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greenpoint + williamsburg waterfront circa 1992

this is super cool. check out the huxley envelope factory building near the Huron Street pier, which is already in pieces in the river. The Green Street pier still looks pretty nice, though! Not any more…

2014 Derby Over!

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It was a cold night for alligators and the hunters of fish but somehow we prevailed through the sixth Brooklyn Fishing Derby. The fishing was tough, the wind unforgiving, the bunker plentiful, and the spirits high, and in the end newcomer Alex Reh caught what might have been the only bass of the derby, a 26″ schoolie up in Greenpoint. A short, but a healthy looking fish, nonetheless. The news for the rest of the weekend went quiet, with only crabs tearing up my fresh bunker and stories of dedicated souls coming up empty. As people started to trickle in to Dream, the mood slowly began to shift while the grills started smoking and beer started flowing. A HUGE thanks to Barbara, Robert, and the rest of the crew at Dream for making this happen, by the way. I’m always impressed at how they hold it down while I’m getting drunk and forgetting to do things. Once we managed to clear Dream of all the smoke blowing in from the backyard, I started getting really hungry watching Jacques from Palo Santo pull out his bag of magic tricks.

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Shawn Hu brought his wife and daughter and a big sack of sugar cane to chew on while we waited for the masters of the grills to do their thing. A couple guys from Greenpoint Fish & Lobster brought more fresh fish and mussels. Robin and Altay sent us pictures of the tog stock cooking on their stove they’d soon be bringing to Dream. Not to be outdone, Ben started it off with spicy lobster and fish sausages, salmon filets, salmon burgers, whole shrimp skewers, and Chilean sea bass—all of which I believe was donated by The Lobster Place. I could feel people start to get stoked as the smells coming off the grills got us salivating. I, like most everyone else here, spent most of the weekend wet and freezing and stressing out with little to show for it, but now it was becoming clear again what was the true reward. We swapped fishing stories, advice, fishing spots, beers, laughs… It was all coming together.

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These guys came from Germany to fish and ended up one snagged line short of possibly winning the derby. We had a nice mix of new faces and familiar ones, but we were missing out on some KEY members, to which I will call out Dave “It’s noon o’clock somewhere” Cole—who was not only too drunk to keep fishing Saturday, but too hungover to come to the party Sunday, Jane “I’m married now” Borock, Thomas “I got a kid now” Genoski, Maria “I haven’t fished in years” H., and James “I got an adult life now” Potter. I’m bummed you guys missed it, and you now have to listen to me give you shit for it for another year. No matter, we soldiered on through the beers and the evening. A guy named Kyle graced us with some incredible, homemade duck jerky, which reminds me that two-time champion Jan Gorz caught a Canadian goose on n5th an hour before the derby close. Jacques prepped awesome bluefish tacos, and Robin and Altay arrived with their Carribean fish “tea.” That Chilean sea bass made a quick appearance and quicker disappearance, and despite my ethical qualms with eating this fish, I swear if you could glaze a stick of butter with brown sugar and honey, that would have been this fish. The award ceremony was short and sweet, with John Ruffino handing over the cup to Alex Reh, who stood in triumph over us lesser fishermen.

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Oh, and here’s his fish. Congrats the Alex for pulling this guy out on a tough weekend of fishing.
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Somehow I managed to not get blackout drunk at this year’s closing party, although no one will let me forget the time I thought I got roofied at The Woods. The 2014 Derby was over, and I think we have a lot of work to do for next year, but somehow the closing party always gets people together and makes all the work, disorganization and scrambling worth it ten times over. A big Ilya Bryzgalov humongous Thank You goes to everyone who came out for this year’s derby, our sponsors—ACME Smoked Fish, Greenpoint Fish and Lobster, The Lobster Place, Brooklyn Kitchen, Jacques at Palo Santo, and, of course, everyone at Dream. We couldn’t have done it without all of you.

But the fishing’s not over yet; I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more trips before the weather goes full on winter, to Breezy, to Montauk, to wherever I can go. Robin, by the way, is gauging interest in a blackfish trip on the Ocean Eagle out of Sheepshead Bay before the season is done. Contact me if you’re interested and we can set a day for a trip.

