Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fish Report 9/30/07

Fish Report 9/30/07   
Limits of Flounder 
Artificial Reef and The Great State of Maryland
Hi All,
Flounder continue to be the target species. I've tried focusing on sea bass with less than lukewarm results. Nick a few ~and they seem to be getting thicker on the sounder~ but derned if I can get a sustained bite.
Water temps are not unlike what you'd typically see in August and I sincerely hope that is why, on the eve of October, that we've not seen decent catches of sea bass. I anticipate that the water temperature will fall and trigger feeding. But when... Always darkest before dawn!
Being in the midst of the longest shot of flounder I've ever had shouldn't be too hard to take. It's not all bad.
Today's pool winner was 8 1/4 pounds, the largest this week. Most winners have been north of 6 pounds. We had several boat limits and were very close to that mark with a sold-out rail today.
If you enjoy catching flounder, we still have it going on!
Now for the soapbox...
There has been a major shift in the perception of the ecological benefits to be had from building artificial reefs in the Chesapeake Bay State. Seriously major.
What was "dumping trash" is now recognized as "deploying oyster substrate". Believe me, there's been a LOT of substrate going off the decks of barges the last few months in the Chesapeake. The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative has brought together the donations of individuals, foundations, sport fishing groups ~ even State government, to fund the greatest reef building effort the region has yet seen.
It's fantastic. Were it to continue apace one can envision very real positive effects to water quality and fisheries.
But there's a shortfall. While the program is being monitored and pushed along by numerous federal and state agencies, especially the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, (DNR) there has yet to be any staff devoted solely to the project.
Trust this, Marty Gary is doing a great job, but he has many other responsibilities and needs help!
I sent queries to several states that have less waterfront than we do and found they have between 2 and 4 professionals devoted solely to constructing and monitoring their artificial reefs. For some projects that number rises to 12. 
We already have exceptional cooperation between state and federal agencies that are onboard the project and that's crucial, but there needs to be an anchor, a well staffed office ~ with an answering machine because they're all out -shirtsleeves rolled up- working on reef.
Actually, I think there should be complete shift within DNR to accommodate this. A name change to, say, Department Of Artificial Reef and then have a small office for woods, creeks and other less important stuff...
Probably not. 
Still, the efforts of many grass roots organizations during the past few years are coming to fruition with this much grander project. To do it right will absolutely require several staff-persons. Doing it wrong may end up putting the whole project into a tailspin.
That would be a shame.
Think I'll write the Governor and tell him. Really.
Local Representatives too.
Over several centuries, commercial interests ~first in shipping, then in harvesting~ have left a huge void in the Chesapeake's ecology. The natural oyster reefs are gone. The only way they even might be restored is by artificial reef.
By my best estimate, we may have 15% of our natural 'live bottom' coral reefs remaining on the coast. Again, to restore that portion of the region's fisheries production can only be accomplished by artificial reef.
If you live in Maryland, or come here to vacation and enjoy our State's bay and ocean waters, having the State dedicate personnel to this project is important.
Tell 'em about it.
Governor Martin O`Malley
At the Department of Natural Resources: Secretary John Griffin, Deputy Secretary Eric Schwaab, Director of Aquatic Resources Frank Dawson, and the Director of Fisheries, Howard King.
Voicing your opinion could tip the scales ~ make artificial reef a permanent part of MD DNR.  
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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