Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fish Report 7/1/08

Fish Report 7/1/08
Nickin' & Pickin'
Coral Discovered? Maybe!
Hi All,
A tough summer; tough if you expect to fill a box with sea bass. Not so bad if you want to enjoy a day on the water and don't mind just catching a dinner or two.. And every once in a while either having to go out to dinner - or buy freezer bags to put fish up!
Usually lots of throwbacks with a few keepers. Seems like the slower days have a much better grade of fish.
Flounder tease - just a handful. Based on my 4 years of fluking the same wrecks and natural corals that I've fished for 28; not time yet.
Charter boats are very consistently catching bluefin tuna - not my boat, charters......
Saw a beautiful sight last week; NOAA's newest research ship, the Henry Bigelow, went to work off our coast on the 25th of June.
Might be that was the day naturally occurring coral reefs were discovered in the supposedly barren wastes of the mid-Atlantic's nearshore waters.
Or maybe it was a couple days before when MD's research vessel Kerhin, operated by Capt. Rick Younger, was doing stern towed sonar work on the artificial reefs. 
Either way, I'm pretty sure that before too long our seafloor won't be characterized as ALL sand and mud.
They ought to have found hard and soft corals.
Or at least rock. 
Top notch professionals; they're not about to take the word of a party boat skipper that says he has samples and lots of video: not about to say they found anything until they're dead certain. 
Remote operated camera gear? Not sure what equipment the Henry Bigelow has. Certainly state of the art multi-beam sonar, and I think they're towing a very small trawl at times.
Assuming they won't tow across rocky bottom with an expensive sampling instrument, I'd hope they're building a data set that can be compared with previous stomach content analysis of sea bass and tautog.
That is to say, I suspect the food web is pretty tightly concentrated on and around each individual reef; that their towed samples will help reveal reef's importance, albeit in a roundabout way since the quantity and nature of captured prey items won't balance with reported fish landings.. Tog eat mussels which generally don't grow on sand.....
I fished a rock last week, a piece I know well. No bigger than a dining room table, it's well worth targeting every couple years. Fish it harder than that and it won't produce for a long while; this I learned the hard way.
Point here is every square foot of reef habitat has a production value: a value that can vary greatly with fishing pressure or predation: a value that increases as growths mature adding complexity: a value that drops to virtually nothing when growths are removed.
The Henry Bigelow has much more work to do.
I hope sincerely hope that the scientists aboard and those ashore who will review the data become interested enough to pursue further study.
Understanding could lead to accelerated recovery of fisheries - successful management.
Not understanding... Tighter and tighter regulations.
Rather have better fishing..
The Maryland coral reef video link --Yes, I know I need to make a new one-- is still on my web site.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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