01.14.2014 "I Heard A Noise!" , Write...

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Fish Report 1/14/14 </SPAN>

Twelve & Sixteen Pound Tog </SPAN>

"I Heard A Noise!" </SPAN>


Couple Short Tog Trips – Friday & Sunday (Not Saturday) January 17th & 19th – 8AM to 3:30PM - $100.00 — Not Going Far, Just Kicking Around In The Backyard Some — 12 Anglers Sells Out. </SPAN>

Monday, Jan 20th – Long Tog — 11 Hour — 5:30 to 4:30 — $150 — Big Boat Ride Likely — 14 Sells Out. </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>

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


No Live Fish Leave The Boat - Dead & Bled - Period.</SPAN> (I Believe The Live-Fish Black Market Has Hurt The Tog Fishery, But Not As Much As Bad Sea Bass Regulations)</SPAN></SPAN>

Agreed With Or Not, All Regulations Observed – Maryland: 4 Fish @ 16 Inches. </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>

8,268 "Oyster Castle" reef blocks by the rail – 2,438 at Jimmy's Reef – 1,588 at Ake's – 288 at Lindsey Power's Isle of Wight Reef.. </SPAN>

New Truckload Has Arrived! Big-Big Thanks To Randy (again!) & The Ocean City Fishing Center! </SPAN>

See the Reef Foundation's Website</SPAN></SPAN> if you'd care to help fund our reef building. Or snailmail a check – any check!</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</SPAN> for correspondence. Yes, its a very old address and fills w/spam occasionally.. </SPAN>

Greetings All, </SPAN>

Since my last report clients have let a 26.5 & a 28.25 inch tog go by the rail tagged. Although the effort to tag & release was sincere, the bigger one, a 16 pound female, didn't make it and instead came ashore headed for a skillet. The other, a 12 bull, swam away strongly sporting his new ALS tag for all to see. </SPAN>

The catching is not what it was. Being under more fishing pressure owing to sea bass closures isn't helping. </SPAN>

The 16 inch limit is helping though. </SPAN>

So is building reef. </SPAN>

The tog fishery's biggest trouble is from sea bass catch estimates.. </SPAN>

Will know more about it after Wednesday's long trip. </SPAN>

* </SPAN>


TV shows abound featuring the quest for an ape no one's ever found a breeding population of, nor evidence of a single dwelling, nor any real sign of the animal's hunting/foraging. In a time when we have names for each of the remaining 400 or fewer right whales and have exquisite video of rare Himalayan snow leopards; Profiteers & outright hoaxters turn on the low-light IR cameras –the green light first seen in Vietnam War era Starlight rifle scopes— and pretend to offer evidence of Sasquatch. </SPAN>

Apparently it sells quite well. </SPAN>

All too similarly, when recreational catch is discussed at Council & Commission Meetings I see truth dismissed from the conversation, I see veracity shut aside & a spooky green glow take its place. </SPAN>

"I Heard A Noise! Must be a Squatch just over there!" </SPAN>

"Look! Weekend-Fishing Private Boat Owners In Just One State Have Captured A Quarter Of The Coast's Sea Bass Quota! Again!" </SPAN>

Where one assertion offers fairly harmless diversion & profit; The other has been economically & biologically devastating while needlessly occupying much of manager's time. </SPAN>

The last half decade has seen the most incredible exaggerations of recreational catch ever in the sea bass fishery. Time & again green-glow illumination of recreational catch, catches which could never have occurred, are held forth as our "Best Available Science." </SPAN>

Time & again recreational seasons are cut and bag limits lowered. </SPAN>

Florida catches sea bass on both coasts. With a size limit of 10' and a year round open season, their innumerable private boats are estimated to have landed 57,000 pounds in the summer of 2013. </SPAN>

Connecticut private boaters do sneak a few keeper sea bass aboard in Long Island Sound. A fraction of the state's coastline has direct ocean access where better sea bass fishing might be anticipated. </SPAN>

With the cbass season wide open in the summer of 2007 and fishing under a 12.5 inch size limit & 25 fish bag limit, Connecticut anglers targeting sea bass are estimated by our 'modernized & vastly improved' estimating method to have landed 986 pounds of sea bass. </SPAN>

In 2010 these anglers were doing much better & caught 15,715 pounds of cbass. </SPAN>

In 2012 they had 10 fish shaved off their bag limit (down to 15 fish per-person) and landed a miraculous 200,681 pounds of sea bass. (Thusly did MRIP have them contribute their share to that year's emergency closure.) </SPAN>

In 2013 these guys, who couldn't scratch-up a half-ton of sea bass between them a few years back, have now had their bag limit shaved to 3 fish owing to recent Bigfoot sightings; Ah, Um, I mean recreational quota overages – Three Sea Bass Per-Person Per Day In 2013 ..and they're said to have landed 174,000 lbs. </SPAN>

With A 3 fish limit!! </SPAN>

Excepting 2012, That's more pounds in one summer than they've caught all added-up & all together since 1981. </SPAN>

With the smallest bag limit anywhere-ever. </SPAN>

"I hear a noise!" </SPAN>

"Bet its a Squatch!" </SPAN>

"Better Tighten Regulations Or Those Bigfoots Will Gobble-Up Every Cbass In The Ocean!" </SPAN>

It's spooky alright.. </SPAN>



The recreational/commercial sea bass quota split is very nearly 50/50.. When MRIP claims NY's private boats caught a quarter of the Rec quota, it's precisely equal that they would also have caught 25% of the commercial quota. </SPAN>

The following is an exact description of the 2013 cbass estimates from the new Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). </SPAN>

