Friday, January 17, 2020

Fish Report 1/17/20

Fish Report 1/17/20
Going Toggin - Short & Extra Looooong...
Pyramid Reef Molds Going To Work! 
An Article Update..

More Tog Trips! (Short one Tomorrow!) 
Do you like a good old fashioned 'drop and reel' sea bass bite? 
Yeah, umm, toggin/blackfishing ain't that. (Except in the rarest of occasions!) This fishery, tog fishing, is the hardest from among my target species. Skunks can and do happen! 
Still, because the challenge is both our test & attraction -- a'Toggin we go! 
Last winter we had several of my best blackfish trips in YEARS. That DOES NOT MEAN IT'S ABOUT TO HAPPEN AGAIN!! ("Ah, Capt, I thought we'd catch 20 pounders today?") Oh Mercy! I'm just glad if clients get bit!
I'm telling you here - I had many, many anglers get skunked last winter too..
This fishery is tough!
Just the other day Garrett Weir had 5 double digit fish - yet some of the Very Best Tog Anglers I Know Were Skunked The Same Day! 
It's a brutal fishery.. As I saw on FB recently, "the tug is the drug.." 

I run Tog Trips light so anglers can move to the bite - or try too!
For those in need of the blow-by-blow catch reports, I post after every trip to facebook.

Saturday! Tomorrow! Forecast has remained steady - Calm Morning - Big wind coming early afternoon. Fishing close - Saturday 1/18/20 - 6:30AM to 1:30PM - $100 - Sells Out at 12 (& unlikely! Have a few already - we're going. Offering a shorter trip close to home - play it safe! Have only had two tog over 23 lbs in sight of land. Derned unlikely this Saturday! But it has happened before..)

Thursday & Friday - January 23rd & 24th - Extra Crazy Long Runs! If you do not like insanely long runs: Don't Book!! Leave 4:30 AM - Return when we get back..  $175.00  - Offering 17 Spots Total Both Days - Crazy Long Runs! Swinging for the fence - could easily strike out too!

Reservations Required at 410-520-2076
Tog (Blackfish) Trips - anticipate keeping zero sea bass. They're closed now.

Weather Cancellations 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
overslept or had a flat..

Trips Also Announced on Facebook at Morning Star Fishing & my personal FB page along with after action (or lack thereof) reports..

Bait is provided on all trips: green crabs for tog. (Whites Are
available from crew for a reasonable cost..) Our Tog Pool Is By Length: A Tog That's Been Released Counts The Same As One In The Boat.

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 Regulation)
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!

It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure. Bonine
seems best because it's non-drowsy. Truly cheap & effective insurance.
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.

Except in high-summer, waterproof boots are almost a necessity unless fishing the bow - sneakers will ruin your day when the water is cold! While some rarely, or never, wear gloves for fishing, you'd not likely see me fishing this time of year w/o at least the half-finger wool gloves. Tuck a "hot hands" warmer in the palm and life is good..
Layers are best because, believe it or not, sometimes it can be very
pleasant offshore--especially when the wind lays down. In winter it's
warmer offshore owing to warmer waters. In summer it's cooler..

Sponsor the Ocean City Reef Foundation!
We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. 
28,461 Reef Blocks + 58 Reef Units (180lb Pyramids & Reef Balls) have been deployed at numerous sites as of 1/06/20..  
Here are sites currently being targeted: Capt. Jack Kaeufer's Reef 1,031 (+11 Reef Units) - Doug Ake's Reef 3,906 (+8 Reef Units) - St. Ann's 2,359 (+4 Reef Balls) - Sue's Block Drop 1,200 (+5 Reef Units) - TwoTanks Reef 1,013 (+ 7 Reef Units) - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 900 - Benelli Reef 1,037 - Rudy's Reef 209 - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 2,315 (+24 reef units)  - Wolf & Daughters Reef 713 - Al Berger's Reef 373 (+1 Reef Unit) - Great Eastern Block Drop 489 (+5 Reef Units)..
Greetings All, 
Know anyone in the concrete trades? We have our pyramid reef mold perfected and coming off the assembly line at a slow clip. Now have 3 at Atlantic Concrete in Dagsboro DE and are getting reef units back - they're using what would have been waste concrete to fill these 170 lb molds.. I hope to grow the program - a lot. Please email or if you think your company would like to use lost product to make reef happen... 

