Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fish Report 8/31/06

Fish Report 8/31/06
Last of Summer
Hi All,
Last day of August and it's blowing a gale...
No worries, we've been spared a lot of bad weather along the beaches of the mid-Atlantic this summer. The payback might be brutal; Ernesto's not it!
I've seen us lose as much as two solid weeks of August fishing due to stalled hurricanes. Fishery management regulations have had similar result.
Not this year, it's been kind.
Rode through a hurricane the other day. Well, it meet the wind definition anyway. Just another thunderstorm, or at least that's what it looked like on radar. No ruckus on the weather channel or special Coast Guard broadcasts on VHF-16 ~ A slight chance of severe weather was noted in the forecast.
77 knots of wind. It might be that my anemometer was pegged as I thought some gusts were higher than that. I saw the water 'smoke'. Winds were so great that the surface of the water was indistinguishable; as if it were foggy. This was no fog! More like the inside of a tornado!
And all in a thunderstorm about 6 miles long by a mile and a half wide. Wow.
The boat's record of a 61 knot gust falls - it's now 77. I hope that one last forever...
Fishing? Yes, well, there's been a lot of that too - even some catching! Distilled ~ it might be best said that there were 3 cotton-candy days and 4 workin' hard for dinner trips.
Sea bass were really hot one trip (and only one!). Lots of high teens, several limits too. And, in the "you can't please everyone" department, I had several anglers disappointed with that trip because there were no flounder.
Would that they were aboard the next 2 days! Sweet - very productive flounder fishing - but sea bass numbers were way off.
Tough days outnumbered the good, but we still scratched up plenty of fish for dinner.
I wish I could assure you what days what species will bite, if at all. I can't - just going fishing!
This piece of ocean is used by many species that wander, have even come from other seas. The great whales, dolphin and turtles, the tunas and billfish. Rebuilding their populations intrigues.
While reading Safina's new book "Voyage of the Turtle", I found it fascinating that the lighting along Florida's condominium coastline was so important. Even to the point that some condo's beachfront had become favored over parkland by nesting turtles because of a darker sky. Odd - but it gives hope that we can continue to use our aquatic resources so long as we seek ways to make spawning more productive and reduce unwanted 'taking' - the dead bycatch of commercial fishers and release mortality of our sport.
I've always called the leatherback turtles by the name I was taught, 'razorback'. When about 6 feet of sea turtle rises along side the boat unexpectedly it can take your breath. Safina calls them "the Earth's last dinosaur." And so they might be.
It used to be that sea turtles were a way to find sea bass. True. I've done it myself several times. When I see a Turtle on top I keep an eye on the sounder - see several and I'll slow down to have a look.
While not an exhaustive stomach content analysis of turtles, Safina mentions crabs as a primary food of some species. Reefs and crabs go together pretty well.
Unfortunately, as I documented on video, when a lost gill net becomes trapped on the bottom it too forms a reef community. For turtles and other reef users this type of reef can prove fatal. If the net's webbing does rot it takes a long time. Unknowable bycatch... 
I suspect there are times when fish are consumed by turtles as well. I've heard several stories from divers of docile sea bass being picked - by hand, not spear - and put in their mesh sacks. Other stories have the sea bass being swept aside so that a likely lobster hole can be explored. Neat stuff - bet those fish weren't biting! And, I'll bet a turtle could snack handsomely...
A lot will change with Ernesto's passage; at least in my view. Fish will not be 'where we left them'. Some will hunker down, others head offshore. This will be one of the first triggers of the fall migration for many species.
I do enjoy the fall. It begins.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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