Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fish Report 9/26/10

Fish Report 9/26/10
Sea Bassing Again Soon
Tilefish Rescheduled
Callum Robert's Comment
Hi All,
WX CNX = Weather Cancellation.
Wind gusting to 31 NE Sunday morning.
Boy, the weather's really knocking the wind out of our sales..
Monday last we snuck a trip in. Caught pretty good too. Bob was high-hook with 18 keeper cbass.
The boys and I snuck in a few drops ourselves that day. Good dinner.
Thursday & Friday the cbass bite wasn't as good as it had been on many recent trips. Still, it was much better than high-summer's action and a nice grade of fish.
First trip in a long time with no deep-bodied hurricane swell, Friday we even had 3 keeper flounder come over the rail. All on clam of course, the fluke ignored bucktails.. That'll break loose. 
Unlike those heartbreakers thrown back last fall -- even catching jumbo fluke on green crab, on tog bait -- We'll be allowed to keep 3 over 19 inches through just about Thanksgiving.
Looks like Wednesday -light west winds now forecasted- will be our next trip out. I think the sea bass will cooperate. They close after October 11th - reopen on November 1st.
Given recent fishing and the partial closure in October there might just be something to November's cbassing this year. Used to be my strongest recommendation..
So, Cbassing Wednesday - Then, at 12:01 AM on Thursday the 30th, we'll try the 18 hour tilefish trip that was scheduled for Tuesday the 28th..
That trip was sold out at ten people - It is highly unlikely that all 10 will be able to reschedule to Thursday. If you'd like a spot see below my signature for trip details.
Hope the weather settles. A little Indian Summer would be just right...........
Got an invite to go to the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council's December meeting. Sit on a panel I think--A habitat panel. I have no idea the goings-on, but it looks as though the new Executive Director, Dr. Chris Moore, has new directions in mind..
Near the end of Callum Roberts' book "The Unnatural History of the Sea," there is a stunning sentence from such an eminent philosopher of fisheries: "Disregarding the ecosystems in which target fish live is perhaps the most egregious failure of fisheries management."
I couldn't agree more.
We can change it too.
Just as heat, fuel and oxygen are required for fire: Habitat is a necessary component of fisheries restoration. 
It's time we add the simplicity of habitat footprint; Simple at least for the reef fisheries. It is what habitat remains after industrial fishing in grand scale for 60+ years; what can be quantified, videoed, photographed and its production value eventually determined.
Complexity will come in determining the historical reef footprint: What's been lost, What amount of reef has been destroyed in these decades of modern stern towed gears; How big is that missing footprint and how much production value is therefore lost to fishery restoration efforts.......
Now, as I have pointed out and Dr. Roberts does too, It's certainly possible to have beautiful, lush, vibrant reef with very few fish. That's a problem custom tailored for today's management--the Fisheries Restoration solely through catch restriction that we know so well.
Endless reef, thriving reef, reef that Jacques Cousteau might well have seen -- but barren of fish -- is not only possible, it is occurring in some island nations.
However, it is not possible to have robust reef-fish populations without reef. Reef is their greatest requirement after saltwater with oxygen: An absolute necessity in supporting any reef-fish population is reef.
These whole & intact reefs without fish -they really exist- have need of some very serious catch restriction. Perhaps even the accursed & money-making in constant mailing; That IED secretly desired -we rec fishers are all lead to believe- by every manager; The dreaded Marine Protected Area.
Where habitat is in great shape yet fish populations are nearly absent, it is catch restriction that's needed--perhaps even in it's most draconian form.  
Here however, our problem is that to restore the fish that used to live on a thousand acres of reef.. We need at least a thousand acres of reef ..Our hundred acres of patchy natural reef remnants and handful of shipwrecks won't do.
It isn't working.
We need Gear Protected Areas.
If you stop cutting the grass, a field will, in time, return to forest. So too will the seafloor's rocks become settled with growths; Hard-bottoms will return to their ecological function as reef when fishing gear disturbances are stopped.
I've seen it happen.
Filmed it.
And, where natural hard substrate is permanently lost, artificial reef substrate can be utilized to great effect. 
Natural reef restoration is certainly preferable. However, as might be evidenced by our nearshore clay-bottoms--the relics of once vast sea whip meadows off our coast; Or is certainly seen in the nearly complete loss of oyster reef: Awaiting natural reef restoration may require thousands of years ..and still fail.
Better to use stable substrates that allow re-reefing in a biological wink, that allow re-reefing the seafloor as soon as possible.
On an artificial reef such as Delaware's Site Eleven, a well anchored but transportable reef unit could be devised that would be nearly grown over in sea whip after a few years; have the beginnings of star coral patches too. Transporting such a unit to areas with barren but suitable substrate would foster far quicker invertebrate colonization -- even if hundreds of miles away.
Hmm.. I suppose that's down the road a piece..
My Argument: If fully restored historical reef-fish populations with a fraction of the original habitat is an impossibility, It is likely that restoring a population of reef-fish will be made simpler if a habitat footprint greater than the original can be created.
Artificial Reef.
It is even possible that reef-fish restoration targets can be exceeded, That reef-fish populations such as sea bass can be made greater than their original size.
..or that the amount of fishing mortality --What sizzles in the pan at day's end, Our catch-- can be increased, yet still maintain well-restored stocks..
I know some folks who'd like that. Lots of 'em.
In every camp too.
Trawlers will still trawl. Clammers will still clam.
Just not right-there, Not right where that hard bottom is..
See a bass/lobster trap fisher pull up to the dock in his Mercedes and we'll be closing in on the problem.
That trawl skipper with his IFQs will be increasing his landings too.
A party boat skipper might become solvent.........
It's not just habitat, never will be. We'll always need the complexity of statistical calculation to determine recreational catch and forecast fishing effort in following years. We'll always need the stock estimates too, the "How many fish are out there?" calculations.
" repair severely damaged fisheries ..the quality and area of supporting habitats must be improved and fishing effort must be reduced." Bell, 2005
Plenty of 'reduced fishing effort' - We're halfway there.
Well, almost halfway.
No amount of reef we can likely muster will fully restore fish with strong habitat bonds so long as they are managed in large 'coastwide' units. Without regional management, without recognition of habitat fidelity in managed species--especially as concerns reef-fish on winter grounds--no lasting restoration can be accomplished. This is especially true given the high-speed communications of today. Because we fishers, both recreational and commercial, will always target the largest legal fish, Any fortunate accident in regional abundance must shortly be met with fishing over-pressure leading to regional stock decline--Provided there are no regional or other fine-scale management controls as is the case today.
Inherent in present day management is an oscillation of effort that rides up and down the 'coastal stock unit' defeating restoration as soon as it lifts its weary head..
In August of 1985 I bet we didn't catch 500 sea bass for the month.
In August of 2010 fishing was fantastically better.
But nowhere near as good as 2003. Then I thought this region's sea bass population was fairly close to the holding capacity of our existing reef--That we couldn't hold many more.
That's the fishing we want.
Catch restriction that factors habitat fidelity & Instituting seafloor habitat into management can bring it back, Can effect a true 'coast-wide' restoration.
Thanks for your patience!  
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

