Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fish Report 8/26/07

Fish Report 8/26/07
Should'a Been Here Yesterday ~ Declining Numbers of Fishers
Hi All,
Suntan lotion retailers and fishers didn't do so hot last week. Moderate north-east winds, cloudy skies and occasional rain put a damper on the fishing nearly all week.
Had one pretty good day on the flounder, a couple fair days, two days when I couldn't buy a flattie or cbass -resorting to the jumbled-up croakers, trout and small blues- and two days we couldn't get out at all.
As an example, I tried 3 spots for the flounder/cbass on Thursday and nearly drew a blank. Croakers saved the day. After stopping again for croakers on the way out Friday, we went back to one of those same spots in the diminishing swell and caught along fairly well.
Despite a few limits of fluke with fish to 6 1/2 pounds, I'm pretty sure that "You should'a been here yesterday" wasn't part of the conversation this week.
Did see two of the giant leatherback sea turtles though!
When the weather breaks -and stays that way- we'll see more fall-like fishing.
The black cherry trees crowning our driveway, decorating vehicles and feet with their purple-staining seeds, have dropped their last. Had we clear skies, Orion would be visible in morning's nautical twilight. The local bank's collecting back to school supplies for the less fortunate kids...
Fall's coming.
'Twas the black cheery seeds that got me thinking about one of the dilemmas in the fisheries ~ declining participation. Not just in America; places as far off as Australia and New Zealand are seeing declining fishing license sales. 'Course we don't have a license on the coast yet, but they do in the Chesapeake. It too is following the world-wide trend.
Point is, for most fish and wildlife departments their funding comes, at least in part, from license and user fees and is threatening in it's decline. And that, if nothing else, is a good reason to have a license. It gives the recreational fisher more strength and managers more incentive to keep fisheries flourishing.
In the broader society our leisures and what we 'need' are changing. For some, fishing was a pleasant but very real task. A putting up of providence. The huge family freezer, salting, smoking and certainly home canning are seen less often it seems.
The general trend of expanding frozen food areas in grocery stores and an increasing number of meals eaten 'out' certainly doesn't indicate folks are more desirous of catching, cleaning and cooking their own dinner. We're too busy. 
How can a teenager 'kill' scadjillions of things on a video game yet find taking a real fish off the hook and putting it into a cooler 'icky'. I thought the games 'desensitized'...
There was a study that I've heard quoted by upper management that recreational fishing is 'more about camaraderie' and 'being outdoors'.
When there is regional and national news coverage of a fish kill such as physteria or the croaker kill off the coast here a few years back, participation falls off sharply. A steep decline in catch rates certainly has the same result ~ and lasts a lot longer!
Boston mackerel: the recreational fishery was huge until '91 or '92 when the MAFMC allowed foreign processor boats inside U.S. waters. (Boy, would I like to go back and be a fly on the wall for that deal.) I've not even held a large mackerel in nearly 15 years let alone seen every boat in town sold-out on an April Saturday. In Ocean City, that fishery is dead. Pretty steep decline in participation.
A comparison of the party boat fleet in the Delaware Bay from 1978 to present might be eye opening. In those days it seemed you could walk from boat to boat while the trout were running. Now, I'm told, it's possible to fish all summer and not catch a keeper trout.
"Should'a been here 25 years ago!"
All the anglers that participated in those fisheries could still be right there; out enjoying the camaraderie and being outdoors.
I recently spoke to a fellow that fished Ocean City's party boats back in the 70's. As often happens, life had taken him elsewhere, but he was coming back to visit and wanted to go fishing. He couldn't remember exactly what boats he'd been on or what year, but he knew precisely -exactly- how many fish he'd caught. Didn't mention how lovely the days were or the time with his buddies.
I smell Bad Science. (which I would have abbreviated to it's letter form but that wouldn't be polite)
The water's scenic beauty, the raillery & joshing around are still there and still key to real enjoyment of a day on the water, but...
It's the fish!
Those black cherry seeds -10s of thousands it seems- are all capable of growing into a tree. By mowing and weeding we do all we can to make sure that doesn't happen.
Fishery managers need to take it the other way and give the tens of millions -billions- of fish 'seeds' their best chance of survival.
Habitat in all it's forms and clean waters ~~ Stop the mowing and weeding.
Looking to write a report on spectacular fishing ~ maybe next week!
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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