Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fish Report 3/6/08

Fish Report 3/6/08
Tog Fishing Begins
Balancing Habitat and Management
Hi All,
There wasn't any deep-winter toggin' for the Morning Star this year.
As in fishing, a double anchor set takes a while: get over the structure just right. Triple anchoring seems to take forever.
Especially when the three anchors are resetting tendons to your shoulder.
Long winter...
Finally snuck out Thursday for a short shake-down cruise. Strangely, there were some crabs aboard. I mean for bait ~ the guys seemed pretty happy.
Just a handful of us enjoyed fairly decent toggin'. Odd that the fellow with the bad shoulder who didn't fish very much had the biggest, a 25 1/2 incher ~ tagged it too...
It's time. Water temp is fine. Boat still needs some topside painting but you'd not notice standing at the rail.
The weather this weekend doesn't look promising. After that mess passes, eh ~ OK. I'm going on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (March 10,11,12)- green crabs provided - leave at 7am, return at 3. Boats sells out at 15 people for tog trips. New state tog regs are 4 fish at 14 inches. Boat strongly encourages 16 inch minimum and release of most females.
While sea bass trips have been booking since January, for the foreseeable future I'll be trying to hand-pick the weather and schedule tog trips via email.
Which isn't going to work as well as it might because of a hard drive failure a few months back. Actually, the hard drive crashed ~ the failure was in my backing-up really important stuff.
C'mon spring!
A taste of it today...
A buddy of mine went way south this winter, stayed on one of those islands that gets hit by a hurricane just before Mexico does. A scuba diver, he told me of incredible beauty beneath the waters: seemingly untouched reefs alive with coral and color.
But no fish.
And said there's no fish because locals eat whatever comes up in a trap, even if it's 3 inches long.
Yup, gotta have management if you're going to have fish. The days when you could successfully take fish without rules and regulations have slipped by. Way by.
We've learned --the hard way of course-- that if pressed too hard, populations can remain at unfishable levels for decades. It's only after fishing pressure is eased that a species can rebound. And then only if there's enough of 'em left to resume successful spawning.
Anyway, his observation was that it's possible to have pristine habitat but severe overfishing ~ resulting in complete collapse of fish populations.
This is management as we understand it. Protect some of the fish and allow them to repopulate...
That small island would surely benefit from management and enforced regulation; perhaps even relocation of fish. The 'holding capacity' of their habitat is in no way being utilized.
You can jump off a perfectly good boat and see for yourself. 
A bit more complex here I think.
The holding capacity of the habitat becomes less obvious when it's been lost to many decades of the scraping of mechanized fisheries. More difficult still when we've no idea how big that footprint was ~ or is.
Today's managers are trying to force what remains of our habitat to hold historic numbers of fish...
Be a lot easier to restore fish if we had that lost habitat back.
It's about bay-floor complexity -the oysters, sea floor complexity from corals and numerous interconnecting forage issues ~ all of which lead to greater spawning success.
Get it right and we'll see better results from management.
Aggressive pursuit of the issue could, in time, bring some populations to their highest population ever.
Toggin' time. See if we can nick a few pretty ones.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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