Skylar

12.30.2013 Toggin Soon, Write the Lady

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Fish Report 12/30/13 </SPAN></SPAN>

Going Toggin Soon </SPAN></SPAN>

33 Sea Bass = 534,120 Pounds Of Recreational Quota </SPAN></SPAN>

Write The Lady </SPAN></SPAN>

Thirty-Three Sea Bass Were 'Observed' Aboard Private Boats In NY Last Summer. Our New & Improved Estimating System, MRIP, Used Those Few Fish To Determine NY Private Boat Anglers Caught Somewhere Between -Anywhere Between- 40,000 & 385,000 Sea Bass. That's Why Regulation Is Tightening Again This Coming Year. </SPAN>

Because Management Interprets A Full Statistical Spread Only As A Centerpoint, Those Thirty-Three New York Private Boat Sea Bass Have Now Become Over Half A Million Pounds Of Our Two Million Pound Recreational Quota.. </SPAN>

Does that irritate you enough to write a letter? </SPAN>

See Big-Boss's Address Below. </SPAN></SPAN>

NOAA's Federal complaint of "recreational overfishing" on today's sea bass population is a concoction, a fabrication, an invention of bad data falsely accusing recreational fishers of taking more than our quota. </SPAN></SPAN>

The recreational sea bass fishery is being stolen by management's use of catch estimates. </SPAN></SPAN>

In this NY estimate, for instance, the For-Hire fleet, supported by submission of federally required daily catch reports, is reported to have had their second lowest sea bass catch in 10 years; While private boats, supported by observation of thirty-three fish, are asserted in the data to have had their best summer sea bass catch EVER..</SPAN></SPAN>

Reservations For Tautog Trips at 410 - 520 - 2076 — They Answer 24/7. </SPAN>

LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER</SPAN> - Weather Cancelations Are Common - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way.. </SPAN>

Bring A (not terribly big) Fish Cooler With ICE For Your Party.. A 48 QT Cooler Is Good For 2 Guys. Even Now You Should ICE Fresh Fish.. </SPAN>

Be A Half Hour Early - We Like To Leave Early.</SPAN>

Clients Arriving Late Will See The West End Of An East Bound Boat.. </SPAN>

If You Won't Measure & Count Your Fish The State Will Provide A Man With A Gun To Do It For You. We Measure & Count — ALWAYS — No Exceptions!</SPAN>

8,148 "Oyster Castle" reef blocks by the rail – 2,414 at Jimmy's Reef – 1,492 at Ake's – 288 at Lindsey Power's Isle of Wight Reef.. </SPAN>

At 24 blocks a day, we only have a 4 day supply remaining. See the Reef Foundation's Website</SPAN> ocreefs.org</SPAN> if you'd care to help fund this truckload, or snailmail a check – any check! (Thanks George!! Again!) </SPAN>

Ocean City Reef Foundation</SPAN>

P.O. Box 1072</SPAN>

Ocean City, MD 21843 </SPAN></SPAN>

My @mediacombb email address is a memory. Please use mhawkins@siteone.net</SPAN> for correspondence.. </SPAN>

Greetings All, </SPAN>

Long range weather forecasts are more accurate than ever, but still apt to change. </SPAN>

Sunday's announced sea bass trip lost to a gale warning, I called reserved clients to see if they could switch to Friday. Winds downgraded and boat underway—by day's end some clients had limits of sea bass in a flat calm. </SPAN></SPAN>

Went further out Saturday. Was supremely confident of a passenger limit. </SPAN></SPAN>

Hubris's reward as ever, at least high-hook had close to a limit as we few anglers culled through well over a thousand shorts to find an occasional keeper.. </SPAN></SPAN>

*</SPAN></SPAN>

For most of my life I could honestly say I'd caught more tautog on 6 & 8 ounce diamond jigs than on bait. Fishing tog mid-summer in the early/mid eighties; When the boat ran out of blue crab & clients could no longer gather even a few crab legs off the deck, I'd drop a diamond jig down to catch a couple tog for myself before heading in. </SPAN></SPAN>

That fishery lasted about two and a half years. By 1986 we couldn't buy a tog.. </SPAN></SPAN>

