Capt. Monty

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About Capt. Monty

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    <b>CaptainofTheMorningStar</b>
  • Birthday 01/01/70
  1. Fish Report 5/9/10 Toggin' Ought To Be Sea Bassing Note to Dr. Lubchenco & Mr. Schwaab Goin fishing every day. On 5/14 we have our last long tog trip. Tog creel lowers to 2 fish on 5/15. Selling May 22cnd onward as sea bass trips. Call 410 520 2076 for availability. Sea bass season is on the verge of being much longer than thought - Stay tuned - Seems some wrote to their Congressmen and Senators - Many Players - Special tip of the hat to Capt. Adam.. If you want to go toggin' see trip particulars below signature. Hi All, Nicking away at the days; Dropping down leader sizes, sinker sizes, hook sizes, lighter rods; Throwing most back, keep a few for dinner, tag legal releases: It's fun. It's sport toggin. Not that all toggin isn't sporty, just that this is a far cry from what we were doing in January and February. Then in Sunday's 30 knot NW winds we had too much sport. Bagged out & 40 tags -- In early. Best sort of sport toggin. Supposed to be different though. Now it's time to make the donuts, Time for making hay while the sun's shining, Time to carry my many sea bass clients to our well managed primary fishery resource that's thriving on all the restored & protected natural coral reef, Time to allow anglers to have that first, Oh-so tasty, spring cbass fish fry.. Mmmmm. Mix Panko bread crumbs and House Autry seafood breader.. some lemon pepper - roll once dry - dip in egg & roll again - Fry Golden - Pow! Nope. No donuts. No hay. Can't go sea bass fishing just yet. No habitat in the mid-Atlantic except oysters and SAV; No coral yet. And the fish are still under emergency closure. Perfect. Let me tell you about that emergency sea bass closure. Dr. Lubchenco & Mr. Schwaab, I know you're busy with the disaster and rightly so, but we have a smaller one here too: You ought to reopen the sea bass fishery at once. We know from tagging that each region --each area's population of sea bass-- is distinct by its habitat's location: Irrefutable fact. Along DelMarVa the size limit increase last year caused a huge drop in actual landings: We could not have contributed to any overfishing. The overfishing, er--alleged overfishing, that caused the closure occurred up north where, owing to its colder waters, the sea bass fishing season is naturally shortest. A huge and apparently now well-accepted MRFSS catch estimate error occurred in the Massachusetts wave 4 --July & August-- private boat landings. This single faulty catch estimate claims a 1,122.28% catch increase, a year over year jump from 13,000 to 164,000 fish, which, I believe, tripped the emergency regulatory action. This one error -- in one part of the recreational fishery -- in one state's fishing area -- Closed the whole coast. When this 'emergency closure' went into effect in October, the area thought to have overfished was finished anyway or nearly so. When sea bass reopen on May 22cnd they'll be about ready to start. Machiavelli would have blushed in its perfection: The closure that brought many more-southern businesses to their knees barely affected those that are thought to have actually overfished. Churchill: "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." The population estimate numbers were reexamined by the Science & Statistical Committee in January and the quota revised upward - It's now considered safe to catch twice as many sea bass. Forecasted recreational catch estimates used to justify the closure last season were wrong: MRFSS estimates now only suggest the need of a 20-some percent reduction instead of a 44% -- This is very far down from estimates that ran as high as 225% early last fall had we kept fishing. In reality the marine rec-fish catch estimates are so bad we don't really know if Massachusetts usually catches 160 thousand cbass in July & August --that would be about 14,000 anglers averaging 12 fish apiece-- or if these private boat fishers generally catch 5 or 6 thousand -- We don't know. For anywhere else either. Drop 10 ice-cream cones near the dog walk and statistically it's safe to eat them.. Fiddle. Here's what we do know. Black Sea Bass Are: A species whose population we can't estimate well because it lives on remnant natural and robust man-made reefs that are not suitable for scientific trawl studies; A species for which no Essential Fish Habitat has been found other than in the estuaries where we ALWAYS look for & fund fish habitat; A species for which--like so many others--management has a difficult time estimating even parsec-close to the actual recreational catch; A species for which management has been too busy & underfunded to create effective management strategy from well known behaviors.. A species whose unnecessary closure absolutely crushed small businesses in locales where the fish weren't thought to have been overfished at all. Dr. Lubchenco, Mr. Schwaab: You should open sea bass immediately. Then see if anyone on NMFS/NOAA payroll has "In charge of Essential Fish Habitat for sea bass" in their job description. I haven't met them. Would like to. Then see how much was lost to the States and Fed in tax revenue when sea bass were closed. Compare that to what it would cost to divide up management regions as the fish actually use them -- Create 'Regional' management instead of 'Coastwide' management. Then --as in sausage making with fresh pig intestine casings-- create policy that insists on many 'sniff checks' before bad data can again bring down an industry. The closure is now indefensible. Open the fishery. Goin fishing every day. Tog drop to 2 fish on 5/15. On 5/14 we have our last long-tog trip. Selling May 22cnd onward sea bass trips. Call 410 520 2076 for availability. Boat sells out at 14 for tog trips - Green crabs provided - Leave as scheduled or earlier if all are aboard - PLEASE be a little early so we can leave early - Return as scheduled or a little later - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation. Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish count too. Yes, we have caught some big tog this year and in years past. No, I can not pick what size, if any, are going to bite on any given day -- We are going fishing. Inexperienced tog fishers frequently find this an exasperating sport.. So do the sharpies some days. It's more about presentation than in our other fisheries.
  2. Fish Report 5/3/10 Keep On Toggin - Going Long Again Oily Distraction MRFSS Numbers Changed Ocean City Reef Foundation Dinner - Hall's 60th Street Bayside - May 5th - 5 to 8 PM - Raffles - Chinese Auction - Live Auction.. A Good Time. Hi All, Still toggin. Would sure have at least a start on the sea bass were they open. Even seeing some early would-be keepers just 3 miles off the beach; tagging them over 13 inches or so. Friday we had a few limits of tog and dropped a super-dandy. Could have easily limited all aboard but were releasing the girls best we could. Saturday's super-long trip was enjoyed by almost all. Three of 7 stops were extra-sweet. Dropped a dandy then too: When you see a rod catch 6-8 & 10 pound tog frequently and then see that same rod with no control on a fish steadily pulling drag -- and it gets off -- I think it's safe to say a big one got away.. Will fish some more: The reservation book is now open for tog trips from Wednesday, May 5th to Friday, May 14th. The Saturday, May 8th trip and Friday, May 14th trips will be from 5:45 to 5:30 for $150.00 -- All the other tog trips are our regular 7am to 3 pm days for $100.00 -- Tog regs change to summer season on May 15th. I also have the book open for sea bass trips from May 22cnd to the end of June. If You Want To Go See Trip Particulars Below Signature..... Production: It certainly appears that Friday evening, likely just before dark & on the very edge of this full moon, many of our region's tog spawned. There was a 40 to 1 female tog ratio on Friday; each one obviously swollen with roe. On Saturday the boys bit; What few females we caught Saturday were roe-depleted. These fish spawned early, as early as I've seen, and will spawn several more times before mid-summer. Fishing much closer to OC Sunday on fish that hadn't really come out of the winter doldrums until late this year, we saw no evidence that they had just spawned.. Certainly on the next moon -- late May; if in fact moon phase acts as a trigger. While I believe that black sea bass are seafloor nesters, I have witnessed tog spawning very near the surface of the water: Female in front, males behind - all swimming rapidly. It's called broadcast spawning, you may have seen it in other reef species on the TV nature shows; it leaves the eggs that become fertilized very much a part of the plankton, unguarded--drifting in early development. A scientist I trust, Richard Wong with the MAFMC, found the next stage of a tog's life in the macro-algaes of our bays--the 'sea lettuce' and various 'sea weeds' that some curse when it fouls their fishing line. These young fish feed & hide from predators in the growth - perfect chameleons; brown in brown algae, green in green algae. Now, some hold that this production ---And it is right here, this egg fertilization and juvenile survival: This is fishery production. It is crucial to what we catch in the following years and decades: Some, many even, believe that all our tautog and sea bass production occurs in the estuaries. I very much believe that this is not the case. I believe we remain ignorant of much of our region's production. I believe that the long-held view that the mid-Atlantic has a "continental slope comprised of sand and mud with a few ship-wrecks" theory has so distorted scientific thought that no one has looked for this type of early production in what has been called the "non-habitat forming corals.." If Essential Fish Habitat policy writers are to stand upon the shoulders of giants, it would be helpful to know if these earlier works were actually correct....... Our new administrators of NOAA & NMFS now find themselves staring at what may become--if no solution is soon found--the world's largest marine oil spill. I suspect it will distract them, at least for a while, from the greatest ever regulatory disaster in the fisheries; these many closures associated with the MRFSS recreational catch estimates & the assumption that we have sound enough data with which to create the firmest of regulation. No figment of data's imagination; There is now a 10 day emergency closure--not just of one species but for all fisheries, declared in parts of the Gulf. Wow. I hope those fishers don't get it like the Prince William Sound guys did: 2 decades of lawsuits and high expectations came to nothing - or nearly so. Hope they get that oil spill buttoned up with the least ecological & economic impact possible. And I hope the federal response is a pleasant footnote in the careers of those now in charge.. BP and the government are likely exploring every possible method of controlling and absorbing the oil -- perhaps even with millions of the 2 foot square oilsorbs we all use in our engine rooms. I am sure many, even all, of the fishers & their families -- side by side with the environmental community -- would jump at the chance to make booms, to deploy booms; to protect their livelihood and most sensitive habitats.. Crisis can and does create opportunity for change. I hope they resolve the oil spill soon............ I have often quoted the MRFSS statistic for Maryland's party/charter 2009 annual tautog catch of eleven fish. It was so far wrong that no one could have disputed the assertion that it was incorrect. Now MRFSS has changed it. When you go to the data's web site there is a disclaimer button which you must click to access the data: A "You understand that we can change statistics before they become final" button. I wish it said "... we can keep changing all these statistics until they're sorta close." Still, there was change: Now our official party/charter estimate is no longer 11 tog, it's 2,216 tog caught in 2009. A much better estimate. On discovering this change I experienced a surge of hope; Went and checked the Massachusetts private boat landings estimates for sea bass last July & August.. ..Rats. Still at 163,000 some thousand---When the best year previously was around 13,000. Just like that 11 fish tog estimate, it's an error.. one that has cost fishers real money already and started costing a lot more just a few days ago. I have often sold-out many a weekday in May for sea bass... Hope whoever changed Maryland's tog estimate casts a similar eye at that MA sea bass data -- Bet just that one error would make the whole cbass closure issue evaporate.. Then we could go back to worrying about the weather & the bite. And try to rebuild the economic destruction wrought of this ongoing emergency closure. Meanwhile, we'll keep toggin. Regards, Monty Boat sells out at 14 for tog trips - Green crabs provided - Leave as scheduled or earlier if all are aboard - PLEASE be a little early so we can leave early - Return as scheduled or a little later - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation. Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish count too. Yes, we have caught some big tog this year and in years past. No, I can not pick what size, if any, are going to bite on any given day -- We are going fishing. Inexperienced tog fishers frequently find this an exasperating sport.. So do the sharpies some days. It's more about presentation than in our other fisheries.
