Fish Report 8/7/16
Battle For Blue
MRIP Disaster Averted (for now)
Round Three: Sunday Special, Aug 14th, Buy two tickets - get a spot free. This is NOT an offer for any other day, just August 14th. I was trying to think of how regulars could invite a friend or bring a child/grand-child - it's working. Newbies are having fun.. In summer it's especially important new anglers are aware of motion sickness preventatives. Being sick all day is no fun at all.. (see section below)
September Reservations Open Next Week - Monday, August 15th.
Sailing Daily For Flounder & Some Sea Bass - Weather Permitting - Saturday's 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00..
There's no way to know whether fluke or sea bass will bite better on any day. I absolutely couldn't guess ..but I do know my crew & I will be trying our best to make everyday a success.
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. With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you over-slept or had a flat..
Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! (Meclizine's Better!) 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! (Wockenfuss Candies sells crystalized ginger locally - We usually have some aboard - Better is Nuts.Com.. Chewable Meclizine is a good pharmaceutical, there's also a "less drowsy" meclizine pill that a lot of clients like, especially Bonine; Scopolamine Patches are the gold standard. Stay away from 'ginger pills.'
Honestly - If you get to go on the ocean once month, once a year, or even less; why risk chumming all day? Similarly, if you howl at the moon all night, chances are good you'll howl into a bucket all day.
Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Is Fine For A Few People.
No Galley! BYO Sandwiches & Soft Drinks. A few beers in cans is fine. (bottles break at bad times)
If You Won't Measure & Count Your Fish, The State Will Provide A Man With A Gun To Do It For You. We Measure & Count — ALWAYS — No Exceptions!
13,638 Reef Blocks Deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 2,503 - St. Ann's 1,519 - Al Giles Barge 857 - Eagle Scout Reef 864 - Sue's Block Drop 156 - Nichols' Concrete 650 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 60 - Benelli Reef 204
Blocks Provided By Potomac Valley Brick - Thank You!
Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation! http://www.ocreefs.org (lots of reef pics here..) We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. Thank You!
Stopped on a reef expecting sea bass in OK number - crushed the flounder.
Went to a top-secret flounder spot - caught awesome sea bass.
Went out KNOWING the flounder would chew - nothing chewed, very bad day that was only saved at the last spot.
All I can really do is go fishing.
A long time since my last report - flounder are now our primary target while reef fishing.
Except those days when the sea bass turn on & flounder turn off.
Sea bass have tapered, that's a late-summer fact of fishing. Catch some? Sure. But no limits lately.
Flounder are picking up - another late summer fact. Days with many limits even. Other trips we barely scratch up dinner.
Today I had a young man aboard who may make poor life choices. He was, hands-down, the best angler aboard. Had skills in rod handling/hook setting, reeling in fish, bait & bait presentation.. maybe 15 years old?
I knew a boy like that once.
College, or Fishing?
Careful young man..
White Marlin Open tournament is this week. Pretty big deal in these parts.
Just as the billfishing world was beginning to really accept the 'release for tomorrow' marlin fishery in the early 1980s, old Capt. Jay Coleman used to lament; "There's no use throwing them back! The blue water's gone!"
Our deep-blue-sea has gotten a lot greener since then. An awful lot.
If we were to suddenly experience the changes Capt. Coleman was talking about, and the changes I've seen; say 60+ years of water-quality diminishment---but in just a couple years---everyone would be up in arms.
Enter generational shift.
Because each generation of fishers begins with a lower, 'how it used to be' outlook, the stunning loss of water quality between 1935 & today is lessened through perception; dimmed by time.
The big difference today is we know how to fix it.
Oysters filter estuaries. Turn off the filter; ocean turns green.
Need to turn it back on.
Doesn't mean we will.
Just that we know how.
Used to be a lot of Can't in oyster restoration. Now we know we Can. Have for a long time, really. Can't pays better in some circles though. They like Can't.
Other .orgs seem to dislike 'artificial reef.' When they put rocks in the water it's called 'oyster restoration.'
Don't want to put rocks in the water where the label says, "Artificial Reef Site." Especially not if there's concrete involved.
We need to rebuild estuarine reefs in industrial scale if we are to succeed in fisheries restorations. Going to need concrete.
Get oysters right, ocean turns blue.
Can't stop it.
Plenty of ways to get it wrong. And greener.
Look for a letter I wrote in Coastal Fisherman's Aug 9 edition titled "My Bluewater Friends"....
Couple Sundays back I took a whole bunch of ocean environmentalists & regulators fishing. Stopped to look at some bottom in the MD Wind Energy Area with video gear where BOEM says there ain't no fish habitat.
Funny. Sure looked like rock. Sure looked like sea bass too.
My point in all this habitat work is this: What remains of our natural seafloor habitat is a small fraction of what was.
If there's a little bit of habitat now, bet your bottom dollar there was once a lot more.
This past week the Navy poured a BUNCH of money into surveying our reefs. We know positively NOTHING about what they were doing or why. Do know where. The boat was nearly 300 feet & had a heliport over her bow. Divers spent several days on the African Queen wreck, a piece that got hammered in winter storm Jonas. Used to be 27 feet down to the top of it. Now it's 40-some.
Navy looked at a lot of our reefs. Don't know if it's good news or a bureaucratic hit.
No idea . . .
Back in 2009 there were some bad catch estimates showing how recreational sea bass catch had spiked to far beyond all known levels - to even far beyond commercial catch.
NOAA's Pat Kurkul used those estimates to create an emergency sea bass closure that very nearly cost me my boat & life's work.
Been plenty of numbskull numbers since leading to more closures - but shorter.
Nevermind the plainly seen incredible sea bass population growth from 1998 to 2003. Why worry with population growth? NOAA's only looking for overfishing.
NOAA has since introduced a 'new & improved' method of estimating recreational catch - MRIP.
Only it's so much worse than the old system, MuRFSS, that even old-school managers (who would never-ever budge on a catch estimate) now seem to now accept this fact: MRIP's catch estimates are often as putrid as a week old bucket of sun-soaked, maggot infested codswallop.
NY's Charter Boat sea bass catch from last summer, for instance, was estimated at 10X their 2014 catch. Add in some other remarkable MRIP numbers & Mid-Atlantic recreational fishers are, again, way-way-way over our sea bass quota.
Couple years ago we'd be battling a closure for sure.
Now NOAA seems to be saying, "Hey, wait a minute. Those estimates don't make sense."
No reason given - but NOAA did not take action on this latest set of ridiculous sea bass catch estimates.
Could have easily closed sea bass season Sept 19th & opened it whenever they wanted next year - say July.
There were managers who held a very hard line here - told NOAA, "No. Not this time. Not because of these estimates."
I've worked hard to make that happen; NOAA's reconsideration of bad data. Have no idea if my efforts were a direct influence, or there has actually even been a reconsideration.
Could be the ax will fall later.
Or, could be habitat & spawning production are about to become part of fisheries management too.
Turn the ocean blue & fill it with fish..
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD