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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Below is an article that includes proposals on how to achieve the 30,000 Spring trophy target. I think it's a pretty decent article covering most of what has been proposed at various times on this board. I like his slot idea combined with effort reductions he proposes. The one thing I didn't like is his suggestion that we should have a "twinkle in the eyes – like one gets when be beats the system..." and "Let’s make an end run, block the system as best we can." I'm not sure what Mr. Burton meant by that, but I don't think now is the time to act like we've hoodwinked the ASMFC, seeing as how that body gets to vote again later about what to do for 2008, and especially assuming that Maryland will want to convince the ASMFC to start cracking down on the coastal slaughter (esp. the Mass. "commercial-recreational" season and the winter pressure).

Here's the article:

Outdoors:
Solid slot limit plan could reduce sting for fishermen

By BILL BURTON, For The Capital

Fishermen of the Chesapeake, wipe that frown off your face. I’m not asking for a smile, but maybe a bit of twinkle in the eyes – like one gets when be beats the system.

All is not lost due to the politics of Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which last week mandated what likely will be a 50 percent reduction in our rockfish quota in the upcoming spring trophy season.

Let’s make an end run, block the system as best we can and end up with a trophy season in which we can keep trophy fish, say those 40 inches or better while still have a dandy opportunity for those who want to take home a smaller fish for the table. It can be done.

How about an inverse slot limit?

Since the rumblings commenced several months ago about our over-catch in the trophy seasons of ‘05 and ‘06 the term “inverse slot limit” has been whispered a several times, made print a few times (once in this column), but let’s get serious about it. Hey, it can work.

We’re all guilty of turning sour on the trophy season outlook for this year as it becomes obvious that with the penalty of a quota cut in half, under traditional thinking, would mean hiking the minimum size to 38, maybe even 40 inches to avoid three straight years of a big time over-catch.

Traditionally, in a slot limit arrangement, an angler is deprived of keeping smaller and larger fish – in-between lengths are the fish that can be kept. Let’s do it the other way around. It won’t take all the sting out of the penalty we face, but it would be more acceptable to the average angler, maybe even to the troubled charterboat industry that fears a sky-high minimum size could destroy business in its busiest and most profitable season of the year.
Anglers want a fish they can take home.

Here’s how an inverse slot could work: Suppose we let fishermen keep stripers of 28 to 30 inches; or perhaps 28 to 33 inches, and fish of 38 or 40 inches – and require anything between to go back into the bay and tributaries? Chew on that for a moment.

Admittedly, we’d be putting off limits most or at least half the “trophy” fish that we catcch. But, we’re allowing anglers a good shot at taking a fish for the table while making it possible for the Izaak Walton who gets a fish of a lifetime to keep it – and I’d say a 40-inch striper is a legitimate trophy.

A 28-inch fish, our minimum for years, certainly isn’t a trophy; that’s the minimum size implemented following the 36-inch minimum when we first enjoyed a post-moratorium trophy season. We were able to make an 8-inch deduction because coastal rockfish stocks prospered and regulations eased.

Our Department of Natural Resources has been more diligent in tracking rockfish size, numbers, catch effort and success, than any other state from Maine to North Carolina - and somewhere in the innards of the computers of fishery scientists at the Tawes State Office Building the figures are there. Certainly, the whizzes who punched in those numbers can come up with reliable info to inform them of what the size of the throwback fish above 28 inches would have to be to avoid over-catching.

Maybe something like fish of 33 to 38 or 39 inches would do the trick. ASMFC rules by numbers, so why can’t we? Consider the alternatives to changing the minimum size limits to an outlandish length to achieve a cutback of two-thirds of what it was last year when we caught around 90,000 stripers under a quota of 60,000 (keep in mind; the quota this year is 30,000 or possibly a tad more):

• Shorten the Trophy Season: There’s a booby trap in this window. For all practical purposes the window for trophy fishing and the run of trophy fish is only about a month. If we shave days off the front, end or mid season, we could miss out on fishing when the big females pass to and from the spawning grounds. The consequences are obvious.

