brass is always telling us they're trying hard to fix it. Trying to get at the truth of recreational catch. 
Promise: NOAA believes MRIP's "Recalibration" is a big part of that repair. 
A press release from 7/10/18 proclaims the National Academy of Sciences called MRIP's newly recalibrated catch data a "Major Improvement." 

Oh Yeah. 
They "recalibrated" alright..
Absolute lunacy has now replaced what had been just stupid. 

That NJ Shore-Only Tautog estimate from March/April 2010 that I've so often written about has now risen to 808,000 pounds: almost a million pounds of tog caught from shore in a time period when even experts cannot catch them. 
This 2-month period/from one state/in one mode (Shore mode,) this 'recalibrated' estimate is now 180,206 pounds higher than ALL Party/Charter & ALL Commercial tautog landings FOR THE YEAR - COMBINED! 

Wait.. What? 
Yes - NOAA claims NJ Shore Anglers Caught More Tog In Two Cold-Water Months Of 2010 Than ALL Party Boats, Charter Boats, Commercial Pinhookers & Commercial Traps Across The Species Entire Range Caught ALL YEAR! 

People got PAID to tell NOAA that. Paid well.  
What a scam.. 
What absolute horsefeathers. 
What a complete farce to call these wild guesses "science." 

NOAA's policy is to use "The Best Available Scientific Information" to regulate our recreational fisheries. So far as they're concerned: That's the law. 
MRIP, according to NOAA, is some dern-fine science. And, even if it isn't (virtually no one in management believes the estimates anymore,) because MRIP is the ONLY available scientific information on recreational catch, NOAA policy mandates its use. Being the "Only" data available makes it "Best" by default..                                                                                                                                                                                                               
So, Yup! Yes Sir Mr. Congressman! That's what NJ's freezing shore-bound tog anglers caught in March/April 2010 alright: More than ALL Professional Rec & Commercial Fishers Caught throughout the species entire range -- ALL YEAR! Combined!

Bad estimates are everywhere in MRIP's work. The worst make the rest appear more plausible. 

How about Rhode Island's Shore-caught scup in 2016 -- 1,058,000 pounds. (Yes, over a MILLION POUNDS!) 
Funny. All Party/Charter throughout the species' range only landed 1,034.000 pounds. 
In our remaining partyboat fisheries, scup represents one serious hunk of tonnage. Why on earth would anyone buy a ticket, or book a charter, to scup fish when any bridge in RI must offer incredibly better fishing? 

How about NY sea bass.. Although some voiceful NY Private Boat guys raise a STINK about party boats catching "their" sea bass; check this out: Already a bad 2015 estimate; under "recalibration" these saddened NY Private Boaters are now said to have caught 5,869,000 more pounds of sea bass than ALL PARTY/CHARTER North Of Hatteras!! ALL OF THEM..
In 2016 those poor guys suffering the theft of their fishery (& complaining about it) by people who buy party boat tickets or book a sea bass charter, the NY Private Boats who feel so robbed landed 2 million more pounds than ALL Party/Charter. 
In 2017 those Private Boat fishers--frustrated when people on "those boats" catch "their" fish--those party boat patrons fishing reefs & wrecks down before a Private Boater has a chance (and that IS what they say!) MRIP's recalibration shows those Private Boat guys outfished ALL Party/Charter from Cape Hatteras to Maine by 3,696,000 pounds. 
THEY must be the REAL Pirates! It's The Private Boats Who Are Destroying The NY Sea Bass Fishery!

In a world always organized by Thuycididean truth; "The strong do what they will, while the weak suffer what they must," how can NY's Private Boats whimper so when they clearly, from NOAA's 'best available scientific information,' are an impossibly greater force of recreational extraction than NY's own Party/Charter clients & crews..

Hard to figure, isn't it? 
Promise: you really DON'T want to fish a wreck/reef if a large party boat has been there recently. 
It would take a LOT of private boats to have similar effect. Under MRIP's recalibration, NOAA asserts NY Party/Charter anglers catch only 3.14% of NY's recreational sea bass landings. 
Those NY Private Boat guys, from kayaks to custom yachts -every last one of them- must be vicious sea bass slayers 

..or the data's just plain dumb. 
All the NY professional skippers I've communicated with think it's about 50/50.. That For-Hire patrons catch half the sea bass. Dern sure there are a LOT more people who do not own an ocean/sound-going boat than do -- they're our summer clients. 
Come late fall/winter/early spring; we carry private boat owners too. They're glad not to unwinterize their rig to sneak a day of fishing in.....

One last example: Maryland Shore has now, officially, and with no recourse available to alter any estimate ever: MD Shore anglers — From Our Single Inlet Jetty & Rt. 50 Bridge Area — have now, by MRIP's 'precise' statistical calculation, caught 141,000 more pounds of sea bass than All MD Party/Charter in 2016. 
Oh, and so help me, NOAA says Maryland's shore-caught sea bass averaged 1.4 pounds apiece. MRIP insists shore-caught sea bass were larger on average than Party/Charter patrons caught.. 

It happens that MD has the longest running back-bay scientific net sampling on the East Coast. That's real science. They tow a net, or pull a hand seine, & count/weigh/measure everything they catch. It's Alan Wesche's project from back in the day continued. 
If there's a single 1.4 pound back-bay sea bass in all those decades of scientific samples, I'll buy top MRIP brass a fine wine. (of my choosing!)

Did hear from a single shore angler who caught a keeper sea bass in 2016. 
It was not 1.4 pounds. 
NOAA has that single fish turned into 141,000 lbs more than Ocean City's Party/Charter guys landed altogether.  

National Academy of Science might see improvement in MRIP. 
Damn sure I don't. 
We're feeding a system of regulation--regulation designed to IMPROVE our fisheries while allowing economic stability; we're feeding fisheries science & management pure codswallop where recreational catch data is concerned.  

Professionals KNOW, to far better extent, what the percentages of catch are. 
NY's Party/Charter guys, going 6 or 7 days a week, KNOW what percentage of the sea bass catch to assign Private Boats. It ain't gonna be 96.84% either. Promise. 
Off MD's coast, for instance, I'd be surprised if Private Boat landed 20% of our state's sea bass. Those guys primarily want tuna, mahi, & billfish. 
Are some successfully targeting sea bass? Betcha!   
But they are not exerting the pressure OC's small partyboat fleet is..

From there, and in many fisheries; from Party/Charter's mandatory reported landings --- And Newly Created Table Of Estimated "Percentage Of The Catch" (which would be a giant task to fashion, yet incredibly less expensive than over-regulation's burden on rec fish) from such a table a far more realistic estimate test can be fashioned. 
If MD's Private Boat estimate, for instance, is far higher than Party/Charter, and yet highroller Private Boats & experienced Party/Charter skippers assert MD's Private Boat landings MUST be a lower percentage - then MRIP's estimate demands revision. 
Instead, today under MRIP's recalibration, NOAA "knows" MD's Shore fishers are a brute force where Mid-Atlantic sea bass are concerned.. 

Would that expert statisticians at NAS & MRIP might trouble themselves with "Bayesian Stopping Rules." Here statistical estimates cannot climb to distant galaxy -- there must be a ceiling from which they cannot extend. 

We have no stops. When shore fishers of one state out-catch all of us who make a living at sea, something's gone badly wrong. 

Boy has it ever. 
MRIP's recalibration is the worst thing I have ever seen somehow labeled 'science.'

Capt, Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star 
Ocean City, MD 

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