Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fish Report 11/24/10

Fish Report 11/24/10
Surprise Sea Bass
Ditto Tog
One Minute of Video
Going Fishing: Long Tog/Cbass - Sunday 11/28/10 - 11 hours - 6AM to 5PM - $150.00 --- Still have spots for Saturday --- Opening Monday for a 10 hour Tog/Cbass trip too - 6AM to 4PM - $125.00 - I think Monday will be the calmest, a calm before the storm... Our tog season closes Tuesday night until January 1st.
Ducks Unlimited realized that shooting regulations alone weren't working so began a fantastic effort of digging ponds, educating farmers and buying marsh. Opposite is the fabulous story of the Wild Turkey Federation. They never had to replant forests; Their work bringing turkeys back to much of America was by transplanting birds.
Hi All,
Turned my sea bass trip around Saturday. Waves just too derned tall, steep--and, most importantly beyond the shallow waters of inlets & bars--too close together. Wave period -time between crests- is the difference between a gentle roll and a rib-snapping toss.
Anyway, we got back in and asked if anyone wanted to go toggin. A south-west wind, wasn't too bad closer to shore..
Had tog coming pretty good when the wind laid out. Slipped offshore a bit further. Did it again.
Here we could really catch some tog!
Except a nice sea bass came over the rail, and another..
And then a Really Nice   ..rod & reel went over the rail. Rats!
I hate when that happens.
We catch 9 out of 10 rods back. This was #10.
Maybe. Guy dusted off, grabbed another stick and went back to work.
Had another rod incident this week too. Fellow's not-quite-as-custom but better than Sponge-Bob rod gets caught-up pulling out of the slip. Wanted to know why my mates weren't watching his rod..
Yeah, that didn't work out either.
Very nice day mid-week with BIRDS.
Mostly gannets; the really big splashes weren't from birds.
Great Scott, there were some big bluefish in there. Because we were fishing in the No Recreational Fishing Zone that is supported by all the big recreational groups, a place where honest men can become pirates; Because we were outside the 3 mile line we had to throw back a few nice stripers caught in with the chopper blues.
One client--expressing disbelief--thought that was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard.
I've had some who were firm believers in "Possession is 9/10s of the law."
Perfect. I possess their ride home; They obey the law..
It's just awesome to behold -- The noise of air and water's life meeting -- Wonderful. Should be experienced by all.
Saw it further offshore a bit too, 'cept they made bigger splashes. Bluefins I reckon.
Saw it again Tuesday 11/23.. Just stripers though. Ol' Murphy knew we had a guy that wanted badly to smoke some bluefish.
Last Sunday's extra-long tog/cbass was a decent trip--maybe epic.. Try another this week. 
Big tog straightened a hook on the first drop. Caught a few 10 pounders though.
Second drop we had a few more.
Then, on the 3rd drop, we had one go 14.
Biggest was 16 and a piece.
I like toggin. Wish it was always like that.
It ain't.
There were jumbo cbass coming in too.
Most stuck to their guns--either toggin or cbassing. One wise-guy couldn't decide whether to catch cbass or cod.. Caught 3 cod - tagged a shorty. No one else caught a cod.
Cbass & tog coming; some decide to fish for both.  
Man with two watches never knows the time. Mediocre results from targeting both.
Efforts well rewarded for targeting one or the other.
Pretty Fish.
I'd never caught cod in November. There's certainly evidence that cod restoration is working -- especially from the tales of recent year's fishing up north.
I think Massachusetts and the New England region in general have learned Conservation is nothing without Habitat; Habitat is nothing without Conservation.
That is, when they had codfish thick enough to draw fishing fleets from across the Atlantic they enjoyed robust fisheries production. As "improvements" came in the catching via trawl and ever-bigger & bigger boats & nets, the habitat declined: That when they had Habitat, there was no Conservation--None. Now, after decades of unsuccessful Conservation, they realized they no longer had Habitat.
And took action.  
It might even catch on. You know, that rocks matter.
The Massachusetts commercial black sea bass quota gets caught in under a week I'm told. The recent sea bass recreational quota dilemmas--the greatest of which may lie just around the corner--are always caused by Massachusetts recreational anglers 'overharvesting'.
Yes, the recreational fishing catch data is rubbish -- but it does show trends with some reliability.  
The irony of this impending black sea bass fishery management disaster is that if Massachusetts was doing a poor job of habitat management and therefore black sea bass fishery production, If they hadn't created a wonderful fishery for their stakeholders, their fishermen: Then--having not restored the fishery to beyond historic norms in the region over which they have some control, perhaps also due in part to a habitat vacuum of other species' decline; If there had been no success at sea bass restoration in Massachusetts, their anglers could not have caught the entire coastwide recreational sea bass quota.
In this scenario of failed restoration, the quota trigger would remain untouched--the fish would not have been caught. Management would then be Loosening coastwide regulations, Increasing the season, Decreasing the size limit, Even increasing the bag limit.. 
A perfectly true statement: If it were just as screwed-up as ever, everything would be fine..
There's no possibility clients fishing from my boat will catch any of Massachusetts' sea bass off Maryland's coast: Ever.
Yet we'll have to fight hard to keep any part of our sea bass fishery open in 2011 because Massachusetts anglers enjoyed their state's restoration efforts.  
Need a little help here..
Catching cod off Maryland almost year round.. Cbass quota constantly getting scalped by New England..
I see these events as more sign that habitat management can greatly accelerate fisheries restoration.
Ducks Unlimited realized that shooting regulations alone weren't working so began a fantastic effort of digging ponds, educating farmers and buying marsh. Opposite is the fabulous story of the Wild Turkey Federation. They never had to replant forests; Their work bringing turkeys back to much of America was by transplanting birds.
Reefs in poor island nations are often devoid of fish though lush in growth..
Our catch restriction management is the most advanced in the world. Yet having never looked to habitat for solutions in the mid-Atlantic, our restoration efforts lag even some 3rd world countries.