  3. Fish Report 4/27/10 More Fishing Thoughts On Tautog On Sea Bass Too Ocean City Reef Foundation Dinner - Hall's 60th Street Bayside - May 5th - 5 to 8 PM - Raffles - Chinese Auction - Live Auction.. A Good Time. Hi All, Been some decent fish the last few trips; Found a terrific bite Sunday with a light crowd much closer to home. It is exactly the nature of fishing that we can claw our way to a catch of some good fish on 2 trips lasting almost 11 hours apiece; Then get in an hour early on a regular trip with 40 tags/57 releases plus a boat limit.. Will fish some more: The reservation book is now open for tog trips from Thursday, April 29th to Friday, May 7th. The May 1st trip will be a unique 14 hour trip from 5am to 7pm for $180.00 a person. I have to have 2 crews aboard for that one. All the other tog trips are $100.00, our regular 7am to 3 pm days. I also have the book open for sea bass trips from May 22cnd to the end of June and will open more days in early May with the next email. If You Want To Go See Trip Particulars Below Signature..... Tautog, our target fishery at present, use--by official definition--the non-habitat forming corals off our shores for feeding and shelter as they grow to maturity & also spawning once they've matured. They prefer the most robust reefs of which the man-made accidental shipwrecks and artificial reefs are often best. While a real numerical value could be developed, I would estimate that --in the present day-- there are approximately 2,000 tog on man-made habitats for every one on natural reef along MD's coast. This number would shift higher for natural reef as you approached DE Bay owing to their larger remnant natural reef area. Still, despite their large footprint of riverine and glacial-drop rocky substrates, Given Delaware's excellent artificial reef development there must be far more tog calling the man-made structures home. It's a species that responds incredibly well to increased habitat as their diet is entirely sourced from reef. It's also a species for which, in almost 6,000 tags south of Delaware Bay, I have seen no evidence of even short migration. Its a species where one must ponder, "How can there be fish restoration without habitat restoration? Has there, in fact, been any restoration at all of tog if nearly all the fish use man-made habitat? Is the population we now target due to Restoration or Manufacture?" Where the most scenic & complex reef habitat in the world will not produce reef-fish without management, Neither will management alone produce reef-fish without reef.. no matter how long they keep trying. The real puzzle, the mystery, is how our corals---sea whip and star coral---got classed as non-habitat forming.. We put coral aggregating devices, these artificial reefs, on the seafloor and the derned fish just start spawning there. I sure wish NOAA would step-up and investigate the phenomena: Perhaps with an investigation so deep that they attempt to discern where tog & sea bass nourished themselves to maturity & reproduced before the era of robust man-made reef..... I have had a large percentage of my clients come from up north this winter and spring. It is flattering beyond belief to have someone drive 5 hours to come fishing for a species they have in their front yard. I believe it is the expectation of quality that brings them here. An old salt sitting atop his cooler in the parking lot at day's end tells me, "You know Cap, I just didn't believe you could drive from Brooklyn to Maryland and catch 8 to 10 pound tog.. But you can." It spoke volumes. This guy had done a lot of fishing, I'm sure he knew you could drive down and get skunked too. Last Sunday I had two clients from Manhattan, a father and son from Philly and 4 anglers from just the other side of the Bay Bridge. They all had a very good time fishing in Maryland on reef that was not there in early 2004. The Ocean City Reef Foundation built it by tying a barge up to a precise buoy/anchor set my crew had made and shoving concrete off a barge. It's as if you could create an oasis any-where in any-desert simply by drilling a well. With very few exceptions, Reefing always works. NOAA is proud to tell us in their pretty websites and smooth-glossy brochures that 1/10 of 1% of the sea bed is made of reef, yet it is where 25% of the life occurs.. Except for the non-habitat forming corals in the Mid-Atlantic. There's a lot of people that see plainly what I'm getting at.. and there's a few that roadblock, that prefer fisheries restoration solely by the numbers that cross their screen - the catch and population estimates that are the source of so much rancor even amongst those rec-fishers who have a lifetime of restoration effort. When sea bass are closed it costs me dearly--every single day is a blow to my business model.. all for a savings to the fishery likely less than a winter's dead discards. Soon the sea bass regs will have to be announced---we're tagging fish over 15 inches on every trip. I do not envy those who must wrestle with the system we have and the moral dilemma it must create to regulate by rote from error-squared science: I do not believe, having carefully reviewed the MRFSS recreational catch estimates, that rec fishers actually over-caught their quota up north. In fact, I believe this entire episode, starting with the sea bass closure last fall, is an exercise based upon fiction. Moreover, I am certain that black sea bass have a nearly unwavering habitat fidelity---that each individual fish will return to the same specific reef-like environment each spring; Certain in that if rec-fishers had killed every single sea bass from Rhode Island north it would have no impact on populations of sea bass off the coast of Delaware, Maryland & Virginia. And, I am certain that a system that might allow an entire 'coastwide' quota to be legally caught from a small regional sub-stock is extremely flawed; That these sea bass set aside for catch --the quota-- from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod must never be over-pressured in smaller regional areas because it would fully disrupt that area's fishery. These disruptions have factually occurred several times due to over-pressuring in the industrial winter fishery but have remained unnoticed in 'coastwide' management assessments. I am also certain that a system that fails to recognize our corals as habitat-forming--as Essential Fish Habitat--is disingenuous in the extreme. And, most regretfully, I am certain that, should our fisheries system fail to go around policy road-blocks, these failings within the system will cause further and perhaps irreparable harm to many recreational for-hire business. To what policy should we adhere which fails to recognize & correct internal flaws while destroying that which it was designed to protect... Sea bass regulations should return to status quo while a functional management plan is developed that factors in: Habitat, habitat fidelity, better than "Data-Poor" stock assessments, and far better catch estimates via MRIP. We know the fish did somewhat better with management than without -- And that's all we actually know. So Far. Sea bass are a fishery that can be engineered far beyond management's present expectations. Looks to me as though that vision might take a while. Endless paperwork crossing a desk camouflages truth; dispenses injustice. My sea bass trips in May used to sell-out almost everyday. What will pay the bills instead... Have to try. Trip info below. Regards, Monty Boat sells out at 14 for tog trips - Green crabs provided - Leave as scheduled or earlier if all are aboard - PLEASE be a little early so we can leave early - Return as scheduled or a little later - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation. Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish count too. Yes, we have caught some big tog this year and in years past. No, I can not pick what size, if any, are going to bite on any given day -- We are going fishing. Inexperienced tog fishers frequently find this an exasperating sport.. So do the sharpies some days. It's more about presentation than in our other fisheries.
  4. Fish Report 4/21/10 A Tale of Three Days More Toggin Aggregating Devices They Don't Use The Low Numbers OCRF Dinner May 5th Hi All, Slipped on offshore Sunday morning with some regulars and a few new folks. A bit of wind, fair current, anchors came tight with precision. George had 2 keepers in the boat before I could get out of the wheelhouse. Could have easily limited all anglers but are treading lightly so we might diminish the unavoidable pressure on tog created by the sea bass closure. Been lots of tagging, though I can't fund that as much as I'd like... In Monday's falling winds I set up for my 4th try this year on a reef not too far offshore. Pow! Piranha Attack. Hungry girls all. Eh, nearly all; a few males. They are soon coming into spawn---Early. Two clients limited and put 47 back on the prettiest day thinkable. Calmer still, Tuesday we were ready for more of that hot bite. Yeah, um.. No. How in the Billy Blue Blazes do you figure a fish.. Nicked a few. Sporty crowd, some great tags. Did witness the most painful dropped fish of the year - The one that got away. A member of our coast's "Grand Masters Club" of toggin bowed very deeply on what I know was a jumbo fish. No line was gained nor was the fish hung in the wreck -- just the rod tip's antics reflecting a fish attempting escape. And did. Would've preferred tagging it. I was thinking in the very high teens.. Possibly better. Big fish. Ouch. We'll go some more. The reservation book is now open for tog trips from April 23rd to May 6th. The May 1st trip will be a unique 14 hour trip from 5am to 7pm for $180.00 a person. I have to have 2 crews aboard for that one. All the other tog trips, save this coming Friday & Saturday, are $100.00 regular 7am to 3 pm days. I also have the book open for sea bass trips from May 22cnd to the end of June and will open more days in early May with the next email. If You Want To Go See Trip Particulars Below Signature..... Very Importantly: The Ocean City Reef Foundation's annual Italian dinner is May 5th at Hall's Restaurant. Ideas for donations? The auction always has some of my trips and some great tackle from local shops.. Hall's has donated this dinner for many years. Awesome.... Often times it seems that the hallways and dinner tables are where much of fisheries is hashed out. While hardly a negotiation, one of the old-hands at NOAA and I were having a frank discussion on seafloor habitat at the Recreational Saltwater Fishing Summit last weekend. Sure enough, he tells me that artificial reefs are aggregating devices - with the whole implied argument that building reef causes fish to become more susceptible to fishing pressure.. Looked carefully at 10 years of my VTRs --The Vessel Trip Reports that we have to fill out daily. When abundance/catch is up on shipwrecks --one could call them accidental reefs-- it's up on artificial reef. And, when these human-made reefs have greater abundance so do natural reefs; If they haven't been scraped bare lately. Were the assertion that "Artificial reef only serves to aggregate fish for easier slaughter" true, then abundance must continually have diminished---always & constantly declined---over areas of natural reef. Surely by now, after centuries of accelerating creation of accidental and then artificial reef, any natural reef would be devoid of fish entirely. But that's not what the ten year review of my landings data showed. The three types of reef train-track on a graph; When abundance is up - it's up across natural, accidental and artificial reef. When it's down, it's all down. ..I await, I wish, just once, someday --a wonderful day-- that a manager making the aggregation argument would have some real concept of nearshore reef habitat in the mid-Atlantic. You see, Aggregation Theory - this, "It's bad because it causes unnatural congregations of fish" theory can't just be a little bit true. ..well, yes it can--a very little bit. When you first site an artificial reef the original colonization must be had from somewhere. Perhaps this is the aggregating moment. So too -in incredibly faster time scale- are the earliest moments of an atomic explosion only mildly hot; What follows would not be similarly described. Of course, this explosion of life I'm writing of is in the ocean. It's reasonable to conclude that the more natural reef has been diminished in an area --say 99% lost-- the faster fish will respond to it. Rather than submit to a permanent reef loss in, say, a really big estuary, managers should rapidly expand a restoration footprint of artificial hard substrate in order to avoid fish aggregation problems. ..or keep using whatever techniques have consistently failed for over a century. And why not, the funding keeps coming. Just not success... There is no unnatural fish aggregation on artificial reef, but there can be a wholly unnatural depletion of habitat in which fish respond extremely favorably to some slight improvement: The mussels, corals, oysters, crab, shrimp and fish of a mature artificial are no more artificial than cicada, ants, birds, raccoon, opossum and deer in a large farm tract left untilled for a decade. Where animals are able to feed and shelter from predators they will spawn. My experience in these 30 years at sea tells me habitat is crucial in fisheries production; Tells me habitat more than waist deep is easily lost in the shuffle; And tells me habitat already lost for several generations may be permanently lost.. unless we look for what likely existed as evidenced by anecdotal catch in the early and mid-1900s, even as far back as the mid-1800s. And then restore it. Our Bays; Our Ocean: It used to be out there. I suspect that if NOAA will but grasp the importance of sea floor habitat, in conjunction with the incredible tool that is habitat fidelity, we can take some fisheries far beyond our restoration targets. And, because this focus on production has not yet occurred we stumble along with oscillating stocks, poor utilization, and the poorest of governance. Reef restoration is, I realize, not a stand alone project -- No panacea. This evidenced by large expanses of Caribbean reef and small local sites: The most scenic & complex habitat in the world will not produce fish without management if there is unregulated fishing or simply too much pressure on a given area. Conversely: The most complex fishery management in the world will not produce fish without habitat. And isn't. Except by luck. Or shipwreck. It is my opinion that real fishery restoration of our reef-dwelling species has not begun. Not until what remains of our natural reef is discovered and some idea developed of what is permanently lost or restorable can we rebuild the reef species: Not until the wheat field has lain fallow and trees been sown can it be said that we have restored squirrels. Discovery will, I believe, be the exact-point that fishery restoration began in the Mid-Atlantic's habitat dependant fisheries. Management has been coat-tailing on the horrors of war & weather too long. Riding the shipwrecks to stable fisheries, they have now claimed too the fish production from artificial reef for their fisheries restoration. Denied access to the fruits of our labors, industry founders. We'd really like our sea bass back. Applying Bayesian statistical stops high & low would work the kinks out of MRFSS.. We had an 11 month season - Lost our innocence via emergency closure - Were then told we would have a 2 month season - which, in bold celebration, was raised by quota to 3+ months of season.. Eleven months - We had eleven months. Now we might have 3 and a piece. Rebuilt the whole sea bass fishery with only a month closed some years. It is the MRFSS data that is causing industry's demise; Catch estimate data so putrid that no manager supports it; Catch estimate data so poor the Government ordered a replacement program. If catch data came in as low as our official MRFSS MD for-hire industry estimate of less than a dozen tautog for last year, all year -- Would we lift all restriction, throw the fishery wide open? Or would managers snicker and say, "Yeah, we know that number's not right." They don't use the low numbers to lower size limits and raise bag limits crazily; Dern sure they do use the high numbers to restrict.. An industry dies because no one double-checked the data. An industry dies because catch estimates low are of no consequence nor concern while catch data high is held aloft in false worship, "Here is our best science available." "Here is science we find expedient and have adopted our conscience to its failings" might be more truthful. From the very highest reaches of government should come this directive: Average three years' regulations and leave it at that until MRIP is fully developed.. We know fish of many different species rebuilt nicely without the crazy antics we have now. Some states have been so positively pummeled by MRFSS data that no fairness remains. New York's fluke, for instance, should have a special review. Stabilize the industry & find avenues for management to increase production. That would be some good fishery management. Regards, Monty Boat sells out at 14 - Green crabs provided - Leave as scheduled or earlier if all are aboard - PLEASE be a little early so we can leave early - Return as scheduled or a little later - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation. Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish count too. Yes, we have caught some big tog this year and in years past. No, I can not pick what size, if any, are going to bite on any given day -- We are going fishing. Inexperienced tog fishers frequently find this an exasperating sport.. So do the sharpies some days. It's more about presentation than in our other fisheries.
