Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fish Report 8/21/13

Fish Report 8/21/13 
Flounder & Cbass 
Need Reef Blocks  
Oysters & Blue Marlin 

Reservation Book's Open. Now Taking Reservations Through October 15th.. 

Sailing Daily

Reservations For Sea Bass and/or Flounder Trips at 410 - 520 - 2076. 

See much more info at   

Bring A (not so big) Fish Cooler With ICE For Your Party.. We want to avoid keeping the chips & hoagies cold while fresh fish cook in a hot bucket.. 

Eight Hour trips $110.00 - 7AM to 3PM – Saturdays 6AM to 3:30PM - $125.00 

LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Are Common - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way.. 

Be A Half Hour Early - We Like To Leave Early.

Clients Arriving Late Will See The West End Of An East Bound Boat..  


6,792 'Oyster Castle' Reef Blocks By The Rail. Now 2,084 at Jimmy's — 1,178 at Ake's. 

Soon Need To Fund Another Truckload. This is working, just need to reach a tipping point where others grasp the ability of small boats to build large reefs.. 

See if you'd care to help fund the next truckload. Send a check – any check! 

Greetings All, 
We've had fantastic flounder fishing of late. 
Doesn't mean we will tomorrow. 
Did have a boat-limit and got in early Tuesday. Very sweet fishing. 
Usually have 4 or 5 anglers limited with others catching dinner. 
Lots of spots open in late August. 
Had a heavier swell Saturday-last so I focused more on the sea bass to good effect; very nice bite. Still, a flounder won the fish–pool. 
This fishing's not for everyone. I did have a party of 4 catch precious few last Thursday: "Fishing's terrible!" 
Guys on either side of them, immediately on either side, were limited-out: "Thanks for a great trip Capt." 
What can you do.. 
Might anchor, might drift; Might be sea bass, might be fluke. If you only want a specific fish caught in a specific fashion — stay away. I will continue to fish for what's biting. 

Was reading the Essential Fish Habitat source document for black sea bass. It's not light reading, it's not Hiaacin, but it is part of why management of our coast's reef fish sputters along instead of increasing production & populations many fold. 
One section of our collected scientific wisdom concerning sea bass describes how fish at the northern end of the range (Massachusetts) grow far more swiftly – get bigger, faster. 
That flies in the face of reason. Tautog, for instance, have a well-established faster growth rate in their southern range because the water is of suitable temperature for feeding during a longer part of the year. 
Same species, tautog, but grow a bit more during a year's time down here compared to Rhode Island… 
So I wrote NOAA's preeminent black sea bass scholar, Dr. Gary Shepherd, and asked him about it. He responded, "Length data shows bigger fish in the north but slower growth rate." 

That's a lot different than what's in the book. 

There's lots of stuff in the document to pick apart. Our best available science needs closer scrutiny. Its  too often leading management off on wild goose chases; fixing "overfishing" for instance, where none has occurred. 

Black sea bass manager's time devoted to putting out fires caused by bad data; only their heroic effort   saved our 2014 season. 

Wish we could make time to look for the truest method of population expansion.. 
Its in the science, we already have it. 
Have to eradicate the bad and illuminate the good. 
Sea bass are really easy to make prolific. 
Let coral grow where it will & force sea bass to spawn young — have lots of fish. 
Did it once already. 

One day again. 
Below a much larger problem. 
Like our reef ecologies, green ocean water's increasing footprint is nowhere to be found in the science, at least not that I've seen. 
Below is a short essay I wrote for the billfish community about our grandest benthic/pelagic coupling.  Coastal Fisherman published it during the White Marlin Open. 
Billfishers too busy I suppose. . . 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Greener Water, Not More Blue.. 

Fellow Anglers, 
In the early 1980s I often heard, "We'll never see marlin again, the blue water's gone." 
Catch & Release of billfish just taking serious hold back then; Old timers thought it too little—too late; Thought no matter what course billfish conservation took, we'd soon see the demise of marlin anyway because of water quality.. 

