Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fish Report 7/16/14

Fish Report 7/16/14 
Cbass & Flounder
Willful Ignorance 

"A Big Fat Duh" wouldn't typically be a quote I'd see favor in or pass on.. 
Taking Reservations for July & August "Whatever's Biting On The Reef Trips" - We're Catching Sea Bass & Flounder. There's No Possible Way To Know Which Species Will Bite Better. Both Delicious: if you only want cbass or only want flounder you can watch the swallop-barrel to see which day you wanted to go ..but that won't mean that same species will bite better again next trip!! 

Sailing Daily For Sea Bass & Flounder. Saturday's 6:00 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00..
Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - 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 always leave early! 
..except when someone shows up right on time. 
Clients arriving late will see the west end of an east bound boat. 

Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! Crystalized Ginger Works Great Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure.  If You Suffer Mal-de-Mer In A Car You Should Experiment On Shorter Half-Day Trips First! 

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. 
Bring Lunch & Your Refreshment – No Galley. Bring A Fish Towel Too.. 

9,950 "Oyster Castle" reef blocks by the rail – 2,788 at Jimmy's Reef – 2,058 at Ake's – 480 at Lindsey Power's – 524 at Patrick's Eagle Scout Reef - & 970 at Saint Ann's. 

We'll soon need another truckload of Oyster Castles.. 
Donate - Please Sponsor Reef Building At
Thank You!

Greetings All, 
Although we've had a few more limits of sea bass; George was even over-limit & forced to cheerfully give some away; sea bass fishing has been less productive recently as summer-flounder begin their now-annual takeover of our reefs. 
It started right after the hurricane, the flounder catching. When I am absolutely positive the reef I'm going to will have abundant sea bass – but we catch flounder; Or I'm 100% geared & baited for fluke – but catch sea bass: That's the new summer reef fishing in our time. 
Only one guy has caught a 4 fish limit of summer flounder on my boat so far. They sure were tasty. Clients have had a few 3s.. This is the beginning.
Clients will need a cooler & ice for their cbass and/or flounder. They will not need a very large cooler.
Sending folks home with a fish-fry or better. I cannot predict which species will bite better, if at all..

This time of year we're more likely to have truly inexperienced fishers aboard. That's fine. We're very glad to have them and hope their experience with us turns into a lifetime's enjoyment of every kind of fishing. We can show anyone how. Pay attention to the mates. We WANT you to catch fish.  
The uninitiated need to know boating offers a sensation vastly different from a car ride or video game console. Dramamine is cheap insurance against motion sickness. It is more fun to play video games than to be sea-sick all day. If you want to see kids fishing, prevent motion sickness! We try especially hard to get youngsters to take their own fish off too – teach them how to unhook & measure their fish. 

Sometimes we have to do that with adults..

It happens that an especially skilled youngster, I'll call him "Trevor," was fishing near a true ichthyophobe one day last week.  (Ichthyophobia = fear of fish.) 
Guy looked like a professional athlete. You could see him training for football or MMA. He'd bait his hooks, reel fish in and grab the hook, but a real fear of fish would set in – couldn't touch a fish. 
Trevor would come over and take his fish off.. 
We had some fun with it, but his was different than the "it's icky" sort of response we sometimes see. 
Perhaps this guy will get past it, he's trying. A lot of today's youngsters, maybe most of them, aren't hoping for a new fishing pole or a new folding knife for that tackle box they don't have: Fishing's just icky. 

I know folks who pour tremendous energy into getting kids fishing. Guys & Gals at our local MSSA & OP Angler's Club, CCA too. They get a rod in a child's hand and try to make it fun. While I do take the local middle school's fishing club out every year for a spring tog trip, and we try hard to show youthful guests an ocean of hope, I think the main thing we need to do is make fishing better. Abundant heathy fish make for pleasant angling, are nutritious & delicious. Abundant fish accompanied by generous regulation allow many more folks to go fishing – some of them will take kids too.. 

Management is taking our fisheries in precisely the opposite direction. 

A rational system of fishery management would search specificaly for methods of increasing abundance; would ask, "how can we make more fish." Our current method of management seeks only to stomp-out overfishing from the late industrial fishing period. Regardless of any other scientific measure, we base regulation on catch-estimates balanced against stock assessment. 
Yes, recent hard-fought battles for atlantic mackerel & menhaden; with herring especially still in process, are among the last of overfishing's remnants. Most species, however, have long-since been regulated. 

Soon offering less opportunity for everyone - especially kids, we'll soon be embroiled in interregional warfare for recreational striped bass quota. There's a huge quota cut coming. Comparing MRIP landings estimates against scientific population estimates; management "knows" they need to address recreational overfishing – what else would they possibly consider? 

Striped bass are a glamour species, receive "Cadillac Stock Assessments" – we're truly certain their numbers are in decline regardless of any MRIP shenanigans.  
When quotas are about to be cut, finger-pointing & assigning blame escalate. Deciding who should carry the greater burden of restoration by suffering the most; who will endure the largest cuts in season & bag limit, that's what the fight will be about.  

