Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fish Report 6/17/07

Fish Report 6/17/07
Bullhorns & Subway Cars
Hi All,
Judging by the boat traffic in the inlet this afternoon ~ summer's here. Same could be said of the fishing.
Still nicking away at sea bass. It's not too bad, occasionally quite good ~ sending folks home with dinner at least. Flounder soon I hope, and still the odd tog about.
Seven days - 350 some days of work a year is starting to wear. For the foreseeable future I'll be taking Sunday's off ~ maybe go fishing. Tucker will be running the boat that one day of the week. He started working with me when I was still on deck -1985- did 4 years in the Coast Guard and has captained boats down Costa Rica in the winter for 11 years.
I trust him with my boat and electronics and will give him guidance on fishing as well as all my spots...
There was to be a group of protesters -complete with signs and placards- at the shark tournament this weekend. A certain deckhand of mine thought that would be a great time to set up his own protest ~ a distraction. He chose his cause ~Free Paris Hilton~ made his signs, and bought a bullhorn complete with sirens and musical tunes.
Not one to shirk duty, I also bought a bullhorn. Just the standard Radio Shack variety - one that I could lend to anyone that wanted to help out.
Ah well, no protesters. They were going to protest the taking of sharks by the most conservative, release oriented bunch of sharkers around. Whether they backed out after getting their facts straight or were just posturing for publicity I couldn't guess.
There have been a few bluefin tuna inshore, yellowfins offshore and the first white marlin were caught -local talent- double header even.
We'll be throwing the lures off the stern every time we get near a shoal that might have a bluefin on it. Caught one 11 miles out last year on the fast troll and another on a rental rod baited with clam. I noticed that the charterboats didn't all switch to top and bottom rigs ~ must have been a fluke...
I'm fortunate to have lots of regular customers. Some have high expectations for each trip's catch, others -particularly those whose daily commute includes a portion of one beltway or another- are 80% satisfied once they've cleared the inlet.
And then there's Marvin. His infectious laugh and life philosophy are unique in the world ~ his fishing persistence fortunately makes up for his skill. Quick with a joke and always ready to join in with the joshing ~ he's helped convince many that the big yellow mansion we pass coming and going is my house.
It's that fishing persistence that can be somewhat irritating ~ when the boat's making a move he's always the last to wind up his line. 
Did I mention bullhorns?
We were laying for him ~ volumes set to high - sirens at the ready. LINES UP!
It was a heck of a clatter. Haven't laughed that hard in years...
And then there's the more serious Subway Passenger Cars Project. The plan will be going before the City Council on July 2cnd. Partnered up with the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative for this, the Reef Foundation typically funds and builds on the reef sites, but the Town of Ocean City holds the permits ~ the project needs to get approved. I'm confident that there's zero ecological danger ~ even more confident that the units will be a huge asset to the fishing community for generations to come.
All 630 of 'em.
A lot of folks have told me that they're waiting for approval before making a donation ~ that's fantastic! At $400.00 per unit we're going to have to find more money than ever before. I'm convinced that it's doable!
There's no way to create this sort of artificial reef 'footprint' for less ~ not even if we started tacking zeros on could we build this much reef for the money. It's an opportunity that needs to be seized.
I wrote a suggested reefing plan for the units and have included it below.
If you're looking for limits of sea bass I'll see you in the fall. There's still some good sized fish though and a few folks breaking 20 not too unusual. It's summer...
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076
Suggested Reef Plan: Passenger Rail Car Coordinates for Maryland's Marine Artificial Reef Sites.
General Overview:
Maryland's Coastal Artificial Reef Sites are under increasing pressure from a steadily growing fleet of recreational fishing boats and some commercial lobster and sea bass trap fishers. Over 75% of all marine recreational bottom fishing trips now occur on artificial reef. The Ocean City Reef Foundation recognizes the expansion of effort and has been working to increase the amount of artificial reef on permitted sites.
Now, with the creation of the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative, there is an opportunity to more than double the coastal reef footprint.
Artificial reefs placements dating from the 1960's are now fully encrusted in coral. More recent placements, beginning in 1989, are well on their way to maturity. One recent monitoring trip revealed a placement 12 years old that was already 1/10 covered in coral. 