• No Two Trips a Day: More than a few charter skippers take two trips a day, a few do three – when things are ripe it doesn’t take long to catch a limit. It could deprive some fishermen of an opportunity to sail, there are only so many charter openings in the critical month. But the only way to cut the catch is cut fishing effort.

• No Planer Boards: In a way, planer boards are to the recreational fishery what nets are to the commercial fishery; efficient and deadly. They can make possible the use of 18 or more rods per boat while trolling. But it could be difficult at this time to ascertain the savings of fish by this option – sufficient evidence is still unavailable on the impact they have on trophy season.

• Rod Limits: Basically the same as the planer board situation – but, again it’s fishing effort must be reduced.

• Tags for Fishermen: There has been much talk about this, it’s the way we started when the moratorium was lifted. DNR is virtually broke, this is a costly and time consuming route - and probably not appropriate at this time.

• Cutback on Tournaments: They can put 700 or more boats on the bay on a day. Last year a no catch-and-keep fishing tournament in April mandate was issued and remains in effect. Should it be lengthened to include much of May? Sounds simple, but big tournaments at big fish time are the life blood of MSSA, charterboat and charity groups (not to mention Maryland Watermen’s Association). Yet, again we’ve got to reduce the effort.

I can’t think of any other practical means of reduction of effort and opportunity with so little time left before the season opens April 21. Whatever is done is going to sting, but the penalty is carved in stone. If we come up with a plan that works this year the possible/probable odds are in ‘08 we can get the quota system lifted in Maryland – and not have to worry about all this every year.

Regardless of what DNR works out, I’m sure fisheries managers realize not all fishermen will be satisfied. The DNR simply has to come up with a plan that will work best for the most fishermen, the fish and ASMFC. Fishermen can make their comments at a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Tawes State Office Building, Annapolis. Got any other ideas? Be there. All options will be on the table.

While pondering this, as things now stand, we’re in the spot where our entire quota for the ‘07 trophy season is about the same as the number of fish we overcaught last year. That brings things into perspective.

BACKGROUND NOTES: At the ASMFC meeting last week when the other shoe dropped, voting with Maryland in the 6-to- losing tally to drop the quota system were Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Connecticut, Virginia and Potomac River Fisheries Commission... The District of Columbia’s representative wasn’t there... Usually voting our line, Delaware went the other way. Two federal reps abstained.

Our fisheries director Howard King has been getting many accolades on the web and elsewhere for guaranteeing us at least 30,000 fish; he went into a card game against a stacked deck – and ended up getting us something worthwhile, plus the possibility/probability the quota system will be lifted soon (in an 11-to-3 affirmative vote)... King has met with Jack Travelstead, his counterpart in Virginia about the incredible winter catches of big stripers in the lower bay and off its mouth, and they’re trying to work something out.
 

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Howard was at the MSSA convention this weekend.He stated that on Monday -the 5th -he will have a conferance call with most of the user groups.DNR,MSSA,Md Charter boats and others will try to come up with a plan to "target" 30,000 rock in the spring.You can take everything away from me except the 200' back chart. umbrella rig and I'll still catch my limit.;) Howard said he hopes to talk with Delaware about changing their vote.He spoke for about 20 minutes and I'll tell you-our DNR is really in a bind on how to keep anglers happy.The next few weeks should be fun.:eek: Skip
 

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charters have already lost a week this year and so has the rec fisherman. Now Bill wants us to run only one trip a day. I might as well sell my boat now. If he knows anyone who ios running three trips he should turn them in because that is illegal. It still is amazing to me thet our own wrters don't tell or complain about the massive catch going on off shore. I wish one of the local wrters would check the numbers being caught off shore and then compare them to what the Bay is allowed. I don't mind cutting our numbers as long as the other states cut theirs.As far as tournys if you are allowed C&R why not as long as we don't cull dead fish.
 