I seriously doubt striped bass have been subject to fantastically increased recreational pressure. Maryland's commercial quotas too have gone unfilled in recent years. Yes; well-publicized commercial pirate effort certainly looks bad, but its not a burden so great as to diminish the striped bass population to where 60% cuts in recreational landings are needed. 

Mycobacteriosis (myco-bactere-osis) certainly could create such burden. Maryland DNR estimates as much as 60% of Chesapeake striped bass are infected. They don't know if the disease is fatal. 

Um.. While MD DNR may rely on Hume's philosophical argument, "we cannot truly know the sun will rise," these folks at William & Mary offer a different take on myco: 
A disease that begins internally and is only evident externally after massive infection.. 
Betcha that could cause trouble in a population. 
Oh, scientists from the non-Hume school find older females are more likely to succumb. A drastic increase in natural mortality causing a decline in spawning capacity.. Bet that could mimic overfishing's result. 
Guarantee they'll try to fix it with catch restriction. 

Funny, they found 60% of stripers were infected with myco and, oddly, now find they have to cut quota by 60%..

Personally, I believe striped bass have been driven to a higher population than what's left of their ecosystem can support. Where "habitat carrying capacity" is expressed as "K," we've rebuilt striped bass with scarcely any concern for K. 
I doubt anyone was asking "Might catch-restriction only based management create an abundance of striped bass that overshoots its resources?" 
Aw shucks, K is just a theoretical. 
Scientists don't think we can really get there, not to K, not while fishing is occurring. 
A rational system of fishery restoration would not only ask, "How can we make more fish?" but also ponder, "What happens if we make too many?" 
Would some starve and be more susceptible to disease? Would super-abundance of one push other species aside? 
Pretty sure, really sure, we saw sea bass at habitat capacity along DelMarVa a decade ago. Tricked by size limit into maturing several years later than in management's beginnings; sea bass are still, right now, spawning as though their population were at K. 
Stripers seem to have surpassed their K too, at least given the presence of myco. 

Grossly over-nutrified estuaries absent natural means of filtration & diminished forage-fish allow myco's K to increase; "habitat capacity" for the disease is increased by favorable conditions. What's good for disease is not good for the estuaries' apex predator. 
It surely will not be good for party/charter businesses that target striped bass. 

I was shown a couple pictures recently of a Reef Ball that was deployed in the Chesapeake about a decade ago. Not a "pre-spat" reef ball, this one was just bare concrete when it went over. Yet the reef unit was covered in oysters that had naturally accumulated. Natural oyster growth seems pretty consistent among elevated vertical artificial reef substrates we've examined. Vertical, after all, is what a real oyster reef looks like – elevated vertical growing oysters. Its a reef type that doesn't silt-over like shell laying flat, it's a reef-type that's easy to replicate with artificial reef ..but "vertical" is a son of gun to fashion using "natural" shell which wants to lay flat and become a silt trap.  

Management, those folks today who saw thousands & thousands of poorly reefed tires washing ashore early in their career; Management thinks artificial reef is icky. They're deeply afraid artificial reef will kill their careers if they support it, maybe with good cause. 
Sure, sure: they get planting trees might benefit squirrels, maybe. But how can they be sure oysters and fish will benefit from more spawning/feeding/settlement habitat? 

Hume, skeptical even of sunrise, would have cheered with delight. 
Absolutely, positively known to work; now even reef balls are unwelcome in Chesapeake tributaries. 

Can't dredge 'em. 

Fisherman, farmer, waterfront homeowner, environmentalist – everyone's waiting for discovery of a dredgable oyster reef substrate so we can get on with water quality restoration. 
Oysterman, however, is quite happy with the century-old spat on shell method. 
It's just that shell, quite dredgable & excellent for getting oysters to market; shell alone isn't re-forming/rebuilding truly important ecosystem functions of "Oyster Reef." 
Chesapeake all but lost, now even the ocean's turning green. 
Need a water filter. 
Need one soon. 

Cleaner water/less disease. 

Winning species-by-species fishery restoration battles will not win the war. 
Without trillions of oysters filtering Chesapeake & Delaware Bays we'll lose. 

Bugles blown & bayonets fixed, striper enthusiasts man their trenches. The murmurs have begun.  
Sixty percent is an enormous cut. 
More of the recreational fisheries will die. No one is going down without a fight. 

Given an ecosystem perspective, management might well want stripers thinned further while myco runs its course. Thinning might have been needed all along to allow other species a slice of nourishment. 

Were rebuilding oyster populations with large vertical substrates undertaken, I believe the estuarine water filter could be swiftly brought back into operation. 
Wonder what all those oysters spawning on an undredgable, but wonderfully effective reef would do to a temporarily anchored Christmas tree covered with a thin veneer of cement.. 
I bet a man could make an honest living capturing spat for his own purpose. 

Increased menhaden populations, cleaner water, blue seas. 
Abundant wholesome fish, delicious. 
Abundant wholesome oysters – more delicious. 
Drinking-up sunlight, coral thrive. 
Marlin restored inshore. 

Reef Restoration Makes Fishery Restoration Simple. 
Willful ignorance is making a bloody mess of it. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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