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—mkl

[most pictures taken by Geralyn Shukwit]

2014 Derby UNDERWAY!

Many thanks to everyone who braved the cold rain to meet us at Dream Tackle tonight in Greenpoint. One of my favorite things about the Derby is meeting new people and reconnecting with friends. We had a bunch of food thanks to ACME Smoked Fish, beer thanks to Pabst Blue Ribbon, and hospitality thanks to Robert and Basia at Dream. One side note before I get too far, Dream has A LOT of fresh bunker right now. I reached in there and tested those fish out. GET SOME NOW while the getting is good. I jokingly asked if Robert threw a casting net into Newtown Creek this morning.

Back to the opening, it was great meeting some new folks like Justin and Alex, and meeting up with friends like Jacques, Alex Marquez, Robin (who pleaded for me to open a blackfish category since she is currently crushing them at her secret locations), Geralyn, Ruffino and his crew, Dave Cole, and others who we are always happy to see. Jon Capo showed up late and didn’t get his shirt. Don’t worry, Jon. We have them in Ben’s truck. Just show up Sunday if you didn’t get yours, and if you asked me (via email) to hold one for you, I have yours.

Despite the near-freezing rain, a small, but dedicated crew decided to head out Thursday night. The weather sucked; nobody needs to elaborate on that, really. I ran home, grabbed my gear and my flask of whiskey to ward off the chill, and met up with Ben—of Derby and lobster roll fame; Jacques—of last year’s grill and Fort Reno fame; Dennis—of fishing and gyotaku print (he did the fish logo for our derby this year) fame; and Geralyn—of photography fame. Me, I’m perhaps famous for swiping all the way through to the end of Tinder. Alex Marquez decided to set up on a nearby Greenpoint Pier. There’s been a lot of whispers about the pod of bunker hanging out in Newtown Creek lately. It sounds crazy to me too that they would be schooling up around that particular waterway, but here is the photographic proof from our own hands:

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Ben got the first one. He swore up and down that his was bigger, and that was the reason he pulled a muscle, I won’t say which, hauling it in. We both snagged up on weighted trebles, which you can also find in good supply at Dream. We both decided to live line them, though I was skeptical we’d find any bass of the size that could swallow these adult bunker, and I do stress that these were adult size bunker, but then again, the East River surprises me every year and having a few thousand bunker schooling in Newtown Creek is surprising enough. If a 300# sea lion came and snatched my bunker and rod away, I couldn’t be that surprised after this. Regardless, our lines lay untouched. Ben hooked his bunker through the tail and it promptly drowned itself to death. I hooked mine through the dorsal and somehow it became so lively as to unhook itself. Ben tossed his dead bunker over the side. I surreptitiously snagged it back to put it on ice, where it lies with the other fresh bunker I bought at Dream, to wait for tomorrow night.

Not to be completely outdone, Alex Marquez submitted this photo:

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of what is the first striped bass of the 2014 derby. He is now the leader, despite the fact that this guy is smaller than the bunker Ben and I caught. Way to go, Alex! Get out there and get some!

—mkl

2014 Derby Starts THURSDAY!

It’s time for the 2014 Derby, and despite the cold weather blowing in, I know there’s some dedicated fishing folk out there who’ve heard about the mass of bunker hanging out in Newtown Creek underneath the Pulaski Bridge. If one were industrious, you could get a nice head start on some bait for the derby!

Thursday night the derby starts at 1900 (7PM) and will run through 1500 (3PM) Sunday, November 16. The biggest fish gets the trophy and all the requisite trash talking and bragging that come with it. Come to Dream (673 Manhattan Ave.) to register, pick up your shirts, and gear up for the weekend. This is the East River, so you know you need plenty of hooks, lead, and terminal tackle. We’ll also have a bunch of delicious food donated by Rich over at ACME Smoked Fish, so come get some snacks. I’ll also pick up some beer for you adults out there.

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Here’s a brief run down of the rules:

*Registration is FREE, but you must be registered BEFORE you enter a fish in the derby

*Target species are striped bass and bluefish

*Derby boundaries run from the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge north to the Gantry Pier in Long Island City. Any waterfront between these two piers is fair game, legal to fish or not, but I didn’t tell you to trespass.

*All fish can be submitted via photograph to our Flickr + Twitter account by texting the photo, with a measurement clearly marked, to BKDerby.catch@pikchur.com

The closing party will also be at DREAM on Sunday, starting around 1530 (330PM). All legal sized fish are welcome to donation to our team of cooks who will be grilling out back just like last year. And like last year, the derby is about friendly competition, good friends and food, meeting new people, and the growing fishing community in Brooklyn. Kids, jetty guys, surf guys, fly fishermen—everyone is welcome. Can’t wait to see everyone Thursday night! Dress warm! Any questions, please contact me at bkuaa.info(at)gmail.com.

