Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report


Thursday, December 29, 2011:


Bass on the blast. Here’s an email report I was sent:

On Tuesday Renegade Sportfishing hosted another open boat striper trip. Capt Mike again took the long ride north to the Rocks to only get the call it was going off on the beach south of Manasquan  on big fish. With little life up there and barely wetting a line Capt Mike didn't hesitate to do the right thing for his customers, turn right around and head 18 miles straight back to MI, taking the 3-5's right on the chin at 25 knots. Thank god for weight.


Luckily, we only had to get south of Belmar Inlet when it came together at around 8am. Huge trophy bass pushing herring to the top and into the surf. Called in the rest of the fleet (5 boats) and it was game on for over an hour. Boated our limit and released another dozen and half Trophy bass. All fish hit Jersey Jay Krocs and 10" Tsunami Shads. Another great day on these hard fighting Trophy males. Also very nice to see the 87' cutters holding the line!


HERRING MISCOUNT TIP OF ICEBERG: In New England, Gulf of Maine fishermen and anglers could see a moratorium on cod.  At best, they’ll see cutbacks like never before.

Though that only marginally affects us in NJ, there is an ugly angle to that fishery management debacle that could create chaos on the Entire eastern Seaboard if not corrected in the near future.

As recently as three years ago, NE fishermen were reveling in reports that their beloved cod had made astronomical population gains. Those upbeat-and-beyond reports were official – kinda. Sure, they were from federal studies, based on counts by contracted scientists. However, there were, well, utter bullshit.

"It's highly frustrating, because those fish may never actually have existed,"  Rick Cunningham, chair of the New England Fishery Management Council, was quoted as saying.

At some as yet undetermined point, federal regulators hit on some new data that showed the fishery all but dead in the water. We’re talking a real 1980s striped bass-type crash.

While that cod collapse thing has to now be handled with a moratorium-like reaction, those of us not overly interested in coldwater bottom fish have to contend with the diabolical data debacle that had a fishery exploding one year and all but dead the next.

So I got on the horn with a couple biologists up in New England, whom I’ve used for insider information for decades now. They’re fully aware of the plight of, as they put it, “all our groundfish.”


Trying to ignore the implications loosed by that  “all our groundfish,” I asked what went wrong with cod, solely.


I’ve chatted with those guys enough that they know I can be trusted with privileged information. In other words, “I didn’t hear it for all y’all.” With that in mind, they said there had to have been some – and they chose this odd word – “coercion” as the data was being collected three years back.


I, of course, instantly knew where they were going, so they didn’t have to go there -- and they didn’t, per se. They never said outright that politician and fishing industry forces (including angling interest) pressured scientists into fudging the facts. In fact, in lieu of that obvious implication, they instead went coyly professional by saying, “There can always be many ways to read data.”


We all knew that was a worn-out and pathetic disclaimer meant to, essentially, insult everyone’s intelligences.  


Face it, in the fishery management realm, the instant any facts are gathered that a great many people dislike, an attack is launched to crush reality via violent disagreement, anecdotal information and unfettered emotionality. When the right politicos get emotional, facts and reality can easily take a distant back seat – as does the health of fisheries.  


All I ask is, in the end, a willingness by fishermen and politicians to fess up, take responsibility, should a fishery suddenly go belly up due to their emotion-over-science actions. And I fear there may be some serious fessing up to do if cod is any indication of how far outside pressures can penetrate inside fishery management. 

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