> TUNA & TILE TIME <
>>> SEPTEMBER 18, 2012 <<<
If one were to take an informal poll on the most looked forward to time of the fishing season, i would wager that the late summer and early fall fishing season would probably be right at the very top for fishermen in the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England region. From the bays and inshore waters, right out to the offshore grounds in and along the canyons, you can pretty much expect to fill pails, coolers, live wells and Xactics boxes as we work our way through and past the month of September.
Surprisingly this season, the fishing scoreboard has been described as "mixed" at best, with a number of noted captains and fishermen reporting some outstanding fishing, but also about the "trying on ones nerves" offshore fishing during the last few weeks.
If I can pass along one little tip, if your going off (that's offshore), make sure you have your plan 'B' fishing gear ready to go, if the plan 'A' fishing is just not going to happen that trip. Using a time management schedule for the trip, maybe set aside some time to take advantage of fishing for another species when you have a workable current speed for a drift, two or three, or stopping on a wreck or two for some bottom fish.
For most fishermen on an offshore trip, going home with something for the dinner table, takes some of the edge off when the the plan 'A' fishing just doesn't happen.
Just giving you a heads up from some of the scuttlebutt from a number of those I have spoken to.
I doubt a tear was shed when decade long (yes it did feel like she was there forever) Northeast Regional Administrator Patricia Kurkul, put in her papers to collect her taxpayer funded pension at the end of last year (see: NOAA regional chief Kurkul leaving by year's end: http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x9 ... -years-end).
Not only was the news of Ms Kurkel departure met with "Good Riddens", among many commercial, for-hire and recreational fishermen, over the years there where a number of scathing fishery news articles written ((see: Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish; By Michael Souza; http://fishery.about.com/b/2011/07/07/g ... ubbish.htm) about her questionable management decisions regarding the implementation of Catch Shares in New England, the questionable emergency six month Black Sea Bass recreational fishery closures along the east coast, along with the misconduct committed under her watch by the OLE as pointed out in Commerce Department IG Todd Zinser final report.
A little over two months ago, ex-New Bedford Mayor John Bullard was appointed as the head of the Northeast Region Office. Since that time he has been doing a fishermen outreach tour of the region, and tomorrow he will be at the DEC building today, Tuesday - September 18th, at the 2 pm MRAC meeting. From what has been reported, Mr. Bullard should be more receptive and cooperative in dealing with the issues effecting the commercial and for-hire fishing industry.
As I mentioned in the first fish-news blog, a number of captains are taking advantage of the mixed bag - top and bottom fishery out in the canyon. Captain Steve of the Big M Express, along with Captain Cliff, Captain James and Brown Boy of the Island Current and a few friends were able to take advantage of last weeks weather window and make there own overnight trip out to the canyon.
Even with the weather and conditions being described as text book "blue bird", the fishing was a grind for the most of the trip. They did have some good success working over a few particular areas for tilefish though, and they were pretty happy with what they put into the Xactics box.
Captain Steve was pretty positive with the final fish count on this trip, and noting that it was a pure pleasure of being able to fish in some of the calmest conditions you could ask for in a top and bottom - canyon fishing trip.
BOB BALLARD'S 'ALIEN DEEP' LAST EVENING?
I received a call the prior evening to watch the upcoming episode, "Ocean's Fury" narrated by one of the most famous deep water wreck hunters, Bob Ballard. I originally did not have plans to watch the show, but I can pass along that if it comes up on the NAT GEO channel, watch it!
There was a extremely disturbing walk away value not only to fishermen, but to anyone who lives along coastal areas around the world.
The first, is that there seems to now be scientific certainty that our oceans are getting warmer. Since the oceans and circulating currents act to moderate global temperatures, the continual uptick in the oceans temperature over the last decade and a half has resulted in not only in rougher seas, but also greater energy to generate more intense and destructive storms during this period.
Few fishermen look forward to going out and fishing in rough seas or running through frothy inlets. As serious as this is with the associated safety issues with fishing and traveling in sloppy seas, an equal troubling situation as reported by NOAA, is a noticeable "stock shifting" to the north by a number of fish species as ocean waters warm.