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Charters

Three trips a day, come on it does not happen at least I have never heard of 3 a day. MD should not be the only one to suffer this fate. Fishing is out of control in the Atlantic and steps need to be made so all states have the same rules.

Capt. John Bilbrough
 

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I agree- an overage of 30K # is a drop in the bucket compared to the coastal catches off Virginia alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The problem we face is that, according to 2005 figures (I think), MD's estimated total catch, in terms of numbers of fish, not pounds, was #2, right behind Mass. Of course, our total included the summer 18" fish. If you just count the biggies, we're probably near the bottom.

I agree that, with whatever restrictions end up in place this Spring, we'll be doing all that we realistically can to curtail the catch of big fish in our waters (certainly way more than anyone else). The rub is the "undersize" fish that we catch the rest of the year. The issue I keep bringing up is, should those count the same as killing a big cow? I don't know the answer, but I haven't heard any answers from anyone else. Until we get over that hurdle, I'll bet that we won't get any further with the ASMFC if our catch numbers keep us in the top 2-4 states. Some relatively small measures, however, would seem to curtail our catch -- and perhaps just as important -- show a sincere, above-and-beyond effort that would allow us to gain the credibility necessary to demand a curtailment of the coastal catch:

(1) Do some (maybe not all) of the things Bill suggested in the Spring; or
(2) Have third-party volunteers (someone from a non-angling conservation org., since at least the ASMFC knows they won't cover for a fibbing captain) accompany charters and complete affidavits attesting to the accuracy of logs, plus get much better participation from recs in reporting to their catch, or lack thereof, to the DNR. I agree that DNR does not have funding to do this themselves, so it's up to us to get accurate numbers.

PLUS

(3) Add some meaningful additional regulations to the summer fishery. I doubt it needs to be much -- just enough to show a sincere effort to go the extra mile with respect to a catch that other states view with suspicion. For example, it could simply be a continuation of any effort restrictions (number of rods/planer boards) from the Spring, or it could go as far as to close the season for a month during the time of highest C&R mortality, like the DNR used to do.

If we implement these relatively small measures, we will have more credibility to ask for catch restrictions along the coast, a halt to Mass's farcical "commercial" season for recs, and meaningful (or any) enforcement of rampant poaching in NY. Given the strength of MD's congressional delegation, we also wield a hefty club when it comes to the threat of federal regulation if the ASMFC states choose to be uncooperative. But we first need to be big enough to make the sacrifices ourselves and lead the way.
 

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I'm not sure about the next couple weeks being fun, I think it's going to be like one big pissin match. But I agree DNR has it's hands full with trying to sort through all the different proposals that are likely to be on the table. Much of what Mr Burton wrote makes some sense in principle and I do believe some kind of slot limit is going to happen. I do believe the taking of the 40+" fish needs to be part of the regulations and I would support one that mandates a limit of one (1) in possession per boat a day. I don't agree with limiting the charter guys to one trip a day as the trophy season is a big part of their business. One thng I have a problem with is that no matter what the regs are there's going to be a larger number of fish having to be released than ever before. Thus, those fish need to be handled with care and returned quickly and I hope DNR initiates some way of making the general fishing public aware of this, maybe a brochure, info on their web site etc. I think Mr Burton has touched on this issue before but it needs repeating. Hate to see those floaters, it seems like such a waste.
 

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No food, no fish. Putting limits on recs and comms isn't much good and doesn't fix the root cause of the fishery problems. Lack of fish food and sewage spills need some attention.
 

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Do you remember the first Fall 1990 season.?It was ended in "8"days because there was such a "Fishing Frenzy"amongst fishermen after a 5 year moretorium.They can just say..OK fish all you want,with all the gear you want and all the Tournaments you want.When we believe you've caught 30,000 fish...the season's over the end of the day.Have it your way.They do that with Tuna.
 