  5. Fish Report 4/17/10 Toggin - See Below Recreational Saltwater Fishing Summit IF YOU WANT TO GO FISHING SEE TRIP DETAILS BELOW SIGNATURE. Hi All, Just spent two days in beautiful downtown Alexandria, Virginia. Shame--Never saw any of it - nor even a glimmer of sunlight. It's more clear why folks appreciate the services we fishers offer.. I gave up two days of fishing to go to the Recreational Saltwater Fishing Summit; the fellow to my left, a magazine publisher, had traveled from Saipan. He showed me pictures of where they had loaded the Enola Gay on her infamous run -- And pictures, mouth-watering pictures, of their reefs and fish.. To my right was a salmon advocate from Oregon; Across was a Californian who'd had a bitter taste of a No Take MPA closure, banning even from fishing from his kayak; Next to him a fellow from Florida spoke critically of the impending red snapper insanity; A lady representing manufacturers.. We were small cogs. Lots of big tackle industry and big rec group representation, a who's who I promise. The panels and discussions, Q&A sessions; Rank this and give an opinion on that.. It was more down-to-business--less warm & fuzzy---than some I've been to. I suspect that it wasn't just me, many of the fishermen there were glad of that --- No Kumbaya thanks. Ten hour meeting done; enjoying Crown Royal on the rocks --for just $18 for a double-- while old hands spoke of management battles going back decades was priceless. Next day, Saturday, RFA & CCA sat next to each other on a discussion panel. The world is still here. Both organizations dished out many ideas for moving recreational fishing forward. A lot of people were talking about closures. None of it was nice-talk. NOAA & NMFS were there - all around - listening. NMFS new chief, Eric Schwaab, was there always. His boss, NOAA's newly appointed chief, Dr. Lubchenco, was there--some; Made remarks--answered questions--listened. Really new position was Russ Dunn, NMFS's new recreational fishing guy.. Good stuff. I know they heard. We'll see. Actions are everything with government: Words, pretty brochures, smooth glossy booklets, nice pictures---all the coral/fish habitat stuff: meaningless. I told Jon Carson, head of the Whitehouse's Council on Environmental Quality, that NOAA's marine habitat work has so far reminded me of an old refrigerator -- Made a lot of noise, didn't work. Felt different though.. Dr. Lubchenco is a fisheries habitat ecologist. I'm positive she knew she was 110 miles from coral reef. I'm positive she understands that just as oxygen, fuel and heat are all required for fire; So to are management, habitat and spawning populations necessary to make succesful fisheries.. I'm positive I spoke with a lady who had vision far beyond catch-restriction, a lady who wouldn't try to build a fire without fuel.. We'll see. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins mhawkins@siteone.net Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 http://www.morningstarfishing.com/ The reservation book is open from April 18th to the 25th for tog trips. I also have the book open for sea bass trips from May 22cnd to the end of June. I will open more days with the next email. On April 23rd & 24th I am sailing 6 am to 4(ish) 10 hour trips for $125.00 -- All the other tog trips are $100.00 regular 7am to 3 pm days. We are catching - occasionally a dandy - skill helps a lot - luck too. Boat sells out at 14 - Green crabs provided - Cabin heated if need be - Leave as scheduled or earlier if all are aboard - PLEASE be a little early so we can leave early - Return as scheduled or a little later - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation. Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish count too. Yes, we have caught some big tog this year and in years past. No, I can not pick what size, if any, are going to bite on any given day -- We are going fishing. Inexperienced tog fishers frequently find this an exasperating sport.. So do the sharpies some days. It's more about presentation than in our other fisheries.
  6. Fish Report 4/8/10 Going Toggin The Inspection Sea Bass Closure Continued By NMFS .."It's the best science available" is disingenuous. Using a MRFSS centerpoint is management's policy -- not at all the best science: Perhaps not science at all... I'm opening up the reservation book from April 11th to the 15th & from the 18th to the 25th for tog trips. I also have the book open for sea bass trips from May 22cnd to the end of June. On April 11th, 23rd & 24th I am sailing 6 am to 4(ish) 10 hour trips for $125.00 -- All the other tog trips are $100.00 regular 7am to 3 pm days. Boat sells out at 14 - Green crabs provided - Cabin heated if need be - Leave as scheduled or earlier if all are aboard - PLEASE be a little early so we can leave early - Return as scheduled or a little later - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation. Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish count too. Yes, we have caught some big tog this year and in years past. No, I can not pick what size, if any, are going to bite on any given day -- We are going fishing. Inexperienced tog fishers frequently find this an exasperating sport.. So do the sharpies some days. It's more about presentation than in our other fisheries. Hi All, An interesting inspection. I think for the first time in my career none of my 4 Coast Guard surveyors were alive when I started fishing -- none were alive when I got my captain's license -- perhaps two of this Team were alive when I had my first vessel under command inspection.. The high-water bilge alarms they checked & found working were very likely a direct result of my pleadings before they were born. Friends with a few years on me say I must get used to it. It really was a good inspection--careful, methodical, thorough and professional. They appreciated our efforts of same. It did exactly what the law intends; forced me to go all through my boat in pre-inspection repair and maintenance so that the passengers I carry this season will be as safe as possible under current regulation. At its conclusion the lead inspector felt a need to write-up something, the dreaded 8-35 deficiency form... Back in 1983 or so everyone had their "Emergency Instruction Placard" posted in the wheelhouse. Then the regulatory clause 'available to read' was interpreted to mean passengers as well. So we all, all around the country, had to move these framed papers out of the wheelhouse to the passenger salon. Now, as of this 2010 inspection, I have to have the placard both up in the wheelhouse and down below.. (pity if you're on a boat where the captain has to quickly read the instructions on how to operate in heavy weather..) OK, OK, No worries; That's the inspector's interpretation of the rule and I will comply. But also appeal. It's a very small thing. Super-small. So small I wouldn't normally bring it up.. except it wonderfully illustrates how we came to be where we are with this year's sea bass regulations........ I was both heartened & disappointed at the recent announcement of the continued closure of sea bass by the Regional Administrator, Dr. Kurkel, through May 21st. For many years our sea bass season began in late April or the first few days of May--A few weeks after Mackerel. The fishing was so reliable that even in our darkest days of unregulated overfishing people would drive to the coast to fish.. so reliable that decades later I set my boat payments up around it. Our spring run now appears mostly confiscated by regulation. All is not lost, however, as in the press release Dr. Kurkel did not set an end to the season. I harbor more than a flicker of hope that some in the corner offices are engaged in debate over the fate cast upon men by these poorest of catch-estimates.. Who will claim statistical support of good governance when MRFSS (marine recreational fishing statistics survey) has all of MD --everyone-- catching 1,355 sea bass last year: All Year. I caught more than that in one day with scientists aboard in 2002, we tagged 1,150 of 'em. Still, the 1,355 catch-estimate snuck through and became "The Best Science Available." MRFSS also has MD party/charter boats catching 11 (yes, eleven) tautog in all of 2009. We're allowed 4 per person.. This estimate is so poor I can not approximate what percentage it is wrong by.. With absolute certainty these estimates are provably wrong. There are many more. Even following out the PSEs --the "plus or minus such & so percent" that is the hallmark of statistics-- does not put these estimates in the ballpark. They're just Bad Statistics. So too is MRFSS' 2009 Massachusetts private boat catch-estimate: Where a steady +-13,000 sea bass in July/August for years jumped to 167,000 in July/August of last year. ..there our troubles began. It is part of the reason why we have replaced MRFSS with MRIP - That MA 2 month wave estimate and others will become textbook classics. I can not prove that MA did not catch insane numbers of sea bass last year, nor can I push with a string. No one can disprove too high an estimate. But many can disprove when they're too low. Continued governance with centerpoints of outrageously invalid statistical catch estimates is destroying many businesses. I plead Mercy.. This "Best Science Available" is a statistical spread -- No statistician asserts that the centerpoint has any special validity other than being a single point: The true and correct number of fish caught, were it discoverable, isoften somewhere in the statistical spread, though sometimes far outside it. Management Must be Allowed, Must be Trusted, Must be Encouraged to find truer estimates by the many means available. To sentence us to bankruptcy because "It's the best science available" is disingenuous. Using these statistical centerpoints is management's policy. It's not at all the best science: Perhaps it's not science at all to take a full and complete statistical answer to the query "How many were caught?" and only use a single point amidst many. We rebuilt the sea bass fishery, sans management's use of habitat fidelity nor even discovery of EFH in shallow water, with never more than a month's closure. The various regional stocks could be taken to great heights, far above rebuilding targets, should we discover our region's nearshore coral reefs and manage within the facts of how these fish behave in response to habitat. This system's subordinates only use the data because they will get fired if they don't. There are but a few mahogany desks with large widowed offices where this data and its use are defended, where regulators rely utterly on previous policy interpretations, where those charged with watching over fish and fishers may yet allow these data sets to bankrupt industry without the greatest of benefit in emergency circumstance to the fish: It may be the poorest fisheries governance I've yet seen. Bad data must lead to bad decisions. There is no law that the centerpoint of catch estimates must be used. It is science of convenience, not the 'best available.' It is not even the interpretation of a regulation that has brought so many in the recreationally associated trades to a precipice from which we may not escape.. It's just policy; "That's how we do it." "Used your home to secure a boat loan?" Too bad. Nevermind the quality of the data. It's policy. Fishers need an appeal, a review of the centerpoint with a stop-work order on the process while regulations return to what always worked in previous years. Many in top management positions are new and may very well be interested in doing this policy review among others already underway. Fishers didn't mess this one up; We didn't overfish. The policy of using a single point of data --no matter how putrid-- did. It's creating havoc and needs to be stopped. Sliding the catch estimate along these huge PSEs would restore faith in governance. Very soon the new program, MRIP, will be in place. They tell me MRIP stands for Marine Recreational Information Program.. I say MRIP means MRFSS Rest In Peace. Tears of joy at that funeral I'll promise.. Regards, Monty
  7. Fish Report 4/1/10 Toggin Along April Fools PS Opening the book for April 5th & 6th Regular Tog Trips - Boat sells out at 14 - Green crabs provided - Cabin heated (?) - Leave at 7:00 for these trips (or earlier if all are aboard--PLEASE be early so we can leave early--6:40 is great!) - Return no later than 3 - 3:30 (usually) - $100.00 buys a spot - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation. Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish can count too. Hi All, An interesting day on the rip. Some guys limited, one skunked, put a male back 14 pounds.. Set a pair of anchors into an ENE current first thing this morning. Not liking that; We haven't been bit in a northerly current since November. But they did bite. Sure sign of spring that; A very welcome, if ultra-fussy, bite. Finally the current slacked and, predictably, was getting ready to roll all the way around to the SSW. I don't know who arranged it - I couldn't guess: I re-set anchors favoring the current to be: Derned if that current didn't slow to a crawl and then turn right back up to the north. All the big-weather above us this week I suppose. I've only seen the current do it a few times. Different sort of April Fools.. shows what I know. The weather forecast is very nice for Monday & Tuesday after Easter--the 5th and 6th.. We're plenty ready for our inspection; Go catch some tog. Enjoy this wonderful weekend & Happy Easter. Regards, Monty PS - In case you haven't heard, the Fed closed sea bass last fall using some of the worst data sets to have ever come from MRFSS. Great Scott... I've been pounding away on that all winter ---- when the largest artificial reef on the east coast is going to be sunk this summer not 30 miles from Ocean City's inlet - The Radford Project. Mercy... History is being written all around us. What befalls my industry will either be history created with a courageous step forward; where key federal managers say, "Enough!" Or, in their accepting of the same tired arguments that brought us to this disaster, history will show how my industry sank in an economic maelstrom of management's creation; an evisceration of a traditional fishery brought about by overfishing that never happened with data that should have never seen light of day. History..
