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This is an article from today's Virginian-Pilot.

:The Virginian-Pilot; :Mar 18, 2007; :Sports; :51

O U T D O O R S R E P O R T

New regulations on tap for four more species

BY LEE TOLLIVER THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT • Reach Lee Tolliver at (757) 222-5844 or [email protected]

Now that Virginia anglers have seen significant changes in flounder regulations, they can brace for new rules for gray trout, tautog, tilefish and grouper.

Gray trout and tog changes have been mandated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Rules for tilefish and grouper are being looked at by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

The possession limit for gray trout likely will be reduced from seven to six per day. The federal commission has ordered a 29 percent reduction in tog catches, meaning anglers likely will see bag limits reduced from seven to five a day, along with some seasonal closures.

Size limits for both species will go unchanged.

Tilefish and grouper limits are being looked at by the state commission.

"It's clear to us that some restrictions are needed," said Jack Travelstead, chief of fisheries management for the VMRC. "It's a small fishery, it's way offshore, and fuel prices are high. But there is that allure of catching a world record, and it's becoming quite popular.

"We just want to put something in place as a prevention to overfishing."

The state commission will hold a Finfish Management Advisory Committee meeting to discuss the issues at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the agency's fourth-floor conference room at 2600 Washington Ave. in Newport News.

On March 27, the commission will request public hearings to establish tilefish and grouper limits.

Eagle action: Norfolk's eagle couple has given birth to three fuzzy gray eaglets. The first hatched last Sunday, the second on Tuesday and the third Thursday morning.

Dad has been busy hunting for food. While eagles are mostly fishers, they are opportunistic, often killing birds and small mammals to feed their young. The first meals provided came from a pair of luckless seagulls.

The eagle family can be watched online at:

www.wvec.com/cams/eagle.html

Safe deer: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries again has declared the state's deer population healthy.

After testing more than 800 samples in the western portion of the state, wildlife biologists found no cases of Chronic Wasting Disease. The disease had been found several years ago just across the state line in West Virginia.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a progressive neurological disorder found in deer and elk. It affects the brain and nervous system, ultimately resulting in death.

Symptoms include overall poor body condition, tremors, stumbling, poor posture, drooling, and excessive thirst and urination.

Outstanding catches: Anglers continue to enjoy good catches of striped bass, tautog, sea bass and blueline tilefish.

Doug Deese of Hampton was fishing last week with Capt. Jim Brincefield when he landed a pending International Game Fish Association worldrecord blueline tilefish that weighed 18 pounds, 10 ounces.

Ric Burnley of Virginia Beach had a 12-8 blueline.

Most sea bass and tilefish are coming from wrecks at depths of as much as 600 feet. Anglers report that pesky dogfish are too plentiful.

Walter Hubbard of Virginia Beach last week landed the biggest striper he has caught in six years of fishing for the species. It weighed 55 pounds, 5 ounces, measured 51 inches, and was caught about a mile off False Cape in 24 feet of water.

Hubbard, who also landed a 48-incher, was catching his fish with a Mojo rig.

U PCOMING

• The ninth annualVirginia Beach Billfish FoundationTux andTails Gala fundraiser is scheduled for 7 p.m.Saturday at the Surfside Inn,1211AtlanticAve.,Virginia Beach.The event benefits the foundation's Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs campaign. Tickets are $100 per person. For more information, call Linda Nolasco at 757-481-7231.

• The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will give a free boater safety education class from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.Saturday at Northwest River Park. For more information,call the park at 757-421-7151.

• Free fishing seminars will be held from noon to 2 p.m.next Sunday at the Bait Shack,2560Airline Blvd.,Portsmouth.Ken Wilson and Jeff Hester will talk about surf fishing,and MikeAdams will talk about tying knots.The three will focus their instruction on techniques for drum,cobia and striped bass. For more information,call 757-465-9020.

• The second Fishing Fools event at Crab Creek Outfitters will be held from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m.March 31 andApril 1.The business is located at 3617 Shore Drive inVirginia Beach.Seminars on fly fishing,fly tying, kayak fishing and throwing a cast net will be included.Representatives from the Coast Guard,the Coastal ConservationAssociation and SeaTow will participate. For more information,call 757-460-1958.