These estimates are based on MRIP field observers noting 51 cbass in RI, 28 sea bass in CT, 33 in NY and 38 in NJ. </SPAN>

Having seen 150 total sea bass in these states before extrapolating them to over a million pounds of recreational catch; Recreational For-Hire businesses will lose at least another 15 days of season and their clients will have at least 5 more fish shaved off their daily bag limit.. </SPAN>

ITS VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT I STRONGLY SUPPORT FIELD INTERVIEWERS. Without collection of honest & actual catch-data we'll never resolve this riddle. The data collected in the field is pristine: Its corruption occurs at the main office. Repair of published estimates is neither interviewers' fault, nor their job. Their data will be supremely useful when a true method of catch estimation is devised. </SPAN>

For Now, Management Must Abandon Their Use Of Estimates As A Single Data Point And Use PSE Spreads..</SPAN>

Our coast-wide recreational sea bass quota is just over 2 million pounds. Connecticut's private boats are credited with landing almost an eighth—174,000 pounds of sea bass with their brand-new 3 fish limit—while that state's for-hire party/charter is said to have caught no sea bass at all - Zero. </SPAN>

New Jersey's private boats "caught" 222,000 pounds of sea bass last summer, the summer following Hurricane Sandy, while their party/charter fleet catches 6,000 pounds. </SPAN>

Recreational For-Hire party/charter boats surrender a daily report after each fishing trip – a "Vessel Trip Report" or VTR. </SPAN>

Truth of the private boat catch estimate unquestioned, even within the statistical spread offered with each and every centerpoint; Another eighth of the rec quota disappears leaving recreational anglers now out 25% of their quota. </SPAN>

Rhode Island private boat anglers are credited with catching 75,000 pounds of sea bass in July/Aug. RI's party/charter fleet hasn't caught that many pounds of summer sea bass in the last decade put-together, but did have a higher estimate than usual at 11 thousand pounds. </SPAN>

I've discussed New York's private boat catch estimate several times previously. They outfished their For-Hire fleet 21.4 cbass to 1 and "landed" 534,000 pounds of post-Sandy sea bass. </SPAN>

Funny: At almost exactly 25% of the coastal quota, that was NY private boat's best-ever summer estimate while NY's For-Hire patrons had their second worst number of fish in a decade.. </SPAN>

In every state a For-Hire/Private Boat ratio could swiftly be devised by fishery participants and developed as a means of testing an estimate's accuracy. </SPAN>

The NY estimate takes MRIP's unrealistic private boat estimate centerpoints to half our recreational quota. </SPAN>

Half the recreational quota gone based on estimates no one believes.. </SPAN>



The politics of state by state quota allowances & creation of approved fishing regulations for each recreational fishery offer challenges the uninitiated cannot imagine. The men & women in this ring must truly be skilled. Compounding their task immeasurably is the long-held management policy of using the centerpoint of these often enormously broad recreational catch estimates. There is no law that says management must use an MRIP catch-estimate's exact centerpoint. It is only a long-held policy that prevents Council/Commission work from getting bogged down in arguing the unknowable — Recreational Catch. </SPAN>

I created this small comparative estimate spreadsheet for my 4/21/13 fish report. The numbers & box were all from the MRIP website. In it readers can see both the wild vagaries inherent to catch estimate centerpoints as well as in the right-hand column actual PSE spread (like "margin of error" in a political poll.) Statisticians absolutely consider the full PSE range as their "95% Confidence Interval." </SPAN>

Their true answer to, "How many fish did you say them boys caught?" includes all of the PSE. </SPAN>

Management, however, decided long ago to use only the centerpoint. </SPAN>

Shamefully, this is the Massachusetts For-Hire scup estimate showing both the "repair" that was supposed to be MRIP & the old MuRFSS program's catch-estimate along with the full MRIP PSE spread from which management might choose a more accurate number of fish caught. </SPAN>

Some repair.. </SPAN>



[TH]Estimate Status</SPAN>






















[TD]752,942 {19,547}</SPAN>


[TD]48.9 / 20,000 to 1,450,000</SPAN>












[TD] 1,382 {12,557} </SPAN>


[TD]67.3 / Zero to 3,200</SPAN>












[TD] 76,908 {49,624}</SPAN>


[TD]46.2 / 6,000 to 140,000</SPAN>




* </SPAN>


It's true we'll never have bank statement precision in our catch estimates. It's also true that glaringly obvious mistakes are common enough, & disastrous enough, to warrant much closer inspection. </SPAN>

If you'd like to encourage management's policy change there's comment information & addresses below. </SPAN>


Monty </SPAN>

Capt. Monty Hawkins </SPAN></SPAN> </SPAN>

Partyboat Morning Star</SPAN></SPAN> </SPAN>

Ocean City, MD </SPAN>

This is the current ASMFC comment period that we need to have to create "Regional Management."</SPAN></SPAN> </SPAN>

Email Comment with "BSB Comment" in the subject header to: </SPAN></SPAN> </SPAN>

Its also high-time NOAA & Commerce looked at what these catch estimates are doing to our sea bass fishery. Not a "comment period" — Just write an informed letter expressing concern over our catch data. </SPAN>

You may confidently use my illustrations – There are very few errors. </SPAN>

Please write to: </SPAN>

Dr. Kathy Sullivan – CINC NOAA </SPAN>

Room 5128 </SPAN>

1401 Constitution Avenue, NW </SPAN>

Washington, DC 20230 </SPAN>


Secretary Pritzker US DoC </SPAN>

1401 Constitution Ave., NW </SPAN>

Washington. D.C. 20230 </SPAN>

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