  8. Fish Report 3/27/10<o:p></o:p> Fish Report 3/27/10 <o:p></o:p> A Tease <o:p></o:p> A Taste<o:p></o:p> Data Broadly<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Hi All,<o:p></o:p> Snuck out Thursday and were not warmly received by schools of tautog swirling under the boat like a Tarzan movie's piranha awaiting the next tasty crab leg to fall. <o:p></o:p> No, it was a slow bite. Still chilly. I had a demon on briefly; personally lost every fish that bit. A few clients goose egged with me. One guy limited and tagged but was way off his game in-so-far as the bites he had: Don't like to use names here but his initials were Dennis. <o:p></o:p> It was just an odd bite - a tease. Tagged two short cod as well. <o:p></o:p> Sunday was another matter altogether. Best bite since late February. Four guys limited, most caught dinner, there were a pair of skunks: Pat T. took the pool when he tagged & released a 25 inch female. <o:p></o:p> It's getting ready to happen. <o:p></o:p> But first we'll take a couple more days for maintenance & CG readiness on account of weather: Resume toggin Wednesday 3/31. <o:p></o:p> We have CG inspection next week. After that I'll open a lot more days.<o:p></o:p> Very late now, this fishing has to bust loose.......<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Data-data-data! Here I want to give some simple examples of what our recreational catch estimating system was designed to do and some glaring examples of what it could never do. Entertaining with statistics is challenging at best so stick with me; I'll try to mix a few fish stories in. Our official catch-estimates are a lot of what's wrong with the fishing we have, not the fish.. The conflicts constantly resulting from poor data and its ill-advised use distract us from the fish we really have lost, fish that could use our fully focused attention; where we really do need to get to work.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Some readers will remember our Boston mackerel fishery. Triple headers, quads; Heck with a cooler, many guys would bring a trash can for the wear-you-out crazy-good fishing. It was always a big deal when local TV personality, Scorchy Tawes, would arrive at the docks come spring and interview the old timers, "When will the mackerel arrive?" <o:p></o:p> In an age before internet we had 2 or 3 days from when we first caught a load of mackerel to selling out 7 days a week.. The run usually peaked around Easter. Once we started chasing the fish north passenger numbers would fall off.<o:p></o:p> And then it would be over.<o:p></o:p> Sanding and painting 'till sea bass got thick. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Almost 20 years now, they could come back of their own accord. May yet.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> The mackerel fishing that everyone had known since boats were launched from the surf, since before there was an inlet, died when a Joint Foreign Fishing Venture circa '91 & '92 was allowed. Huge factory processors bought American caught mackerel--All They Could Get. <o:p></o:p> Although it was happening all around us and to many species, we had no notion that there could ever be an end to what always was. At that time striped bass & weakfish were the only recreational species I can remember under management. Flounder may have had a 12 inch limit; The surf-clam industry was under intense regulation. <o:p></o:p> It was then, when these last "underutilized species" were being sought, that the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) arranged for these foreign processor ships to buy American commercially caught macks..<o:p></o:p> I think we still do not understand that just because biologists have created a coastwide stock assessment that the fish will behave to suit. We had not learned, and still have not learned, that we should never manage fish as if there were no regional separation in spawning stocks.. <o:p></o:p> With disappointingly inadequate scientific deliberation the US allowed the southern stock of atlantic (or Boston) mackerel to be overpressured with an incredible surge of fishing effort. <o:p></o:p> It has yet to come back..<o:p></o:p> Recreational clients have long-since ceased coming. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <acronym title="Maryland"><acronym title="Maryland">MD</acronym></acronym>'s Pete Jensen would forever make the argument that recreational fishing is never about catch, just camaraderie. <o:p></o:p> Yeah UhHu. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Nowadays the more northern stocks, which survived just fine apparently, are taking more pressure than ever.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Ah, Wandering.. I want to use Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS, say Murfs) catch estimate data on mackerel to illustrate what MRFSS was designed for: Catch Estimates That Show A Trend.<o:p></o:p> See if you can spot it. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <table style="" class="MsoNormalTable" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="3"> <tbody> <tr style=""> <td style="border: medium none; padding: 0.75pt;" colspan="3"> Species: ATLANTIC MACKEREL Maryland Rec. Landings<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> Year<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> PSE<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1983<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 655,859<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 42<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1984<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 263,320<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 57.9<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1986<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 167,094<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 44.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1987<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 285,035<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 52.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1988<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 195,732<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 41.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1989<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 264,121<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 40.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1990<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 537,301<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 52.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1991<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 176,571<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 50<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1992<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 53,464<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 59.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1994<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 16,373<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 46.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1995<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 6,594<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 50.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1996<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 109,822<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 58<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1997<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 48,923<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 53.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1998<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 11,279<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 64<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1999<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 30,444<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 34.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2000<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 4,172<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 73.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2001<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 39,222<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 63.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2002<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 3,616<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 68.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2003<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 7,026<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 67.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr></tbody></table> <o:p></o:p> Note - 1993 is missing as are 2004 thru '09 -- I presume those are zero catches. <o:p></o:p> Point here is you can easily see a shift in catch starting in '92.<o:p></o:p> Did we really catch exactly 109,822 in 1996? Heck No.<o:p></o:p> Did we really catch exactly 537,301 in 1990? Heck No. <o:p></o:p> Did we really catch exactly zero in in 2009? Well, probably. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Trends in catch, however, are evident. That is allMRFSS was ever designed to do. Never a two month or wave by wave real time analysis: "Warning! Warning! Recreational Fishers In Sector Nine Are Approaching Fifth Week Quota!"<o:p></o:p> Um, No.<o:p></o:p> More like..<o:p></o:p> "Seems like the recreational catch on mackerel dropped off pretty fast after the factory processors were let in; Do you think we screwed up?" <o:p></o:p> That was its design. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> But we are using MRFSS for real time analysis. <o:p></o:p> No manager I know has ever pondered the lost mackerel fishing.. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> For this report I tried to access our historical landings of red hake too; called them ling or lingcod. Used to be up on the recreational statistics site. Fishery's gone & now the data's gone as well; I think both are restorable, the data far more simply...<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Very importantly, the PSE or percentage standard error that you see to the right of each catch-estimate in the chart above represents the real statistical answer. Political polls would be scrapped if they exceed 4% PSE. To them 4% represents a very high margin of error. <o:p></o:p> Yet throughout MRFSS there are numerous examples where the PSE is above 50%.. Even 100% PSEs occur. <o:p></o:p> Still & importantly, a statistician will say that is the answer, that the centerpoint is only a number that represents a large field where a true number might be found. <o:p></o:p> Statistically perfect or nearly so: I'm sure the internal policy of using the statistical centerpoint as if it were hard-data is where recreational fishing's troubles source; That when the centerpoint wanders far above the correct number, beyond and inexplicably higher than any other catch-estimate, the system fails.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Now, just for something out of left field, how could we fairly allocate these Atlantic mackerel with recreational Catch Shares? <o:p></o:p> Popular right now; lot of folks think Catch Shares are the new answer to fisheries restoration. I might too without a sense of how fouled-up the data is, how lacking some management plans are in basic understanding of the managed species' behavior; In a world without waves the paper & flat-screen calculations all look so good. <o:p></o:p> If we use MRFSS to permanently divvy-up recreational catch, some are going to hit the jackpot, others will get robbed. The chances that mackerel will be divided up using a 5 year average from the 80s is miniscule.. I wouldn't possibly have enough landings to qualify for a catch-share of mackerel in the last decade, despite that I fully participated before the collapse; And didn't create it.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Ok-Ok. Catch shares another day. Fast forward a piece. You have seen in many of my past reports examples of summer flounder and black sea bass data that are accepted and used by management; Yet those data sets are thought laughable---in most anguished fashion---by fishermen.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> This catch estimating program, MRFSS, that was supposed to show by general trend how recreational fishing was doing now needs be as a predator drone with real time transmitted aerial surveillance to satisfy the needs of modern managers.. It's not about where the enemy was an hour ago, it's where they are now: Not rec-fishers catch-trend of the last 72 months, managers now want the last 72 hours.<o:p></o:p> MRFSS, however, is still equipped with black & white film that has to be delivered, developed & analyzed.. Apparently the enemy has infiltrated the system too, is frequently creating diversionary decoy data sets that send staff off to create trouble within our ranks--Closures. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> We know MRFSS is over-tasked, that's why the new federal registry system was developed to take over -- MRIP. <o:p></o:p> Folks I know on the inside do not think MRIP will necessarily deliver speedier data; Its enhancement of our present system will come as a much better estimate, almost a hard number, of participants.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Because field interviewers give a broad spectrum of pure catch data--what really got caught by an individual angler in a face to face interview. MRFSS must then take fantastic guesses of how many people participated: Here is where the system occasionally flies apart. MRIP, with its Angler Registry, will have a much better idea of how many people went fishing; can call them...<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Simply smoothing the data, removing the flyers, should be enough for all but the most high-pressure fisheries. Adding truth to catch estimates will preclude the most contentious management: Where bad data leads to poor governance, better data must lead to improved governance.....<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Now I'll present some for-hire tautog numbers that I think would certainly interest anyone who has read this far. Party and charter boat catch only here - I know quite a bit about it because <acronym title="Maryland"><acronym title="Maryland">MD</acronym></acronym> has only one seaside inlet. Managers must think there are crazy pulses of fishing effort - that our clients demand one species or another but almost never two years in a row.. Scroll down through this real data.<o:p></o:p> <table style="" class="MsoNormalTable" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="3"> <tbody> <tr style=""> <td style="border: medium none; padding: 0.75pt;" colspan="3"> Species: TAUTOG Maryland Charter/Partyboat<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> Year<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> PSE<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1981<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 4,670<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 65.9<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1983<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2,126<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 57.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1984<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 36,008<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 59.9<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1985<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 486<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 59.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1986<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 5,476<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 64.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1987<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 765<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 42.9<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1988<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 14,849<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 63.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1989<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 3,150<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 52.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1990<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 541<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 61.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1991<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2,413<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 47.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1992<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2,354<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 84.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1993<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 8,652<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 44.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1994<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 19,314<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 37.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1995<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1,799<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 66.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1996<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 216<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 81.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1997<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2,461<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 67.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1998<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1,235<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 62.