Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fish Report 7/10/19

Fish Report 7/10/19 Catching Summer-Pace Sea Bass. 
Very Few Flounder/Fluke As Yet. 
Did You Comment On MRIP? 

Reservations Open Through September 14, 2019.. Sundays through from Aug 11 to Sept 15 are closed/held in reserve for special trips. 
Am looking for a fill-in deckhand also. Email if interested!

Sailing Daily For Sea Bass Weather Permitting (Sakes!) Flounder/Fluke should be OK by now - they are not, Not Yet! Saturday's 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 –Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00.. 
Fishing's mostly been a matter of catching a nice fish fry's worth..

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.

25,783 Reef Blocks have been deployed at numerous sites as of 7/10/19..  
Here are sites currently being targeted: Capt. Jack Kaeufer's Reef 787 - Doug Ake's Reef 3,780 - St. Ann's 2,259 - Sue's Block Drop 737 - TwoTanks Reef 582 - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 900 - Benelli Reef 865 - Rudy's Reef 185 - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 1,479 - Wolf & Daughters Reef 688 - 302 at Al Berger's Reef.

Greetings All! 
In high summer now. Cbass have been fussy with an occasional good bite. I post the day to day report and some pics every day to Facebook ('Monty Hawkins' page is better as I sometimes forget to 'share' with my own Morning Star site.. (Such forgetfulness wholly anticipated given Y Chromosomal influences, of course..) 
We're having to use every trick we know to get sea bass to chew—to get clients a nice fish-fry's worth. Weather's been far more kind than last July, but the flounder/fluke sure haven't. 
Seeing some? Sure. 
Everyday? No.. 
So far high man's had 3 fluke..
Soon turn on I hope. 

Here's An Important Repeat From Fish Report 6/15/19.. Twelve days left to comment. 
Something that does NOT happen every year - that's never happened before that I'm aware of - is a new request by NOAA for comments on our recreational catch estimates' accuracy. 
Say NOAA, you really want to know what we think? 
I'll not keep my thoughts a secret. It is my sincere hope readers will also chime in with a comment..
"Public comment on Policy Directive 04-114 should be sent via email to no later than midnight on Monday, July 22, 2019."

A simple sentence or two about your (lack of?) faith in the catch data, or what you think of monies long invested (or wasted!) in the program; perhaps what you think a likely outcome of "science based regulation" ..when fisheries science is force-fed statistics from the rubbish heap. 
Like that. 
A very short letter will suffice. Even: "No, MRIP is NOT ACCURATE enough to support sound Fisheries Science & Management." 
Angry is OK. Expletives are not.  

I believe our area of ocean, the Mid-Atlantic, is capable of far greater fisheries production. We'll never grasp the management necessary to achieve increased spawning & habitat production so long as fisheries science & regulation are founded upon wildly incorrect recreational catch data from NOAA's MRIP recreational catch estimate program. 

For this "comment period" NOAA specifically wants to know if the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) meets standards set in the "Information Quality Act" and is suitable for use as 'Best Available Scientific Information' for regulation/management of our fisheries as required by the Magnuson Stevens Act... 
Personally, I don't think MRIP meets any standard for accuracy. Our estimates are instead a complete fabrication. Everytime I think MRIP cannot possibly be more inaccurate, up it goes to a new plateau of ridiculousness. (Why sure I'll give you some examples of exactly what I mean by that.. See below!) 
I was among some few anglers who fought for MRFSS's repair (NOAA's previous recreational catch estimate program) in the late 1990s/early 2000s. We'd have never dreamt  they would make MRFSS look like the better method. 
Seriously - MRFSS was awful. 
MRIP, however, makes me long for the good old days.. 

So far as I know, and I've tried to stay tight to news here, MRIP/NOAA have never included recreational fishers in their MRIP statistical review panels. What is blatantly & painfully obvious as a flaw of enormous proportion to the everyday recreational fisher can be seen as perfectly plausible to the expert statistician. 
Sure!! Why on earth couldn't NJ Shore Tautog Anglers catch more tog in a few days of March/April 2010 than ALL COMMERCIAL TRAWL/TRAP & PARTY/CHARTER For-Hire Recreational caught in the entirety of 2010.. 
No reason to flag that, right? 
In MRIP there's no catch that's not feasible.. 
Maryland's 2016 Sept/Oct sea bass estimate, for instance, shows 178,000 lbs landed from SHORE! 
What? Seriously.. From Shore. 
Oh, and those cbass averaged 1.4 lbs. 
I was able to find one angler who caught a barely legal sea bass near the inlet that year. At just over a half pound, MD's real Shore sea bass landings were therefore 0.0003% the MRIP value. Probably not well-suited to use in science.. 

It is not true that 1.6 M lbs of cod crossed New York's recreational docks from Private Boats in hearty winter weather, and their Partyboat fleet didn't get in on it. There's positively no chance that happened. 
It is not true the "Average Size" of shore-caught stripers in CT were 19.6 lbs - MA 33.4 lbs - RI 33.8 lbs.. And the grand prize for "Average" Shore caught stripers is RI in 2018 at 45.1 lbs!