No fish traps. </SPAN></SPAN>

No trawlers. </SPAN></SPAN>

Just us. </SPAN></SPAN>

We killed fish & fishery: At least on reefs/wrecks we knew about. </SPAN></SPAN>

That's when fishery management began for me. </SPAN></SPAN>

In those days we were taught everything died—even if you threw it back. </SPAN></SPAN>

Now we release many and catch them again – bigger. </SPAN></SPAN>

We were taught you might as well catch all you can as fish swam by, otherwise foreign trawlers would get 'em. </SPAN></SPAN>

Now I recognize each reef; either natural, accidental or artificial, has its own production.. </SPAN></SPAN>

Aim to go enjoy some of that production January 1st. Be cold though. We'll take it easy on day one of the 2014 tog season. </SPAN></SPAN>

Short Tog Trip – Wednesday, January 1st – 9AM to 3PM - $75.00 - 12 Anglers Sells Out. Nice way to start the year.. </SPAN></SPAN>

Longer Tog Trips – Thursday, January 2nd & Sunday, Jan 5th – Warmer – 6:30 to 3:30 - $120.00 – 14 Anglers Sells Out.. </SPAN></SPAN>

I often get calls & emails asking "when are the big tog trips?" or, "Put me on the big tog trip list." </SPAN></SPAN>

Incredibly fortunate to have caught clients 6 tog over 20 pounds, I can assure you none were planned for. Its also true several of those jumbos were caught in sight of the beach. </SPAN></SPAN>

There are longer & shorter trips, but no "big tog" trips. </SPAN></SPAN>

Believe me, I just want clients to get bit. </SPAN></SPAN>

We provide green crabs. You're welcome to bring any kind of crab you like – even lobster, even plastic. </SPAN></SPAN>

My boat is set-up with 25 fishing spots. I carry far-fewer people tog fishing so anglers can move to the bite so long as there's only one person per-spot. </SPAN></SPAN>

Sea bass are closed Jan/Feb/March/April/& most of May 2014. </SPAN></SPAN>

All Regulations Observed. If you like "Cheating The Man" you stand a good chance of having your day in court. As above: If You Won't Measure & Count Your Fish The State Will Provide A Man With A Gun To Do It For You. We Measure & Count — ALWAYS — No Exceptions!</SPAN></SPAN>

Reservations For Tautog Trips at 410 - 520 - 2076 — They Answer 24/7. </SPAN>

LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER</SPAN> - Weather Cancelations Are Common - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way.. </SPAN>

Back to this 33 business. . . </SPAN></SPAN>

Used to be—even in size-limit-only, pre-bag-limit management—that high man in Oct, Nov or December would easily keep over 100 sea bass. Sometimes high man would cross the 200 fish mark. Although we fished sea bass nearly year round; Late fall/early winter were tops for numbers of fish. </SPAN></SPAN>

"AH HA!" you might think, "That's why sea bass management is so tumultuous today." </SPAN></SPAN>

But no, that was in the late 1990s/early 2000s. </SPAN></SPAN>

Management officially begun, Our region's sea bass population was growing with incredible swiftness despite very high recreational removals. </SPAN></SPAN>

Our counterparts in the commercial fishery weren't tied to the dock either. </SPAN></SPAN>

During the 1980s.. That was the low-water mark for sea bass off the DelMarVa coast. </SPAN></SPAN>

Fishing effort was more diffuse then, however. Sea bass were only part of our year. We were distracted by sea trout (weakfish) in late summer & much of the fall, Boston mackerel in spring; and, for a few short years, tautog in summer. </SPAN></SPAN>

That incredible sea bass fishing we witnessed early in management - What is reported in sea bass population/Stock Assessments - What can even be gleaned, carefully, from old MuRFSS rec-catch estimates as that era's increased catch was always seen across both state lines & across Private/For-Hire estimate modes — That magnificent sea bass population increase in the late 1990s was real and allowed for a higher Optimum Yield, a sustainable quota far higher than today's.. </SPAN></SPAN>

In 2003 I wrote, "I believe we are at habitat capacity." </SPAN></SPAN>

There were a lot of sea bass. I honestly didn't think we could create a larger population without increasing habitat. </SPAN></SPAN>

That 2003 population grew wonderfully from the very bottom of unregulated fishing; That population thrived while we were catching very well & taking those fish home to fry: That record abundance of sea bass occurred because management, no matter how accidental in nature, was forcing young fish to spawn. </SPAN></SPAN>