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1999<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 3,604<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 63<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2000<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1,165<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 90.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2001<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 3,635<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 60.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2002<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 17,650<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 39.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2003<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 6,532<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 26.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2004<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 6,439<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 26.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2005<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 5,693<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 20.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2006<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2,969<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 14.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2007<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 9,417<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 25.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2008<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 5,572<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 16.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2009<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 11<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 90.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr></tbody></table> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Dang! <o:p></o:p> Eleven fish in <acronym title="Maryland"><acronym title="Maryland">MD</acronym></acronym> for 2009 in the entire for-hire industry? <o:p></o:p> Whaaaaat....<o:p></o:p> That certainly requires adjustment.. maybe move the PSE up a couple digits? What if that got thrown into a recreational catch-share average? <o:p></o:p> We all did at least some toggin last fall. Cbass closed, had to target tog. There is no excuse for an estimate this low. <o:p></o:p> Crazy.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> The catch shown in this table in 1988 & 1994 never happened. <o:p></o:p> At all. <o:p></o:p> Nor the decline from '94 to '96.<o:p></o:p> The catch in 2002 is fantasy; We were solid into some of the the best sea bassing I'd ever seen. Maybe 10 guys on the planet can fish a crab while doubles of nice sea bass are coming over the rail. There were no party boat trips targeting tog at all in 2002.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Eleven fish.. It was a proportionally similar --but opposite-- data failure that was used to close sea bass by emergency regulation last fall. <o:p></o:p> ..despite that we turn in a 6 layer deep carbon-copy catch data form taken on a day-by-day basis: Mail it to 'em.. <o:p></o:p> There really is no excuse for saying <acronym title="Maryland"><acronym title="Maryland">MD</acronym></acronym> Charter/Party caught 11 tog last year. <o:p></o:p> It is a gigantic Screw You - Fishers have never fought the data and won - MRFSS says we caught 11 fish or 8 million - They always win.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Still, here's an easy one, 11 tog, a slam dunk--multiple eyewitness--error. Almost 30 years of data though.. You see a spike in 1984. Happened too. It kept right through the next year in real-life, but that got missed in the data. They didn't pick up on the fact that the surge in tog effort continued for 2 1/2 years. <o:p></o:p> I remember - was working deck - netting peoples fish - would catch big tog on diamond jigs when the day's crabs were gone. <o:p></o:p> With no limits on a species with a narrowly defined and shrinking habitat -- We crushed 'em.<o:p></o:p> And then our tog catch stayed very, very low and flat for about 2 decades. Wasn't the commercial bad guys - We did it.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> In 2003, after over a decade of a self-imposed 3 fish at 16 inches limit, a hard lesson learned about habitat and fishing pressure, and having failed in an effort to get <acronym title="Maryland"><acronym title="Maryland">MD</acronym></acronym> to go with a larger size limit in the ocean to increase egg production; We resumed tog fishing with the State's 5 fish at 14 inches limit. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> I could pry this farther apart by researching my own logs but you can see again that trends are evident in the party/charter data though not perfectly so: OK, it's very poor here, but evident if you have background knowledge---perfectly evident that some estimates are just wrong at least. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Another Then: The slipperiest data sets are almost always the private boats--except when shore estimates go badly wrong. Here's the set for private boat ocean fishing for tautog -- does not include the back-bay or jetties. Watch for consistency. (but don't hold your breath)<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <table style="" class="MsoNormalTable" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="3"> <tbody> <tr style=""> <td style="border: medium none; padding: 0.75pt;" colspan="3"> Species: TAUTOG Maryland Private Boat - All Ocean Combined<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> Year<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> PSE<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1982<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 8,507<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 100<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1987<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 62,758<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 69.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1988<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 64,332<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 68.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1989<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 910<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 0<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1990<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 438<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 75.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1991<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 282<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 100.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1992<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 7,971<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 43.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1993<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 6,913<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 30.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1994<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1,215<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 100<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1995<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 4,747<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 100.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1997<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 20,859<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 49.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1998<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 3,713<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 71.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1999<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 0<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 0<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2001<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 5,952<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 91.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2002<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 0<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 0<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2003<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 538<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 93.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2007<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 20,082<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 75.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2008<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1,350<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 0<o:p></o:p> </td></tr></tbody></table> <o:p></o:p> Hmmm.. I'd call HS on the whole data chart. That means Highly Speculative and has nothing to do with what gets cleaned from a horse's stall.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> I'd wager 1991, 2003 & 2008 are the best sets here. Remember, this estimate does not include the jetties and such, just the ocean. <o:p></o:p> The 1987 & '88 sets are hallucination; There were maybe 40 private boats that might target tog, less than a dozen were serious about it.. <o:p></o:p> Zero caught in '99 - Zero again in 2002 - 2004, '05 & '06 are zero by omission: And 20,082 were caught in 2007? <o:p></o:p> This is precisely the type of data that is being used to destroy the recreational fishing industry...<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Below is Everybody in Maryland's Tog Effort --Boats, Shore, For-Hire-- Everybody. See what you spot..<o:p></o:p> <table style="" class="MsoNormalTable" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="3"> <tbody> <tr style=""> <td style="border: medium none; padding: 0.75pt;" colspan="3"> Species: TAUTOG Maryland All Areas/All Effort<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> Year<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> PSE<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1981<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 4,670<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 65.9<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1982<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 35,105<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 61.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1983<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2,126<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 57.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1984<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 42,835<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 51.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1985<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 486<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 59.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1986<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 5,476<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 64.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1987<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 90,523<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 53<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1988<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 107,570<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 45.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1989<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 34,709<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 42.9<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1990<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 45,467<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 26<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1991<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 26,770<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 36.9<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1992<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 106,255<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 35<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1993<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 60,231<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 30.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1994<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 157,260<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 31.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1995<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 43,542<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 36.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1996<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 9,695<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 43.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1997<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 85,682<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 34.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1998<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 6,512<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 45.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1999<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 20,180<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 44.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2000<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 20,129<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 50.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2001<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 23,715<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 40.9<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2002<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 42,038<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 29.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2003<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 13,555<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 31.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2004<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 14,049<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 55.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2005<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 39,993<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 48.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2006<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 14,314<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 48.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2007<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 107,061<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 30.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2008<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 24,127<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 28.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2009<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 38,194<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 34.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr></tbody></table> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> You may well remember in 2007/08 when we had to pick an "Option" with which to take our mandatory reduction; That because we had "Over Fished Our Quota" in 2007 we would be allowed less the following year.. I spent maybe an hour trying to refute the data. <o:p></o:p> No Mercy. <o:p></o:p> Irregardless how obvious the implausibility of the data, managers won't even fight it. Policy is to use the centerpoint: Subordinates need a paycheck and will use the data as ordered. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Their defense: The data Couldbe right. Just add more fishers - lucky ones at that. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Lots of people want to add greater and greater layers of complexity to our data collection; Make it real-time like the hi-tech surveillance on an Afghanistan hillside's battlefield. <o:p></o:p> I think greater complexity leads to higher expense and often to failure.<o:p></o:p> Were we to take the hic-ups out of the MRFSS flounder, sea bass & tautog data we'd have management flowing along fairly well. <o:p></o:p> Remove data sets that are only supported by managers under duress of job loss and fishers wouldn't be in such trouble. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Instead though, managers are running around from emergency to emergency, fishers are trying to cope with closures in the great recession; A great embattlement over the sourest of data sets ensues.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Below are the MRFSS sea bass tables that I think were pivotal in closing our season last year. They're self explanatory. Yet these are some of the data sets that have taken our sea bass season from 11 months to 3 months. We really need fairhanded governance here.<o:p></o:p> Words on paper can change how numbers on paper are used. <o:p></o:p> Then we can get back to fixing where the fish live, a place where paper has, thus far, been nearly useless. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> We did not overfish. <o:p></o:p> Sea bass habitat remains undiscovered.<o:p></o:p> Habitat fidelity remains unused in a coastwide management approach.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> The very worst that can happen is we go back to a size/creel/season that we know rebuilt sea bass and other species for well over a decade. <o:p></o:p> Sacrificing an entire industry in worship of MRFSS data is shameful. <o:p></o:p> There's a new team in place that can fix it.<o:p></o:p> Ought to. <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Fishery Closed: Shifting fishing effort to whatever remains open then retards progress in other restorations. <o:p></o:p> The fishing public's faith in governance goes lower.