As we have all seen over much of the past two decades, a noticeable and ever more frequent appearance of southerly species making their way up to the NY BIGHT area and areas much further north.
I am only glossing over the issue here, and I like to bring your attention to the next two fish-news blog pieces:
~ CAUGHT ON THE OCEAN EAGLE ~
Haven't we seen more of these largest members within the puffer family being more caught during the past year? Just yesterday Captain Greg of the OCEAN EAGLE V put his customers over a drop where a SMOOTH PUFFER grabbed a bait meant for a scup.
The battle that ensued led not only to the crew, but fishermen on board, that a big bluefish was hooked as it ran the person up and down the rail before being scooped up in a net right along the side of the boat. The fish was then measured, and was found to be slightly under the 29 inch mark and just missing hitting the 10 lb weight on the scale.
From what Captain Greg said, the smooth puffer can be eaten and is noted to be pretty decent table fare, contrary to what some fishermen believe an said on the boat that this particular fishes flesh is toxic. It's not....Captain Greg ate some last evening and ran the OCEAN EAGLE the next day!
~ DURING THE WINTER? ~
I doubt I have seen a fishery issue where captains are so split over on whether to target a fish during a certain time of the season. In fact it was so bitter with the feelings on whether to allow fishing for sea bass during the winter months, that I highly doubt these captains would change their mind in supporting a two month block during Wave 1 for this fishery to be open if the fishery is closed latter this fall.
What am I talking about?
Just in case you have not been reading Captain Monty Hawkins of the MORNING STAR reports I post, or actually going directly to his MORNING STAR - FISHING REPORT BLOG, we fishermen in the northeast region are going to be facing a very big dilemma as the preliminary MRIP data are showing very high landings on black sea bass already:
Over the past few years, the ACL (Annual Catch LImit) on BSB has taken once was a year long fishery and compacted the fishing into roughly a seven month season here in NY and NJ, forcing those states to take management measures to contain the catch through a number of effort controls such as small bag limits, less total open fishing days, or increasing the minimum size of a legal size fish since the ACL is based upon:
Thus in the process of catching fish, you will be discarding undersized or fish over your limit, and that NMFS assigns a percentage (currently 15%) to be counted and make up the total catch. Thus discarded fish and the resultant release mortality (ie: improper handling during unhooking, resultant hook injuries after release, barotrauma) make the recreational fishing sector reach the total allowable catch for the season, that much quicker.
I don't want to get into a deep discussion here on BSB release mortality, but due to the preliminary data on landings along with what is being reported as very high discard rates on undersize BSB during the past month, there is a very high probability that this fishery will be closed come this fall to prevent or lessen over fishing and resulting overages which have to be paid back the following year.
This brings us to the point of where we once had a directed fishery for BSB during the winter months. What is causing BSB to set up on offshore wrecks like this:
Captains whose BSB business is during the summer months, strongly feel that for-hire fishing effort during the winter when the fish stack up on the offshore winter wrecks and rockpiles, should be PROHIBITED since as they state "are more easily caught in large numbers which in turn effects the amount of fish that come inshore during the following spring." These captains want BSB to be closed come the winter months, preventing any direct effort by the few for-hire vessels that engage in this fishery.
I know my statements are going to upset a number of captains who rely on the summer BSB fishery, but it brings me back to the original discussion of the NAT GEO show "OCEAN'S FURY." These captains, whomever you may be, have to realize, (I have written about this in the past about the northward stock shifting of BSB which became noticeable in the mid to late nineties), that the for-hire fleet can no longer depend upon a number of our traditional winter fisheries made up of codfish, whiting, mackerel and blackfish to carry fishermen.
With the ever looming cuts coming for codfish coming into effect May 1, 2013 (unless emergency action by the NEFMC is taken prior to that date), along with whiting fishing non-existent and the blackfish fishery being closed during winter months in NY, and New Jersey season being sliced and diced, captains and fishermen will have to decide on how to allow BSB fishing throughout the year. Whether fishing periods with open and closed blocks made up during the season to spread the allocation of BSB into the early winter period, has to be considered due to documented eco-system changes beyond our control.