18 hour trip rescheduled to Thursday, 9/30/10. Original passenger list has first option. Will start a standby list in the event of cancelations.
Leave Thursday at 12:01 AM - Just after midnight. Return Thursday evening 6ish. Will try Golden Tile first, then Blueline Tile, Sea Bass - Plus whatever bites on the troll..
Derned if I wouldn't like to see a grouper too on one of these trips.
18 hour trip: Ten head sells out the rail - $275.00 each. Rental Rod $20.00 - includes all rigs.
Please understand that I do have confirmed locations but that I will be exploring and looking for more - trolling in-between spots & trying new spots when found.
Accommodations are lacking. Benches and floor for napping. Bring all your food & water - Maybe a yoga mat from the dollar store - sweatshirt for a pillow - possibly quite chilly at night.
Dramamine is very cheap insurance.
No Electric Reels.
No 3, 4, 5, hook rigs -- Two Hooks.
No Booze whatsoever -- None. Beer is OK but not in ridiculous quantity.
Only one rod in the water at a time: You may bring several rods, even a spinner for mahi and squid, but only use one at a time. 
Deep drop reels should be spooled with 50 to 80 pound micro-braid - lots of it. 300 yards may not always work. Best rods are 6 to 8 feet with plenty of backbone.
Phones will be turned off & surrendered to the wheelhouse 25 miles out.
Get caught with a GPS -engage in electronic theft of fishing locations- and you go home with nothing. Nothing.
Limits: 25 sea bass (Federal) -- Golden Tile/Blueline Tile, 7 in Aggregate -- One grouper (New MD regulations & Good to see
All, of course, only if we were ever so fortunate... 
Fish caught trolling will be split amongst everyone if appropriate. There will be a lot of fast trolling on the way out/in & from spot to spot.
No need of huge coolers -54 qt or so w/ice is fine- we have room to ice big fish.
Book's open if you want to go on standby.
410 520 2076.
Leave the very best phone number - Weather has to be near perfect or I'll cancel and open the day to a regular trip.

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