—mkl

2014 derby announcements

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Rough weekend this time around with a lot of wind, a few near disasters, some dubious law enforcement, and zero fish to show for it all. Hopefully in two weeks it’s a different story because The Derby starts November 13 (Thursday) at 7pm and runs through Sunday, November 16 (3pm) with a closing party at Dream. Same rules as last year—all legal fish have to be weighed in at Dream. Stripers and bluefish are all game this season and the river should be running with them right now. We’ve got a lot of incredible food lined up for the opening and closing events from our generous sponsors: ACME Smoked Fish, Brooklyn Kitchen, Greenpoint Fish and Lobster, and The Lobster Place in Chelsea. If you were there last year, you might remember we had an awesome cookout with some of the derby fish in the backyard of Dream last year—chowders, tacos, whole grilled East River striped bass. This is going to happen again, but hopefully with even more fish.

Registration is free again this year. Sign up at Dream or email us at bkuaa.info(at)gmail.com.

believe in the bucktail

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It’s been an awesome lazy summer of fishing from the great Sea Oak that Thomas and I bought in June, drifting and drinking for summer fluke and black sea bass, but now that fall is full upon us, it’s time to start getting serious. I met up with Ben today at the new Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. at Eckford and Nassau to talk about this year’s derby. Ben’s been a busy guy for most of the year, but we’ve nailed down our date for this year’s derby and it’s going to happen Friday 17 October through Sunday. Like last year we’re planning to have a great cookout of derby fish this year with lots of beers and good times in Dream’s backyard. Look for more details later this week.

Yesterday (Saturday), I managed to sneak out of town and work for a brief trip to Montauk to check out the fall run. I didn’t know there was a tournament this weekend, but when I pulled into the lower lot it was pretty obvious that something was going on—more than just the usual fall crowd, and judging by Zeno’s comments over at Surfcaster’s Journal, there wasn’t much to be expected this weekend anyway. I was supposed to meet up with my friend Tyler who was out in a buddy’s boat targeting albies, but he ended up having a field day with bass, blues, and, yup, albies into the night so I was solo in the crowd of surfcasters, many of whom were grilling food and lounging around the lower lot with gear drying out, draped over their trucks and campers. I spent the earlier part of the day retreading my boots with Grip Studs since the last time I was out here I lost one of my Korkers while wading back to shore and was annoyed at how they just seem to untie themselves and wander off without so much as a middle finger on the way out. I’d done some reading up on the #1800 model on this site and figured what the hell since Korkers and Grip Studs are pretty comparable, price wise. These studs have a pretty wide auger and you drill them directly into the felt sole of your boots. I geared up pretty lazily myself while trying to enjoy the setting sun and pink sky and no one around me seemed to be in much of a hurry either.

I walked down the path to the lighthouse and didn’t see many people at first, but offshore there were a lot of boats working off the point. A couple guys were throwing bucktails off the lighthouse point but it seemed pretty quiet, until I turned the corner. From Brown’s up to where I was standing at the top of Turtle Cove there were no less than 25 surfcasters, maybe more since I counted a half dozen I could see at the point of Brown’s in the distance. I walked toward the beach thinking This Was A Huge Mistake, but found a rock in relative solitude while all around me I saw guys eyeing each other up and seeing what the other was throwing. That kind of scrutiny is annoying, but I guess it comes with the territory. It was about mid-high tide with no wind and the surf was mellow. Most guys were throwing pencils in the fading light and nobody was catching. I started with a pencil too and got nothing. I switched to a 2oz bucktail and got some weeds. I switched to a 1.5oz bucktail and got some weeds. The light was changing from blue to black and all around me headlamps dotted the dusk and swept the water in wide arcs. That was annoying too: people surfcasting with their headlamps on full lumens. I could hear some arguments in the distance and the smell of grilled hot dogs wafted over Camp Hero. A guy far to my right was throwing a glow-in-the-dark popper that looked like a falling star every time it caught my peripheral vision. I swapped to a 1oz bucktail that somehow got caught up in my clip and wouldn’t sit right. I don’t even know how that happened as it was stuck somehow in the middle of the clip and I had to turn on my light and use pliers and a lot of cursing to free it. I turned off the light and cast out. This bucktail seemed to swim better in the current and not get hung up on the rocks ahead of me. I was doing the surfcasting thing where you hold the butt end of the rod between your legs for leverage—actually this was the first time I used this Lamiglas 1321 I bought off some guy last winter because I tried to use it when I went out with Bill Wetzel back in June but the previous owner put these wire guides on it and half of them had broken welds or chips in them. (I got the guides replaced at Bernies.) Anyway, I was probably day dreaming or something or trying to imagine the bucktail bouncing above the rocks when a truck slammed my line and, with the aforementioned rod-between-the-legs posture I’d assumed, damn near catapulted me off my rock. I set my drag tight to pull free of some of the weed beds, which may have had a part in almost falling face first into the next rock. For the first minute I pumped and cranked and fought this fish sitting down before I felt I had enough control over it to stand back up, but by then it lodged itself between a couple boulders about 20 yards to my left. With all the people around me I didn’t want to alert them to the fish on my line and I didn’t want to give up either since the only other fish I caught in this supposed Striper Mecca was this little rat in June that wasn’t even worth mentioning other than it was the first kinda bass I caught in Montauk. I turned on my lamp and hopped down and started wading to the boulders.

