Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fish Report 9/17/06

Fish Report 9/17/06
Et Tu Nature Conservancy?
Hi All,
Jolly 10 days since my last report. North-east winds, hurricane swells and heavy rains sum it up nicely. Then, when we did have a decent weather day, 'ol man Murphy stepped up and slipped a burst engine hose into the mix! That resulted in a memorable cloud of steamed coolant and a one prop return to the wharf.
The sunny-sided report might be that there were 2 pretty decent days of fishing in the period. Bah.
But, having seen what today had to offer I think the pattern's going to turn. Croakers are starting to knot up again. Due to the swell decreasing, they were schooled much tighter on my way home than when we fished 'em this morning. So far I've had 3 days of 'getting done' with croakers in under 45 minutes and another that took one hour and 15 minutes. I like to get all we want - or can legally take - in under an hour. Leaves more time for the bassin'.
Speaking of which, the cbass bite from late morning into the afternoon was very October-like! Nice. No limits, but close. Lots of weeding.
It's coming time.
And it might be coming time for coral bottoms in this region. Maybe.
You're familiar with the Nature Conservancy and the wonderful things they've done. Seriously well funded; they're a heavy hitter in the conservation world. They're also active in some marine issues.
The Nature Conservancy is apparently taking a hard look at the mid-Atlantic's marine ecosystem. An expensive effort no doubt.
Did I mention that there are coral beds off the coast? Thought so. Yeah, the short film of some of this region's natural 'live bottom' is still on my web site.
Apparently, that information hasn't landed on the right screen ~ yet.
You see, there really is a wall that's been erected by science. Numerous papers cite "Wigley & Theroux 1981" as the definitive mid-Atlantic habitat, species abundance and seafloor characteristics source. At 198 pages, it is an exhaustive document.
How in the Billy Blue Blazes did they miss all this live bottom???
From the "...Mid-Atlantic Bight Seascape Overview" citing Geological Survey Professional Paper #529 - the Wigley/Theroux paper, the Nature Conservancy has the following information. (MAB = mid-Atlantic Bight)

From page 6: Overall, benthic fauna in the MAB are predominately suspension feeders or carnivores, many of which are mobile either being free burrowing or tube building fauna.  This makes sense given the lack of hard bottoms, reefs and rocky outcrops in the MAB.

From page 4: Few natural hard bottoms exist though several artificial reefs occur through the shelf floor providing hard surfaces for sessile benthos to attach. 

From page 3:  Because these shoals and their associated fauna represent such a dramatic departure from the characteristic sandy shoals and bottoms of the MAB, we will not address hard bottoms in this planning effort.   

Trust me, there is incredibly more natural substrate than artificial reef! The reliance on a sole document, the same one used by Stiemle and Zetlin in their effort to document "...reef-like habitats in the mid-Atlantic Bight..." has created a 'dark age' in the study of our region's marine ecology.

Since 1964 there's been $34,385,000.00* worth of black sea bass sold by commercial fishermen in the mid-Atlantic.

How about $390,848,012.00* worth of lobster ~ Artificial reef?

It's time to turn a light on.




Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076




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