Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fish Report 11/16/06

Fish Report 11/16/06   
Radical Estuary Restoration
A few tog trips too!
Hi All,
Fishing is GREAT ~ it's just that sometimes the catching's a little slow...
Mostly limits some days, mid-teens / low twenties others. And that's not bad fishing, but with the anticipation of a fall crush ~ the 'wear your arms out' type of day that we almost always have this time of year ~ it isn't the fishing that I'd like.
Strange thing is that the indicators point toward a lengthy fall run, the kind of fall that might have sea bass up 'till Christmas. The water temp has only dipped below 60 a few times, air temps have been super - we finish most days wearing t-shirts, winds have been predominantly south (south at 25-30 as I write...) and, well, it doesn't matter 'cause the fish are leaving! It might have something to do with the fact that every reef/wreck is overrun with spiney dogfish. Avoiding them is a full time effort.
Still, I'd have a hard time convincing Wednesday's crowd that fishing is slowing, almost everyone had a limit.
I want to try the tog a few times before regulation closes them for December. I'll do standard tog trips - sold out at 15 people, crabs provided - on Nov 22 and then the last 4 days of November, the 27th through 30th. As ever, when they re-open in January I'll go when the weather's fit and announce those trips via this medium.
Other than those dates we'll be trying to put up a few more sea bass for winter. December 1st and 2cnd will be the last sea bass trips ~ after that I'll do maintenance; get ready for those winter tog.
Blues have tapered - just a few most days. I've not had to leave a spot because of 'em for some while now.
Enforcement effort is up due to Operation 'Striper Swiper'. DNRP and USCG are pouring on the hours and boat time watching the stripers off here. The fish aren't even thick yet. I've seen birds made up over schools of fish on radar but haven't fished any.
There are patches of bluefin tuna for miles 13 to 20 NM off the beach, seems like just a few better fish in there with the smalls. We see at least some tuna every day we're out but don't have time to try 'em.
The huge numbers of small porgies and most of the juvenile sea bass have left. Whether they've gone further south or offshore I couldn't guess.
In a national magazine I recently read one mans opinion that he'd rather have the marshes back - destroy homes to make room for estuary restoration - than all of fisheries management in order to rebuild fish stocks. Well, it was National Fisherman.
Anyway, the statement got me thinking about all the tiny sea bass and scup we were seeing, some of which were quite recently residents of an estuary, moving through on their first migration. They spent 3 to 7 months in a 'system' that's been well studied - we 'know' how important estuaries are to production - then, by a force greater than a magician's cape, they reappear in a few months, having grown bigger than before. Some species spend all but the warmest months offshore, even in the first year of life: yet estuaries are the "key"...
Nah, I think there's plenty to be learned - don't sell the waterfront just yet.
During much of the year the survival of flounder, scup, sea trout, sea bass, and others depends on finding food - and not being eaten - in the ocean.
There are several distinct habitat types favored by these migrants. For some species it's as simple as "where's the beef". Find the bait and you'll find the striper/bluefish/tuna. Often that means finding a 'hill' like the Jackspot or First lump and the sand eels that live there. They aren't called 'sand' eels for nothing. The trout/croaker seem to prefer mud sloughs - it's still "where's the beef", just a different cut. There are lots and lots of critters worth foraging that live in muddy bottom, a gourmet repast for these fish. Then there are a variety of reefs, I think I mentioned them before. Point is, a lot of the marine foraging - what keeps fish alive 'till next season -  is tied to the bottom.
Can't ignore it much longer.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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