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10.06.2011 Cbass: Weather & Whether

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FishReport 10/6/11 <o:p></o:p>

Cbass:Weather & Whether <o:p></o:p>

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Weatherthrough the remainder of cbass season looks good. I have long tripsscheduled for Saturday & Tuesday--last day. Also have regular 8 hourtrips set up for Sunday & Monday. Reservation Line 410 520 2076<o:p></o:p>

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Whetherthe accelerated spawning we experienced for decades was a result of more young fish spawning or young fish learning to spawn earlier makes nodifference---Spawning Was Accelerated: Fish & Fisher Benefited. <o:p></o:p>

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HiAll, <o:p></o:p>

Mostdays quite fine since my last; Even had a fluke-fisher limit on cbass. Madat 'em; I think all he really wanted was a hole to get at his flounder. <o:p></o:p>

Clientstypically have been in the mid-teens with some in the 20s. <o:p></o:p>

Bluestoo continue, mostly in fine size -- not the jumbos that destroy rigs andkeeper cbass. <o:p></o:p>

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Weatherhas played a bigger role in our success or failure recently. Tuesdaywas foggy, Wednesday's current required 12 ounces, Friday 16; Monday wehad one heck of a thunderstorm -- But we caught FISH. <o:p></o:p>

The 4th& 5th were much less successful in high NW winds. Couldn't quite getwhere we wanted to be. Well, I did get where I wanted to be Wednesday, but myhi-tech AirMar anemometer was showing 27 knots while at anchor.. <o:p></o:p>

TypicalNW trap -- lured offshore in forecast; forced to beat your way back. <o:p></o:p>

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Still,most days have been very kind. <o:p></o:p>

Believeme, when clients drop and each rod arcs --when every pole along the rail isbent-- fishing is good. <o:p></o:p>

Beena lot of that lately. <o:p></o:p>

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Weatherthrough the remainder of cbass season looks good. I have long tripsscheduled for Saturday & Tuesday--last day. Also have regular 8 hourtrips set up for Sunday & Monday. <o:p></o:p>

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Dueto MRFSS asserted recreational overfishing, sea bass will close on Oct 12th& reopen on November 1st. <o:p></o:p>

Thisis also why we have the 12 1/2 inch size limit--because of repeated MRFSSreports where private boats have just crushed all sea bass catch recordsdespite regulatory constraints. <o:p></o:p>

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Regulationbalances what management thinks we can safely take while still having morefish at year's end -versus- what we are said to have caught in catch-estimate:When overfishing is thought to have occurred size limits go up, seasons growshorter & creel limits shrink...........<o:p></o:p>

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Now:Sure seems as though MD DNRP has run out of jet skis -- EVERYONE'S been gettingchecked; Each boat's fish measured. <o:p></o:p>

Checked4 times lately, only one ticket. Everyone knows I have zero tolerance forshort fish: Still, a group of 8 guys likely measured 1,000 fish betweenthem (Yes, fishing is that good) and had 3 just-under fish in the box.<o:p></o:p>

Oneguy got sloppy and, Fair Enough, was fined. <o:p></o:p>

Rulesare rules... <o:p></o:p>

But how did the cbass size limit get to 12 1/2 inches? Is it doingany good? Is this effective management? <o:p></o:p>

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Yearsago, 1992 thru 1998 --before real regulation began-- I saw thebenefit of a 9 inch size limit and made a boat rule of it. We encouragedfolks to measure long, to give a 1/4 or even 1/2 inch cushion. (micrometer now- 12 1/2 fries)<o:p></o:p>

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That1st size limit agreed perfectly with my own observations; What scienceclaims was true then: Yes, by 9 inches every sea bass hasspawned. <o:p></o:p>

Theliterature also claimed some sea bass would have spawned twice. Icouldn't argue against it; Made sense to me. <o:p></o:p>

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Nowcbass regulation has completely escaped the veil of sound science. Present-dayrecreational regulations are based solely on MRFSS catch estimates. <o:p></o:p>

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Thedifference in the fishing between the 80s & 90s was phenomenal. Throwingback smalls really made an obvious & wonderful difference. <o:p></o:p>

Theblack sea bass "Essential Fish Habitat Source Document" (nomention of reef here either) has sea bass transitioning from female tomale between 23.9 & 33.7 centimeters. (9.4 to 13.2 inches) <o:p></o:p>