<o:p></o:p> Lifetimes of work are destroyed by complex calculation without the simple posit: Could this catch estimate possibly be correct?<o:p></o:p> See cbass data below. I'd wager any would see what I'm talking about.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Needs Fixin. <o:p></o:p> We need our sea bass season back.<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Regards,<o:p></o:p> Monty<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Capt. Monty Hawkins mhawkins@siteone.net Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 Morning Star Fishing<o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <table style="" class="MsoNormalTable" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="3"> <tbody> <tr style=""> <td style="border: medium none; padding: 0.75pt;" colspan="3"> Species: BLACK SEA BASS - <acronym title="Massachusetts"><acronym title="Massachusetts">MA</acronym></acronym> - Private Boats - Wave 4 - July/August <o:p></o:p> 1,122.28% Increase<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> Year<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> PSE<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2005<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 43,478<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 42.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2006<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 27,518<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 44.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2007<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 13,062<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 71.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2008<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 13,548<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 69.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2009<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 165,595<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 25.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr></tbody></table> <o:p></o:p> <table style="" class="MsoNormalTable" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="3"> <tbody> <tr style=""> <td style="border: medium none; padding: 0.75pt;" colspan="3"> Species: BLACK SEA BASS -<acronym title="Massachusetts"><acronym title="Massachusetts">MA</acronym></acronym> - Partyboat - All Areas - Wave 3 - June/July<o:p></o:p> 14,564.64% Increase<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> Year<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> PSE<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2005<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 204<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 32<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2006<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 74<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 31.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2007<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 3,015<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 31.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2008<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 526<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 19<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2009<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 77,136<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 32<o:p></o:p> </td></tr></tbody></table> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> Wave 2 <acronym title="New Jersey"><acronym title="New Jersey">NJ</acronym></acronym> Party Boats - March/April<o:p></o:p> <table style="" class="MsoNormalTable" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="3"> <tbody> <tr style=""> <td style="border: medium none; padding: 0.75pt;" colspan="3"> Species: BLACK SEA BASS<o:p></o:p> 15,230.5% Increase<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> Year<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> PSE<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2005<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 61<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 71.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2006<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 30<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 99.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2008<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 134<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 100.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2009<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 20,543<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 37.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr></tbody></table> <o:p></o:p> Wave 2 March/April - From 1998 to 2009 - New Jersey, Private Boats<o:p></o:p> <table style="" class="MsoNormalTable" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="3"> <tbody> <tr style=""> <td style="border: medium none; padding: 0.75pt;" colspan="3"> Species: BLACK SEA BASS<o:p></o:p> 942.2% Increase<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> Year<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> PSE<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2002<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 9,921<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 92.9<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2007<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 3,302<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 74.1<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2009<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 34,418<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 56.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr></tbody></table> <o:p></o:p> <o:p></o:p> <table style="" class="MsoNormalTable" border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="3"> <tbody> <tr style=""> <td style="border: medium none; padding: 0.75pt;" colspan="3"> Species: BLACK SEA BASS - Private Boats - New York<o:p></o:p> 455.2% Increase <o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> Year<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> PSE<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 1999<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 23,711<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 62.8<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2000<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 13,179<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 66.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2001<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 0<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 0<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2002<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 59,718<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 55.3<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2003<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 59,282<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 25.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2004<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 4,852<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 59.6<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2005<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 17,591<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 95.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2006<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 58,051<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 81.4<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2007<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 12,461<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 89.7<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2008<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 15,320<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 47.2<o:p></o:p> </td></tr> <tr style=""> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 2009<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 85,056<o:p></o:p> </td> <td style="padding: 0.75pt;"> 36.5<o:p></o:p> </td></tr></tbody></table>
  9. Fish Report 10/10/09 Triggerfish, Tog & ..Drum? Closure: RFA's Response Decoys For Sale Hi All, Very light crowds offering no fiscal relief; derned if it ain't fun though. Triggerfish have been the main target. They're almost out of here; very late to have them now. Been some wonderful fishing. Fall rules - we're tagging them under 11 inches, boxing the rest. Come to think of it, fall rules will remain until the state accepts management of this important fishery. Too busy with triggers to really get down to business with the tog. Today I decided to give it a little more effort.. Dang those fish are fun. Unforgiving too; we broke 3 off close to 10 pounds, one may have gone 12/13. I will have my toggin gear aboard come morning. Water temperature is slipping, that's key. Season opens back to 4 fish later, still at two now. Couple nice dinners in a pair of good tog. A fishery that folks love or hate; heck of a lot of fun if they're biting.. My customers have caught four black drum in almost 30 years of bottom fishing off Maryland's coast. All caught this week; three of them by Hurricane Murray. Talk about odd.. Hurricane 3 -- tens of thousands of others 1. Caught on triggerfish rigs, they weren't big, just 10 - 12 pounders. Cooked one, tagged the others.... The Recreational Fishing Alliance, RFA, is going to court over the sea bass closure. And not solely for this particular closing, they want to see clarity brought to the whole process. An honorable suit, the RFA is trying to raise money for their legal defense fund. If you're so minded the website Googles easily... Fair to say that I have a conservation minded client base, perhaps the most so for a party boat. Still, raising the size limit to 12 1/2 inches was bad for business. We had the highest release ratio this June of the last ten, maybe ever: 86.15%. Having seen the cbass stock grow fantastically at closer to 50% releases--even when there was no creel limit, throwing back almost 90% diminishes the experience as the enjoyable camaraderie of this type of fishing doesn't stop until the dishes are washed. Slowed by regulation and now closed, a coastal small-business economic disaster has been created by MRFSS data that no one believes: or should. I know the statistics are not meant to be a hard number - they're a spread. How it came to be that managers 'have to' use the centerpoints of catch estimates I do not know, but there --the centerpoint-- is the crux of the problem. That and with all this squirrel hunting, no one's gone to see if there's any trees.. Common sense regulation would carry the day better than data best handled with a wide pitch-fork. A couple years after the new federal fishing registry, MRIP, has been up, the back checking will make for some interesting reading. The firmer 'number of participants' license data, overlaid on field intercepts--real, actual fish counts--will show just how crazy some of these estimates have been. Fishing 7 days a week for tog, triggers--its a water temp thing--and whatever else we can find. The rail is limited to 15 for tog fishing; limited far more by other pressures. Now selling decoys I made 20 and more years ago on eBay. Rather my daughter's children had done that.. Sunrise, pleasant company, catch fish, maybe some big fish.. With all the ills in this world I could certainly have far, far worse. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins mhawkins@siteone.net Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 http://www.morningstarfishing.com/
  10. Fish Report 10/16/09 Gales of October Tags VTRs: A Short-Term Solution Stay with me on this one too.. Hi All, Nicked some triggers on Tuesday, our last day before this gale rolled onto the coast. Winds peaked at forty three knots, seas sixteen feet, water temp dropping all the time: they were likely our last triggers of the year. Also caught tog, some more than nicking them, a double header of keepers, tags returned after celebrating a birthday, maybe two: but not everywhere I might expect - trouble. Oscillating up and down over decades, the tog stock has a long recovery period after overfishing. We won't contribute much to those ills with a two fish limit--a bit though. Have certainly earned our keep with building habitat, conservative management and the determination of those releasing all females or limiting their number & fishing far above the required size limit. Seemingly barbaric, bleeding these fish adds to their flavor; fillets a beautiful white, fresh and firm; a noble fish, worth the extra effort. When the wind lays down we'll be targeting them as best we might. The two fish limit designed to keep early fall pressure on our far more abundant cbass that are now closed: opening back to 4 tog come November. The fantastic abundance of summer flounder, unforeseen in occurring and apparently unnoticed by management, is denied to us in this difficult time as well. We have tagged a fair-many of late; running low, just sticking them over 18 inches. One 22 incher ate a tog bait, green crab, hardly a common flounder bait. Put a yellow ribbon in a 22 inch sea bass too. My many thanks to those that trouble themselves with reporting their tagged-fish catch returns. Light crowds - we'll get some great practice and tag a mess of these rascals, keep a pair for dinner. Sell a ticket and the weather's good, we're going.......... Though well-found, my partyboat business lies bludgeoned and bleeding, nearly breathless, hull grassing as bedsores, her mooring lines--now doubled for gale winds--are all that's left to support her though this regulatory tempest. Sea bass closed in what should be a time for putting-up fish for winter, a time for banking maintenance funds and paying down the remainder of the many bills associated with business is a regulatory failure unlike any I've seen. This region's last sea bass collapse occurred--unnoticed by management--back in very early '04. We are well into the rebound now, spawning stock comprised of many sub-legal males; we're looking great. Or would be. Commercial fisher, environmentalist, recreational enthusiast, manager, scientist, partyboat patrons & crew; all share a similar goal: healthy fisheries. But the only tool in use is catch restriction. Amazing to me is that even among a few of the best funded environmental groups, those what might understand every single link in an estuarine food web, no real connection has been made between healthy marine habitat and restored fisheries. Historically, great strength borne with ignorance has often brought a poor end. Not at all intriguing might be stern-towed gear operators working to keep fisheries scientists in the dark, but they too surely benefit with fish in abundance.. Spectacularly, some--many--in the recreational fisheries are so afraid of the dreaded Marine Protected Area, MPA, that they'd as soon there be no discovery of sensitive habitat either.."Keep that closet closed or we'll never fish again!" Living in fear of the truth.. Not a good place to be. Fish populations driven higher solely by catch restriction offer tenuous success; their creation of bioeconomic stability apt to topple at some bit of overfishing--real or imagined. Fisheries restored through habitat increase will be on sounder footing, as would many overlooked parts of the food web. Fishers having more options, these many species doing well, reduces fishing pressure as effort broadens in spectrum. Seeing what happens beneath that watery veil, which fishers have no trouble breaching for their purpose, is indeed necessary. Science, at least thus far it seems, can't be bothered about it unless it pertains to genuine discovery, not economic recovery. There are corals, exquisite in every regard, growing on every hard surface in this marine region. Fish live there. Though all groups with a marine interest want to see a similar conclusion, none are on the same path. Any hope of bridging the gulf lessens, widening daily as the regulatory difficulties of decisive management, wrought of poor data, envelop more participants with its disruptive, business eliminating, lawsuit filing result. Battles fully joined, the amity & goodwill of fishing a memory. That we might find a way out before MRIP, a way to simplify, if only temporarily, the regulations on the reef-using demersals, we might then find more common ground. Any of these rebuilding targets can be exceeded with focused management that includes habitat at its center, a center surrounded by solid catch data, and from that firming, more surety in biomass estimates. Deeper still to flesh out a solution. Try. Try by using VTRs. Fishing Vessel Trip Reports, VTRs, are a a form sent out by NMFS in Gloucester, MA. Every commercial boat, including party/headboat, has to fill out this form for each trip; at one time I understand trawlers had to go tow-by-tow. The information includes a fairly general location, number of crew, number of passengers, trip time, soak time, number of hooks, and quite detailed information on catch--species by species--discarded & kept, and assorted permit numbers. I personally include habitat type, marine mammal & turtle sightings. NMFS has been collecting this paperwork for some time, and from a lot of boats. The Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey is not allowed to use VTRs - or wasn't when last I heard, though it sure seems like MD partyboat MRFSS numbers smoothed out, got extra accurate a couple years back, despite the slippage with this year's cbass pre-estimates. Mountain of data; many tales to tell: ought to have a listen. Tales of passenger increases when the fishing's good, and of sliding sales when its not; release ratios over much of the coast - dividable down to several sq. mile areas, catches in same fashion--species