Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fish Report 7/25/07

Fish Report 7/29/07

Hi All,
Still summer fishing though some of the weather has been oddly fall-like. Sea bass in the 6 to 12 keeper fish per-person range is 'it' with an occasional flounder. One flounder last week pushed the scale past 8 lbs. Nick just a few everyday seems like. Waiting for them to come on ~ perhaps in the same way the Peanuts character Linus awaits the Great Pumpkin each year. The bass side of the split pool usually goes to a fish north of 3 pounds - up to 4 1/2. Also got into the triggers one day real fine. Very nearly had a boat limit of 5 per person before moving on to some bass. But that was only one day ~ fun though. Tagged a few before leaving.
One gal asked "Why through them back?"
''I've learned the hard way that you have too..."
A week and a half ago I sez to my co-captain/mate Tucker, "Gee, we haven't lost a Saturday to weather since, what, early May ~ late April?" Ol' man Murphy -of Murphy's Law and the most powerful of fishing's lesser deities- well, t'was more than he could bear...
By Monday the wind had really hit it's stride ~ 30+ knots at 8 AM. By 10 o'clock seas were running 9 feet.
And Tuesday was as pretty a day as can be had. Really nice. Barely a swell. Caught 'em some dinner too.
Weather days mean maintenance days in this business. At least that opportunity was seized to it's fullest. 
The half-day guys are trying to kick-start the croaker run. Nicking a few, just a handful for now. I'd certainly anticipate that will change for the better.
Rode up to Annapolis last week for the second MD DNR ARC (artificial reef committee) meeting. Steamrolling. The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative is moving ahead at a very fast clip. 
I see great things coming of the initiative. Better fishing and more places to fish certainly, but in the Chesapeake -a body of water so vastly changed by the oyster's collapse that it is written about in texts around the world- there is opportunity to provide benefit to the whole watershed and all who live near it.
Several times I heard committe members say that they had found oysters -natural spat- growing on artificial reef built 3 to 20+ years ago. I heard that commercial oyster divers have targeted these manmade reefs. There must be some quantity of oysters to support commercial exploitation on these reefs.
It may be, as stated in a recent study, that oyster recovery programs (as they are) will not be able to affect any change in the Bays water quality.
I'd counter that the author lacked vision. It takes hard substrate to have oysters. All the natural oyster bars have been lost ~ a serious sustained effort of artificial reef construction over decades can make one heck of a lot of substrate. If, during that time, the commercial fishers switch to the more profitable aquaculture (but not as profitable as having most of your product seeded by public funds, I suppose) then there should be a gigantic increase in the Bay's oyster population. Disease resistant strains already exist; there can be no doubt that further research will find a solution for extending native oyster's lifespans.
When I first witnessed an artificial reef being scuttled, I didn't think much of it. It was just one more spot, a barge, to anchor on. That took place at the Queen site where the African Queen sank on December 30th, 1958. At the time of that reef deployment, 1989, there were approximately 250 angler trips annually in that area. Now, with the addition of a lot more substrate, that number would exceed 8,000 annual angler trips. Most of 'em catch some fish too. And all that substrate's growing coral...
I'd have never thought it in 1989. Never.
Putting hard substrate back -rebuilding what once was- will help the oyster recovery and fisheries in ways we can not foresee.
Glad to be part of it.
And, finally, we're going to City Council on August 6th to formally propose the NY railway cars project. We've got a letter from the EPA blessing them and, so I'm told, we'll also have a letter of support from the upper echelons of the DNR, perhaps even the Secretary himself.
These units are in wide use and are well documented to work.
Clear this hurdle, then we'll fund it!
The way I see artificial reef has changed since '89 ~ Seven hundred twenty railway cars are going to make a huge difference in the fishing off our coast...
Nicking a few sea bass. Makes a nice day if you're in town.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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