Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fish Report 11/4/07

Fish Report 11/4/07
Of Noel & Scurvy
Hi All,
At least it was a fast mover and weakened. Early Saturday morning Noel's remnant winds topped out at 43 knots, seas at 17 feet.
Incredibly, we weren't too far from the buoy that sends that data on Sunday. A pretty nice day by noon. Couldn't convince the fish of that though...
Before the blow ~ then we had some fishing! I almost sent a 'special cbass report' when fellows pushed into the upper teens -even 24- last Tuesday. One lady, Ms. Rita, was out celebrating her birthday ~her 80th birthday!~ with her daughter and did pretty well. Another regular and I were just targeting flounder that day. They bit too.
Wednesday was more tempered ~ some fellows into upper teens with better flounder. Then Thursday the fluke took center stage. Eh, OK on sea bass, but man, what pretty flatties. One guy -the fellow that had the first bass limit of '07- had the largest pair of flounder I've seen. One of the fish was just north of 8lbs., the other 9 ~ and he didn't take the money! 9lbs. 13ozs. Nice fish Bob.
Noel's big wind and then Sunday: Pick         pick         pickpick     p  i  c  k.     Slow.
Something to do with the hurricane? Don't know. I've seen the fishing go both ways after a big blow.
Hope it wasn't a trend. Did have one couple that stayed steady on 'em, probably high hook. I expect everyone scratched a dinner or two out of it.
Also Sunday there were birds working offshore.
Now pipe down, it wasn't striped bass; they'd be early, especially this year! Bluefish - and they're late... Soon have trouble with 'em I suppose. Sometimes a pleasant diversion, but when you can't possibly reel in a whole fish... Oh they do get cussed!
Have they played a part in the steep decline in sea bass numbers? Certainly. How big of one I wouldn't venture. There were a few years that simply anchoring up seemed to be a dinner bell. Blues just waiting for sea bass to be reeled in ~ exposed to predation. And consumed.
On the scale of things, I think it's a new behavior. Sure, a few blues have always laid into bass on the way up; in recent years seems like they're all just lying in wait. Pavlovian..
Took a great picture of a fellow with a pair of flounder that had the same trouble last week. Double header -one appeared legal, the other decidedly so- both chomped on by bluefish. Pair of heads ~ hold the fillet please...
We have a lot to learn out front: the balance of predators, ourselves included, just another part. You can only pull on that string though ~  reduce the number of fish we take, or reduce the number of competing predators. Since recreational bluefishing is probably maxed, that means we'd have to encourage an increase commercial landings. Unpopular choice at best.
Maybe the blues could relearn feeding on menhaden. Have to put the menhaden back first...
Those flounder that we're catching? They've spawned out. According to Able & Fahay '98, fertilized fluke eggs have 6 to 7 days to begin feeding or perish. Metamorphosis -both eyes on same side- takes 24 days at 62 degrees F ~  92 days at 44. While they do mention that some of these very young flounder are lying on the bottom before full eye transition - all are afterward.
Perhaps a mean of 35 to 45 days then before the quality of the bottom habitat becomes key to this recent spawn's success.
There'd better be some grub around ~ our low corals an oasis.
Among the early sea explorers it wasn't unusual to lose crew to scurvy on long voyages. More that half perished aboard Magellan's 1522 circumnavigation, the world's first. The survivors knew they got better when they reprovisioned with fruit. In 1753 James Lind, a Scottish naval surgeon, published his thoughts on preventing this long painful death. It wasn't until Capt. Cook's famous circumnavigation, finishing in 1771, that a voyage lost no mariners to the disease.
Now there's an awful lot that goes into sailing around the world ~ especially with poor charts, weather forecasts without benefit of satellite imagery, exceedingly difficult celestial navigation plus any other ship you might see liable to open fire as soon as they're in range. Having your crew die off or become too ill to work certainly would have worsened any troubles. 
Fruits and vegetables ~ No scurvy.
Healthy sea floor ~ Spawning success.
It's not all of it, just an important part.
Hope it doesn't take a few more centuries to sink in.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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