Luckily for me I was tucked into this little corner where nobody on either side could see what I was doing. I got pounded by waves here but got close enough to grab the leader and pull the fish out. It just sort of acquiesced with what I wanted to do, exhausted from fighting in the surf and rocks, the bucktail stuck neatly in its upper left lip. I didn’t get measurements, but this was easily my biggest bass of my surfcasting life thus far, and by a lot. It wasn’t a monster bass by any means, but no surfcaster would be bummed about landing this fish. I estimated it to be about 20-ish pounds, and will probably be 35-pounds the next time I tell this story. It took me a good bit to revive the fish but it finally gave a kick and swam off, in my observance, somewhat sheepishly. In the distance that same guy threw his glow-in-the-dark popper and lights went on and off in the night. Nobody saw me climb back up to my rock smiling.

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This is Peter Laurelli, who makes those great fishing videos that get me through the long cold winter. This is pretty much how I felt in triumph over man and nature.

I had one more fish, considerably smaller, but lost it before the moron parade started with guys shining their headlamps at full blast in every direction looking to see what you were doing, shining directly into the water around you and everyone else. I thought about moving further west but figured with the amount of lights going off that it probably wasn’t worth it at this time of the tide. Walking back to the lot I tried to be courteous and shield my light from the guys fishing while trying not to trip in the dark, but nobody gave a shit. They gave even less than that, really. Just the fact that you were there was an annoyance to them. Nobody ever said surfcasters in Montauk were nice guys.

—mkl

p.s. So far all Grip Studs are in place and I’m pretty satisfied with them. Screwing directly into the boot allows the studs more flexibility with the sole of the shoe which makes for better grip, as far as I can tell. There’s a lot of guys who are sold on these over Korkers. Maybe I will be one of them.

good read from the Internets…

on the state of the ASMFC’s action (or inaction) regarding striped bass conservation and population levels. Once again, it seems they’re treading familiar water, putting short term economic gains over long term ecological goals. I don’t know why I even get an emotional response when reading about things like this.

Some people get it, like New York’s Pat Augustine who said, “I think at the end of the day if we just decide we’re not going to follow through on what our commitment was last year to be well on our way to recovery and implementation January of 2015 and come up with anything that is going to dilute the direction we’re going, I think we will totally lose the credibility of the public…

There is a lot of emotion out there; and to do anything other than what we committed to do, we’re going to have mud all over our face and we’re going to embarrass ourselves…”

He was speaking about the ASMFC’s credibility, and with comments like the following from the Maryland marine fisheries director Thomas O’Connell:

“I think it really comes down to a cost-benefit analysis and trying to weigh the impacts versus the likely benefits of our action today…

“I think, as I mentioned earlier, a 32 to 36 percent reduction is going to have large socio-economic impacts as well as potential ecological impacts. I think we don’t have a stock situation that is in dire need of protection…”

Although that statement is in direct contradiction to even their own research and most other empirical evidence from recreational fishermen and even charters.

