Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fish Report 5/11/11

Fish Report 5/11/11
Tog & Cod
Re-Reefing On Hold
Going Fishing:
Big Wind Far Offshore All Week = Maintenance.
Saturday, May 14th And Sunday, May 16th, Inshore Tog Trips, $100, 12 Head Sells Out, 6:30 to 3:00..
Tog Limit Drops To Two Fish On Monday, May 16. Will have an eye out for another trip or two during the two fish season - Jumbo Tog Hunting on pretty days.. Be sea bassin' soon.
Green Crabs Provided - Clam if you want - 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..
Sea Bass Trips open from May 22cnd on - Stern spots & Saturdays are disappearing...
Hi All,
Had a brisk NW wind Thursday past. Fished under the beach, working inshore reef sites. Most limited out; all could have. Put tog back to 19 inches: Tagged 'em.
Friday's long-tog trip resulted in some new personal bests including Bob's 15.25 pound fish. A remarkable fisherman; I'm fortunate to carry such skill. 
Had some great tag recaptures including a big female that Alex re-released.
Caught a handful of keeper cod. Tasty.
Also threw back many sea bass; closed thanks to our nonsensical recreational catch estimates. Only the biggest cbass were tagged.
In the constant and forever friendly competition amongst some regulars there was a big plate of "How's it taste?" served-up by Alex when his buddy (first initial "D") nearly got shut-out.
I'm thinking there will be a new video up at Coastal Fisherman soon.
Yeah. Pretty Sure That's Right.
Saturday I had a light rail of almost all regulars. Tog trip my foot, most spent the day cod fishing. One fellow limited on tog, a 13 pounder capping his day.
Calm. Great day to be out.
Even the skipper made a few drops ..cod's a favorite dinner.
Had wanted to try that trip again this Saturday - weather doesn't appear to favor the long-trip format.
Sunday's inshore trip saw it's first limit by 8:30 -- Ben on point; Bite Was On!
Then tapered..
Tag-one/box-one when a fellow gets bit by Big-Mo.
Expert angler, Excellent tackle: Couldn't stop the fish. Broke the leader while very clearly swimming upcurrent.
Close to a boat limit; An hour later a brand new 8 foot St. Croix is bowed reel-seat deep, line leaving: Unstoppable.
It's why some guys get bitten by the tog-bug bad.
Monday, May 9th; We could have easily limited all and gone in. Instead, we kept catching female tog that were 13 7/8 inches.. Talented rail enjoying a nice, perfectly calm day. We tagged an awful lot of keepers--most legal throwbacks this year. Left the dock early, stayed late: never did take a limit.
Now, in case you thought "Fair" had anything to do with fishing, there was a fellow on Capt. Dan's "Fin Chaser" Saturday: First time togger, guy catches a 17 pounder. Dan's a very good friend to reef building--the best; I'm glad his boat got the fish ..but I know guys who have been trying to break 15 --even 10 pounds-- for decades..
I'll do a few more tog trips before sea bass begin: see above. . . . . .
The Reef Foundation dinner was a wonderful success. I enjoy being with so many that share my enthusiasm for reef & reef-fish population building. The next generation of tog fishers are, if they do right by the fish, going to have a truly incredible fishery. We already have better-than-ever numbers; Now I think we need to slowly increase the size limit..
Flounder, sea bass, tog, cod & one day returning red-hake & scup to our coast: All benefit as habitat is a fundamental part of restoration. With focused management and energetic construction, some species can rapidly be taken to new population highs.
That the reef dwellers so frequently dine on squid, butterfish & sand eels shows there are food web connections we don't yet understand. I'd offer a substantial wager that squid spawn directly on our sea whip meadows, their sticky egg masses clinging to the growth.. 
Sometimes partnered with the re-born MD Reef Program on huge projects like the NYCTA cars or the Radford; Usually we nick along with reefing, place a few every year. Began 2011 sinking a 77 foot steel trawler on New Year's Eve, then sank a 50 foot steel boat at Jimmy Jackson's Reef in February. With reef-raffle proceeds--the 50/50 we have everyday, we modified Jimmy's boat for tautog habitat in big ways.  
The tog condos that Mike and I built last Thanksgiving have recently been sunk at Kelly's Reef. Sorely wanted them at Jimmy's but they were huge--too unstable: Weather was crucial for deployment from the Reef Foundation's small barge. Will have to make the next bunch out of smaller pipe.
A concept, the concrete pipes were donated by Rinker Concrete. At 7 feet, a tall man could easily walk through them. We honeycombed the inside with chimney-block donated by Jeff Bower to make multi-storied individual tog habitats.
Sunset Marina donated the space to build them and then loaded them on the Reef Foundation's barge.
This (shade-tree) engineering & construction closely mimics habitat in which I have seen numerous large tog with underwater video gear.
