A Nice Bigeye and Some BLTs (Barely Legal Tunas)

By Scott Lenox

A Nice Bigeye and Some BLTs (Barely Legal Tunas)

Check out the Daily Catch at the Ocean City Fishing Center!

I had a chance to head out on the MARLI with Captain Mark Hoos, owner Mike Bostic and crew today for a new episode of Hooked on OC and we had a great time.  We also caught a bunch of fish with 10 legal sized yellowfin tuna.  We released over 30 under sized yellowfin and boxed several BLTs, or Barely Legal Tunas, which were just over the 27″ minimum size and we also had a couple of 30 pounders.  All in all it was a great day on the ocean with one of the best in the business and it should make for a great new episode of the show!

The Boss Hogg with Captain Brian Porter was just around the corner from us and they had a nice day on the pond as well.  Captain Brian found his crew some BLTs, a couple of 30 pounders and a very nice 123 pound bigeye tuna.

Captain Andrew Dotterweich and the crew of the Fish On were out in the tuna grounds today where they managed 10 keeper sized yellwofins as well.

Captain Joe Drosey of Rhonda’s Osprey had a great day with the crew from 495 Trucking putting them on five keeper yellowfin tuna and what I’m pretty sure is the first blue marlin release of the 2022 season.

Big Bird Cropper and Shaun Flaherty had a great day at the route 50 bridge catching a limit of rockfish and bluefish with a bonus keeper flounder while casting Roy rigs and dredging.

Anglers on board Bayside Guide Service with Captain Wayne Blanks had a couple of great trips that ended with big bluefish for everyone.

Andrew Harris used a peeler crab on a Carolina rig in the OC inlet to land this beauty of a 35″ rockfish.

Captain Chris Mizurak of the Angler reported a tough bite today, but he still managed some nice sea bass and a couple of flounder for some anglers.

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star had a nice day on the rip today with some quality sea bass and some great clients.

Summer morning.. Light southerlies and the least bit of chop found us after clearing the inlet. Letty, Ann, & Janelle pushed today’s reef material by the rail. I was able to get a sidescan snap of where today’s reefing effort is occurring. Should be a flounder spot when they’re using the area – sea bass too, of course. Will get better. 

Not drop and reel fishing this day. Certainly not bad either. Had two clients in double digits well before the bell rang with Mark boxing out. 

Janelle spun her reef building karma into today’s pool fish – nice when it happens. 

This year we’re being made to suffer a three week loss of high-volume season & a half inch size limit increase across all of it. 

This harsher regulation owes entirely to MRIP’s catch estimates. Although I’ve dissected DelMarVa’s catch with a fine edge–and it’s pure baloney that VA’s Private Boat catch shot to half a million lbs from not even 2,000lbs; I’d yet to have good input from MA anglers about their 2.5 million lbs of sea bass in May/June. Now I’ve heard back from a fair number of participants. I’ll demonstrate MRIP’s insanity by tripling their eyes-on reports.. 

We’re assigned a quota. Exceed it and we must pay back that overage via “Accountability Measures.” 

No one’s holding the data accountable though, and recreational anglers often pay dearly for recreational catch estimate errors. 

Consider: in 2021 MRIP has Massachusetts Private Boats (no Party/Charter, no Commercial) catching 2.5 million pounds of sea bass. 

Gosh. 

Boy that’s a lot of sea bass. 

We were accused of overfishing even more, in Virginia & New York especially, but that 2.5m pounds is a big piece of it. 

Although NOAA’s arrival at a recreational catch estimate is a convoluted statistical affair, I think checking an estimate should be more straightforward – akin to checkbook math. Let’s pop the top off and have a look at Massachusetts’ spring sea bass. 

Though contested as lower, I was able to get reports of up to 200 Private Boats fishing sea bass on early season Saturdays. After that it fell off some. 

I also had reports of from 3 to 25 Private Boats fishing weekdays. 

Regular readers may recall it would take several thousand Private Boats fishing every fishable day to meet the MRIP estimate of 2.5 million lbs of sea bass. (2,234 actually) 

In my 2/28/22 essay: On the Theft of Marine Recreational Fisheries, I showed a MA table where, using percentage of the catch, I personally estimated MA Private Boats landed 55,238lbs of cbass and believe MRIP was 2,228,857 lbs too high. 

Here I’ll take the number of boats reported by on scene observers and triple the highest. I’ll also not deduct any weather days. 

This should result in a crazy high catch estimate. And it would too if not measured against NOAA’s absurdity. 

Six Saturdays at 600 boats each (not 200) carrying 3.5 anglers comes to 59,220 sea bass with every angler (12,600) catching 4.7 keepers (5 fish limit.) In pounds that would be about double at 118,440lbs of sea bass just on all Saturdays combined. 

Sundays and weekdays traffic is, of course, lighter. Some reports were extremely light, others up to 25 boats. Triple – I’ll make it 75 boats on each of 42 weekdays in season. Again I’ll take no weather days which is absurd. A skyhigh weekdays estimate would show 3,150 boat trips with 3.5 anglers each catching nearly a limit equals 51,817 sea bass. Double that for 103,632 pounds of sea bass landed. 

Add in Saturdays and you have a skyhigh estimate of 222,072 pounds of sea bass for MA Private Boats in May/June, 2022. 

Can 2021 be so different? Could there ever have been 2,238 Private Boats limiting out every possible fishable day? Or is the 2021 May/June estimate simply 2,277,928 lbs too high… 

MRIP is incredibly more wrong than I could have ever dreamed. 

Man, does this need fixing. 

We need our sea bass season back too! 

If you think that’s the dumbest thing you ever saw, you haven’t looked at many catch estimates. 

It’s really sad.. 

Feel free to write your DC reps and NOAA/Commerce: ask for an “Extended Peer Review” where MRIP is concerned.. 

Cheers

Monty

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