specific catches, fishing pressure readable same; bigger boats that got out in weather when smaller ones didn't, no boats got out, more, lots more: buckets and buckets of data. All of it, every byte, can be used in some fashion to check the broad accuracy of stock biomass estimates. And all of it, every byte, can be used in some fashion to check the broader MRFSS work. Instantly, nearly all the underestimated catch would jump out as Maryland's 2009 estimate of 1,192 sea bass surely must. For those creating, using & supporting MRFSS, I'd suspect their perception an ugly thing, like a good friend gone to crack, the death of a neighbor's child, or the disappearance of 30 years--seven days a week-- hard work. Surrender? Move to common-sense size and creel limits right there? At least until MRIP is up and running? Get rid of the indefensible positions that have boats fishing next to each other under wildly different regulation? Nah - live and breath the data - anyone actually doing this would press on. I went into some great detail last year that for our state's MRFSS estimates of summer flounder catches to have been accurate there would have to have been small boats stacked atop one-another, and shore fishers shoulder to shoulder, had they caught as well as party/charter skippers: this based on VTR CPUE--catch per unit of effort. Had they not caught as well as professional effort, it would have required far more fishers. An extremely intelligent fellow, from Woods Hole I think, went over those assertions, and from others, and concluded that MD's catch could indeed be as MRFSS predicted because he didn't have hard data to use that bore-out our anecdotal offerings.. An emergency now--for fishers anyway--maybe a few phone calls to DNR police: "Where do they fish, how many boats/people.." Anglers themselves untrusted; some state and non-profit biologists are frequently out and could establish fishable area on charts. There's the often maligned MRFSS field interviewer - eyes on, at least enough to spot Bad Science creeping into a data set. Could the asserted fishing effort--the number of participants--actually have occurred? Boots treading--truthing--not paper where errors grow enormous unchecked, can yield a better answer. It might be Bad Science.. ..if VTRs show a decline in catch and passengers, but the 'private/rental' category in the data skyrockets.. ..if private/rental boats are shown catching low yet shore effort is stacking fish like cordwood, their sinkers barely missing the skunked fishers hulls.. ..if numbers of participants are high, but party boats are only sailing weekends.. ..if any marine catch is shown to occur when it was too rough to go.. Once started, a lot of comparisons would emerge. Accuracy, more solid, created in just a couple small geographical areas would establish some percentages to work with over broader swaths. Would work. Needs to. COB Tuesday? Yeah, probably not. No hurry at all? Now Katrina, front-liners fully engaged... Time for some very real leadership. Want to try Maker's Mark by Christmas. Not food stamps. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins mhawkins@siteone.net Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 http://www.morningstarfishing.com/
  11. Fish Report 10/19/09 Goin' Fishin' Another Letter to Dr. Lubchenco Hi All, Dogoned-no-good-stinking-nasty weather... (That's the Hallmark version) Have not fished since before the last report. West at 10 Tuesday & Wednesday - forecast like that, ought to be able to do something with it. Sea bass remain closed. Great big water temp drop, anticipate a tog bite - should snap. Go see. Two fish limit - practice/dinner/tagging.. Some fun. Rail sells out at 15 for tog trips. Sell a ticket, weather's good, we're going. That's it for the "what's biting" part of the report. Below you'll find a couple other things on my mind.. Regards Monty MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! That's how I titled a recent letter to Senator Mikulski, Senator Cardin, Congressman Kratovil, Dr. Lubchenco and others. Tried to convey the sense & reaction of hearing a real mayday call, the spine-chilling, survival instinct-activating response that is the mariner's. Sometimes an engine overheat is mistaken for fire, a live-well pump's hose--disconnected--has only to be turned off, a diabetic need only eat, a child playing on the radio - false alarm. But when its real, even when its not, responders get going. DNR Police, volunteers, Coast Guard assets---moving---boats, ships, helicopters, airplanes, satellites - unrelenting action - rescue. Mayday response from Congressman Kratovil - yes. Good thing too or I'd have thought my 'radio' broken. The rest ain't pickin' up what I'm putting out. Or, maybe they are.. yawn.. What is occurring in our fisheries is as if the Coast Guard's electronic data stream, the radio transmitting weather buoys, were broken. Showing impossibly dangerous sea conditions: their only correct response would be closing ports & inlets to traffic, halting all commerce at sea. Unwilling to check the data, they scoff at mariners' observations of calm conditions. Now years later, knowing full-well the buoy data is rotten and bearing the scars of a flogging by the National Research Council, they still close off traffic when these monitors light-up - without ever checking actual conditions. That is exactly where we are with the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey - MRFSS. Sea Bass, summer flounder, and many others fishery plans depend on MRFSS to estimate catch.. Well, it isn't exactly that, its management having to use MRFSS' center, a huge statistical spread, a spread which well may contain the correct estimate of the number of fish caught--somehow statistically valid--but only rarely in its center. Irregardless: the coastal buoy data, these recreational fish catch estimates, are as rotten as a one of those 'cooler surprises' when, a week or two after your last fishing trip, you open that Coleman and--instantly overcome--gag-retch-spit, odor foul enough to make a skunk blush. Like the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, fishers now starve next to a sea full of bounty. They in need of knowledge to catch them, we the skills to prod a system into action; neither wanting more than to eat. This MRFSS data is causing economic pain to fishing crews, bait sellers, sinker makers, tow-boat operators, .....the restaurants in which fishers might dine, the hotels where they might stay and, indeed, the very people that would enjoy use of these services. From Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod, all this fiscal pain to all these people can be reduced--not eliminated-but lessened--by reopening sea bass & flounder to recreational fishers that have done nothing more than cooperate in their restoration. The sea bass "Emergency Closure" is not fisheries restoration. I have no idea how to convince the higher-ups that reef-dwelling fish need reef: that the obvious effects of stern towed gears used decade upon decade have diminished these reefs: the fact sea bass return 'home' to spawn each summer leaves the idea of a 'coastal stock' untenable, that they must be managed regionally: and that in their unique physiology, that they change sex in response to population rise and fall, is the greatest means of population increase if we can but grasp it... No, this 'emergency closure' is only causing crisis, not fixing one. Catch restriction but a handy wrench; the tools for real restoration remain unused. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins mhawkins@siteone.net Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 http://www.morningstarfishing.com/
  12. Fish Report 10/25/09 Two Tog Window Dressing Hi All, Fished near-bout all week with light crowds.. er, all put together it wouldn't have been a crowd. Did fish Tuesday to Friday though with Saturday's south at 30 ending the streak. Was fun. Bite alternated between steady all day to fussy with a couple good flurries. Different daily; just as you'd expect of tog. Had a couple folks aboard that had no experience with the fishery. Light rails.. its been a great time to learn; clients enjoying as much individual instruction as needed, I think. Even Cathy, who I've fished with since 1982, who can bring a tear to a grown man's eye while sea-bassing and surely did trout fishing back when: even though she fed the tog a steady supply of crabs for about an hour without a hook-up, Cathy can no longer say: "I can't catch tog." Poor tog... I had a voice in the creation of our tog regs. So did many others. Sea bass now closed - I'm hit by ricochet bullet I helped load. The two fish limit was to be an 'incidental catch' limit, slowing directed effort, easing pressure while many other species were available in the bays and ocean. Never anticipated cbass closed in the best time of year. Ever... Had I written the tautog regs it would have been: Ocean - 3 at 16 inches, only one of which could be female, dropping to one fish in summer. Coastal bays I'd slowly up the size limit - work it to 16 over a long period, six or eight years. I was recently saddened to learn that a local fishing club's highliner in the coastal bay-category had the lead with a 15 1/2 incher.Guy eats, sleeps & breaths tog.. Lot more ovarian bang-for-your-buck in the larger fish. We all 'know' more eggs means more fish. (fecundity study Himchek, NJ) Its not that simple of course. Those eggs have to survive. Then the juveniles have to survive. Then fishing starts to be a factor. I received an interesting email from Rich Wong of the MAFMC this summer who did his masters on juvenile tog. He argues that tautog populations are limited by suitable grasses & especially macro algae in their earliest weeks and months of life, this when they've first settled to bottom from the plankton stage. Little chameleons, these youngsters change color to match, exactly, the color of the growth they're in. His argument: more juvenile habitat in our estuaries would allow more fish to 'recruit' to the fishery--to grow up: that the species is not limited by hard-bottom reef habitat: rather, any bottleneck of stock expansion is in juvenile habitat limitation. I remain unpersuaded that juvenile settlement does not occur in the ocean, but Wong's work is certainly convincing of the importance of inshore habitat. Fair-many sea bass fall from that same patch of sky. Lot of folks working on this region's bays, get these factories back into full fisheries production. "Enviros" some call them... Meanwhile, all the coastal artificial reef we have built has been settled to some extent by tog. In our tag & release work there is no evidence of migration; a couple on walkabout, but nothing resembling sea trout, striped bass, or even sea bass: our region's tog are homebodies. Fishing now with a two fish limit, we're doing lots of tagging. Have had a couple good recaptures--old returns, fish with a story--and keeping at least a big fish dinner. Opens back to 4 come November 1st. Soon do a fish report on these 652 and counting tag returns. Wonderful developments in artificial reefing too. Need to match a $25,000 grant towards the Radford.. But not yet. Sea bass under martial law - addressing that issue more important, discussed below. Keep bringing a .22 to a sniper match; playing the fish-pool though Sam, Larry, Dennis, Henry & Brian are onboard.. Writings form rampart, logic grape & chain-shot, email as cannon - no surrender. Like Custer, I can't. Regards, Monty Warning: The following verbiage has been modified from its original format for profanity. Despite lead scientists' findings that the black sea bass quota could be safely doubled, the current stock assessment and statistical data review committee's recommendation has 'safe harvest levels' for 2010 the same as 2009: the lowest quota ever. Current MRFSS catch/discard mortality estimates hold that recreational fishers have far exceeded this year's quota. If I'm not mistaken, this means the sea bass season in 2010 will be greatly shortened with a smaller creel limit and larger size limit. And, if that's correct, then the piano-wire necktie will have done its job perfectly, a low-budget guillotine, though no other aspect of management has. This window-dressing, the numbers on paper or screen in offices where payroll is unquestioned; these estimates that are truly important to some very few people will be as they'd like, as if an architect could submit as-built drawings before the foundation's been poured; this tiny sub-set of the management community happy with their efforts while hundreds in business experience severe economic repercussions and thousands are denied access to a fishery they too have helped rebuild. Pretty numbers with ugly consequences, experienced in an ugly economy. This sometimes-uneasy alliance of regulators and fishery scientists call sea bass a "data poor fishery." They know full-well there are errors, not just in the catch estimates, but in the stock assessments too--the larger guess of just how many fish are out there. Scientific trawl data to estimate how many fish live where no trawl-net can be towed.. Recreational catch estimates discredited by the National Research Council, NRC, that guess how many have been caught by sport fishers.. An estimation of almost half our quota, not as catch, but dying of release mortality, this when I couldn't force an under-size sea bass to go belly-up with scientists aboard.. Inferior data, no matter how thick its binder, leads to poor decisions. So why in the Billy-Blue-Blazes haven't fishers been asked to provide supporting data that might better these decisions? Maybe there is a full-press effort to get accuracy from Vessel Trip Reports, VTRs. Maybe there is a dedicated effort to find truth with existing, but unused, data. If so, they're awful quiet about it. Ought to share the news. Make headlines around some parts. The fellow that looked at our assertions of over-estimated flounder catch last year reviewed the exact data set that had created the errors. He would not use our airplane over-flight boat counts, or any other reasonable data source we offered, to lower the number of shore and private boat fishers. We sought to compare known catch rates of party/charter fishers with an improved estimate of the number of other participants, and--refusing anything remotely anecdotal--got the same data looked at with the same result. Rote: mechanical repetition of something so that it is remembered, often without real understanding of its meaning or consequence. (Encarta) Above I had an example of juvenile tautog production being limited by habitat. My anecdotal assertions and video--YouTube search 'Common seafloor habitat mid-Atlantic' & also see Nick Caloyianis "Natural 3-D Bottom: Mid-Atlantic Bight"--these images not enough: coral reef in our region remains scientifically unsubstantiated.. The NRC has a book, albeit thin, titled "Effects of Trawling and Dredging on Seafloor Habitat" that has multiple descriptions of habitat damage. The American Fisheries Society has a book, thick--could be used for self-defense, is--entitled "Benthic Habitats and the Effects of Fishing" with numerous examples worldwide of habitat loss. Yet repetition of known-to-be-safe statements by rote leads to this sentence from a recent MAFMC Press Release titled: MPA Designations moving forward. 10/19/09 "...3.) For fishing gear impacts - the Council should adopt its prior determination that hydraulic dredges may adversely impact EFH but that the impacts are temporary and minimal..." There are areas where that is a true statement. There are also habitats, some already lost, none already found, some completely gone for forty and more years, where "temporary and minimal" may understate the stern towed gear's effect. Every square yard of reef has a production value many times greater than sand. Some of this production, from the most sizable boulders and, as in Russian roulette, those bottoms that simply haven't been impacted in a long time, is still enjoyed by modern fishers. Much of it though has been lost and will only be enjoyed by future fishers if we accept the task of finding and restoring it. The production of our many artificial reefs is shared, not cherished nor even recognized, amongst all. The loss of our natural reefs' production, through reduced catch, is shared by all too. Management's single, laser-like focus on catch restriction--and its use of poor data to base regulatory decisions on--has brought my industry close to death. Now, after 12 years of federal sea bass management we are denied access: closed, not in a time of crisis for the fishery, but for a minor paperwork crisis of dubious origin that coincides a national economic crisis causing intensifying effect. It is management's refusal to find, protect and enhance Essential Fish Habitat--this a clinically diagnosable denial of restoration biology: their unwillingness to look deeper, search harder, for positive results in regional stocks that have--though accidently--already occurred: to model means of maintaining very high spawning stocks plainly evident in the fishery and use those models for betterment of commercial and recreational opportunity: and, finally, to use regional stock divisions--regional quotas--as a decisive and fundamental management tool supported by science that meets any gold-standard test. I find the absence of this type of work negligent, especially since 'more of the same' has proven disastrous. I believe its inclusion, the embracing of restorative work instead of relying solely on fishing reduction, would send the Mid-Atlantics' fisheries well beyond rebuilt; that management has no concept of what is achievable and, as of now, has no firm tactic to achieve anything other than temporary restorations, stock oscillations, in which no business can survive. Forget the window-dressing. Side with jobs, not problematic fishery data. Pull those research boats out of their NASA-like deep trench research. Put them to works of immediate economic importance. Find the natural reef habitat that is and once was. Build more too; its easy. Seek realistic catch data using the knowledge of those deeply involved with recreational fisheries. And reopen sea bass before regulatory mortality climbs near 100% - for fishers, not fish. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins mhawkins@siteone.net Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 http://www.morningstarfishing.com/