Read for yourself what Charlie Witek has to say. Keep in mind he is coming from a conservation perspective after spending the last 50 years on the water as a fisherman himself. Taken from Charlie Witek’s blog post titled “Maryland Seeks to Slow Striped Bass Recovery”:

Most of our striped bass are spawned in Chesapeake Bay, and most of those come from the waters of Maryland.  For that reason, Maryland’s striped bass young-of-the-year index has generally been the best future predictor of the future health of the stock.

Thus, folks who care about the striper’s future have been rightly concerned by the fact that the index has been coming in below average for most of the years in the past decade, with the 2012 index the lowest in more than fifty years—even lower than anything recorded during the depths of the last stock collapse.

The one bit of good news came in 2011, when a dominant year class was produced.

You would think that the folks who manage bass down in Maryland would be doing whatever they can to help those 2011s live long enough to recruit into the spawning stock, something that should happen in 2017 or so.

But if you thought that, you would have been wrong.  

Maryland has a long history of killing immature bass (back before the collapse, a legal “pan rock” was just 12 inches long), and it doesn’t look like they’re planning to reform any time soon.

Right now, they’ve got the 2011s fixed dead in their sights.

It started last fall when, despite the steady decline if the spawning stock biomass, the state declared its intention to increase the harvest by 14% in 2014.  I suppose that went over well with the folks who make their money off the heads of dead fish, but folks capable of thinking about the long term—which, in this case, is anything past the current season—figured out that beating up on the only solid year class in the last decade was probably a dumb idea.

Coastal Conservation Association Maryland, which seems to represent the most rational and responsible anglers in the state, made a really solid effort to prevent such foolishness from going forward but, in the end, the chance of plucking more dollars from the heads of dead bass proved far too attractive for the state to change course.

So this year, the Maryland folks are killing more bass, even though a peer-reviewed stock assessment, that was presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last October, and updated  in December, noted that

“If the current fully-recruited [fishing mortality rate] (0.200) is maintained during 2013-2017, the probability of being below the [spawning stock biomass] reference point increases to 0.86 by 2015…If the current fully-recruited [fishing mortality rate] increases to Fthreshold (0.219), and is maintained during 2013-2017, the probability of being below the [spawning stock biomass] reference point reaches 0.93 by 2015 and declines thereafter…
“…there is a probability of 0.46 that the 2012 female [spawning stock biomass] is below or equal to the [spawning stock biomass] threshold, and a probability of 0.31 that the 2012 fully-recruited fishing mortality is above or equal to the fishing mortality threshold…”

The stock assessment also made it clear that, although the stock was not yet overfished and that overfishing did not occur in the past couple of years, the target fishing mortality levels had been exceeded, and the spawning stock biomass had been below target levels since 2006.

Amendment 6 to ASMFC’s striped bass management plan says that: “If the Management Board determines that the fishing mortality target is exceeded in two consecutive years and the female spawning stock biomass falls below the target in either of those years, the Management Board must adjust the striped bass management program to reduce the fishing mortality to a rate that is at or below the target within one year.“

That seems pretty clear, but not if you’re Thomas O’Connell, the marine fisheries director for the State of Maryland.  He took a look at Amendment 6, and its mandate to reduce fishing mortality, but wasn’t too impressed. 

Instead of making meaningful changes to the management program in order to reduce fishing mortality to the target level, O’Connell decided that he’d rather make changes to Amendment 6, and allow harvest reductions to be phased in over three full years, instead the one year currently required.

As too often happens at ASMFC, it was a matter of elevating short-term economic gains over the need to conserve and rebuild the stock.  At the May Striped Bass Management Board meeting, O’Connell said

“I think it really comes down to a cost-benefit analysis and trying to weigh the impacts versus the likely benefits of our action today…

“I think, as I mentioned earlier, a 32 to 36 percent reduction is going to have large socio-economic impacts as well as potential ecological impacts.  I think we don’t have a stock situation that is in dire need of protection…”

Not everyone on the Management Board shared that view. Paul Deodati, the state fisheries director from Massachusetts, eloquently opposed O’Connell’s approach, correctly noting that “We’re actually working off the tenets of Amendment 6, which are pretty clear about what this board is supposed to do.  We’re not supposed to wait until new fall down well below the levels that [Thomas O’Connell is] suggesting.  We’re supposed to take an action now.

“It is always difficult when we have to make a cut, especially when our fisheries aren’t completely falling apart; but with striped bass we took a very deliberate approach to how we were going to react to and address changes in stock condition.  This is the change that we identified many years ago as a point in time when we’ll take a serious action to reduce fishing mortality.  We’ve reached that.  In fact, in my belief we have gone well beyond the time that we allowed ourselves to take this action.

