Porgy, Bluefish, 6 Pound Flounder, Limits of Sea Bass and Double Digit Tautog

By Scott Lenox

Porgy, Bluefish, 6 Pound Flounder, Limits of Sea Bass and Double Digit Tautog

Hit the vid for the 12 Days of Christmas at Atlantic Tackle!

It was another beautiful day today with warm temps and very light winds, and except for cloudy conditions it was a perfect December day.  It was a great day to be out on the ocean and the fish were snapping good.

Captain Chase Eberle of Chasin’ Tides Charters had a terrific tautog trip today.  The crew put some great fish in the box and also released fish of 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 16 pounds.

Fishing on board the Angler with Captain Chris Mizurak was good today with loads of fish coming over the rail.  Captain Chris reported bluefish, limits of sea bass and flounder up to 6 pounds on today’s trip.

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star has seen some awesome fishing lately and today it continued with his 14th boat limit of sea bass in a row

How about that. Fourteen boats limits of sea bass in a row. 

Sheww.. Had 3 different forecasts this morning: one was a bit saucy, another moderately bumpy, and NOAA’s coastal forecast of 5 to 10 east & calm. Thank goodness NOAA took today’s prize. 

None called for sun either, of course. In that regard all were correct. What a dark day.

Fish didn’t care. Once Carol pushed our blocks by the rail, we found the sea bass bite a bit fussy.  Plenty chewed though. We sealed the deal. That’s 14 boat limits in a row.. 

Todd from Millsboro took today’s first limit and won the pool.. 

Will announce trips for Christmas week tomorrow, most likely. Will also be getting further into a deep dive with MRIP’s recreational catch estimates. MRIP is simultaneously allowing commercial users enormous quotas while choking our seasons further with each passing year. 

I began working on the issue of rec catch dat in 1998; was hot on it in the mid/late 2000s; wrote complaint after complaint about that era’s system, MRFSS. 

When MRFSS estimated NJ March/April Shore Tautog at 74,000 I made a big deal out of it. NO ONE in NJ believed it—closer to a hundred fish at the very end of April some professionals said. But when the brand new repair to MRFSS was revealed—when MRIP came

out? That’s when I knew we’d been screwed. 

The new program, MRIP, said, “Naw Mate, it wasn’t 74,000 tog from NJ’s too cold jetty waters — it was A HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE THOUSAND..” 

I knew we were toast with just that one revealing estimate; an estimate I saw the day MRIP was released to the public. 

Yup. 

MRIP is so bad there’s really no one left in management who believes it. 

Except, well, there’s a handful of folks are only too glad to tell everyone in fisheries – “it’s the best available science and has to be used.”

Oh indeed. 

Houston, we have a problem. Except in our case Houston is only too glad to watch us squirm. 

In a nutshell MRIP shows in 2021 we killed (up and down the coast between Cape Cod & Cape Hatteras) 2X as many sea bass as last year. About. I’ll lay it out exact after a bunch of work. 

Does that seem likely? Regulation loosened nowhere. It’s nearly all private boat catch.. 

NOAA’s RA (regional administrator) says we’ve overharvested sea bass yet again and must pay for our sins with Accountability Measures. 

He’s quite insistent—but in the exact opposite way of when he used MRIP data to give huge quota boosts to commercial fishers in 2019. Summer flounder trawl quota increased 49% then! Because MRIP makes it appear as though there are infinitely more flounder than other methods of stock assessment. 

We’ll have a 28% reduction for recreational sea bass in 2022, you see. 

And while my way of life – my sole available spring/summer fishery – while it may survive this cut – maybe: it’ll be on a knife’s  edge thereafter. 

If we’re held to a 3 or 5 sea bass bag limit at 15 inches, we’ll have a daily pool winner with endless releases for two years while our stock catches up to regulation. 

I wouldn’t anticipate many clients wanting in on that. 

Indeed. 

This will be my biggest fight in many years and I’ve already lost the first battle at last week’s Fisheries meeting. (Wasn’t paying attention!) 

Stay tuned. 

Regards 

Monty 

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