Yes, there will occasionally be those five or six day stretches when I don't get around to posting anything. When such a period transpires I am, generally speaking:
1. Not fishing. (Or, conversely, fishing a lot and not catching anything)
2. Working a lot. (Or, conversely, not working at all and getting depressed)
3. Engaged in other worthwhile activities.
4. None/All of the above.
Last night went Lana fishing after work. Nightsmelt ran in something like pre-columbian numbers. All alone on a dark beach again. Not my happy place. Why is it all the striper guys leave at dusk? Softies. Me, I was out there plugging/dipping away till 11pm. Yikes. At one point I dip my A-frame and a log brushes up against my leg and I'm thinking, Whoa! Good way to break a leg. And then the log snorts and looks up at me and splashes it's tail. I jumped approximately 9 feet strait up. First time I've ever actually touched a harbor seal. Not sure which one of us was more shocked. Him, I imagine. But it didn't keep him from coming back for more. The seals were actually beaching themselves as they pursued the smelt up the surf line. Pretty cool to witness. They kept looking up at me, like: dude, what the hell are you doing here? Isn't there a television, or a sofa, or a hot blonde waiting for you somewhere? (happily there was).
No way to film any of this stuff without a light crew and a camera man. But the average smelt dip was about 3-5 pounds. No kidding. Very happy with the new A-frame. But the cross beam was too small and kept slipping out. In fact it slipped all the way out and is now halfway to Japan.
Earlier in the day found myself, in a professional capacity, counting rockfish offshore at Pigeon Point. Glorious conditions except for the lack of fish. The inevitable conversation about the MLPA closures came up. Numerous times. It appears that fishermen are now in unanimous opposition to this. And I wonder, given this... how effective or long lasting the MPAs are going to be. As it stands they are an enforcement nightmare. (Can someone's position be legally fixed by triangulation from shore?) And, in the Pillar Point region, I will say it now: people are going to die seeking rockfish in more distant areas.
Pillar Point is a popular launch site for a wide variety of anglers, most of whom do not have the moolah for a 65,000 dollar Grady White to haul their fish-crazy butts all the way down to Three Rock (a popular fishing spot, mom). Many of these folks have beat up old tubs, styrofoam rafts with outboards (I am not kidding about this) even rowboats-- in short all manner of floating vehicles, which in days past had enough problems making it around the corner to Sail Rock. But now, they will have to travel all the way to the aforementioned Three Rock to reach abundant fishing grounds. 10 times the distance of, say, Mavericks--which is now closed.
MFN Golden (but sad) Prediction #1: inevitably, a few of these folks ain't gonna make it back.
Y'all feel me here? It's not like the guy who spent two months gluing chunks of styrofoam together, scrimping and saving for a twenty year old trolling motor, learning enough English to get a nominal understanding of rockfish regs (NO SMALL TASK) is going to suddenly give up fishing for, say, museum going... bird watching... or tide pooling (three of my own favorite activities, mind you).
It's the socio-economic thing that really pisses me off about this particular MLPA. It screws the little guy. And rewards the rich. Plain and simple.
And then of course Three Rock, San Gregorio and Pescadero are gonna get slammed. Everyone knows this. In five years there won't be a single rockfish over 11 inches in any of those places.
At the same time, having counted tens of thousands of rockfish in the last six years, there is no one who can stand before me and tell me this is a thriving fishery. I know that seems a bit contradictory... I've counted tens of thousands of rock fish--yet it's not thriving. But the numbers are brutal. Talk to old timers, they just laugh. They remember what "rockcod" fishing was once like. Think about this: The main fish out of Princeton last year was the gopher rockfish... (you know like: throw it back and 'go fer' something else?)
I mean come on people. There was a while when I was calling it "gopher launch ramp."
In fact, there was a time when no one kept gophers and blues... of course they had a different name then: ling cod bait. And don't even get me started on lingcod. The average size of lingcod in the last 30 years... I mean please. This can't be argued. Don't write me about our thriving ling cod fishery. I may be unkind.
Anyway, fisheries world wide are in decline. To say otherwise is to be a fool. Doesn't matter who's fault it is. Everyone wants to blame the commercial guys. Know this: recreational rockfish landings exceed commercial (that's what they say, but anyone who has stood on a dock and watched the chillipeppers rolling off a deep water trawler is going to have difficulty believing it). Anyway, if we must suffer to restore them, then I'm all for suffering. I think, deep down, we all are.
I'm still not sure about these particular closures. What, really is the effect of a guy fishing hook and line off a rock in Montara? Oh I'm sorry he might step on a cnidarian. Might scare one of our precious 500,000 sea lions? Might snare a sea gull? Weigh these three environmental "catastrophes" against the positive benefits of the quality time he just had, after getting screamed at by his wife, his boss, and his children all week. Weigh it against the kind of man he'd be without that day of fishing that he is allotted (praise be allah) 3 times a year. Weigh it against the pyscho-spiritual benefit of one fucking meal totally off the grid.
If I May: What The Fisherman Thinks:
And this is what fishermen I think are most pissed off about. It's that the closures, (and really it's all the best spots), seem to be designed to make them conform to the grid. The prevalent thought being: the micromanagers of the grid don't want you to fish. Don't want you to kill. Don't want you to be independent. They want you to be soft and maleable and politically correct, and appropriate. They want you to watch t.v. And to stare at fish from the harmless confines of an aquarium. Are fishermen correct in believing this? I dunno. But they can hardly be blamed.
Anyway. I present no answers. I feel both sides. (I'm Switzerland, yo). I'm not really even comfortable presenting neutrality here. Not at 2:00am, anyway. Basically I'm just talking shi-ite. Actually, I do have an opine. I'll state it here before I go to sleep: It is my opinion that nothing is black and white--all good or all evil (except maybe Dick Cheney, and my ex-fiancee). Do we need closures? Yep. Restricted areas? Uh huh. Do human beings need to fish? (Not even going to bother answering that rhetorical question). Did they take the public's well being into account when they closed Colorado Reef? Nay. Did they create an enforcement nightmare? Kinda. Could a governmental agency (or some self respecting micromanager of the grid) somewhere in the State of California PLEASE present a detailed, close-up map of the Pillar Point boundaries? I mean like: AAAAAGGGHHHHH!
Beyond this all, it seems like what is going on in Cali., and the nation in macro, is a deeper existential debate: "what is the ultimate purpose of a fish?"
I guess there will inevitably be some hemming and hawing (and screaming and kicking) as our culture tries to work this one out.
Hope I didn't piss anyone off. But doing what I do for a living there's simply no way to avoid seeing both sides.
Oh man, look at the time! 3am.
From the land of nod (and rock cod) this is... yawn... what's my name? Lombard of the Intertidal... signing ...yawn... out.