Skylar

11.17.2010 Humor's Sharp Edge

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Fish Report 11/17/10 <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>

November Lost <o:p></o:p>

Discovery <o:p></o:p>

Battle Rejoined <o:p></o:p>

Humor's Sharp Edge <o:p></o:p>

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Weather looks good for a special eleven and a half hour sea bass/tog trip on Sunday November 21st from 6AM to 5:30PM --$150 per person. <o:p></o:p>

Also opening Thursday, the 18th--nice forecast--the 23rd, 24th & 26th to regular cbass trips -- And Saturday the 27th to a nine hour cbass trip.. <o:p></o:p>

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Hi All,<o:p></o:p>

A great big wind last week. Not that we had the wind, most of it was far offshore. Sure kept us in. Finally fished again Saturday in a great-huge ground swell; Large, lumbering mountains of water with a long distance between them made for saucy conditions: especially when the wind came higher than forecasted. Easily measured on a depth sounder, one rogue wave was 16 feet! <o:p></o:p>

All that wind moved a lot of water.. When we tied up for the gale fishing seemed like late October. <o:p></o:p>

After the blow we found the bite and species mix more like December: Sea bass thinning, blues and stripers in vast schools--gannets signaling feeding fish from far away. <o:p></o:p>

Big part of November lost, we press on. <o:p></o:p>

What this new water means to the sea bass fisher is that the bite, the fish hitting dish-towel baits, is no more. There's still fish, but many have moved offshore. I think we'll see high-hook anglers nearing twenty cbass and a few more tog everyday. And, in an absolute first for this time of year, we caught a keeper cod Sunday too.. <o:p></o:p>

Odd: Managers hold that scup and red hake can not be restored here because of climate change, yet here's a fish from even further north; The only months we didn't catch them this year were September & October....<o:p></o:p>

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Finally got out on the deep-reef video trip Monday. To my knowledge it was a first, a small glimpse of a reef that has sustained generations of lobstermen & billfishers. As in many firsts, we had a lot to learn about lowering video gear beyond 300 feet.

Rick Younger's video camera housing--made by him in a shop--worked flawlessly. The dive light--a manufactured unit, wasn't as robust. <o:p></o:p>

..some footage though. <o:p></o:p>

Rocks and boulders with growth; a lobster scurried back into it's cave, growths that I couldn't identify, some corals & fans perhaps.. <o:p></o:p>

More. <o:p></o:p>

Perhaps even video enough to wet the appetites of those who control NOAA's multi-billions in research assets..<o:p></o:p>

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Incredible production has come from this reef. <o:p></o:p>

It's just stunning how many fish, how much life, uses so little habitat compared to sand ..and stunning how simple it is to replicate: Roll some rocks off a barge, the life that makes a reef will take care of itself. <o:p></o:p>

In a letter to management I wrote: "..the foundation to sea bass and every other reef associated species' restoration is not in the paperwork of which we are so familiar.<o:p></o:p>

It's in the rocks." <o:p></o:p>

Also discovered science can taste like sushi; bluefin ate a cedar plug on the way home. <o:p></o:p>

Nice. <o:p></o:p>

Wonderful day.<o:p></o:p>

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The warmth of discovery was short lived however. An email Tuesday morning held the oh-so-typical news for the modern-day fisher. <o:p></o:p>

Bottom line, and if you've been a reader for awhile you'll recognize this refrain, Massachusetts caught the whole coast's sea bass quota--Again.. <o:p></o:p>

Add in what the rest of us caught and we'll "need" a 43% reduction in the coastwide sea bass recreational quota for next year. <o:p></o:p>

Now, because they 'know' that the average sea bass catch is so small, that the average passenger is skunked on a sea bass trip; it is currently calculated that we'll have to cut the season back--way back, and cut the creel limit down to 1 or 2 fish. <o:p></o:p>

I'm not kidding. <o:p></o:p>

Believe this--No partyboat skipper is going down without a fight. Many private boat fishers & clients will ally with us. The battle is rejoined. <o:p></o:p>

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History is rife with people who were right--and lost. We can only try--hard.<o:p></o:p>

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Our 'over-fishing' is from data generated by the same catch-estimate system that we are spending millions on to get rid of, Data that was never designed to show more than trends, data that shows we released nearly 50% of our sea bass in the 80s.. What?! Who released what in the 80s??<o:p></o:p>

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Does that mean I was making it up, that in 1992 I really wasn't the first skipper to put a 9 inch size limit on sea bass? That everyone already knew released cbass would be fine in cool, shallow waters; that no one had a worry with measuring their fish. <o:p></o:p>

