Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fish Report 5/24/09

Fish Report 5/24/09
Sea Bass
An Offer To Federal & State Fishery Personnel
Hi All,
I knew this wasn't going to be a fantastic sea bass year. I didn't know the size limit was going up.
That extra 1/2 inch.. Pretty tough out there.
Not without reward, there are days when the bite is on and the keeper/throwback ratio isn't too high.
And days when the mandatory release rate approaches anything ever seen as the smalls move offshore in the fall. This when a regular client might well anticipate 'weeding'.
Is what it is. Keepers and throwbacks, they're all fat! Pool winners are generally north of 4 pounds with several above 5. Someone's going to win the reef raffle too.
Sea water just bumping in and out of the 60 degree mark. First waves of loggerhead sea turtles have come, giant mola-mola too.
In migration now, after a few weeks loggerheads can give away a reef's location. Not sure how reef fits into their feeding, but old timers always checked the bottom where turtles rest. That much I do understand - reptilian fish-finders work.
Slipped out to a recently built reef today. Forty four NYCTA subway cars spread over a 1/4 of a mile.
On the up-current edge there was a huge school of sub-legal cbass. Suspended off the bottom, they were feeding on krill.
Ahead of schedule this year; we've been seeing fish with gobs of krill for almost a week.
Earlier on it was sand eels. Mixed throughout there have been some cbass eating small rock crabs.
(Fussy bite - having just left Outback, would you eat a free crab cake?)
Whether they use reef to lie in ambush for sand eels & butterfish, safe hiding if blues or shark move in while suspension feeding, or to dine on primary reef production such as rock crab, mussel, lobster, shrimp or tubularian hydroids. (Field-like, reminiscent of wildflowers, they are a pink topped filter-feeder - fish just eat the heads.)
If it serves the purposes of feeding, sheltering, and congregating for spawning, it is reef.
How best to manage our temperate reef dwelling fish is yet to be learned.
Like those launching Tomahawk missiles at a target hundreds of miles away, fishery managers can only act on information from others - then hope it was good.
Would that it were never so, but great decisions based on poor information have uncertain outcomes.
At least if the definition of 'fishery' includes not just the fish but the human participants as well.
I think an 11 1/2 inch black sea bass size limit is the threshold for benefit to the stock.
I'm certain that the new 12 1/2 inch limit is neither good for the participants or the fish.
Lonely advocate, I begged for a federal size limit on sea bass and any regulation on tautog - was the only boat on the coast with a self-imposed 9 inch limit for at least 5 years.
Now it has gone too far.
I'd like to show those in the fisheries what I'm seeing and propose a bit of research - free trip.
I've booked the whole stern out for note-pad observation on Monday, June 8th.
Those interested in fishing this trip should know I have no intention of wasting the day. Where there's 12 3/8s sea bass there will be keepers too. Rest of the rail --spots 3 to 18--  open to regular booking.
We'll create three 'lanes' for fish to be released into; one for under 10 1/2, another for 10 1/2 to 11 1/2 and the last for over 11 1/2.
I anticipate a much higher release mortality in the last lane.
Stop-watch timing the reacclimation of air-bladders may be beneficial. Certainly some ought to measure and count fish as they are released. Fish that don't make it back down are primary.
Could do an off-the-cuff assessment of Kahle vs. J hooks too.
There's no grant money involved on my end. This just needs to get done.
Up to 10 biologists/managers welcome -on me- please email and I'll keep track.
Meanwhile, nicking dinner and sometimes better.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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