"I'll eat my shorts if they over-catch the allocation," said Eric.
"I agree," I said -- not meaning that I'd eat anybody's shorts, but that I also did not think either the charter boat or recreational fishermen were going to catch enough keeper-size rockfish to close the season.
The conversation took place on my boat earlier this week as we bounced home from Pooles Island. Eric is Dr. Eric May of the Department of Natural Resources.
The DNR had received reports of a large number of dead rockfish floating in the Pooles Island area, allegedly caused by catch-and-release fishing.
The DNR wanted us to catch a large number of rockfish in the Pooles Island area and mark them so they could be identified later if found floating.
They also planned to draw blood from about 30 or 40 fish, to test the overall health of the rockfish.
Other biologists would go out later in the week to see if any dead fish could be found. The fish would be checked to see if they were the same fish that we caught and released
Capt. George Horn out of Middle River and myself were selected to carry the biologists in this two-day portion of the study.
Monday dawned with a light southwest wind that turned a little sloppy before we made it to the fishing grounds. The winds soon dropped and we were able to fish most of the spots we wanted. The tides, however, were not all that great, which probably held down our catch. We -- there were seven fishermen -- fished seven hours and caught 72 rockfish, only 18 of which were above the 18-inch minimum size.
Tuesday started with a nasty northwest wind that didn't improve much as the day went along. We picked up one of the biologists, Joyce Evens, at Tolchester. The waves were crashing on the riprap as we threaded our way through the small opening into the marina. I jokingly told Joyce that had it been any other biologist we would have left him on the dock, as we held to the western side of the bay.
The wind kept us bottled up on the east side of Pooles Island, but there are plenty of humps and valleys to work and usually a fair number of fish in the area. Our count for the day was 35 for 5 hours fishing, only five of which were above 18 inches.