Yeah-No.<o:p></o:p>

Nobody was throwing sea bass back in the party/charter boat trade, sometimes not even 4 inch fish in the back-bay. <o:p></o:p>

Like so much of the data--It's Wrong.<o:p></o:p>

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There is a trend that's decidedly evident in the data however, but it's not what management is currently seeing. <o:p></o:p>

From tagging studies, including one that I did starting in 2004 or so to prove to passengers that thrown-back sea bass survived; Tagging shows that habitat fidelity in black sea bass is almost as absolute as in freshwater black bass: Except where the sweet-water fish can't live anywhere else--they can't escape a pond--they have to stay home; The reef our black sea bass 'home' to will remain theirs after each winter's migration---A migration which is only far & deep enough to find water at suitable temperature.

Habitat fidelity clearly shows we should no more close Maryland's freshwater bass fishery because Massachusetts caught all their lake's bass than close our marine sea bass fishery because Massachusetts caught a lot. It is because their well-managed and very, very rocky habitat is so magnificently productive that their cbass are exceeding federal restoration targets.. <o:p></o:p>

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As of this writing we have only the Pavlovian-conditioned response of those inside the bubble, the instinctive slash of quota by management that, by law, must be done to correct overfishing.. <o:p></o:p>

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"Inside the bubble" is a DC expression. To fight it, James Carville had this simple "stay-on-message" advice to then-President Clinton: "It's The Economy, Stupid!" <o:p></o:p>

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Sakes.<o:p></o:p>

I don't like using 'stupid.' <o:p></o:p>

Never meet anyone in management that was--far from it. <o:p></o:p>

Still, buried deep within the fisheries bubble it is possible to never see past flawed paperwork.. <o:p></o:p>

Umm, "Hey smart people! It's the rocks!" doesn't quite work..<o:p></o:p>

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I was reminded too by a recent TV ad of Sam Kinison's vicious, fillet-knife sharp comedy routine on world hunger from the 80s. <

> He maintained--by SCREAMING--that if you live in a desert, food will always be hard to grow because the desert is SAND!!! <o:p></o:p>

If you watch it on YouTube, please keep in mind that for many decades, nearly a century, we've been losing reef & reef substrate to stern-towed fishing gears, That nearly 600 years have passed from the first fishing-gear complaints about British beam-trawls "Destroying the flowers of the sea" -- That where there was vastly more hyper-productive reef-like bottom... <o:p></o:p>

I asked Sam Kinison what we have now: <o:p></o:p>

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SAND! WHERE THERE USED TO BE REEF IS SAND! IF WE DON'T DO ANYTHING SOON, IN A HUNDRED YEARS THERE WILL BE MORE SAND -- SAND!! YOU CAN'T RESTORE REEF-FISH TO SAND!!! TO RESTORE POPULATIONS OF REEF-FISH YOU NEED TO RESTORE THE HISTORICAL REEF FOOTPRINT--AND THERE'S NO SEAFLOOR HABITAT SCIENCE FOR THE MID-ATLANTIC --- NONE! MANAGEMENT HAS ALLOWED ALL BUT THE MOST ROBUST ROCKY REEF & WRECK TO TURN INTO SAND! ON PRESENT PATH WE WON'T EVEN BE ALLOWED TO FISH THE ARTIFICIAL REEF PRODUCTION! IF HABITAT PRODUCTION, CREATION AND PROTECTION WERE TAKEN UP WITH IN THIS REGION WE COULD HAVE FAR MORE FISH THAN IN 1950---YOU'RE GIVING US SAND--IT'S THE ROCKS, STUPID!! <o:p></o:p>

Thanks for that Sam, I really don't like shouting. <o:p></o:p>

I'd also like to point out that it's really easy to turn sand into reef; you just roll rocks off a barge--everything that grows there is natural.<o:p></o:p>

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Maybe we'd make progress if Sam Kinison would present at the MAFMC's December habitat conference...<o:p></o:p>

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Instead of responding as the nerves of a dead shark when cold steel touches central nerve, Instead of cutting quota as if we had any, Managers need examine more closely why sea bass in Massachusetts flourish so fantastically. <o:p></o:p>

I think they'll find reef production isn't that hard to figure. <o:p></o:p>

It's the rocks. <o:p></o:p>

Gear-Protected rocks work best.. <o:p></o:p>

Regards, <o:p></o:p>

Monty<o:p></o:p>

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Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

http://www.morningstarfishing.com/<o:p></o:p>

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