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Capt. Monty Hawkins Report
Friday, July 17, 2015

Fish Report 7/16/15
Flounder
Some Sea Bass
Big Trouble Ahead

Special Fluke/Flounder Trip - Sunday - July 19th - 6:30AM to 4PM - $125.00 - Long Run - Looking to get over good fish. Reservations Required..

Sailing For Sea Bass & Flounder (called Fluke from NJ north).
Absolutely Cannot Predict Which Species Will Bite Better On Any Given Day. Very Firmly: If you positively want one species & not the other you can watch the gut bucket to see which day would have been best for you. Fishing has not been great, but is better than not fishing at all. Sending almost every party home with a fish fry's worth at least - but it requires work. We cannot know what will bite better on any given day until the bite is over.

Saturdays 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00. Sundays Off Through Summer.
Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - On My Rig You Can Reserve What Spot You're In. Please See http://morningstarfishing.com For How The Rail's Laid Out..
LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Happen - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way..

Be a half hour early! We always leave early!
..except when someone shows up right on time.
Clients arriving late will see the west end of an east bound boat. With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you over-slept or had a flat..

Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! Crystalized Ginger Works Great Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure. If You Suffer Mal-de-Mer In A Car You Should Experiment On Shorter Half-Day Trips First! (Wockenfuss Candies sells crystalized ginger locally - Better is Nuts.Com.. Chewable Meclizine is a good pharmaceutical with Scopolamine Patches the gold standard.) For Anglers With Known Issues, Dramamine & Meclizine Work Best If Treatment Begins The Night Before..
Honestly - If you get to go on the ocean once month, once a year, or even less; why risk chumming all day? Similarly, if you howl at the moon all night, chances are good you'll howl into a bucket all day.

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. Do Not Bring A Very Large Cooler. We DO have a few loaners - you'll still need ice.
No Galley! Bring Food & Beverages To Suit. A few beers in cans is fine for the ride home.

Small-scale reef building that adds up over time; We've recently reloaded the block pile with 90 pound reef blocks.

Please Sponsor Our Larger-Scale Reef Building At http://www.ocreefs.org - Thank You!

Greetings All,
Summer season means variety these days. Mahi have been the rock star with a few over 10 pounds. I've never had everyone catch a mahi, but we have had a few days where every group had a mahi for dinner. We've also had days with lots of rods ready - but mahi were a no-show.
Here's a look at what summer might be: Saturday we caught sea bass & red hake. Sunday we had right decent sea bassing. Monday I had a very fine day of fluke fishing with one fellow (code named "Chan") catching more than 3 limits of legal fish while others (such as myself) had to settle for the mediocrity of a simple limit. That super catch was w/o bait - just Gulp
..& no - I do not supply Gulp.
Tuesday we started hot on fluke & then the bite changed to all sea bass.
Wednesday we slaved away for one limit of flounder & a couple folks at 3.
Like I say - If you want a specific species, you can watch the gut-bucket to see when you should have been aboard. On regular trips we're going fishing for whatever bites!

That said, let's try a special trip for flounder/fluke. Don't recall ever trying before. Could be a bycatch of cbass - but only because fluke are rocked-up now.
Sunday - July 19th - 6:30AM to 4PM - $125.00 - Long Run - Looking to get over good fish.

Here's what's coming through the regulatory pipeline from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council:
"For summer flounder, the 2015 Stock Assessment Update indicates overfishing was occurring in 2014 relative to the biological reference points (BRPs), fishing mortality (F) estimates are higher in recently years than previous projected, and poor recruitment persisted from 2010 to 2013. These factors, from the assessment update, have contributed to lower estimates of spawning stock biomass (SBB) for the years of 2014-2016 than previously projected from the 2013 Benchmark Stock Assessment. . . . Relative to 2015 levels, this constitutes an approximate 43% reduction in both the commercial quota and RHL. . . . . ."

RHL = Recreational Harvest Limit. Our recreational quota is set by population assessment (or "stock assessment" in the trade) - that's how many fish we're allowed. Our catch is calculated by MRIP recreational catch estimate - a wild guess. That's how NOAA knows we went over-quota on something (or everything) every year.

"Accountability Measures" from the last rewrite of Magnuson make any assertion of over-harvest by recreational users result in a "Pay Back" of that overharvest from new quota. Whether any living soul truly believes the estimate or not doesn't matter - we'll have to pay it back because the law is the law.
So: if we have a 5 million pound quota & MRIP calculates we harvested just 4.7, we'll "only" have a +- 43% reduction in new quota.
But if MRIP spies shore fishers in VA catching more fluke than all US trawlers...

No really; it's quite routine in sea bass to have one state's private boats outfish in two months what all US trawlers & trappers catch in a year. Do not think it can't happen in flounder.