During the past 6 years the positioning of barge loads of concrete culvert pipe and other manufactured cement materials have been the primary expense for the Foundation. Additionally, five steel and ferro cement boats have been obtained and sunk on nearshore sites.
Donations of trans-oceanic communications cable, an excellent reef substrate, have slowed as other countries are using the material for reefing.
The prospect of receiving 630 passenger rail cars is, without question, the greatest opportunity to create reef habitat at hand. Together, these units can completely build-out 3 recently permitted areas, finish 2 more that have been under construction for over 15 years and complete the deeper sections of 3 other reef sites.
This project will greatly increase local marine production and likely go a long way toward rebuilding inshore stocks of important demersals such as sea bass and tautog.
Similar rail cars have been in use by New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia for years and with excellent results. Each of these states has requested more rail cars as they become available.
Reef Plan for 630 Passenger Rail Cars ~ 42 Units per barge load ~ 15 Barge Deliveries.
Staying within permit boundaries is of greatest importance.
Listed in order of priority.
Unnamed Reef. Undeveloped site. Top Priority. Very long but width is restrictive at 2/10's NM. 3 barge loads ~ 126 Units. 38D 20.2N ~ 74N 56.05W To 38D 18.6N ~ 74D 56.7W .  70+ feet of water throughout. 57 feet required clearance. Tighter spacing of units preferred at 1/4 mile intervals with intermittent singles.
Isle of Wight Reef. Undeveloped site. High Priority. Existing historical wreck -Avoid. 2 barge loads ~ 84 units. Run one barge load from 38D 23.0N ~ 74D 58.6W To 38D 22.8N ~ 74D 58.8W. The second delivery from 38D 22.9N ~ 74D 58.95N To 38D 22.9 ~ 74D 58.5. There is 65 feet of water throughout. Permitted clearance 35 feet. Mounding of some units encouraged.
Jackspot Reef. High Priority. Existing wreck - Historical - Avoid. 3 barge loads ~ 126 units. North Set: 38D 05.6N ~ 74D 48.5W To 38D 05.6 ~ 74D 48.9W. Mounding encouraged. West Set: 38D 05.6N ~ 74D 48.9 To 38D 05.3 ~ 74D 48.9W. High mounding encouraged. South Set: 38D 05.3N ~ 74D 49.0W To 38D 05.2 ~ 74D 48.5W Scattered units better. Depth 83 to 98 feet. Required clearance 55 feet.
Inshore Bass Grounds Reef. East side of site too shallow - Avoid.  One barge load ~ 42 units from 38D 17.9N ~ 74D 53.85W To 38D 17.4N To 74D 54.45W.  55 feet of water. Permitted clearance 27 feet.
Offshore Bass Grounds Reef. West side of site too shallow - Avoid. One barge load from 38D 17.3N ~ 74D 52.8W To 38D 16.7N ~ 74D 53.6W. 55 to 67 feet of water. Permitted clearance 27 feet.
Great Gull Shoal aka "Russell's Reef." Very large reef site. NW corner of site is where many "Memorial Reef" balls are located - Avoid. East side of site is too shallow - Avoid. Two barge loads - 84 units. First delivery positioned on a line from 38D 16.5 N ~ 75D 01.4 W  To 38D 16.0 N ~ 75D 02.0 W. Second from 38D 16.5N ~ 75D 01.8W To 38D 16.0N ~ 75D 02.3W  Some mounding encouraged. Water depths vary from 48 to 58 feet along the lines. The permitted clearance requirement is 20 feet.
Great Eastern Reef Site. Site units on extreme west side. Nothing to avoid. 2 barge loads - 84 units along a line from 38D 12.9N ~ 74D 44.4W To 38D12.1N ~ 74D 44.4W. Mounded and scattered units. Water depth 90 to 110 feet. Required clearance 60 feet.
African Queen Site. South east portion of reef has numerous dive sites and a historical wreck - Avoid. 3 barges - 126 units. 1 Barge load of scattered units on a line from 38D 09.55N ~ 74D 57.00W To 38D 09.25N ~ 74D 57.00W. 2 Barges sited west of a line from 38D 09.25N ~ 74D 57.00W to 38D 09.1N ~ 74D 57.25W continuing to near the southern boundary of the site at 38D 08.7N ~ 74D 57.25W. Mostly scattered units with a large mounded pile as convenient. Water Depths 62 to 75 feet. Required clearance 24 feet.

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