If I thought we were overfishing sea bass today, That's What I'd Write ..just like I testified at several Mid-Atlantic Fisheries meetings in the early/mid 1990s when I was asking regulators to please create regulation/size limits on sea bass (we were already voluntarily fishing with a 9 inch size limit) and later supported a bag limit. </SPAN></SPAN>

NOAA's complaint of "recreational overfishing" today's sea bass population is a concoction, a fabrication, an invention of bad data falsely accusing recreational fishers of taking more than our quota. </SPAN></SPAN>

MRIP's Statisticians PROVIDE a "95% Confidence Interval" that encompasses an often incredibly broad spectrum. Managers</SPAN>, however, USE the centerpoint of an MRIP recreational catch estimate. </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

A look at NY private boat scup, for instance, reveals there were 208 scup surveyed in July/August. Not two-hundred-eight thousand, not two-thousand-eight, just two-hundred-eight. That number is then used to estimate, in full 95% confidence interval, (like "margin of error" in a political poll) that NY private boats caught between 10,000 & 580,000 scup in July & August. The actual statistical answer to "How many scup did NY private boats catch?" is ANYWHERE in that huge 570,000 scup spread. The centerpoint managers will use to determine quota use, however, will be EXACTLY 322,040 scup were landed and carried home by private boaters to fry. </SPAN></SPAN>

For sea bass—and this is a key catch-estimate creating new regulatory pressure for the 2014 sea bass season: Among NY private boats surveyed there were 33 sea bass seen in July & August. Statisticians are 95% confident those 33 fish represent somewhere between 40,000 & 385,000 sea bass caught & carried home to fry last summer.. </SPAN></SPAN>

Odd as that may seem, it's not as perplexing as managers holding us to a centerpoint of 236,779 dead sea bass against our coast-wide quota and converting that to EXACTLY 534,120 pounds applied against our quota. </SPAN></SPAN>

Thirty-Three sea bass becomes a quota-shattering catch. </SPAN></SPAN>

Thirty-Three sea bass becomes more fish caught and landed by NY's post-Sandy private boats in July/August than every Party/Charter boat caught from Key West, Florida to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in all of 2013. </SPAN></SPAN>

Those Thirty-Three sea bass will shorten our season further and reduce our bag limit – again. </SPAN></SPAN>

I think we ought to ask the new boss if she wants to grind our fishery into a regulatory-remnant based on this data.. </SPAN></SPAN>

The recreational sea bass fishery is being stolen by management's use of catch estimates. </SPAN></SPAN>

Soon we will reach a new stasis; A place where incredibly reduced fishing effort is balanced by incredibly reduced sea bass spawning production. </SPAN></SPAN>

It'll be a bad place for fish & fisher, but look great on a </SPAN></SPAN>computer. </SPAN></SPAN>

We need to fix it before it's too late. </SPAN></SPAN>

That's why I'm hopeful readers will write NOAA's new chief, ex-astronaut & Ph.D., Kathy Sullivan. Ask her why NOAA is holding our feet to the fire with the centerpoint of catch estimates no one believes.. </SPAN></SPAN>

Please write to: </SPAN>

Dr. Kathy Sullivan – CINC NOAA </SPAN>

Room 5128 </SPAN>

1401 Constitution Avenue, NW </SPAN>

Washington, DC 20230 </SPAN>

Fishery Management Needs To Be Based On Real Science: Population Biology & Habitat Ecology Would Be Welcome Additions. </SPAN>

Instead, statistical estimates have their full & complete answer reduced to a meaningless centerpoint which is then converted to tighter & tighter regulation </SPAN>

..while we witness our once-robust fishery wither under poorly reasoned regulatory might. </SPAN>

Really Needs Fixing. </SPAN>

Write The Lady. </SPAN>

I have to believe if she had the gumption to be in space and tell 'em to open the door already, a bunch of policy wonks ain't gonna worry her none. </SPAN>

Regards,</SPAN></SPAN>

Monty </SPAN></SPAN>

Capt. Monty Hawkins </SPAN>

mhawkins@siteone.net</SPAN> </SPAN>

Partyboat Morning Star</SPAN>

http://morningstarfishing.com</SPAN> </SPAN>

Ocean City, MD</SPAN>

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