Weused to see --and is reported in the literature-- many 7 inch fish alreadytransitioned too. Indeed, the source document repeatedly references 19 cm(7.48 inches) as an adult fish. <o:p></o:p>

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Whenlit-up in spawning color, male sea bass --blue heads or knot heads-- are verysimple to spot. It follows that where small 7/8/9 inch sea bass are observed tohave transitioned, there ought to be active females of similar or samesize. <o:p></o:p>

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Byfar the best cbass fishing I've ever seen was 2003. Well into management;we limited-out the whole boat as often as not--everyone aboard kept 25cbass. <o:p></o:p>

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In2002/2003 I noted far fewer smalls displaying blue hues associated withfish already transitioned to male and, presumably, engaged in spawning; That aresult we were witnessing when the the stock quickly ballooned with thefirst recreational creel limit in 2002 was far fewer small fish werein spawning display. A very mature population; I honestly thought wemust be near habitat capacity, that we couldn't possibly have many more seabass on the available reef habitat. <o:p></o:p>

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When ourregion's cbass population was cut in two during early 2004 (Feb/March) byconcentrated winter trawl targeting summer flounder, I assumed small fish wouldquickly rejoin the spawning stock; That, again, nearly the entire localpopulation of cbass would be in the spawning stock. <o:p></o:p>

In05, 06 & 07 I thought there must be some 'slowing' mechanism thatprevented the majority of smalls (7 to 12 inches) from participating: I thoughtthey would soon revert to the behavior I had seen for almost 20 years --behavior noted in the literature of that time and still today: "all blacksea bass have spawned by 9 inches, some twice." <o:p></o:p>

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Hasn'thappened. <o:p></o:p>

Notgoing to. <o:p></o:p>

Seabass appear to respond to visual cues. If there's a lot of 3 year oldfish, the 1 & 2 year olds will remain far less active. <o:p></o:p>

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Thenotion that older fish are 'better' spawners likely originates inage/skill/experience/number of eggs: Whether the accelerated spawning weexperienced for decades was a result of more young fish spawning oryoung fish learning to spawn earlier makes no difference---SpawningWas Accelerated: Fish & Fisher Benefited. <o:p></o:p>

Itis very rare now to see males below even 12 inches -- Transition, and thereforespawning, must now be delayed. <o:p></o:p>

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Believeme, we see that spawning delay in reduced production. <o:p></o:p>

Managementshould lower the sea bass size limit by a half inch per year for 3years to increase spawning potential.. <o:p></o:p>

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Itis absolutely true that low-profile reef systems are no match for any manner ofstern towed gear; That almost a century of industrial fishing effort musthave resulted in reduced reef habitat. <o:p></o:p>

Itis absolutely true that age at maturity in sea bass is now noticeably olderthan it used to be; This must result in reduced spawning capacity. <o:p></o:p>

Itis absolutely true that using MRFSS catch estimate data as a precise measure,especially in a third-tier fishery, is unreasonable for regulation's purpose. <o:p></o:p>

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Itis also true that our region's cbass population was exploding on new reefgrowth when I wrote "On the Recent Improvements of Live Bottom Habitats inthe DelMarVa Region of the Mid-Atlantic Bight" in 2001. <o:p></o:p>

Andtrue that cbass as small as 7 inches were frequently seen in the spawningstock. <o:p></o:p>

Andtrue that each & every artificial reef built has contributed to thereef fisheries.

And true that habitat fidelity creates a crucial need of management in finergeographical scale..<o:p></o:p>

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..andtrue that management, on its present course of considering only MRFSSestimates, will have created maximum economic disruption in the recreationalreef fisheries with minimal benefit to fish.. <o:p></o:p>

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

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Changecomes slowly; Here's a terrific opportunity to offer your thoughts. <o:p></o:p>

http://www.mafmc.org/vision/ <o:p></o:p>

Ireally like this project.. Take The Survey, but be prepared to think. <o:p></o:p>

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Ithink we can engineer far better fish populations. Not just better than now:Better Than Ever. <o:p></o:p>

Butnot while stuck in this witch craze; Not when all our resources are focusedon eliminating overfishing no matter how poor the data; And not in asystem so narrowly focused on overfishing that even species collapse can govirtually unnoticed -- No Overfishing, No Alarm. <o:p></o:p>

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Therehas to be some fishing for overfishing to occur<o:p></o:p>

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Hada weakfish for dinner lately? <o:p></o:p>

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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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