Sunday, July 02, 2017

Fish Report 7/2/17

Fish Report 7/2/17
Sea Bass For Dinner
Flounder Just Tease
MORE Trouble With Sound & Surveys

Opening Reservations For August on Monday, July 3rd, 8 AM -- These are "We'll Fish For What's Biting Trips" .. Might be flounder, might be sea bass, might be a mix. If you absolutely have to have one and not the other, don't reserve!

Sailing Daily For Sea Bass - Weather Permitting - (Nicking a few flounder some days too!) Saturday's 6:30 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. With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you over-slept or had a flat..

Bonine Is Cheap Insurance! Crystalized Ginger Works OK For Some. "Natural Dramamine" Does NOT! 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, chewable Bonine's  a "less drowsy" meclizine pill; prescription Scopolamine Patches are the gold standard.)

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! 

Please Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation!
We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. 

2017 Reef Raffle!! Benelli USA has donated another spectacular shotgun! A Benelli Super Black Eagle II, 25th Anniversary Limited Edition, 12ga 28" in Black Cerakote.. Tix are $10.00 - available aboard and/or email if you want me to mail you some. If you want to sell some, could REALLY use the help...

If you know anyone with pallets of unsalable block, I know a fishy place or two we can store them. Forever. Will pay for trucking. 
If you have a few blocks in the backyard taking up space and just making snake reef, bring em. We'll toss em overboard with the rest.

17,921 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites: TNC's Restoration Reef 278 - Doug Ake's Reef 3,268 - St. Ann's 1,645 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,335 - Eagle Scout Reef 954 - Sue's Block Drop 322 - Nichols' Concrete 942 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 691 - Benelli Reef 371 - Capt. Bob's Reef 513 - Wolf & Daughters Reef 210

Greetings All, 
Summer fishing.. Some days sea bassing is very good indeed. Other days I'm thankful clients can even stink a pan. Catch a nice fish fry - life is good. 
Sea Bass Bob remains high man on flounder so far with three keepers. Just nicking a few most days. Soon I think....

Saw what was easily in my top 5 gatherings of bottlenose dolphin. Had to have been over 400 of them. Nick Denny captured quite a few in a frame here. Will attempt to post video on FaceBook ocfishing Not the guy for posting something everyday. 
Or every week. 

I am a guy who has labored for decades trying to improve fishing through habitat & reasonable regulation.  
Great Scott! Why in Billy Blue Blazes has the Navy got to do whatever it is they're doing on our Queen Reef? 
Just when I thought I thought their survey noise impacts were done -- LOUDER! 
What in the world are they doing? 
The Sheila Bordelon was back again on June 29th. It happened that Capt. Kane (Fish Bound) & I were of a similar mind; wanting to start at the Queen Reef Site. On approach I could see this +-250 foot ship was on station again over the wreck of the African Queen -- a catastrophic sinking from the 1950s & now in the midst of many artificial reef sets that we've labored to build. 
After three spots, my clients had caught 2 small sea bass & an undersized flounder. Kane's had done no better. I ran offshore. Fish Bound set off inshore.. We were running from noise. 
Meanwhile, another boat who is participating in a study with NOAA's Chesapeake office arrived and targeted sea bass. They were looking for 8 to 11 inch fish to tag. Not hot fishing to begin with, at some point this captain overheard the crew on the ship (by VHF radio I assume) to "turn it on"  ..  and for the next two hours his scientific team had not one bite -- none. 
The Fish Bound ran inshore - way inshore. And then had to run further inshore still where they were at last able to catch sheepshead. 
Hard to get the times exact. Fairly certain this equipment was on when I arrived at my next stop 7 miles further out. I had previously been able to avoid the affect of the Sheila Bordelan's equipment by running there. 
This time it was not enough. With a good sized school of sea bass beneath my boat; fish living on reef we'd hand-built with cement blocks & 7 miles from the ship -- no bites at all. 
Thirty seven years I've been doing this. It's not normal. 
I observed the bite diminish at 7 miles on radar during all the Wind Energy Area surveys. Fish would be biting fine, then slow - and then stop completely when a sub-bottom profiler was within 2 miles or so.  
Sea bass can be dern fussy -- but to completely shut off while hovering over a reef takes government assistance. 

Sure been plenty of that. 
Our troubles with sound & surveying began in 2013. 
Government's just changing WHERE the trouble is. 

All this sound has contributed mightily to our troubles off here. 
The ONLY thing management looks for is overfishing. And, by George, they can find it too. Every year there's another set of statistics no one believes that cause regulatory mayhem.

For the last 5 years there's been real, serious trouble on our sea bass's summer spawning beds. 
The Sheila Bordelan told me they were running a sub-bottom profiler. I have no idea if they continue to. I have no idea what they are doing - none. People high up in NOAA have been unable to find out what they are doing. 
I don't know if the Navy is generating this noise at other locations -- seems likely. 
Guarantee this -- they're throwing our reef fishery in the dumpster. 
Inshore sea bassing is all but dead. Not just the Queen, but up & down that whole area. 
It's THIS time of year when these reefs should be colonized by spawners. 
Offshore is holding it's own - is OK. The MD Wind Energy Area (WEA) has even been recolonized. 
Soon flounder will be on our reefs. If they don't turn off the derned noise -- whatever it is -- those fish will go somewhere else. 
We've been teaching them about noise for 5 years strait. Fish seem to learn a lot faster than government. I can imagine they're right gun-shy with it. Sea bass will stay away same as when they completely evacuated all of the MD WEA and it's surrounding reefs. 