I understand the arguments on this fishery being economically viable and sustainable if fishing for sea bass is only done inshore.....but there has to be some realization to the fact that there are few other fishing choices as our winter fisheries continue to dwindle, and there must be some accommodation to those for-hire vessels that have to fish during the winter months.
~ BECOMING MORE COMMON ~
Running angry and unstable inlets has been part and parcel of vessels going through and then back from the sea. Lately though, it does seem that we continue to hear more stories of "white-knuckle and heart palpitating" navigation through many of the inlets along the New York and New Jersey coast.
Just a reminder to be expect this as we move into the late summer and fall fishing season, when we can expect a combination of higher wind speeds create ever frothy seas across our local inlets due to the cooling off of very warm coastal waters.
Have many stories have I heard this season about this one product working its magic on various bottom fish? Just saying here to keep a few in the tackle box.....even the best fishermen we know carry it!
~ JUST A FEW HINTS HERE GUYS ~
Captain Michael Ardolino along with Mike Miller brought the BROOKLYN VI back last night and had a pretty decent trip considering the offshore reports lately. They had some night bite going on, but as I was told, the biggest thing in getting fish into the boat is in customers;
- Not only have the right tackle, but rigging up properly
- Using braided line only for backing (minimum 100 foot mono topshot) or
- At the ready for when you have to deep drop for tilefish
- Paying attention to when a fish is hooked
- Reeling in and getting their lines out of the water when another fish is on
- Following your hooked fish up and down the rail
- Getting out of the way of fishermen that have a fish on
- Listening to the mates when they are helping you or a customer out
it is something akin to a saying about climbing Mt. Everest....."the hardest part is not reaching the top, but in getting down alive!" The same with tuna fishing on a party boat.
Hooking up is just one critical part in putting a tuna into the boat. Hookups can be few and very far between, frustrating anglers as they wait for just that one bite, especially as it becomes late into the trip.
As much as fishermen read some of the info on fishing sites about party boat tuna fishing in this region, it seems that fishermen continue to bring tackle that just does not ensure a high probability of getting YOUR HOOKED FISH INTO THE BOAT.
If you are not sure what to bring on these trips, asks the captains and crew what they recommend to bring on these trips. They want the highest success of hookups resulting in landed fish, and if they recommend in bringing mono outfits that may seem like overkill, BRING THEM!
Don't shy way from having an outfit along the lines of a (as an example) a Daiwa 600H and even a 900H spooled with 80 lb test monofilament. Bring along a spool or two of spare monofilament line if you have to re-spool those reels. Have flurocarbon lines in various pound tests as your top shot. Have a selection of circle hooks at your disposal. Know how to properly connect two lines and a strong knot to the hook (don't disregard the simple but very strong double uni-knot).
Just passing along these reminders as it is starting to look like the offshore bite is picking up. Ask questions if your not sure. Getting your fish into the boat, is the whole key here of going home with some fish.
~ STARTING OCTOBER 16, 2012 - YOU MUST HAVE THIS ~
BEGINNING OCTOBER 16, 2012, ALL COMMERCIAL FISHING, FISHING TENDER & FISH PROCESSING VESSELS THAT OPERATE (OR TRANSIT) MORE THAN 3 NAUTICAL MILES OFFSHORE MUST BE ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE FULL COMPLIANCE WITH EXISTING FISHING INDUSTRY VESSEL SAFETY REGULATIONS FOUND IN 46 CFR PART 28, VIA A MANDATORY SAFETY EXAMINATION.
Summary of Section 604 – Fishing Vessel Safety
Parity for All Vessels: Uniform safety standards and equipment requirements are established for all commercial fishing vessels operating beyond 3 nautical miles of the baseline and the coastline of the Great Lakes. In 46 U.S.C. §4502(b)(1), “documented” is deleted, so there will no longer be different standards for federally-documented and state-registered vessels operating on the same waters. 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 28, subpart C must be amended to reflect the change in applicability, and other requirements discussed in some of the following paragraphs.