SALTWATER TOURNAMENT LEADERS

Fish Citations Species Angler, hometown weight Where caught in category Bluefish Peter Carey, Fredericksburg 16-0 Lower Chesapeake Bay 1

Blueline tilefish Doug Deese, Hampton 18-10 Off Virginia Beach 21

Flounder Josh Garrison, Virginia Beach 10-9 Lower Chesapeake Bay 10 Gray triggerfish Julie Ball, Virginia Beach 4-3 Off Virginia Beach 1 Sea bass David Howard, Leesburg 7-7 Off Virginia Beach 87 Speckled trout Daniel Peters, Chesapeake 11-5 Hot Ditch 32 Spot Joe Few, Virginia Beach 1-1 Coastal Virginia Beach 1

Striped bass Wayne Rickman, Mechanicsville 62-1 Coastal Virginia Beach 308 Tautog Julie Ball, Virginia Beach 15-10 Off Virginia Beach 12

As of Wednesday, there had been 805 total entries in the 2007 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament - 473 for weighed fish and 332 for releases. New entries are in bold type. Of the releases, 5 have been for bluefish, 4 for flounder, 1 for gray triggerfish, 18 for speckled trout, 293 for striped bass and 11 for tautog. There have been no entries for amberjack, black drum, blue marlin, cobia, croaker, dolphin, false albacore, gray trout, king mackerel, kingfish (sea mullet), pompano, red drum, sailfish, shark (any species), sheepshead, spadefish, Spanish mackerel, spearfish, swordfish, true albacore, tuna (bluefin), tuna (other than bluefin), wahoo or white marlin. The contest is operated by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and is financed through the Chesapeake Bay recreational fishing license fund.

POSSIBLE CHANGES Gray trout (left): Possession-limit reduction from seven to six fish per day. Tautog: Baglimit reduction from seven to five fish per day. Tilefish and grouper: Limits being looked at by the Va. Marine Resources Commission. THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT FILE

Dennis:))
 

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Seems like a good idea for the Tog fishery since it's become so much more popular the last few years... Seems like everyone goes Toggin' at some point now.... Thanks for the info Dennis:thumbup:
 

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sounds good for togs, grey trout.

on the "grouper" and tiles, it seems kinda like a knee jerk reaction. almost to single out a handfull of charters and recreational guys. what will be the commercial regs???

and how can the state of va regulate a fish that isnt "normally" found in state waters??(inside the 3mi. line)

danny
 

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The commercial regs that were proposed at the last FMAC meeting were 300 pounds of tilefish and 175 pounds of grouper per vessel trip. The general opinion is that this will preclude any directed fisheries.

Tom
 

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And in addition to these 4 fish, look for regulation changes for striped bass by the fall season and possible regulations on sheepshead.
 

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These contemplated VA Tilefish and Grouper regulations have to be the worst example of poorly planned and completely arbitrary regulations I have ever witnessed. The premise of a handful of boats fishing a few times a month in the entire state of VA affecting the poplulations of a species is laughable. Especially when the state of VA has zero data to base the population sizes.

I was extremely impressed with the Commissions' decision last month after several of the fisheries participants testifying at their meeting. They actually listened which was all we could ask. They tabled the measure while more consideration was to be given and more data was to be assembled. It was the right decision. Apparently, either their listening has a 30 day expiration date or a flood of scientific data has magically appeared.

It is extremely disheartening to see political winds fill the sails of fisheries managers. I guess it's the same old story - "let's use science when it fits our political agenda" instead of "let's use science to manage a fishery effectively".

As one of the Commissioners pointed out last month "I don't know anything more about Tiles than what is on my bathroom wall" ....

Except for my good friend Dr. Neill, I doubt that any of the Commissioners has ever even seen a Tilefish, much less caught one. This should be an interesting meeting and I shall be in attendance to point out in person once again the comlpete absurdity of such regulations.

Despite this absurdity, we may still see the regulation pass. And, it will be a new low for VMRC. Effectively, it will be a regulation for 1 boat. I wonder what a good lawyer would have to say about the issue?
 

