Fish Report 4/17/11
Sign of Spring
Habitat In Broader Context
Sea Bass Trips open from May 22cnd on - Stern spots are disappearing...
Inshore tog fishing Tuesday & Wednesday - April 19 & 20 - 7 AM to 3 PM - $100 - 10 people sells out - Looks like it ought to be plenty doable inshore.
Going Long Tog on Friday - 11 hour - Deeper - Further - April 22 - 5:30 AM to 4:30 PM - 16 Sells Out - $150 - No Slam Dunk But I Do Have A Plan - Still, Try Hard--Fail Hard..
Saturday & Sunday - 4/24 & 25 are going to be regular tog trips -- Try to go pickin' & grinnin' - 16 Sells Out - 7 AM to 3 PM - $100.00
Green Crabs Provided - Spiders too if they keep - Clam if you want it - Will NOT Have White-Leg Crabs For Sale - Reservations Required @ 410 520 2076 - LEAVE THE BEST CONTACT NUMBER IN CASE OF WEATHER CANCELATION.
Be early. Everyone likes to leave early. Show up late and you'll see the west-end of an east-bound boat..
Reef Dinner Soon - May 4th - Hall's Restaurant - $15 at the door - Lots of fishing items, even some Morning Star tickets and hand-picked tackle..
Snuck in 2 of 3 days scheduled; Thursday & Friday were as pretty as the ocean gets.
Very nice sea conditions don't always make for the best fishing but it's a dern-sight better than slow fishing on a rough day!
Eleven hour trip ran a tad long. Most of it was spent with 20 ounce sinkers--and not because it was extraordinarily deep either; current was screaming.
Gregg stepped-up with a 14 1/4 pound tog to take the money--Fish ate half a spider crab. Saw a few other decent tog around the rail, some dinner-sized and, surprisingly, another decent showing of cod.
The recreational catch-estimates' legacy of foolishness is renewed & reaffirmed too as sea bass begin to trickle-in from winter haunts. We had to throw back a handful of jumbo sea bass because of regulations that are absolutely, positively s-l-o-w-i-n-g partyboat ticket sales & cbass catches, yet are somehow creating mega-spikes of succesful private boat cbass fishing.
Almost as an organ donor's last selfless act; Our few cbass throwbacks were tagged and thrown back while the recreational fishery twitches in a statistical noose..
Friday's trip was to more traditional togging grounds.
Some clients learned frustration first-hand then triumphed in success.
If the bite pleased: Wonderful.
However, those toggers more deeply afflicted, more enamored of the quest for big fish might have found it lacking. Some certainly enjoyed our long-trip the day before far-more despite having seen less action..
Certainly wasn't bad fishing Friday. Had a 10 1/4 and a 9 pounder as pool contenders, had lots&lots&lots of bites with about half of the fish throwbacks; caught numerous limits.
Nice. Our first sign of spring toggin'..
When the bite is on --when we're catching good-- I'll encourage the release of legal females up to 16 inches & even bigger, but no longer the super jumbos we used to put back: It is now my opinion that the concept of "oldest fish as super-spawner" flies against the iron-clad rule that spawning productivity increases in a fished population.
If you want to tag one, however, that's fine too..
Tautog offer none of fishery management's more famous complexities. Since they move very little or not at all in our region it's a fishery much more akin to pond/lake fish than bluefin tuna wandering back & forth across the Atlantic..
Once managers have a more solid idea of catch via the new MRIP statistical model we'll be able to improve tautog management.
I hope it begins with slowly increasing the size limit in the ocean..
The very best thing for tautog is having other fisheries available
..but that goes for every species I expect.
If Atlantic (Boston) mackerel were running like they did 20 years ago, If MRFSS hadn't goofed on 'emergency closures' of cbass, If sea trout would again rule the bays in summer and the coast in fall.. In every instance where a variety of fish are available to anglers, where angling effort becomes more diffuse, there will be less tog fishing - less tog catching - more tog growing old to challenge dedicated anglers.
Owing certainly to management's restrictions but equally to reef building, there have to be many more tog here now than in 1985....
I want to offer some thoughts on habitat in broader context, to habitat's use in fishery management.
In simplest form: Where the task is to restore the squirrel population of a hundred acre wood, ten acres won't do; There has to be enough habitat before management can begin biological backfilling..
If I am incorrect that we have lost a tremendous amount of seafloor habitat and THAT is holding us back considerably, then the "stamp out overfishing & use ever-tighter catch controls to restore fish" crowd would be on the right track..
We'll not see a return of unrestricted recreational catch, surely never commercial: Catch restriction management is here to stay ..but we must add to it with habitat works to see real success in restoration.
Reversed from present strategies, I believe Habitat Fidelity is the primary habitat consideration. Salmon, sea trout, sea bass; virtually all fish, the sea turtles, the hummingbird in your backyard; Many higher-order animals exhibit spawning site fidelity. This obviously necessitates the Preserving of habitat and the Restoration of habitat where-lost: But our great modern failing is in not controlling fishing pressure in smaller regional scales.
It is very-much how salmons are managed--River by river & region by region. Maybe where salmon stamps help pay for the work a reef stamp would do same..
Understanding Fidelity's importance would allow more success from management using only existing habitat; Regional quotas would allow continued fish population building success in smaller areas instead of the up & down oscillations we currently experience.
Bolstering fishery production by habitat is something that's been going on in the NE recently with cod habitat; the Preserve, Restore & Enhance of Magnuson taking root: Perhaps we already benefit.
I know of no clearer demonstration than Lindholm, Auster & Kaufman's Habitat Mediated Survivorship of Juvenile Cod.. In that study it was determined that many more age zero cod survived in undisturbed, well grown-in bottom than on bare-sand or bare-rock bottoms; The juvenile cod were able to hide, to avoid predation...
If you had a choice between 67% and 2% gains in an IRA, which would you prefer? That was their actual difference in juvenile fish survival..
Obviously, any action that increases the survival/recruitment of fish into the catchable population with such effect must be taken into consideration by those tasked with fishery restoration. If managed to benefit, such a difference must be --has to be-- good for all participants in fisheries.
Bare rock bottoms can regrow, can restore themselves if left undisturbed. Managers can accelerate reef-species' spawning population success by discovering and protecting sea floor habitats from whatever impacts might typically occur..
Bottoms can also be completely lost to production--have been, their rocks removed or pulled into softer sediments, clays broken up to where growths can no longer settle: Decade after decade of impact has taken large areas out of production.
After close examination of how past reef fisheries were conducted, especially before LORAN & GPS were invented, I have to believe that we have permanently lost a fantastic amount of seafloor habitat.
With so much habitat/fisheries production lost I fail to see how management anticipates good outcomes from restoration efforts, How fish populations of yesteryear can possibly be restored with today's habitat remnants ..how squirrels will thrive in a desert with scattered oasis..
There are those who look around and see more wreck/art. reef habitat than ever before and that's true, but it's not anywhere near the footprint of natural habitat here before the first shipwrecks..
Putting the pieces together --fidelity & production-- with an understanding that habitat loss as might be seen by a fisher from 1950 is beyond our present day imagination is key to understanding why we must press for swift exploration, seek insights from the remaining old-timers of what has been lost & now finally begin this next crucial phase of fisheries restoration.
Create Economic Stability.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076