I have been quiet about posting anything on this ever changing issue which essentially puts the stamp of FAILURE on the resume of the Czarina of NOAA, one Dr. Lubchenco.
The New England Catch Shares program has not only wrecked havoc upon fishermen, their families, the fishing industry and the coastal communities they rely on the economic activity associated with fishing, it has created a eco-system disaster that now may take a few decades to correct, with documented references taken from the painful management measures taken by the Canadians to turn around the northern cod fishery.
For those out there in the recreational fishing sector, I just want to pass along some whisper possession numbers that I have heard starting May 1, 2013:
I really hope I am TOTALLY wrong here, but as someone much more knowledgeable then me on this issue said, " DO THE MATH, and figure out what the REQUIRED % cuts equate to for the recreational bag limit."
For those interested in following the daily news on this issue, one of the people in the fishing industry who is out there reporting the "INSIDER" commercial fishing news, BOREHEAD, has started the::
I cannot tell you how much time and effort BOREHEAD has put into the website and over the years in getting the news out about the utter mess that was implemented under the watch of Czarina of NOAA.
Also KUDOS to...
Richard Gaines of the Gloucester Times has done some of the most in depth investigative fishing industry journalism I have ever seen. His latest story is this:
The U.S. Commerce Department’s assertion is correct that “diminished fish stocks” played a role in the descent of the Northeast Groundfishery into a disaster under the watch of President Obama’s nominee, Jane Lubchenco, as chief administrator over oceans and atmosphere, most believe. Even more certain is that the causes of the disaster are murkier and far more complex than that.
Is there any lessons to be taken from all of this?
"If the government gets that deep into your business, then its time to get out of that business........"
BRAIDED LINES & HOW THEY MATCH UP AGAINST EACH OTHER ~
To answer a question I continue to be asked:
I have been taking my time to read through my own personally autographed copy by Cindy Follett Guidemond, who has written such an outstanding book that puts into perspective the meaning of a fisherman's love for going out to sea to catch fish......INDEPENDENCE.
I don't know how many times I flipped back to some of the 28 short story-like interviews from some of the most noted Pt. Judith Rhode Island commercial fishermen, but I can pas along that you will walk away more knowledgeable about the fishermen, the history of the area, fishing vessels and fishing they have done pre and post World War II. I cannot tell you how many fishing vessels mentioned within this book, are now in many hang logs as they are now resting upon the bottom off the shores from their homeport of Pt. Judith.
This bring us to what someone down at the dock passed along to me a few weeks ago. He mentioned that I always seem to bring along bad regulatory news. He was surprised that I agreed with his assessment, as I quickly pointed out that one of the most pressing problems that quickly has to be addressed by NMFS, is how MRIP is counting fish for the recreational sector.
A pattern of high private boat landings is becoming apparent, and that for many of the inshore stocks we target, there is a high propensity due in particular to what MRIP states the recreational angler is SUPPOSEDLY CATCHING, that the recreational sector will continually be charged with OVER FISHING, and the resulting AM (accountability measures), the resulting payback charged the following season.
You may not like who is running for the highest office in the land, but you better consider the implications on both the regulatory front if a change in leadership is not made at the bureaucrats running NOAA. As such there may be more reality to the upward spiraling price of fuel with five and six dollars a gallon for gas and diesel at the pump. Overseas tensions have risen to the point of critical in hotspots like the Middle East, but also between China and Japan, and possibly South Korea. Odds are pointing to some bloody conflict around the world by the end of the year.
That brings us back to the issues at hand effecting the fishing industry. As much as many fishermen don't want to know the fishery politics, or get involved in making a change, those fishermen will be directly effected by the eventual outcome this November.
As I was told the previously night by a very wise-sage, history will show us if we have made the right decision this election....and I should add,
If you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem.
Batten down the hatches, were in for some bumpy weather.
On till next time.............