There will be a day when dozens of these tog condos are sited with cobble/rock/boulder scattered overtop and about: A regular Disneyland of reef-feasting for our crab crunching, chisel-toothed, mussel loving quarry.
With funding we could make a year 'round tog fishery in Maryland's southern Bay region. Be some awesome oyster reef too.
Engineered fisheries are just over the horizon.........
Efforts at restoring coastal corals aside--corals that NOAA is only now finding actually exist: Maryland's case for re-reefing the Chesapeake is bullet proof.
Oysters once thrived: Now they do not.
Each oyster bar was a temperate reef that served as essential fish habitat--the EFH of Magnuson. 
Each oyster bar was a water filtering machine rivaling any man-made construct.
Unfortunately, each oyster bar also offered centuries of unregulated wealth for the taking ..and then were gone.
Maryland's Governor O'Malley, DNR Secretary Griffin, Big non-profit muscle--The whole conservation world really; Everyone wants oysters back. There's been more brain power put to work on oysters than ever before. The latest plan is far and away the most determined effort. 
And it's stuck.
I really think Chesapeake fishermen need a back-up plan in case re-reefing for oysters remains forever mired in 'substrate testing.'
You see, there is only one source of natural oyster shell left. Beginning just after the Civil War, we've used it all except from the huge quarries of fossilized oyster boulder in Florida.
As the founder the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Dr. Reginald Truitt, envisioned in the early 1920s; We must use new substrates like rock & concrete to create substantial reef that raises oyster spat far off the bottom.
That fossilized oyster boulder in Florida's panhandle would be awesome substrate--the most fantastic yet; but where's the funding for such an endeavor to come from? 
I think the writing's on the wall: If this Governor can't breath life into big-reef restoration; If a man who really wants clearer water and more productive hard-bottom can't move 100 year old concrete and natural rock beyond this "test-test-test & hope they forget" stone-walling; Sport fishers had better consider creating new fisheries, new species more suitable to a Chesapeake of the future.
Hmm.. Something that thrives on algae ..perhaps those silver carp leaping into boats in the mid-west.. 
Cross that with a mullet and a striped bass and you'd get Jumping Striped Mud Mullet -- Perfect; especially if they can breath air in anoxic conditions.
We'll figure out how to catch them. Be a blast on a fly-rod.........
When the Woodrow Wilson Bridge was reefed I honestly thought a new day had come, That now Maryland would truly begin re-reefing the Chesapeake; That after more than a century of pouring the public's money into Oyster Shell Reef Restoration, pre-oyster spated shell had finally seen its last millions..
But no. Now they're testing concretes; Checking chemical analysis and measuring to make sure pieces aren't "too big."  
Even rock isn't good enough: Test It.
Over a century of oyster-shell-as-reef deployments: Where's the success?
I don't think shell works well. Dredges up great for market though if an oyster ever does grow on it.
Testing concrete, chemical analysis...
Over a century old, Simpkins Dam on the Patapsco River has been torn down for herring/shad/striped bass passage. Forward progress in fish-benefit was supposed to be doubled when the dam's debris was sited on natural oyster bottom as artificial oyster substrate.
The whole idea, from concept to funding, owes to the American Rivers Foundation, Friends of the Patapsco State Park, MD DNR, Chesapeake Bay Foundation & NOAA -- Evil polluters all if ever there were..
Water flowed across this concrete dam & drained into the Chesapeake for over a century. In many areas surrounding the Bay every drop of drainage originates from our concrete & asphalt creeks: But oyster-reefing with the dam's debris is being held-up so we can test the material.
There's how many sewer/waste-water treatment plants? Two nuclear power plants?
Should we now build our drainage pipes and bridge structures from oyster shell too?
Can concrete possibly be dangerous to the watershed considering its many real enemies?
Do we honestly need to test 100+ year old concrete?
Oyster reef restoration would be better, but we ought to plan for sport fishing's future in case those who fight to keep the bottom barren win.
Jumping Striped Mud Mullet; I hope they're not the hybrids of the future.
I'd rather cross California halibut with our summer flounder. An occasional 30 or 40 pounder; they'd thrive in clean waters loaded with prey.  
Roll lots of rock & concrete off barges. Jobs.
Catch sport-fish that thrive on coral & oyster reef. Jobs.
Watch as blue water & billfish slowly return to Maryland's inshore historical white marlin grounds. More Jobs.
Sell more commercially caught sea bass, lobster, squid, cod & flounder, but aquaculture oysters; sell less tuna; Create reef corridors on scallop grounds to preserve fishery production where the tastiest of seafoods is harvested: Conservation at work.
Or, have the last sport fishers cast Lefty's algae-mat mini deceiver to inedible striped mud-mullet.
Right now is a crucial, pivotal time in determining which future we'll see.
Build Reef.

Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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