Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fish Report 4/24/07

Fish Report 4/24/07
Still toggin' along
Sea bass soon
Hi All,
A huge storm and a terrible tragedy since my last report. Effects from both will ripple through some families for generations.
A simpler thing ~ what's going on 'out front' with the bottom fishing.
Right now, water temperature is king. The control of when sea bass will come into their spawning grounds for about 7 1/2 months is all about temperature. It fell almost 3 degrees during the giant blow and is still below 50. The 'magic number' seems to be 52 - 54.
I have heard that sea bass are running here already. I have no idea where those reports are coming from. We are seeing 1 or 2 sea bass a day. Not per-person ~ on the whole boat.
All told, it seems as though it may be a fairly normal May. That would be a good thing!
Couple weeks of toggin' left. We've had trips with great success and a few that were brutal. The 8+ foot remnant swells last Friday made for difficult fishing. A couple guys ended up fine, others barely scratched a day out of it.
As the swell height diminished through the weekend the fishing got easier. Even then, on a day when all aboard were limited, one fellow -a guy I know can put 'em in the boat- couldn't shake the skunk.
Ah, toggin... It really is a unique fishery.
No limits today, a lot of tags though - 52 to be exact. One fellow commented that he'd never seen any legal fish go back before. I think he was still pondering it when he drove off.
Soon we'll come into the 'transition', that time when we nick a few tog and a few bass. It's a little while off yet - coming.
Need to do a new video release. Maybe I'll do a time/season lapse segment of a reef's changes as well as more fishery impact 'before and afters'.
The Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council met in OC last week. I have an application for a Council seat before the Governor; thought it would be a good time to go take a good look at the process. Learned this is a place where they play hardball; a place where fisheries science takes a seat next to urban legend and outright baloney; a place where connections and knowing how to manipulate the process can be key.
I'd be on the left side of that bell curve... Maybe get a chance to see exactly where.
One thing that especially struck me occurred during the artificial reef/special management zone comment period. After an excellent presentation by Bill Figley, the retired director of New Jersey's reef program, speakers on both sides of the issue talked about the natural reef that bass/lobster traps are often set on. Another fellow used one of my habitat characterizations word for word. No one held up a hand to say, "Wait a minute, I thought there wasn't any natural reef in the region." Nope. In fact, several comments had the reefs being constructed on existing natural reefs. (I seriously doubt that - I sure wouldn't site material on already productive bottom) A comment from a hard-line commercial rep from NC suggested that if all the traps were removed from the artificial reefs then he'd have rockhopper trawlers come tow over the areas.
800 pound gorilla?
Here I thought it was a secret that there's natural reef out there and towing gear across reefs wrecks 'em; that traps on any reef are the only line of defense against towed gear impacts - and that only if the towed gear operator has respect for the trapper.
Great big ugly gorilla.
Ah well, at least this part of the meeting occurred in a transparent way...
Makes toggin' look like cotton candy.
See you on the rail.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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