Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fish Report 11/18/07

Fish Report 11/18/07
Ol' Time Pull
New York City Transit Authority Railcars On Track!
Hi All,
Veterans Day. Splendid. Worked for 'em at first, moved a couple times ~ picking away. Decent start. Good weather.
Set up again. 'Bout an hour later I told my deckhands that this was what fall fishing should be like.
Constant doubles of sea bass. Some keepers, some throw backs. Rapidly building a catch. An old-time pull.
Only one limit, but with months of no limits ~ nice.
Several days with high hook in the 20's. Fishing's usually OK if the weather lets us out.
And the blues leave us alone! They've run us off a bunch of spots.
Tuesday I had a decent flounder on, maybe 3 1/2 pounds, when it started pulling pretty hard. Odd. Reeled in a head.
Customers got a kick out of it when I announced on the PA that I was suspending federal regulations on bluefish...
They thought I was kidding.
Another fellow, long time regular, hangs bottom. Then gets a lift. 9 1/2 pounds. Good fluke.
Only 5 flounder all week. Lots of guys asking if we're still catching 'em though.
Bass & Blues ~ Bass & Blues...
And tuna? No! But we are seeing them everyday. Everywhere I've been. Couple slips down from me; the charter boat 'Fish Bonz' put a nice bluefin on the dock. About a hundred pounds ~ caught it 14 miles off the beach.
That fish had a belly full of scup (porgy). I suppose every predator is an opportunistic feeder ~ I'd wager that it would have preferred dining on squid or some-such.
Atlantic commercial landings of the prey species; herring, mackerel, various squid, menhaden and butterfish for the last decade tally 21.7 Billion pounds.* Yes, Billion. Might be why tuna and blues are eating our reef fish.((* ))
So maybe habitat isn't ALL of the solution, but it's a big part.
Takes money to build reef. The 50/50 raffle we have everyday on the boat raised just over $5,000.00 this year. Still counting, I'm donating $1,000 to the MARI project, another thousand opened a special escrow account and used the rest to keep the lights on -and anchors firm- at the Ocean City Reef Foundation. 
Derned if there's not a lot of work to do.
One guy that's bitten off a big chunk of it is MD DNR's Marty Gary. He has been attending the federal artificial reef meetings for a few years. Here serious players discuss what's working and other issues of reef construction. Through Marty's contacts & efforts, and the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative, (MARI) the coast is on track to get over 600 of the next batch of the NY City Transit Authority's railcars.  
Recently approved by Ocean City's Mayor & City Council for use on their permitted sites; it's a fantastic opportunity. For far less than the cost of the average ocean front condominium unit -less than a year's interest on some of 'em- we can change fishing for the better.
I have video of an artificial reef sunk in the 60's. It is ~by far~ the most exquisite hard coral habitat I have yet found. And it's only about 8 miles out...
So, from groundwork I did some 9 years ago with the commercial trawl community and a lot of effort from the Town of Ocean City's reef liaison, Gail Blazer, we have 3 newly permitted reef sites plus 5 existing ones that are perfect for these units. Spread out over these 8 sites; I anticipate that marine growth will be swift. The fish will follow suit.
This project is it. This is a chance to double our region's artificial reef habitat footprint in the space of a couple years. Quite quickly I would anticipate an absurd improvement in the fishing for boats that stay within 10 miles of shore. I base that assertion on experience from the Great Eastern Artificial Reef site. Now well developed; 15 years ago there were no fish or lobsters caught there. None. Now it accounts for almost half of the full day party boat effort and a small percentage of commercial bass/lobster trap fishery. This starting from nothing. So perhaps, given time and surgical fishery management, we can return the nearshore fisheries to their former glory. There's still skippers in town that recall catching tournament winning marlin less than 8 miles offshore...
'Tis a costly thing though, far more than the Ocean City Reef Foundation has ever raised in it's funding history in a year ~ let alone a few months!
Chesapeake Bay projects in high gear; the MARI program is already over-budget. At this time, coastal anglers can hope for no funding from that quarter ~But~ do not forget that the opportunity sprang from it!
Each unit will cost +-$550.00 depending on exactly what site they go to. Yes, the price per unit went up. That's because NJ signed on. The NYCTA isn't a non-profit, they're just looking to get rid of the cars which happen to be great AR.  A lot cheaper to drop them off Jersey than come here with 'em. And they're still about $800.00 less than our little barge loaded with concrete costs to site.
Sponsors can name one of 'em. Buy a few if you can! There are 3 new reef sites that need a name too.
550 bucks is a lot of coin but it will pay for a unit. $60,000 far more coin. A corporate sponsorship perhaps that would build out an empty reef site nearly two miles long by a quarter mile wide. Only 6 1/2 miles out, it's possible that there could be over 20,000 anglers fishing that reef in a few years time - 200,000 in a decade. Cost averages are quite low -incredibly low over time- and that's with no attempt to calculate the benefit of resting other reefs by relieving fishing pressure, or scuba diving enjoyment, or benefits to the commercial sea bass and lobster community.
The Ocean City Reef Foundation is a 501c3 tax deductible non-profit. We'll take all the help we can get!
Specify the subway car project and the donation will go into an escrow account solely for this project.
Visit  Call or send inquiries to Ocean City Reef Foundation, P.O. Box 1072, Ocean City, MD 21843.
There's never been a greater opportunity, lets make this happen.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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