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DO I Remember?-

Do you remember the first Fall 1990 season.?It was ended in "8"days because there was such a "Fishing Frenzy"amongst fishermen after a 5 year moretorium.They can just say..OK fish all you want,with all the gear you want and all the Tournaments you want.When we believe you've caught 30,000 fish...the season's over the end of the day.Have it your way.They do that with Tuna.
---Capt. Nick --You bet, I still have the red as*---Maryland hired a Va. Co. to count the catch, a 182,000 dollar contract --Because of a miss calucation & incorect count the Charter portion of that fishery was shut down 5 days early--Massive deposit returns etc. were the order of the day --The rec. portion was able to finish the season W/O interruption -This Capt. Nick, in my opinion was a "Inacurate Counting Frenzy"based on a I Think count , rather than a hands on count--A Compleate failure--

--This shows how Critical the method of Reporting & Outside dockside reporting is to any vible fishery --

--When I read the opinion of some the ASMFC commisioners, made a week prior to the meeting I was Flaberghasted in the fact that they felt Maryland's Charter log book reports were faulted --How does Any fishery stand a chance for Reform if this simple Excuse , can raise its ugly head , to block any request for New & Better Management of our fisheries-

During the years prior to 2005.Only good things were said about Maryland's reporting, All of a sudden ---------------

---It's a Sad fact , that I see no relief in sight , to this Antiquated method of keeping Maryland on its bended Knee, every Janurary begging for a fair share of what we Prouduce best , Our coastal Striped Bass Stock --Oh Well-geo.
 

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18" Summertime

Goose makes a good point about the summertime catch. Would limiting the catch limit or the size limit on thse fish make a difference? I can't support it scientifically, but I do know that a fish taken when its 18-20" will never make it to 28-30"

I would really like to see the coastal catches reduced to 1 fish per day instead of the 2 over 28" they have now. As well I would even say to cut our summer time limit to 1 fish over 18" a day, or maybe they all have to be over 24".

Bill's mention of banning planer boards or going to a rod maximum seems logical, we do it in fresh water why not in Tidal????? The whole reason we run more and more rods is to get a bigger variety of baits in the water to increase our chances. Max 2 rod per person, maybe 8 max per boat or something like that. I usually troll with one other guy and run 7 rods so aI am proposing to cut by spread possibly by half.

Not sure about the one fish per boat, though, maybe two fish per boat, for those people who routinely have 3,4,5 guys on board.

Chris
 

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Again - A Bill Burton article falls with a thud. Not a word about limiting commercial catches or making Rock Fish a Sportfish - and he obviously doesn't undertstand or maybe he doesn't care about the Charter industry. Bill, Bill, Bill. - (said sofly and slowly) Retire....
 

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I don't know why some people insist on picking on Bill Burton. My take on the article is that he was listing the POSSIBLE actions that MAY BE taken, and have been kicked around on this board and in other venues, with a few pros and cons on some of the proposals thrown in. The only thing on the list that he appears to really be pushing is the "Slot Limit" idea, leaving all other practices as they currently stand.
What do the commercial guys have to do with this? They have their own quota, which they rarely meet. If and when they catch their quota - the fishery is SHUT DOWN immediately - just like the Tuna fishery in the Ocean.
 

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Hey George, help the TF board remember who did a 5 year moratorium. Wasnt that volontary??? Didnt all the other states get to keep fishing? 5 years.. hmmm. No bass, no charters, no nothing. But look what it did for all of us. We have quite the stock of bass now. Done Workin, go back to work!
 

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--When I read the opinion of some the ASMFC commisioners, made a week prior to the meeting I was Flaberghasted in the fact that they felt Maryland's Charter log book reports were faulted --How does Any fishery stand a chance for Reform if this simple Excuse , can raise its ugly head , to block any request for New & Better Management of our fisheries-

During the years prior to 2005.Only good things were said about Maryland's reporting, All of a sudden ---------------
Could it be that the 'Buddy H situation' put that thought in their heads?

One high-profile bad apple ruins the reputaion of all... in the minds of some commissioners. :confused:
 
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