Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fish Report 5/13/07

Fish Report 5/13/07
Foggy Days & Tag Returns
Hi All,
Wheelhouse door shut; the boat's engine noise a dull thrum ~ front window hinged open; the shish of swells against the hull seem to echo.  Sent to sea by distant flood waters, waterlogged timbers silently await an unwary mariner.
For this, 100% focus. A finger on the horn, one eye on the compass, another on the radars ~one set to 4 miles, the other 1 1/2~  watching engine gauges - all while looking at what little bit of water can be seen. Neither daylight nor dark; visibility denied. That is fog
In the bad old days it meant a pack and a half of cigarettes, sometimes two, and a headache as big as Texas ~ now it just makes me write funny... 
Fortunately, the sea bass didn't seem to mind. I haven't limited out the whole rail -everyone on board- but there's been a few days we could have if folks were so minded. Did have our first limit before noon on Friday, and Saturday's crowd -unconcerned with the 'magic number' or jumbo size- had as nice a day of cbassing as I can remember.
Not everyday will result in the counting of sea bass, but it's great to have 'em back.
If you want to maximize your numbers, measure tight; twelve inches goes in the cooler. Not too concerned with that? Throw 'em back and just take a nice mess home. Make sure you know your true wishes though; when the guy that's been throwing 'em back at 13 inches complains that he doesn't have a limit...
One fellow bagged out Saturday and was trying hard to keep from ribbing his buddy - not too hard though. Just as his friend caught up with him, finishing with a fine sea bass, he thought the jesting might end. Nope, up came a double header of keeper tog and the raillery went into high gear. Long ride home?
When we got in, a very young man stood with his Mom-mom, Dad and Uncle as the Coastal Fisherman snapped a photo. Pretty cool to have a matriarch take the pool on so fitting a weekend!
Typically, we can count the tog on the whole boat with one hand during a sea bass trip - most of them throwbacks. Different style of fishing - same structure. Tag recapture data is still coming in though. Three recent returns, all tog: From 12 1/2 to 15 inches in 2 years 3 months - from 19 to 19 1/8 inches in 1 year 2 days - from 14 to 16 inches in 357 days. All fish were recaptured at their release site.
I know other boats will be capturing tagged fish - I just hope they'll take the time to do the return. The fatter the file gets with return data the better we'll be able to manage the species. It's hard for the younger captains to picture a time without tog - trust me, it's no fun. Do the work on returns. If nothing else, just call my reservation line with the number, length and location - a general location is fine if it's a "secret hotspot!"
There were plenty of folks that thought I was out to lunch when, in 1992, I put a 9 inch size limit on sea bass -just a 'boat rule' that applied nowhere else. That first summer we were seeing small sea bass with multiple hook scars around their lips - as many as four. Still, some maintained that releasing them was of no value because they all died anyway. That's what I'd been taught too. After a few years; tiring of the 'old school' argument, I began tagging. Might hit the 10,000 mark this year.
Fisheries management is still young; there's an awful lot to learn.
Thanks to so very many of you for writing those letters regarding the MAFMC. That appointment is not won, but at least the battle is joined!
The Governor sends up 3 names - I'm one of 'em. Secretary Gutierrez and Mr. Hogarth make the final selection. It's a democracy - if you think I'm too conservation minded you can tell 'em that too!
Every letter counts... You needn't be a Maryland resident. Addresses below.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, MAFMC, has a MD. seat coming open. It might be preordained that the incumbent, Simns, will retain his seat ~ maybe I have at shot at it...
Presently, Mr. Larry Simns, the President of the Maryland Watermen's Association; Mr. Pete Jensen -Council Chairman- long of MD DNR and now apparently working for Wallace and Associates, a consulting firm representing independent clam boat operators and processors; and Mr. Howard King, the Director of Fisheries for MD DNR, represent the entire spectrum of Maryland's fishery resource users to this federal panel.
If you're so minded, a few snail-mail letters of support wouldn't hurt...
Mr. Bill Hogarth
Director, NMFS
1315 East West Hwy.
Silver Spring, MD. 20910
Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC. 20230

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