“I think that any further delays is going to hurt the credibility of the commission.  It is going to completely tarnish the integrity of the Striped Bass Management Plan, which I think we’ve worked really hard to maintain as a top-notch managed program.  I don’t think that’s our intent, but I’m afraid that would be the result of delaying action on this…“

Pat Augustine, proxy for New York’s legislative appointee, also raised the issue of ASMFC’s credibility, pointing out that “I think at the end of the day if we just decide we’re not going to follow through on what our commitment was last year to be well on our way to recovery and implementation January of 2015 and come up with anything that is going to dilute the direction we’re going, I think we will totally lose the credibility of the public…

There is a lot of emotion out there; and to do anything other than what we committed to do, we’re going to have mud all over our face and we’re going to embarrass ourselves…“

However, Tom Fote, governor’s appointee from New Jersey and long-time opponent of ever reducing the recreational harvest of anything, regardless of the health of the stock, was quick to jump on the O’Connell bandwagon, trying to discredit Augustine with a somewhat unintelligible argument that

“The credibility is that we’re basically trying to accommodate fishermen.  New York has always wanted one fish.  When we opened the fishery when there is plenty of fish, their surf fishermen wanted one fish.  That is not the reality in New York.
“That is the reality of other states, and this is a compact of all the states that we try to accommodate our fishermen whatever they need…
“I have no problem and our credibility always stands as it is…”
Although, in the end, the facts spoke for themselves, and Deodati was clearly correct.  When ASMFC adopted Amendment 6, it made a covenant with the public to take management action when a trigger was tripped.  Should the Striped Bass Management Board ultimately approve a three-year phase-in of the reduction, it will have violated the public trust, and demonstrated that its word is not to be trusted.

Hopefully, that will not happen, but…

There’s no doubt that Maryland is going to work hard to make that happen, and in the end, it’s easy to understand why.

The 2011 year class won’t recruit into the coastal fishery until 2017.  Until then—perhaps not coincidentally—Maryland and the other Chesapeake fisheries will have them to themselves.  The females will migrate out of the bay for the summer, but most of the males will stick around, and the Maryland fishermen—commercial and recreational—and the Maryland charter boats will be able to pound on them pretty hard while they’re around.

Given that the 2011s are the first good year class since 2003, that 2012 was the worst ever recorded and that we don’t know when the next good spawn will be (although there’s reason to hope that 2013 might be solid), it’s hard to blame Maryland for trying to take what they can while the taking’s good.

Except…even their own anglers are cautious.  CCA Maryland adopted its “My Limit is One” campaign to try to protect some fish and mitigate the damage that the 14% harvest increase will do.

So why does Maryland want to kill so many striped bass?

As O’Connell said, for “socio-economic” reasons.

Which is the nice way of saying that it’s all about the almighty buck, and someone trying to squeeze a little more blood from the stone before casting it aside.

We always have to remember that responsible anglers such as the folks at CCA Maryland aren’t the only people fishing for bass.  

Maryland’s commercial sector killed 2,524,181 pounds of stripers in 2012 (compared to the 1,445,187 pounds landed by its anglers), and it has a big charter fleet that puts dead bass high on its list of priorities, killing  46% of the entire recreational harvest. O’Connell is trying to put a little more money in their pockets today, rather than trying to restore the stock—and so putting more money in their pockets tomorrow.

Even Maryland’s United States senators got into the act.  A letter addressed to Robert Beal, ASMFC’s Executive Director, co-signed by Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin says that the proposed reduction in striped bass harvest

“will adversely impact Maryland’s striped bass fisheries—and could affect entire Bay communities and other fishery industries as a whole—without the benefit of achieving the Commission’s desired level of protection to the spawning stock…
“The Commission is considering action due to concerns over a fishing mortality rate that exceeds the target level, and the dacade long decline in the female spawning stock.  Both of these conditions warrant some conservation action, but that action should not be so extreme as to cause undue economic hardship to coastal communities…
“We ask for the Commission’s continued support for inclusion of a multi-year approach to reducing fishing mortality to the target level…”
In other words, the good senators know that there’s a problem with the striped bass stock, and know that something needs to be done, but doesn’t want ASMFC to do anything that might—according to the best available science—be truly effective, because that might affect the short-term health of some constituents’ bank accounts.