If rocks fall off a barge, are the fish spawning there in a year artificial? In 20 years?
Managers, environmental groups, commercial fishers & plenty of recreational fishers think we're done for, think that restoration can only be accomplished on a few high-value species and, especially some environmentalists, think only with the most draconian area closures--more MPAs.. 
Not so fast! We not only aren't done, We've yet to begin!
I saw what happened here when tubeworms flourished in the soft sloughs; When areas of hard-bottom regrew with lots of sea whip.
It was only an accident of fate, a commercial focus on conch and horseshoe crab while flounder quotas were very low, that for many years some areas further offshore had no stern-towed gear impacts. Our sea bass flourished, the stock seemed to grow exponentially with only a 9 inch size limit.
Much of that bottom I watched regrow is now lost again.
Today our region's sea bass stock limps along. Our recreational fishing effort is carried almost solely by artificial reef built over the last 20 years and nature's wrath in storm-sunk ships; Our sea bass are only holding their own despite much larger size limits, creel limits and such irrational foolishness as grand coastwide closures.
If you'll watch my old video on YouTube (common seafloor habitat mid-Atlantic) you'll see a transition at 4:13 to 4:15. That's one pass of a trawler across live bottom--That's the point where the boat towed across good reef. I watched it happen on radar/plotter overlay and filmed it a few days later. At 4:34 there is the 'after' of at least 4 or 5 passes across what was a good spot for me & my clients..
I watched some of those trawl passes happen too.
We'll need a huge, business-crushing, recreational sea bass closure here next year because Massachusetts anglers caught 'em up: Because our region's bare-naked rock-reef production is being over-caught by those scoundrels up north!
Umm.. No.
Everything is wrong in that sentence.
Unless you're actually making regulations for next year, then it must make perfect sense. 
Having spoken or written to many old-timers, I think a lot of bottom--a great huge piece of seafloor--is as lost to us as that little piece at 4:34.
It is because of that lost production--the complete absence of fish that would have survived if our live bottoms were still intact--that our conservation efforts fail.
We can not let the arbitrary boundaries created by man delineate where we will be mindful of our fish, Nor can we let the loss of habitat in previous generations leave real fisheries restoration a mystery.
How the fish behave: Where they spawn, Where they winter, Where they feed, Where they grow; This is what we need to study, This is from where we need to delineate management--Not in state line or artificial reef boundary, and certainly not in too-broad swath either--the 'coastwide' quota of a very regionally defined fish that will bring trouble again very soon. 
Focus finally shifted from catch-restriction, our reef-fish restoration will be accelerated.
Many other species, including fishermen, benefit.
Soon would be good.
Cheers All,
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076 

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