Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fish Report 3/31/11

Fish Report 3/31/11
Some Dandies & The Jinx
A Gift
Restoration Priorities
Opening Sea Bass Reservations From May 22 Through July 10th. Also Have Tog Trips This Weekend. Am Looking To Announce More 10 to 12 Hour Tog Trips Via Email In April. See Below Signature For Open Dates
Hi All,
Got the day in; This "calm before the storm" wasn't greasy-slick calm but certainly not rough either. The tog bite was tepid, off: A not-at-all red hot bite.
..cod bite was worse.
Cod. There we go thinking again.
My favorite Russian tog-slayer, Alex and I had wisely rigged up special cod jigging rods.
Plenty of bubblegum pink worms aboard too..
Yeah, well, Not so much.
All around the rail - 3 cod. 
Halfway into the day a fellow who had driven from Brooklyn, NY puts a 13+ pound tog in the boat. Very Nice. A personal best - Really Good Fish  - A Reward For Perseverance.
Many clients, however, have not had a bite.
Here come a few more fish; a couple taggers, a couple decent keepers, a 12 pounder.
And still some clients have yet to have a bite.
Consensus: "They're only biting the white-leg crabs." (which are really rock crab) 
I do have clients that will spend far more money going to get their own bait than the ticket costs..

Another Brooklyn native, Pat, nears his limit; 3 very nice fish-- I believe each was north of 8 pounds.
The client next to him is fishing white-leg crabs, has been on many a trip this year, has won the pool about 1/3 the time, speaks fluent Russian,
And hasn't had a bite, Not a fish.
Other clients too have not had a bite.
So my friend Alex, eager to appease the tog gods, turns around & cuts the codfish jig off his other rod and throws it overboard.
Jinx gone, he puts a hermit crab on and catches his first fish on his first bite. He puts his other hermit-crab on and catches another.
Now he's out of hermits.
Then Pat catches a monster of about 18 1/2 pounds, An awesome personal best. All 4 fish fish caught on white-leg crabs.
Alex, fishing exactly next to Pat & fishing white-leggers all day, has two bites on hermit crab and no others..
Another fellow sticks to his guns; goes with blue claw, the eatin' crab; catches two decent fish.
Some fish are caught on the boat's green crab.
Perhaps a 1/4 of the day's anglers, including me, never have a bite on any crab or clam; We await another day to feel the beast pull.
Fish Pool: Pat's 18 1/2 pound tog is second to Scott's 19 1/2 pound tog. What Fish!
I've only seen one really big tog that was a gift, a fish caught within sight of land by a lady on her first toggin' trip ever. Would easily still be a state record but we had to put that fish back because we caught it during closed season on a scientific collection permit: We had to tag & release it--That's why I had the permit.  
This is easily the toughest wreck/reef fishing I know. As evidenced here it can be both supremely rewarding and crushing on the same day.
I'm going some more. Looking to announce more long trips -- 11 & 12 hour trips -- as the weather cooperates. Maybe soon they'll bite the bottom off the boat..................
In the early mid-80s we had a shallow water wreck where spadefish were measured by the acre in summer, Where in naive innocence we enjoyed Huxley's endless ocean of fish; Where we caught many species but especially tautog.. When conditions were perfect you could see all that was going on--A fishbowl, Literally like fishing in an aquarium: Huge sandtiger sharks, gargantuan rays, bluefish, spadefish, triggers, amberjacks & jack crevalle by the hundred; You could plainly see tog swim up to a blue crab bait ..and swim on by!
But if that fish was lit-up, If its bioluminescence was aglow: It would eat.
Over time they all did; but that's another part of this story...........
I was recently given the priority list from the ecosystems meeting last December as put together for the full Council's consideration in April.
The work I thought most vital didn't make the cut.
"Interview old-timers to get a picture of what once was."
This, I thought, was most important. A "find out what's missing and put it back" approach to restoration. 
Mind you now, this is the Ecosystems & Ocean Planning Subcommittee's work; If reef restoration is going to stem from anywhere, it's here.
While I didn't get any bites on discovering history, on establishing the historical size of our reef & sea whip meadows; There were positive sections that --for the very first time to my knowledge-- recognized and stressed the importance of our sea whip & other sea floor/reef habitats. I certainly had a hand in getting that into print..
Still, There's no insistence here that we discover what once was..
Just weeks ago sea whip was not "known" to be in our region. Strikes me there's a lot of other catching up to do too.
Could an architect create a plan to restore a building given only a banister and front door? Might we hope to get a true picture of an elephant given only a toe-nail and piece of ear?
I suppose we could postulate if XX reef-fish are produced by X reef area, then XXXX fish will be produced by XX reef-area..
So far all we have is MRFSS not-even-decent catch-guestimates and no knowledge of reef.
In restoring bison to their full range there are pesky things like cities, towns, ranches & ski resorts in the way.. None of that offshore here.
There's no human infrastructure, no homes or developments between white marlin 70 miles out and returning them to 5 miles out -- just dirty green water, a loss of prey  
..and our ignorance.

What should we call an attempt of ecosystem restoration, of reef-fish restoration, without any idea of what's been lost?
Fisheries Maintenance?
The guys that fished in the Mid-Atlantic's hey-day are leaving us --passing on-- and taking their memories with them. How they fished, what they caught, the driveway entrances & fireplace hearths they built with sea-rocks, the back-aches from sorting through trawl-nets full of bottom growth to get their fish, the clam dredges jammed up with rocks and tasty lobster tails; the incredible tales of abundance and vast fleets of boats that carved it away: All are vital to understanding what parts of this region's fish production engine, this region's habitat, are missing..
Yes, Many species are now much better, fantastically better, than they were two decades ago--But that is measuring from the very bottom, the nadir of this incomplete & upside-down bell curve.. To now move beyond the accomplishments of catch-restriction quota based management we must attempt to reconstruct the rest of the food web: Especially where the self-sustaining nature of reef is concerned.
From here we can do Fisheries Maintenance, or take it much further and seek restoration..
Or even make some fisheries better than ever.
It's possible.
Reef's absence obvious & well-studied only in our estuaries; I don't understand how we can hope to restore our many fisheries without restoring the hardbottoms. From oyster reef exposed at low tide out to our deepest deep-water corals and especially the shelf-water reef communities in-between ..with so much habitat lost I do not understand how we can hope to restore fisheries without restoring reefs.
I do understand that when we push rocks off a barge they grow coral: Everytime.
Mine is a simple plan: Find out what habitat's missing and put it back.
Then build more.  
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076 
Going Saturday - April 2 - 6:00 to 4:00 - Long Tog - $125.00   
And Sunday - April 3 - 6:30 to 3:30 - Inshore Tog - $100
Want to run more LONG tog trips and, hopefully, run into cod again.. Will announce as weather permits.
Clams and Green Crabs Provided - Reservations Required - Call 410 520 2076 - Weather Looks Good But Leave The Best Contact Number In Case It Changes.
See for reserved rail/spot positions...
As always: If everyone is 20 minutes early--We leave 20 minutes early! Be Early!
Monday thru Friday, May 23 thru 26 - Regular Cbass Trips - 7 to 3 - $100
Saturday, May 28 -- Long Cbass -- 6:30 AM to 4PM -- $125.00
Through July 10th - Saturday's Long - Rest of the week 8 hour as on website..  
Reservations Required On All Trips -- Call 410 520 2076 -- Leave Your Best Contact Number In Case Of Weather -- Clams Provided -- BYO Gulp!
See for reserved rail/spot positions...
As always: If everyone is 20 minutes early--We leave 20 minutes early! Be Early!

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