I see Fish Talk magazine published a piece by me. Not surprisingly, it discusses NOAA's recreational catch estimates. At least Editor Lenny Rudow tried to put a polish on my hack writing.. 
But this was all written before the ASMFC/MAFMC threw out a whole year's worth of MRIP's 2019 catch data on sea bass, scup, & summer flounder. 
It's really important that EVERYONE in upper management see what that really means - science & management have no confidence in MRIP. 
If they did? These fisheries would all have massive closures.. 
Bad data has been the cause of virtually all recreational mismanagement. 
We need it fixed in the worst way. 
What's scary is the program we begged repair of in the early 2000s, MRFSS, is our quickest solution to MRIP's impossible assertions of catch -- today's MRIP estimates that could never have happened. 
See Fish Reports 1/6/20 & 11/17/19 Grand Theft Fisheries for a far more detailed look. 
Had Council & Commission not tossed MRIP data in the gutter we'd be facing massive closures in all three fisheries - plus HUGE increases in commercial quota!!
It's really bad. 
It really needs fixing. 
Send a letter! 
Because NOAA is part of Dept of Commerce - Secretary Ross is the big cheese in all this mess with recreational catch estimates. MRIP affects all marine recreational fisheries from Florida to Maine. The Secretary bought MRIP's line about how "the estimates are just fine in coastwide collection" a couple years ago - just like all other administrations since management began. Now we have substantial new proof of NOAA's MRIP folly. Let's see if we can change his mind.
Send one letter - one stamp - to Secretary Ross.

Secretary W. Ross

Secretary W. Ross

Dept Of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave
Washington DC 20230

Dear Secretary Ross & Commerce/NOAA Staff,
Best thing ever just happened with NOAA's Marine Recreational Information Program - MRIP recreational fishing marine catch estimates. MRIP has finally become so bad, it's errors so huge, that anyone can see them for what they are - rubbish.
Recently the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council & Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's joint committee ignored MRIP's assessment that recreational fishers had shot far above quota on black sea bass, summer flounder & scup - again.
Instead of closing many state's fisheries, the joint meeting of ASMFC/MAFMC sent "Status Quo" to NOAA -or, 'Use The Same Quotas As Last Year'- essentially throwing out all MRIP's sea bass, scup, & summer flounder recreational catch data for several years.
Had science & management believed for a moment we had factually gone over our recreational harvest limit as MRIP portrays, there'd be mammoth closures on all three species.
Instead? All three species will be seen as last year - assuming NOAA too expresses no confidence in their own data.
They dern well ought to. It's awful.

It's still true that Party/Charter Catch Estimates are mostly OK after their 2003 repair. But today, in 2020, it's not at all unusual to see jaw-droppingly high Private Boat and Shore estimates that reflect nothing close to reality.
We lobbied for better accuracy for all recreational estimates in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Now, after two decades of complaints by recreational fishers who can plainly see how inane these catch estimates are, the science & management of all marine recreational fisheries, (and especially any fisheries shared between commercial & recreational,) is about to become fully unglued.

It's a much worse situation than has ever occured before - far worse.