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Jim,

The matter was tabled for the month. My understanding is that staff will be bringing back other options to consider.

BTW that was advisory committee members not Commissioners that you were talking to. They are volunteers selected by the Commissioner. The Commissioner and Associate Commissioners are appointed by the Governor.

Staff can take measures to the Commission without first taking it to the committee. They can take measures to the Commission without the committee first taking a vote. They can take measures to the Commission that the committee voted to kill. They can modify the committee recommendations when they take them to the Commission. They are obgiligated to tell the Commission what the committee did and generally what was said.

Tom
 

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So they are going to discuss it at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the agency’s fourth-floor conference room at 2600 Washington Ave. in Newport News and then set the limits on th 27th of March? That is what I read from the article. I enjoyed the last time I went and I plan on being there again.
 

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Tom - thanks for clearing that up. I assume that we can count on your vote against a creel limit pending further study? Do you feel that this group will table it again?
 

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Where to start, well let's just start at the top and work our wa down.

Grey trout. 2 years ago NMFS releases a report that says greys are on their way to recovery. The recreatioal anglers throw up their hands and ask where that came from. Next year a report comes out and says the population is at an all time low and may be past ever being able to be restored. I'd come closer to agreeing with that second report personally, but I'm not a grey trout fisherman. there are definitely not many of the larger fish around, and these would be the breeders.

Tautog. I haven't seen any numbers on them and haven't had any trouble catching one whenever I wanted one. I have always felt the season should be closed during their spawn, that just seems to be common sense to me. And I don;t think a larger minimum size would be all that bad either.

Tilefish and Grouper. As was previously stated, this is an extremely small fishery. 2 head boats, 10-20 recreational and charter boats. Seems like an extremely small fishing fleet to try to regulate. I personally know of less than 10 grouper that were caught last year. Even if you double or triple that number, it still isn't really enough to justify regulating is it? Ok, then we get the argument that we have to regulate the recreational guys so we can set a commercial limit. Sorry guys but I ain't buying that one. Even if we do set a commercial limit, that's exactly what it is, A LIMIT FOR THE STATE OF VA. There is absolutely nothing stopping a trawl captain, hook and liner or any other type of commecial boat from going out there and picking every one of those fish, and then landing them in another state further up the coast where they are not regulated. Supposedly commercial guys are required to report the general location of their catches. It would sure be nice to see that data and also see where they happen to be landing it. Maybe someone smarter than I can find it. As far as the landings, I am smart enough to find that. As far as grouper landings in Va, there hasn't been 1,000 lbs of grouper landed in Va over the last 10 years. There has been just over 3,000 lbs of blue lines landed in Va and most of that was 2003 and 2005. Doesn't look like to me there is very much effort being put forth here by the commercial fishery, or at least if there is, they are not landing them in the great state of Virginia. So I ask again, where is the need for regulation here?
 

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You won't have to worry about setting any limits. The dog sharks are consuming everything out there. Plus, I think the few people that do target them are getting tired of reeling up 50 plus dog fish to get a couple of seabass and tilefish.
 

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That's extremely disappointing, Tom. I certainly thought we could count on you first. I hope we can count on Dr. Neill, as well as he is inimately familiar with the great numbers and healthy populations in our waters. I recall several of Dr. Neill's fishing reports stating "we were catching them 2 and 3 at a time", "we filled all of our boxes", and "we caught them until our arms fell off". Now, along with the 5 World Records in VA in the last year, does that really sound like a population in trouble?

You guys really want to help offshore bottom fishing? Open up the Spiny Dogfish to the watermen. It would be a much needed shot in the arm for them and it would help us and help the bottom fish have a chance to live. Can you imagine what the Dawgs consume in one single day out there? I would bet that they eat more in one day than we catch in an entire year. They are completely out of control now.
 

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I am not an offshore wreck fishermen so I have no stake in this issue but I must say I agree with the folks on here that the "fleet" fishing these ground is very, very small. Yes, there should be some reasonable creel limits but for now, the fishery seems very strong.