It is true that before the inlet was cut, before 1934, fishers in surf-launched boats dread seeing marlin rise behind their bluefish baits, hated to have their gear destroyed: We must therefore have had clear water as little as 3 miles out.. 
It is true that from the 1940s to the 1970s stories abound of white marlin being caught even 5 miles out; Of Marlin Club tournaments won with fish caught at the Bass Grounds 8 miles out: It was a time when the Jackspot (21 miles SE OC MD) was a destination even for boats fishing from New Jersey — It was a time when Ocean City truly earned the title, "White Marlin Capitol of the World." 

A sight feeder, marlin have been driven much further to sea in ever worsening water: water growing greener & greener. 
No One Above Hatteras Sees Billfish In Nearshore Waters These Days. 
An "inshore bite" today is just inside the hundred fathom line. Fifty years ago fish caught during an inshore bite might still be kicking when they were thrown on the dock. Party boats fished Fenwick Shoal, Isle of Wight & Great Gull Buoys for mahi. 
The blue water really is gone. 

It's Fixable. 
No fishery restoration will ever come by renewing a single habitat component. There will always be multiple considerations.. 
Still, many fisheries—perhaps every fishery—would benefit from increased water quality. 

At a 3 day course on fisheries science last winter Dr. Jon Hare made note of the difference between sea heights above & below the Gulf Stream. As measured by satellite, the ocean is one meter higher on the north side.. 
That heavy Gulf current rolls off North Carolina's Cape and dams the lower Mid-Atlantic. 
The Labrador current comes slow, cold and south – inshore. Those ice melt waters meet Delaware & Chesapeake Bay's nutrient enriched outflows: Phytoplankton thrive – Algae Bloom. 
That's where green water comes from, where dead zones come from – That's why over the course of 40 years marlin have been driven from famous nearshore shoals where they often fed on sand eels and inshore spawning squid to now canyons edge & beyond.. 

Southern Florida still has blue water just a few miles offshore; it's the dam that makes the lower Mid-Atlantic different. 

Ecosystem Based Fishery Management is just beginning to take shape. In it scientists & managers look for couplings such as striped bass/menhaden. Championed by both angler & environmental groups, progress is being made. 
Believe This: The benthic/pelagic coupling most in need of repair for billfish restoration to nearshore waters is the oyster — Oyster Reef Restoration Is Vital. 

Numerous regulations are now in place to restore water quality in our major estuaries. Everything from buffer zones & storm water management to upgrades at sewage treatment plants is being employed. However, the well-recognized 99% decline in the estuaries' primary natural water filter is singularly important: Oysters Feed On Algae. 

When Algae Blooms Thrive They Make Pea Green Water; When They Die They Create Oxygen-Free Dead Zones.

Estuarine Hardbottom Reef Restoration Is Vital To Restoring Billfish.. 
Pretty big leap. 
True though.  
I think restoring blue water is as simple as rolling rocks off a barge — a lot of rocks. 

The opposition to re-reefing is powerful & has a century of practice.  
You could snag a gillnet on a real oyster reef; would stop a dredge cold. Their refrain over the past century,"Only shell is natural.." 
Oyster sanctuaries must use 'shell only' as reef substrate. Not even reef balls are allowed. Shell Dredges Well.. 
We've been using shell as a substrate since just after the Civil War. Indeed, Maryland has dedicated serious effort to oyster repletion with shell since the 1920s. 
Yet oyster shell has not restored a single oyster reef — Not One. 

The Ocean's Turning Green. Its time to quit playing with shell. 
Three Dimensional Habitat Is Key — Boulders. 
We must get enormous oyster reefs functioning in their full ecosystem role again before we see a turn in marine water quality. 
Huge reefs will generate huge spat-sets. Watermen will swiftly find a way to profit. 

Filtering green restores blue. 
Blue would be good. 
Every species in the Mid-Atlantic would benefit. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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