What is worthy of note—and particularly heartening to those who support doing the right thing for the striper—is that the senators’ letter was the only letter received by ASMFC that supported the three-year phase in of harvest reductions.  

All 36 of the letters included in the original meeting materials (which include a petition signed by 1,428 people), and the remaining 51 letters included in the supplemental materials, supported imposing meaningful harvest restrictions.  None supported a three-year phase in of harvest reductions, and the vast majority specifically opposed such action.

The other comments received from Maryland residents included 14 letters from individuals, who asked the Management Board to “cut the fishery… as much as you can legally” and one from a Solomons-based charter boat captain, who said that

“The people from Md DNR have done nothing about the decline of the striped bass.  I fish about 100 trips a year that the decline is Very Clear [sic] a limited number of rock fish in a small area that will be wiped out sooner than later.”
It doesn’t seem likely that the captain would appreciate the position taken by O’Connell, his state fishery director, nor with that taken by Senators Mikulski and Cardin…

All 17 letters received from anglers in Virginia, which shares Chesapeake Bay—and any special Chesapeake Bay regulations—with Maryland call for taking action in one year, not three.

Maryland’s staunchest allies on the Management Board, Tom Fote of New Jersey and Rick Bellavance of Rhode Island (who said “… from the folks that I speak to in our neck of the woods, we don’t see a problem”), don’t seem to have much constituent support.  There were no comment letters from New Jersey at all, while the only comment letter from Rhode Island stated that

“THERE ARE FEWERE AND LESS [sic] LARGE BASS AND IT’S GETTING WORSE EVERY YEAR.  Traditional areas of past striped bass abundance are shells of what they used to be…Even the commercial fishermen have to travel farther and farther to target dwindling stocks of striped bass“
and supports

“…drastic action…Complete moratorium on commercial and recreational harvesting of striped bass until stocks are at 2006 levels or at a minimum of one fish at 36 inches…“
So it looks as if Maryland officials—both its fisheries director and its U.S. senators—and their allies from other states have taken a position that is not supported by the public at large, by Amendment 6 to the management plan nor by the stock assessment.

I suppose that only the folks who profit from dead striped bass stand behind them.

Yet they continue to oppose needed conservation measures.

Which just shows, once again, that so long as there is money to be made, there will always be someone trying to do the wrong thing at ASMFC.

fish invade Thailand mall

fishmall

A friend of mine sent me the link to these photos of a mall in Thailand that was destroyed by a fire and later flooded by a few feet of water. The photographer says the koi fish and carp were deliberated released into the waters, but it’s nonetheless haunting and awesome. From the photographer’s blog:

New World shopping mall, a four storey former shopping mall. Originally constructed as an eleven storey building. It was found to be in breach of old town Bangkok’s four storey limit on building heights. The top seven floors were demolished to adhere to building codes in 1997. In 1999 the mall burned due to suspected arson committed by a competitor in the area. The disaster resulted in several casualties, and the building has remained abandoned ever since. Not having a roof, the basement floor remains under several feet of water year round.

At some point in the early 2000′s an unknown person began introducing a small population of exotic Koi and Catfish species. The small population of fish began to thrive and the result is now a self-sustained, and amazingly populated urban aquarium. I will not tell exactly where it is, as locals somewhat discourage people visiting it. In fact we had to wait for a policeman who was parked on his motorcycle in front of the gate to leave before we timidly entered. Below are a few pictures to give you an idea of the absolutely staggering amount of fish.

In other, less cool news, a kid drowned trying to swim in the East River two weeks ago. He was 21, and by the description of where he and his friends were at, it sounds like they were out on the Con Ed walkway off of Kent Avenue. Having fished out there a bunch of times when the Con Ed building and tanks were still up (easier to hide from cops), I can attest to the strength of the current just in that stretch of 50 or so feet from shore. I don’t know if he jumped in that section of the water or out toward the Manhattan side of the walkway, which I have to assume is even worse. It’s a real shame; he just turned 21 and was about to graduate from college. I don’t know if he was drunk or what (the article seems to imply they were out drinking earlier), but that is some water you don’t want to jump into sober unless you have a REALLY good reason. I hope people start realizing the East River isn’t a place to fuck around swimming because, aside from the myriad diseases you can probably get from swallowing that water, Denton isn’t going to be out on the North 5th pier every time with a rope to save you (G can tell you that story).

—mkl

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