You see, MRIP's massive overestimates have now wormed their way deeply into NOAA's stock assessments—their "how many fish are in this population" estimates.
MRIP's painting of an incorrect picture, a picture with incredibly too high recreational landings - statistical imaginings where just one state's Shore or Private Boats can outfish All Professional Effort in just a few weeks' time is leading to the worst possible result from fisheries management. Remarkably too high MRIP estimates like that happen even more frequently since MRIP's two 'recalibrations.' It's quite common today for All Party/Charter & even All Commercial (combined!) to be outfished by just one state's Private Boat or Shore effort.
Inclusion of such nonsense because it's called 'scientific information' is tainting every stock assessment it's included in - lifting fish population estimates far beyond reality.
We've already had major recreational regulatory tightenings owing poorly conceived statistics. That while the commercial community received a 49% boost in summer flounder quota in early 2019 - again based on MRIP recreational catch estimates portrayal of catch that never could have happened.

It's About To Get Much Worse..
Species shared between Com/Rec are soon to be "reallocated" so as to 'fairly represent' recreational fishing's sudden rise as a global superpower in fisheries extractions..
After days of calculation I (Capt. Monty Hawkins) concluded the following changes* using just the last several years of MRIP catch data. (*Council/Commission's reallocations can be expected to differ - I offer an approximation, as close as I can muster.)

Current allocations are all from battles fought long ago. Do some need modification? Perhaps so - but the work needs to be done with fair & accurate catch data.  
Black Sea Bass - currently 49% Commercial/51% Recreational -- sea bass could rise in recreational fisher's favor to 82% Recreational & 18% Commercial.
Summer Flounder - currently 60% Commercial/40% Recreational. This could easily flip, or more, favoring Recreational anglers & leaving commercial fishers with barely 30+%.
Scup - Currently 78% Commercial/22% Recreational. Should MRIP-based reallocations hold sway the Recreational share would shoot up to approximately 60% & Commercial apportionment decline inversely.
All these 'reallocation' recreational increases are based entirely on Shore/Private Boat estimates where they suddenly can outfish All Professional Effort. Party/Charter catch is still calculated as it was 17 years ago and shows a decline in catch at every recreational regulation tightening. Commercial catch is weighed at the dock.

We wanted MRFSS's repair because although Party/Charter was much closer to truth, suddenly Shore & (especially) Private Boat catch had begun to escalate. MRIP was the Congressionally mandated repair which came out in 2012 -- it's incredibly worse than MRFSS ever was.
So much so that at a joint meeting in Dec 2019 the ASMFC/MAFMC threw MRIP's data out. That's never happened before - ever.

When the National Academy of Sciences first examined MRFSS in 2006 the NAS called it "fatally flawed".. In those days I personally fought MRFSS with all I could muster - it's estimates were ludicrous.
A "panel of experts" was recently convened at the National Academy of Sciences to examine MRIP. They published their findings in 2017. The Deputy Assistant Administrator for GARFO (NOAA's regional unit including Mid & N Atlantic) at that time informed me there were no fishermen present. How in the Billy Blue Blazes is a scientist or statistician, no matter how expert, going to have the least idea of what is possible in recreational catch? As evidenced by a continuous stream of wholly impossible state/wave/mode estimates, it's fair to say statisticians alone cannot judge MRIP's statistical accuracy with any precision. For all they know canoes & 20 foot outboards caught more Massachusetts cod in March/April 2010 than ALL Commercial Trawl in the same period (and that's exactly what the data shows - that's why cod are closed in late winter/early spring in the Gulf of Maine..)  
Yes, in 2017 the NAS claimed all was peachy with MRIP. Including MRIP For Any Fisheries Science or Regulatory Decision Exposes All Fisheries Participants to Mammoth Errors in Fairness.
If NOAA holds course and management proceeds with it's new reallocations, there's going to be one heck of a battle. A knock-down/drag out regulatory conflict fought because NOAA included MRIP's pure statistical fantasy & called it 'science.'

Secretary Ross - You should order NOAA to return to the MRFSS system of calculating recreational catch at once. The Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey system we demanded repairs to in the late 1990s/early 2000s - which Congress ordered repaired in 2007 - was too high by far. Now MRIP's data makes MRFSS look logical!  (It's still on their computers. All the data can be switched from MRIP to MRFSS.)

Monty Hawkins
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Owner/Operator Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, Maryland

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