Monday, May 07, 2007

Fish Report 5/7/07

Fish Report 5/7/07
Sea Bass Basics
MAFMC Seat Letters of Support 
Hi All,
A fine bit of a blow. NE gusts to 40 have turned the ocean upside down. Glad I'm not out!
We've had a few decent days of sea bass fishing. No limits since that first day on 'em ~ that last tog trip when we had 4 guys bagged out on cbass. The next day I had a sea bass trip and the tog bit. One guy maxed on tog ~ not on bass...
Friday and Saturday offered much better cbassing. Most were in the teens to low 20's ~ close. Some were nice fish. Might be the best we're going to see this year. Hope not!
Sea bass, thankfully, aren't typically a fussy fish. Compared to many species they're easy to fool. Still, some things hamper and some things help.
I once had a guy on the O.C. Princess who had seven hooks made fast to a typical stand-off wire bottom rig. Hook sizes ranged from something suitable for spot to OK for marlin. Most of 'em had a wire leader. He had it weighted with a 1 1/2 oz Hopkins Spoon. All that armament ~ yet nothing in the box. I begged him to sell me the rig so I could frame it; wouldn't do it!
Wire bottom rigs: every tackle shop sells 'em - can't think of anyone that should use them! Yes, they'll catch fish, but sometimes they spook fish - big time! Same goes for dark and fluorescent lines including the 'invisible red'. Time after time after time I have seen good anglers falling behind and only start catching up when we changed their leader ~ the angler would start catching better.
Clear is where you want to be. Fluorocarbon's great; personally I just use mono. Not too heavy! 120 pound leaders so the fish won't break you off in the wreck is a grand plan, but you may not get any bites to test the hypothesis on! Too light and you'll be tying on sinkers all day...
20 pound is as light as you'll need - usually 40 is fine. 50 or 60 lb. will often work too, but be careful!
 A couple dropper loops with hooks or short leadered snells and you're good to go. Very short leaders! What looks good laid out on the coffee table may tangle you and the next angler all day. A leader that extends past the knot above it will tangle every drop. Unless, I suppose, you're patient enough to drop down at the speed the baited hooks are falling - nah!
That's the leader, but what it's tied to is important too. Friends don't let friends fish mono! The no-stretch spectra lines catch fish! You feel everything that goes on. No guessing if you're getting a bite; it's obvious. I can see people getting bites from the other end of the boat with this stuff - true! What pound test is up to you: 30 to 65 pound test is fine.
Had another guy on the O.C. Princess that "wasn't going to let them get away" and was using 200 pound test to make sure. (yes, really!) Though I'm usually anchored, it so happened that we were drifting in very light wind and current over coral that day. Fishing near the bow, the fellow got snagged. Before I realized it, he had anchored the boat! She came around 90 degrees into the current and every line on the boat -85 of 'em- got in one huge tangle. We had to cleat his line and reverse engines to break his rig off! Great Scott! There is a such thing as too much gun!
Keeping things simple isn't a bad strategy. A reel loaded with spectra (there are dozens of brand names - Power Pro, Gorilla Braid, Spider Wire...) and a simple bottom rig on a rod that can handle 8 ozs of lead will catch sea bass with no problem.
To reduce release mortality on small bass I like to use the 'wide gap' or 'Kahle' hooks in 3/0 to 6/0. Circle hooks accomplish the same thing ~ fish rarely swallow the hook. You might be able to get your hook back on a deep hooked fish but it will likely not survive long on release.
If tagging has taught me anything ~ every fish that gets recaptured is a good thing and that's whether it has a tag or not!
Well, 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
If you've been reading these 'fish reports' for very long, you know I think there's a lot of work to be done for the marine fisheries.
Perhaps you'll take a couple more minutes and jot your local MD representatives a note as well.
Politics are not something I understand very well. I do know this; it all began with "We The People..." Letters have to count!
Thanks for your efforts!
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076


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