Recently MRIP underwent two "recalibrations." Their already-terrible guesses at recreational catch were made far worse both times. 

I once heard a commercial fisher testify at a federal fisheries meeting: "We all know foreign boats come in at night and scoop up all our fish." This was in the mid-2000s, not the 1970s. There is no fleet of trawlers laying at the 200 mile line who transport themselves StarTrek style to our nearshore grounds at night only to be beamed back out come dawn. 
For MRIP's estimates to be correct - and this for nearly ALL their Private Boat/Shore estimates - would require similar ghost fleets & battalions of fantastic scale & skill who terrorize our fisheries at night, yet disappear come daylight ..not a tire mark at the launch ramp, no record high bait sales - just catches on computer that defy belief. 
For Instance: MRIP holds NY Private Boaters landed nearly the ENTIRE recreational quota for cbass in a few weeks of Nov/Dec in both 2016 & 2017 -- their statistics hold NY Private Boats caught THREE TIMES more sea bass in Nov/Dec of 2016 & 2017 than ALL the For-Hire Party/Charter Boats from Cape Hatteras north ALL YEAR! Three X More! (I am NOT making this up!) MRIP shows those few NY Private Boats fishing last Christmas landing three million pounds. This while large NY's party boats, some of the biggest on the coast, whose skippers rarely see a Private Boat in that period—NY Party/Charter is shown at 25,000 pounds in Nov/Dec 2017 -- yet NY Private Boat is at 3 million pounds? Uh hu... The total annual rec quota is 3.6 million pounds! 
Ghost fleet catch is everywhere in today's fisheries according to MRIP.

Recreational fishers who make a living at sea, For-Hire fishers such as myself who might do several hundred trips a year; we never see anywhere near the amount of boats required to have landed what MRIP shows on managers' computer screens. 
Though no such has occurred, MRIP is testable by using For-Hire data (surrendered after every Party/Charter trip) and what dedicated fishers believe is a reasonable "percentage of the catch."
NY's recent Nov/Dec sea bass examples are an extreme. NY's Private Boats likely landed under 5,000 pounds - not three million! While extremes make for easy comparison, MRIP is generally more insidious.  
Maryland's 2018 sea bass wave 5 (Sept/Oct) estimate has MD recreational fishers at 167,000 pounds of sea bass.. 
Strangely, only 7,000 pounds come from Party/Charter, while 160,000 pounds come from Private Boat.. 
Good Gracious! What a mess.. We rarely see private boats in fall, and especially not targeting BSB - and rarer still on a weekday. If Private Boats are on a reef/wreck in early fall, they're likely targeting fluke (though they may have a handful of sea bass.) 
I and other For-Hire fishers in the trade believe Private Boats catching 20% our total Wave 5 landings would be generous in the extreme. 

So, with "Percentage of the Catch" calculation: "7K is 80% of what number?" = 8.75K .. my method has MD's Wave 5 Total Recreational Landings at 8,750 lbs - while MRIP has 167,000 lbs or 158,250 lbs higher. 
This is a tiny mistake in MRIP's world, just 160K lbs of sea bass too high for one state, in one two month period. 
All tallied I see millions of pounds of Ghost Catch in every fishery I've examined. 

"Percentage of the catch" provides a super-simple method of testing estimates. Consider: MRIP currently has MD Party/Charter at 4.4% MD's Wave 5 sea bass catch & Private Boats 95.6% -- I'm generously giving Private Boat 20% as a more factual assertion of real catch.. Promise: my lower number of 1,750 lbs MD Private Boat is far more accurate than MRIP's 160,000 lbs. 
This "Percentage of the Catch" test for MRIP scales up where there's more boats. It would require many sit-down meetings with both highline recs & For-Hire skippers in every port. There is an average division that climbs upward in summer & diminishes come fall. 
From the more accurate For-Hire estimates, and with a close approximation of percentage split, it's simple math to calculate total recreational landings. 

If it isn't fixed soon we'll see a lot MRIP re instances like 2019's summer flounder (Fluke) fiasco.  Party/Charter clients are credited with just 4% of summer flounder landings on the coast. MRIP will not change Party/Charter Estimates - But has raised Private Boat some 600% and Shore even higher just in the last three years. 
This massive increase in Private Boat landings lead to fishery scientists raising summer flounder population estimates. Because "we're already catching ours" we saw no increase in quota. Commercial fishers, however, saw a 49%(!) increase in 2019 quota. 
Essentially, given MRIP's massive recreational overestimates & the manner in which they're used to help calculate overall populations, NOAA's recreational ghost fleet will indeed catch fluke - just by the Commercial Trawl Fishery instead. 

Believe this - we must convince NOAA their precious MRIP catch estimates are now so flawed as to be falsely inflating stock estimates of common recreationally caught species. Their catch estimates have ALWAYS needlessly tightened recreational regulation. Now they've even begun inflating commercial quota.
Blinding fisheries science, hampering recreational fishings' bioeconomic potential; and indeed, preventing management from seeing any value in focusing on population ecology or spawning biology.. 
MRIP is a mess. 
Needs to be taken behind the woodshed in grand fashion. 

Make a comment! 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star 

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