  13. Fish Report 10/29/09 Tog A CBass Prediction Wheat Field Hi All, Weather.. lots of weather. Not as bad as weather gets, but plenty bad enough to keep us in port. Tog should cooperate nicely - water temp dropping, mixing. Season opens back to 4 fish on November first. Going every chance we get - even with the very smallest of crowds - even if crew outnumber crowd. Calling for 10 knots in a long-period ground swell Friday... I listened to the House Sub-Committee on Oceans testimony Tuesday. My Congressman is on that Committee. He's heard from me. Brilliant people, especially Dr. Murawski--but human--and a guy I suspect is looking for a huge Government contract for monitoring catch made up the first panel. The second panel was fishers, mostly well-spoken and to the point. One group quite proud, the other angry. I was dismayed to hear what sounded like a verbatim recitation of a Pew press event from mid-summer coming from a NOAA scientist. The RFA's council, Mr. Moore, did a fine job. I thought his the best of the lot. Still, as the panels finished and the questions subsided.. I knew what it was to feel the wake of a passing freighter - while stranded in a life raft. No rescue - not this time.. Perhaps the financial distress caused by this "Emergency Closure" will be a catalyst for improving management. Tagging studies being definitive, habitat fidelity solidly established, dividing the mid-Atlantic into 3 or 4 regions/zones and splitting the quotas/allotments is absolutely necessary. This is the most critical change needed: Create regionally controlled quotas for winter to ensure that massive over-fishing does not occur on a single regional sub-stock. Apparently, sea bass abundance to our north is where ours was 5 years ago, at least according to the data. Remember, the need for some regulation was so obvious that fishers acted. In Maryland we had a 6 year head start on management, our 9 inch size limit giving us a solid lead when federal management came. Our stock grew incredibly soon after the creel limit was introduced, and then collapsed. In 2003 sea bass were so abundant I honestly thought we were nearing the habitat's holding capacity. I suspect what happened to our fish will now continue time after time, regionally. The currently-peaking northern area will experience heavy trawl pressure in January, February and March because it is the most valuable part of the stock. Bigger sea bass are worth more per pound, that's where the money is: it will be targeted. This heavy pressure, recreational included, on a regional stock; this mature cbass stock with the males all grown into legal size, and virtually none sub-legal, will get hit heavily and start to topple. Removal of the males, furthered by continued--even increasing--recreational and nearshore artisanal fishing in spring, will create a spawning shortfall come summer. Imbalanced, that area's cbass population will no longer replenish faster than fishing is removing--regional collapse then unforestallable. Meanwhile, other areas will be in better population phase, have more numerous fish. Statistics which only deal in coastwide stock assessments will camouflage on paper the heavily pressured sub-stock's problem. Unnoticed in the whole of the coastal data set, that regional fishery then collapses to below size-limit. The cycle, the rebuilding, begins anew as more small sea bass transition to male and create a new spawning stock. In aquarium settings sea bass transition very rapidly from female to male when a single male is removed from amidst females. That is not what I observed here after our most recent collapse in early 2004. Males never completely absent, it wasn't until 2008 that they were abundant, far more so this year--most sub-legal. From Cape May to Chincoteague we are well into the upturn--and would have enjoyed it far more had the size limit remained 12 inches. In 3 years, maybe 2, we'll be where the northern region is now; where we were in 2003. In 3 or 4 years we start all over. Unless its sooner. Or it gets fixed. Shutting us down on sea bass was, and remains, rubbish. Some are willing to peel back the watery veil and have a look. Most--including the power centers--are all about paper crossing a desk. No scholarly work exists with our natural reefs on them. While I have written several papers, made video: its anecdotal.. There's virtually no scholarly knowledge of mid-Atlantic natural seafloor habitat. There's no paper to cite. Without efforts to find out what habitat is missing, protect what remains, and restore at least the natural footprint of reef in the mid-Atlantic; the cycle I've described above could worsen depending on habitat impacts. You can not restore squirrels to a wheat field, nor can you restore reef-fish to barren bottom. A pile of horse-feathers is any claim of rebuilding reef-dwelling species without knowledge of their habitat. Managing sea bass is all about controlling fishing pressure on discreet habitats; its succesful restoration measured via the regional holding capacity of its reefs. The bold assertion of grand economic gains for survivors of this regulatory tempest--fisheries quickly rebuilt--are hollow, if not disingenuous; disappearing into thin air upon realization that we now manage fish by sky-fall, not reef production. Coastwide catch-restriction creates oscillation in sea bass abundance. The peaks will remain temporary, and the valleys more economically destructive, without a solid foundation of habitat and a method of maintaining a sub-legal spawning stock.. Unless you just close the fishery. Bloody fine bit of management that. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins mhawkins@siteone.net Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 http://www.morningstarfishing.com/
  14. Fish Report 11/3/09 Toggin' Reefing Possibilities Hi All, Long stretch of bad weather.. might not be done yet. Snuck in Tuesday, eased on out; paced as an enjoyable walk. Throttle down - over structure - lay starboard anchor well up into a considerable but diminishing swell - port anchor far below the wind & off a stern cleat; drawn tight, we're saddled just so: not gonna ring the bell on that one piece of steel, no sinkers banging-clanging: won't spoke 'em.. Man did the tog chew. Hungry. My aft deck, despite 40 some legal fish tags today, wasn't a picture of conservation. Or was it? I promise this, we could have taken an awful lot of tog today, but stopped. Limited. Perhaps the single best illustration of fisheries management I can recall this year.. except.. Have I mentioned artificial reef lately? ..those scurvied rascals managing sea bass will wait a bit, a little bit... Department of Defense--DOD - They are, one day, going to be given a lot of credit for fisheries enhancement. SHA too.. More? Anyway, Maryland's at a jog, then a sprint, trying to catch-up.. For the first time in over a decade the State has just staffed the Reef Director's position - Erik Zlokovitz - strait-up - good guy. DOD's putting in new 'green roofing' at a facility. With a little luck the old roof, plain ol' concrete--and clean--is going to get a very green recycle in way of oyster reef.. So here's DOD wanting to reef. Will truck a scadjillion loads to near Baltimore Harbor. Maryland's NRG, Erik, needs a tug & barge company - big time & low budget! Erik Zlokovitz <A href="mailto:ezlokovitz@dnr.state.md.us"ezlokovitz@dnr.state.md.us/A> Upper Bay reef looks like... Heck of opportunity. Some readers know players - some readers are players - make this happen - key parts falling in place - legacy of improved water quality and fishing.. not just possible, probable. And so is the Radford. Navy Destroyer almost 600 feet long.. In what is already a well developed reef site, though not yet seasoned; DelJerseyLand promises to be a serious fishing and diving destination. I guarantee it. Need to fund Maryland's share of the Radford - The Morning Star reef-raffle ponied-up $1000.00.. Need a big donor - TV coverage, show of its own kind of deal. And I don't even know where to send you, except certainly to Erik.. We'll get the CCA website switched up a little for us regular folk http://www.ccamd.org/MARI/MARI_home.htm Here you can still "Buy a Ton" but it doesn't say Radford yet. You can, of course, funnel donations through the Ocean City Reef Foundation at http://www.ocreeffoundation.com/index1.php .. Call Marta at OCRF, she'll straighten you out. Down-home here, our small foundation has a couple projects rolling into place - another tautog/trigger/cbass/spadefish super-sturdy hilltop piece is ready, waiting for a calm-spell for deployment.. Oysters & temperate corals.. we're going to make a lot more; fish that live on 'em too. Ah good, we limited on tog. That was awesome. But we're fishing for tog in the height of sea bass season. That's not cool. Data is starting to become available, data that should firm-up NMFS's decision to throw lives under a bus by closing sea bass. Just a real quick data affirmation: Ricky up in Delaware.. hmmm, poor guy, my peer, a friend.. fishing forever, what of today? MRFSS has DE partyboats catching zero sea bass - none. Yet the state's anglers caught 44,322? Goodness Rick.. I've nearly lost it all, but I can still catch a sea bass.. Yeah, well, that didn't happen. Ricky caught fish. Others too. Maybe MRFSS will catch-up to DE later. Here in MD we killed 1,355 sea bass. That's just the party boats. Everyone else got skunked - I swear it. http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/st1/recreational/queries/catch/time_series.html Of course those VTRs I talk about - the Vessel Trip Report that has to be filled out daily by Rick & I and all other charter/party skippers - I reported to the government more than twice as many sea bass in May as they have for MD's year. I must not have been to the right places in Jersey, I've seen party boats everywhere - even outnumbering charters in some places. But they only caught 1 out of 7 cbass in the state. At least in MD we get credit for killing 'em all; an opinion widely held in the fisheries. "But the sampling improves over greater area." This in an an age where even manure fertilizer is targeted with pinpoint precision. Mix a little wrong with little right - you got wrong. That just a tiny sample of the "Real-Time Hard Data" that was used to close sea bass.. Good riddance to the whole sorry no-good mess of rat infested bilge slime. The Marine Recreational Information Program--MRIP--starts January 1st. Replacing MRFSS, we'll soon see that horrible mistakes have occurred over the years. Lots of 'em. These errors in catch estimation will be like rats at the city dump with kids pickin 'em off as they scramble from the light. I don't know what I'll do with the carcasses, but I'm going to collect 'em. Show everyone what we were focused on in the decades we wasted watching the waves, suspecting nothing amiss at the bottom of the sea. Rebuilding. Restoring.. As if fish populations occurred without any other influence, save fishing.. Sanity in catch estimates will allow a hard won truce; allow the troops weary of fighting this alien--catch estimate--beast that can not be bested an opportunity, a chance to look for other ways to bolster fisheries production; they're out there. Bad time for truth, fishers & tautog. Except the fishers that want tog. They should do OK.. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins mhawkins@siteone.net Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 http://www.morningstarfishing.com/
  15. Fish Report 11/6/09 Toggin Better Than OK Sea Bass in Converse Hi All, Couple good tog of late, tad north of 10 pounds. Just a very few. Very steady on stout mediums, the 3 to 7 pound fish. Ran through all my tags - now reloaded - tagged a 21 3/4 inch sea bass, bunch of others.. Fished with 2 people on Wednesday. Wore 'em out - in early. Grind it out Thursday but well worth the effort. All limits save one, that though we threw back plenty of tagged legals. Blown out Friday but did manage to site anchors at Kelly's for the coolest reef unit I have ever seen. I'm telling you, though small, the tog are gonna party there like cowhands at a Nevada chicken ranch - its going to be a tog factory. Sinking Saturday morning - weather permitting. Have decided to sell out at 12 for toggin. Getting everyone on the structure is what this fishery is about - less is better. Stick with what I know: Crabs provided - sell out at 12 people - leave at 7 - Saturday's different - leave the best phone contact possible with reservation staff in case of bad weather.... Would prefer to be selling 22 tickets for sea bass--often busier in November than August--but NMFS perceived there was an emergency: Overfished Recreational Quota - Closed for 180 Days. Seems the fellows up north outfished the party boats by a wide margin, private boats catching 5.34 cbass for every one caught on a party boat. That would defy belief here off Maryland's coast; I can't speak to it up there however. Coastwide, way over quota they say.. I carried 2 MRFSS interviewers the other day. A perfect data capture - pristine. No doubt that NMFS believes their MRFSS data. But what happens between that perfect interview, intercept they call it, and a large area catch estimate is.. Driving me crazy. Seems it would be so easy to truth, if they wanted the truth - really wanted it. Not a whisper of that that I've heard. They trust the MRFSS data. Trust it enough to treat their clients like pirates did traitors: economically, I may as well be buried to my neck in sand, watching the tide come in. The fishers that Pew thinks are going to enjoy a pleasant life of quiet bioeconomic stability wait, watching from behind the pirate's island palms as this cohort of fishers meets their watery death. NMFS: This data's solid, more than good enough to issue an economic death sentence - fishery closed. ..And now, like the brown eyed children in Jane Elliot's 3rd grade class, to most of the public and virtually all of the environmental community, we greedy evil fishers have perpetrated yet another vile foulness upon this ocean: 'You deserve to be closed, animal.' I have worked far too hard at restoration to suffer willfully uninformed bureaucratic ineptitude casting me as a dolphin slayer in some tidal pool.. The folks that own this town are all in tongues.. quota-restoration-Magnusson-big environmental rebuilt fisheries-quota-stop overfishing-over quota-quota-economic pot of gold at the end when restored-quota too high-overfishing.. worked themselves into a tizzy I think, their serotonin release coming at great cost to fishers. Honestly, if rational thought held sway, if this was really about fish and not some pretty paperwork decorating an inbox, if the management community were truly concerned with black sea bass populations and not just another footnote in their flowery report to congress, if restoration of a fishery--whose definition is never just a fish population; no, defining fishery must include the entirety of its environmental, economic & societal tendrils as well as those fish stocks which it uses: this current black sea bass restoration emergency would not, could not, be where cbass fishers are having good catches: no, if this system were fine-tuned and functioning, the emergency would be where fishers did not catch sea bass, not where they did--those skunked warranting attention, not those slamming 'em--emergency management where local collapse of a local stock known is occurring, this need-of-work plain as stench coming from the head door on a rough day; where regional absence of sea bass represents very real trouble, proactive management now afield looking for disruptors of their fishery.. Perhaps that is exactly what they would do though--show concern for low catches--if they believed Maryland really only caught 1,355 sea bass or Delaware's fleet of partyboats caught none at all. Maybe they'd be all over it.. but are, laughingly, content to toss out obviously bad catch estimates: the low ones. That we might have the same fate for overestimates.. Estimates high protected by the brotherhood of tongues, estimates low of no consequence. The worst trouble businesses can have is being perpetrated by those in government who are tasked with sustaining them. No one questions the validity of catch-restriction as a tool: This fishery can not be managed as it is. ALS and Federal tag returns unambiguous; it must be split into regions. When a lot of fishers complain about data do not suppose management to have suffered injustice to good work - something's wrong with the data. When trawl net surveys have great difficulty catching but the fewest sea bass it is because those fish live on corals, places where nets can not go--or--where operators of conscience know they should not go. Data-poor does not have to make fishers poor. Use solid catch/release data to model the stock. Sea bass change sex according to the size of the male spawning population. This can be used to take oscillation out of regional populations, or it can be ignored to make the swings wilder. To close this fishery based on strict adherence to law while conveniently ignoring the habitat provisions in that same law should be punishable by law. There's plenty here that needs to get straightened out. Irritating enough as is; it will get far worse by spring. Unless it gets better. A fisherman - I know that's possible. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins mhawkins@siteone.net Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 http://www.morningstarfishing.com/