Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fish Report 11/11/07

Fish Report 11/11/07
Sea Bass Better
Counting Flounder for Management
Fallow Fields & Artificial Reef
Hi All,
Fishing everyday the weather allows!
The jumbo fluke in the last report appear to have been a grand finale. Still see a couple a day..
Sea bass much more cooperative this week, but keep in mind that abundance is fairly low to begin with. What's out there is biting!
Weather had us in a head-lock today. While some fishers did very poorly indeed, high hook had 16.
Top gun is generally +-20 keepers with lots of throwbacks. Low hook... Well, I won't mention any names, but Ike -an extremely skilled fisher- was roundhoused by an 11 year old last week. Skill & equipment vs. good luck. Kid and his Grandad had 30 some ~ I just can't mention the other...
Ain't fishing grand.
Water temps have taken a nose-dive. Saw 58 at one point today. Low 60's mostly. It's good. Also starting to see the gannets dive bombing the shoals. Mostly bluefish I suppose, though one of my mates swore he saw a small bluefin tuna amidst the show 11 miles out.
Seems like August's water lasted forever - gone now.
The blues are over the wrecks and reefs too. A nice pace mostly; a fish bitten off here and there, catch one. Did get run off a spot earlier in the week. Could not wind up a sea bass ~ at least not all of a sea bass. Chomp. With cbassing like it is; it helps.
Had a big grin -at least from where I was watching- while a guy hollered "Net!" then "Gaff!" Generally just one or the other but this guy had an odd double header. Bigggg blue on the top hook ~ good flounder on the bottom. Though very experienced at dipping flatties, Ritch had a heck of time scooping the fluke as it was towed about the bow...
Quite the show.
In the "pass the pepto" department, the marina ran the fuel price up to $3.20 a gallon. Boats are already computed in gallons to the mile ~ not miles to the gallon.. So the boys had the cover off the pump while we started to fuel. Not digital, the mechanical register started click-clacking at super high speed ~ what a racket. And all that noise wasn't coming from the gallons display... Dizzying...
Many grants have come and gone to replenish oysters; the millions were spent to bolster this lost fishery without lasting effect. Loose shell won't stay put and good oysters go to market.
Artificial reef will last. Hundreds of years ~ thousands if well constructed. Upon these reefs oysters will flourish ~ or be made to.
Now is a crucial time in Maryland's natural resource history. Seize the momentum of the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative (MARI) ~ or let it go by like a flash of summer lightning. Artificial only initially; all things growing, swimming or crawling around them are natural. Reconstruction presents the only method of rebuilding habitats lost to decades, even centuries, of absent or shortsighted natural resources policy. 
Our coastal sea floor habitat still isn't documented. My assertion that we've lost a great deal of it remains unproven. (( see short film clip )) I believe it's loss is a significant factor in the decline of the region's fisheries. That seafloor habitat loss is almost always caused by industrial fisheries is a concern.
The benefits of improved water quality, revitalized fin fisheries ~ even a well regulated oyster fishery ~ are to be had with vigorous reef construction.  
Maryland's thousands of miles of waterfront offer many sites for construction ~ from shallow tidal creeks to deep sea. There's a lot to be done.
As is so often the case; those that did the damage will not be paying for the repair.
Soon the coming year's round of rules and regulation battles will be joined. It's going to be brutal. We'll have to endure greater cuts in all our fisheries while awaiting discovery of what could truly restore species populations. Does habitat figure in here? Betcha.
In the case of summer flounder it strikes me that simply learning how to count them would suffice. All the old-timers I've interviewed that recreational fished in the ocean from the 30's on have told me there was never a flounder fishery here. Trawl, yes. Rod and reel, no. I'd caution that the assumption that they just didn't target them is ludicrous. Those guys were out to catch fish!
For the last 3 years local party boats have enjoyed some very fine fishing for them. Far, far better than the old-timers could have ever envisioned.
And they still need rebuilding?
It's time to put back. A change as dramatic to the fisheries as history's transition from the middle ages to the renaissance ~ thought by many to have sprung from improvements in farming.
The vast fields have lain fallow too long. Artificial reef will play a big part in the transition.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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