Anyway, & for any illusion MRIP's estimates conjure; say we may have something like an MRIP coastwide estimate of 7 million pounds and a new, but now-reduced, quota of 2.5 million pounds..
Now, because of Accountability Measures being feed MRIP's fetid statistical stench as though 'certain knowledge', we'd have a .5 million pound coastwide quota.
One fish at 20 inches for a few weeks in summer? Maybe?

I've made these numbers up for ease of explanation - but they're not too different from reality.
If we do not have a coastwide near-closure in summer flounder it will be a miracle. A complete closure is a real possibility.

Either that or enough people will have actually written their Senators to enliven action on the House-passed Magnuson Act re-write..
I promise - No Recreational Fishery Is Safe With Accountability Measures Being Decided By MRIP's catch estimates - None.

Catch restriction/quota management is but one aspect of fisheries restoration.
NOAA has yet to discover our seafloor habitat - our corals.
It remains true that more sea bass were caught from 1950 to 1961 than all successive years since combined.
If you saw the sea bassing we had just 7 years into management's beginning - in the late 1990s/early 2000s - you know what a crazy-huge abundance of fish looks like. What must have existed post WWII is unimaginable today.

But it is imaginable.
Most of those sea bass were trawl caught. While they were trawling, they were also wiping out truly delicate seafloor bottoms. It's not much different than shaving, but in grand scale.
With those habitats wiped out - sea bass production was lost.
Only the most robust habitats survived - especially shipwrecks.
All of the trawl impacts to live hardbottom corals I've ever observed occurred in the fluke fishery. They were trawling for flounder.
I bet those sea bass back in the 1950s were primarily bycatch...

From my seacoast vantage NOAA's mantra seems to be "Catch Restriction Alone Will Set Us On Course To Fisheries Restoration!"
Where waders are all the equipment needed to study habitat - habitat is king & a major aspect of fisheries restoration.
Where our coral bottoms are concerned, however, there is no concern.
At All.
Not Yet.

Fisheries Restoration by catch restriction alone is failing.
It's about to fail so big that everyone will notice.
Even senators from the Mid-West.
We need East Coast senators, nearly all democrats, to tell them how important it is they help change a bad law, that they help change Magnuson.

But first we need East Coast anglers to write or we'll never even get the Magnuson re-write voted on in the Senate. Fishing is way-way down on your list of concerns when you're studying national & foreign policy..
Truly brave people died so that we might have a say, even for something as benign as fishing.
Do not be afraid to write, for soon our fisheries may die.

See sample letter below. Google can tell you all about your senators' whereabouts. If you are snail-mailing, and snail mail IS best, send letters to ANY office other than DC offices. Anthrax testing takes a while I'm told..

There are a thousand stories I'd like to write in these fish reports. When the day comes when we have finally won - or lost - I shall begin to tell them again.
For now we must fight.
Fisheries Restoration Is On A Poor Path.
It's Not Going To Work.

Huge Closures Loom.
You Must Write.

Regards,
Monty

Capt. Monty Hawkins
capt.montyhawkins@gmail.com
Partyboat Morning Star
http://morningstarfishing.com
Ocean City, MD


Dear Senator ______ ,
I'm writing to ask your support for a new Magnuson re-write. While HR 1335 recognizes the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) was probably a gigantic waste of federal money, the House version does not prevent further economic damage & loss of fishing opportunity to recreational anglers as more & more Accountability Measures accrue.
Because of Accountability Measures begun by the previous Magnuson re-write; MRIP's very poor, scientifically indefensible recreational catch estimate data has beaten down some fisheries to the point of despair. On the horizon are tremendous cutbacks that will not stand any intrusion by Accountability Measures. Overestimation of catch has reached all-time highs just when repercussions for exceeding allowable quota are at their worst.

Spikes in recreational catch estimates such as New Jersey's shore-bound anglers having caught more tautog in two late-winter months than all commercial effort landed all year are causing Accountability Measures to come into play across many recreational fisheries. With seasons already tight, Accountability Measures create more & more closures; often with estimates that no one involved with a fishery--including scientists & managers--believes in the least.
As management struggles with the demands of Magnuson to use bad data with no flexibility, concepts in management such as 'age at maturity shift' & sea floor habitat restoration/creation escape notice.

Cod, Haddock, Black Sea Bass, Tautog, Summer Flounder, Red Grouper & Red Snapper: Anglers From Maine To Texas Need Your Help.
Please Help Rid Accountability Measures' Brutal Economic Effects Until Recreational Catch Data Occurs Nearly In Real-Time - Use Rhode Island's SmartPhone App.
Please Also Demand Of NOAA They Examine Habitat Production In The Reef Fisheries.
Fantastic progress in fisheries restoration awaits.
Signed,


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