2 posts in this topic

Fish Report 6/27/10

Working For Cbass

Looking For Fluke

Codfish Revisited

Hi All,

Being late June, the week was plenty fine. Most days the bite was quite consistent. There's a lot of weeding; This where we catch sea bass that look remarkably like keepers but they're smaller: Boxing some up too.

Still not-quite flounder fishing; Close, tagging some, box one..

At times we have a solid flurry of good sea bass. Like Christmas morning though, it's soon over.

We search out more.

Working for a catch.

Saturday I came upon a good-sized wreck and painted the single greatest school of sea bass I've seen this year. We'd left cbass snapping the day before, an easy-to-work-with all-day kind of bite. I just knew this drop was going to be epic.. Two anchors drawn tight, "In and away! Down they go.."

Fresh baits headed toward mature accidental reef, fresh anglers, unfished sea bass stacked up..

My expectations were met with crickets chirping, a stifled yawn.

The best cod we've caught since February, about 30 inches, is first over the rail followed by a tagger--an undersized cod--and a white hake, a fish from up north and deep which I have seen few of in my days of fishing.

A small minority of those many cbass on the sounder bit, the rest remaining wholly indifferent to our desires of angling success.

Too cold? Current? Just fed? Spawning?

Will never know. Did put a catch together Saturday, decent even, but nothing like I'd thought when I first scanned that spot..

If fish are not biting there's not going to be much action.

Is that like management having seafloor habitat experts at hand but not using them?

Indifference to knowledge or bait: Same result.

Crickets.

The question "How's fishing" is far broader than you might imagine. An honest answer very much depends on who's asking. As I figure out a way to ban electric reels from my boat --though rare, they're an irritant, Rude, like sitting next to a loud cell phone talker with a small chainsaw-- I wonder what these few guys think when they bring their commercial mentality --eeee, EEEE, eeeeEHhhh, eeelectric reels-- to a very recreational fishery. Did they dream of 25 jumbo sea bass iced and carried to market? Perhaps a boat that won't measure or count; where "Over the rail, into the pail" is still an accepted behavior?

If so: Sore disappointment.

Derned if I know, maybe pushing the button is sport to some..

A nice day on the water, quiet in a free of traffic, free of industrial noise sort of way--at least after we get there; Perhaps spent with friends or family & followed -hopefully- by a couple fresh fish dinners..

Welcome aboard!

We're not deep-dropping for tilefish, no more electric reels. Period....

I carried a scientist Tuesday to see about using video for fishery-counting stock assessments or to at least blend into our current stock assessment system. He dropped my underwater camera all day while clients fished. As it happens, most of the reef we looked at was fairly marginal, low lying, offering a profile of inches as opposed to the high-profile reef one might typically expect of corals.

We caught fish.

For hundreds of miles of coast and out sixty miles none of this habitat has been found, let alone protected: If I'd wanted to pull a net the length of the reef and show him the pretty corals on deck, or -with fish permit- sell the flounder caught, that would've been legally dandy.

He was indignant, however, when someone cast a cigarette butt overboard..

Good, now I just need to scale-up the response in his community to meet the impact.....

Dogone it, I guess I went and poked someone else in the eye with the Fish Report. I tried to join the guvmint--again--so as to urge a new path of fishery restoration from within; Tried to get a seat on the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC). Made the short list too; Third time. Thought maybe there was a real chance this time.

No.. Perhaps my writing became too irritating as I watched my life's savings drain away last fall in a tornado of refunded sales for the sea bass closure that needn't have been. A closure --brought about by MRFSS catch estimates-- that nearly forced my boat to the auction block; A closure wrought of recreational fishing catch estimates fit, if printed on paper, for lining small animal cages..

Dogone.. Now I done it again; Another written insult based on factual assertion versus fanatical use of loose data well known not to be solid enough for simple math; Bruised egos versus the harsh reality of not enough zeros in the checkbook; Written requests to close all retirement accounts juxtaposed with requesting a meeting to discuss retirement fund allocation; The near fatal traffic-accident realism of a fishery closure on businesses contrasted against the pain of a lower cost of living government pay increase..

Shucks, bet I just did it again! Maybe I ought to quit writing..

In truth, the fellow that did get the slot, Steve Linhard, is a lot more concerned with the Chesapeake and has a rock-solid history of environmental public involvement. Since Maryland is the Chesapeake Bay State he likely is the better candidate to represent all. I shall met him soon and tell him about our ocean, the Mid-Atlantic.

Having people go fishing for prize money is nearly all our charter industry has left, the tournaments; It's not a very solid foundation.

Having people go fishing because they actually have a great chance of success would call for fishery restoration.

Glitz & Glamour distract.

No Worries.

Honestly, I should be thankful. I don't think the Council's ready to act upon what I think is needed.

Still have my keyboard; Have, thus-far, managed to hang onto my business; I can keep trying to convince fisheries management that our reef dwelling fish used to live on naturally occurring reefs; That those reefs were once far larger; That their restoration, reef restoration, is crucial -impossibly vital- to fishery restoration.

Stock assessments of reef fish that don't actually look at the reefs and MRFSS catch estimates are smoke & mirrors to fishers. Where we catch fish, where we anchor or drift, where we go fishing is real. It is precisely the opposite for managers.

Which produces dinner, the habitat or the paperwork?

That depends on whether you're a manager or fisher.. Had some third year staffer told 'The Powers' that the Massachusetts July/Aug sea bass catch estimates for last year were dead wrong and shouldn't be used to close the fishery, they might have discovered a new checkbook reality too: Fundamentalist fervor protecting the sanctity of sacred written numbers that can never be changed; what wicked fate would await such an infidel..

It is the arrogance of quota management, the surety with which we think catch restriction alone will cure our fisheries, that catch restriction alone is all we need: That if the evil over-fishers don't exceed some WAGuestimate calculation we will be just fine, That populations of managed fish will soar.

Whether the fish have anything to eat, anyplace to live, or themselves are being consumed by more glamorous, more desirable, species is immaterial..

Individual commercial fishing quotas, Catch Shares, that encourage landing only the most valuable specimens via hard quota while the rest of the catch drifts away for lower-order predators to feast upon results in wonderful restoration stories on paper.

Management's alarms only go off if there is an overage of catch, never in regional collapse. So long as we catch under quota, or the MRFSS estimate shows our catch below management's threshold, then the system glides along blissfully unaware and self congratulatory.

Dern, bet I just did it again..

An ecosystem with parts missing will not function well: A restoration system with parts missing will not function either.

Its like fresh sweet corn, big ol' backyard tomatoes and no fish sizzling in the hot oil.

I can at least try to fix that for you..

Cheers All,

Monty

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

Morning Star Fishing

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