I told NOAA 2 decades ago we had coral reefs off here. Still waiting. Law says you have to protect, preserve, & enhance "essential fish habitat."  I suppose it pays not to discover habitats you can't afford do anything with. 
Reported an oil spill, a fish kill -- no nothing until they hit shore. 
Trash in unimaginable amount - couldn't find it. 
About 22 years now since I told them about habitat fidelity in sea bass -- that they'll return to the exact same reef after winter migration; that they'd ought to be mindful of it in designing regulation. 
We were better off with kitchen table regulation--our own regulation, a lot better off than with Council & Commission's auto-response to MRFSS/MRIP recreational catch estimates. 
We're going the way of the American Indian now that government's come to help. 

Whoever's in charge of fisheries management & restoration had best pry their eyes away from their dagoned lying computer screen; better have a look at what's real. 
They could start with sound. 

New sets of MRIP numbers will be coming out. 
Maybe Maryland shore anglers caught more sea bass than all US trawlers & partyboats in May/June (like NJ's tog fishermen did from shore in Mar/April 2010.) 
That would get treated like an emergency. Every dumb estimate that no one in the industry believes in the least is treated as though 'real.'
Pure fantasy is used to regulate our fisheries. Population biology & ecology are old math; no good anymore. 

There really are people putting 110% into their work in management. It is very much the case that sea bass & flounder would be all but closed here. A few people working hard have prevented that. But the constant regulatory battle is draining. Fighting fantasy as if it were a threat; there's no energy left for fighting what is real, and especially for what has not been proven. 

For the MD WEA survey noise Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, BOEM, announced in 2015 that a sub-bottom profiler has no affect on sea bass--it's a quiet as a ship's propeller. And, if it did, it wouldn't matter because there's no reef anyway. 
Essentially -- 'Go away Monty. You're making it all up.' (see log entries below) 

Maybe all noise needn't be loud to scare fish? (Some believe sub-bottom profilers mimic a toothed whale's echolocation. Like dolphin, but in grand scale.) 

Now this with Navy divers at the Queen Reef
Ain't nobody taking on the Navy. 
DC's a busy place. Not sure they'll have time for a new kind of noise either. 
Only option left. 
Churchill: Never Give Up, Never Give In. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Two log entries dealing w/noise..

From Fish Report 6/5/17
I'll tell you a tale of the first time I understood precisely what was happening with a sub-bottom profiler. In 2007 the MD Research Boat Kehrin, skippered by my good friend Rick Younger, arrived on scene at the newly issued Jackspot Reef Site permit. Gail Blazer, an engineer with the Town of Ocean City, and myself had walked that permit through the Army Corps process for close to a decade. I'd done the dockside legwork, working with the trawl community especially, to ensure we would be approved. 
It was an exciting time -- reef material would soon be OK when Rick did his side-scan sonar work. 

I was there, anchored over the Cook; a wreck from long ago that's about center of the site (and why trawlers agreed to the permit.) 
Clients were catching amazingly well -- double headers of sea bass around the rail. 
As Rick came in on his first leg in the NW corner he turned on his sub-bottom profiler 
..and our bite came to an INSTANT stop. 
Not one more bite. 
Literally: "Like flipping a switch."
I hailed him on the radio, "What did you just turn on?" 
He told me & turned it off. After only a couple minutes of a sub-bottom profiler, the bite resumed at a much slower pace.. 

(Here from Fish Report 6/27/15)
..on July 31st, 2013, I was fishing the Great Eastern artificial reef about 18 NM ESE OC MD in the southern-most portion of the wind lease. I could see the Scarlett Isabella closing and watched my clients' success diminish to absolute-zero when she was approximately 3NM N our position. As my nearest reef that might provide suitable success was either 8NM south or 13NM ESE, I waited for the survey boat to turn north and move its equipment out of range (about 5 to 7 miles).
Closing to 2NM ENE my position with survey gear in use, no fish at all bit while the Scarlett Isabella was so near. None. 
Then, at 10:15, she came full-stop and the bite went 'wild' (comparatively). With flounder & sea bass coming over the rail, clients cheerfully exclaimed; "Don't move Captain, they're here!" (I, of course, had kept clients over fish all the while.) 
A helicopter approached the Scarlett Isabella and landed aboard ship. That's why she'd stopped. When the helicopter left a while later, the ship came-about and began a new survey leg. 
The bite, of course, died completely & at once as they re-started their survey gear. 
At 10:40 AM I hailed the Scarlett Isabella on VHF 16 & asked to switch to channel 10. I questioned if they had turned off the sub-bottom profiler while the helicopter was aboard. A few minutes later I was told, "Yes, the sub-bottom profiler was off then."  

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