Gray trout...any idiot out there knows they are very hard to come by. The usual haunts at the usual times of year hold very few of these fish...and what about those massive schools of small ones that were out past the 4th island? Nothing like it used to be...that tells you something.

I would just LOVE to know how the data is based for any of the decisions that are made. I know at least 50 (maybe 100) rec fishermen that fish inshore...and I know of NO ONE that has been interviewed on what they catch/keep. So how is the data being compiled on say Flounder? Tog? Trout? My guess is it is a total guess and not based on science as we would be led to believe (at least not science based on good data, you can make "science" look any way you like if you use the data you WANT to use) The only interview I've ever had was for Bluefin Tuna...

Glenn
 

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The grey trout laws for VA, NC and MD over the last 13 years have been the most restrictive for commerc. and rec. ever. Great effort has been put forth to "rebuild" this stock yet it seems to follow its own path. We have seen more grey trout in our nets over the last four weeks than we have in 8 years. Here is a fish that mother nature designed to feed other fish with just like menhaden. Sure, many get to be 10+ pounds but still many more pan trout are gobbled up by rock, biter sharks and bluefish by the tons.

I'll stop here on the trout...BUT...

Get ready because I want to see how many of you apply these arguments to other species...like...

....say.....amberjack! No management plan north of NC, no science on VA populations, a species at its northernmost migratory area yet we have a two fish bag on commercial? This is a story of a fish hoarded by a select few for themselves and their cameras.

Capt. Jim,

Brace up....there is no science for many of these fish but so many want to be pro-active with conservation and THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!

But, we can still use a little common sense and not confuse caution with absurdity.

Baitman
 

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Baitman, thanks for your comments. As a transplanted Marylander I am only in the last 5 years focusing on VA fishing. I swore when I moved down here I was going to stay out of fisheries politics because it is so frustrating and time consuming but here I a am in the thick of it again!

In Maryland there is so much heavier fishing pressure and so much less territory that it's a wonder any crabs or fish are lef at all. But here with such relatively small amount of fishing pressure and such a huge area fror these species it seems completely ludicrous to put a creel limit when the populations are so healthy. I see what the "fisheries managers have done by cutting back on the Spiny Dogfish. That may historically prove to be the worst decision in fisheries management history if they continue to explode as they are eating everything in the ocean and multiplying at exponential rates.

The impetus for VA creel limits on these fish has been edicted from the Southern Management area and I am surprised that VA is playing the political footsie. NC and south has caught up all of their Tilefish and Groupers and wants us to stop catching them so they will repopulate here and swim down there so they can catch them all up again?

Please explain how that makes any sense???
 

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It syre would be nice to pull up in the hole behind the fourth island and catch the hell out of the greys again. Big Greys like in the mid-seventies! I personally didn't eat many but those nights with 7-8 lb. average sure were fun. Unless we get a better grip on the stripers I DON'T THINK A CREEL LIMIT MEANS DOOKY. They (stripers) are the biggest reason for the decline in a lot of species but of course they are also the most lucritive to the economy so....

As far as the togs one fish less per person shouldn't hurt anyone.

I don't know much like most here in regards to the tiles and grouper but I know this fishery is being explored by a lot of wreck guy's like myself. It is only a matter of time and all of you guy's that have had this to yourselves will have more company out there. You rarely heard much about these options but more and more guy's are asking. Last week I was togging and could hear atleast four different boats hail me on there way to" tile fish ". You guys have worked hard to find these fish and even harder to keep the where abouts less than public and understandably so. You may want to consider some sort of limit to protect your future intrests. How many times do you think you all can post pic.'s of those record Tiles and pretty snowies and not get the other fishoholics all worked up to give it a try.
 

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I just don't see this whole fleet of deep dropping anglers suddenly appearing to go 60-70-80 and even 90NM out in the bluewater of VA. Dropping 2-5lbs of lead down to 300-900 feet, cranking until your arms hurt, catching dogfish, conger eels, bluefish, and other sharks to catch some tilefish and maybe, just maybe, once catch a grouper. I would be fine with a limit that was backed up by some data, but not some arbitrary number from SAMFC because that is the way they do it down it there.
 
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