Fish Report 12/07/21
& A Letter..
Am deep in a fisheries issue and also have a major reef project going on.
Didn't notice tomorrow's forecast had improved!
Sea Bass - Wednesday & Thursday - 12/08 & 09/21 - 6:30am to 3:30pm - $155 - 18 sells out..
Chisel Tooth and Tiny Togs Inshore Practice Run (I need practice? Ehh, weather looks better for a shorter day..) Tog Trip #1 - Friday 12/10/21 - 7am to 3pm - Green Crab Provided - $130 - 10 Sells Out. Seriously - I'm fishing under the beach/Really close to home. Just looking to get bites!
Reservations Required For All Trips - Call Anna (and sometimes daughter Hanna!) Reservation Line is Open 8am to 8pm at 443-235-5577 It always jams when I first open. Sorry! Anna goes by messages too for booking.
Have to run a fair piece to get on sea bass this time of year. Result has been excellent fishing. Last 9 trips (at least when I could get a whole trip!) we had a boat limit plus paid the rent..
Looking for numbers 10 & 11 now..
Boots! If anywhere near the stern - wet deck - wear boots in winter. (At least bring em. If flat calm you may not need them..)
As ever, 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
overslept or had a flat. No Refund or Reschedule for a missed trip!
Ticket Sales Limited To Four. (Let your friends take care of their own reservations!) Will sometimes sell all spots to one company on a weekday—as in a charter. Has to go through me and not terribly likely. I've built a livelihood carrying individual anglers and enjoy their company.
Trips Also Sometimes Announced (but later - email is always first) on Facebook.
My personal and Morning Star FB pages get daily after action (or lack thereof) reports..
Bait is provided on all trips.
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!
It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure. Bonine seems best because it's non-drowsy. This is truly cheap & effective insurance.
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 Cooler Is Fine For
Two People. Do Not Bring A Very Large Cooler. We DO have a few loaners - you'll still need ice.
No Galley! Bring Food & Beverages To Suit. A few beers in cans is fine for the ride home.
As of 11/30/21 we will have 35,308 Reef Blocks & 412 Concrete Pyramids (170lb ea) deployed at numerous ACE permitted ocean reef sites - and, also as of 11/16/21, we have 312 pyramids at Chesapeake Bay oyster sites working to restore blue ocean water…
Currently being targeted oceanside: Virginia Lee Hawkins Memorial Reef 99 Reef Blocks (+53 Reef Pyramids begun 8/18/20) - Capt. Jack Kaeufer's/Lucas Alexander's Reefs 1,856 Blocks (+44 Reef Pyramids) - Doug Ake's Reef 4,174 blocks (+16 Pyramid Reef Pyramids) - St. Ann's 2,797 (+8 Reef Pyramids) - Sue's Block Drop 1,582 (+20 Reef Pyramids) - TwoTanks Reef 1,223 (+ 11 Reef Pyramids) - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 912 - Benelli Reef 1,491 (+ 15 Pyramids) - Rudy's Reef 465 - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 3,623 (+60 reef pyramids) - Wolf & Daughters Reef 734 - Al Berger's Reef 1,049 (+11 Reef Pyramids) - Great Eastern Block Drop 1,134 (+10 Reef Pyramids).. And a soon-to-be-named reef at Russell's Reef 30 Blocks & 49 Pyramids - We've also begun work at Capt Greg Hall's Memorial Reef with 92 Tog Monster Blocks & 2 Pyramids…
Reef projects are in high gear. Regulatory season too.
No essay for now, perhaps soon.
PS - In 2017 I wrote (again) describing how tiny spawning male bsb in the MD Wind Energy Area would drive DelMarVa's stock straight up.
Recolonization of that vast empty MD Wind area (survey impacts as I described were estimated at 525sq miles by chart guys) ..bsb recolonization began in 2016 after cessation of MD WEA soundings in Aug 2015. But cbass knew it—small bsb males were already in color as they arrived that first spring! (16) How?!?
And, our cbass fishing did indeed become better & better & better. This year's and last have been the best since Gary & Josh's federal tagging trip in September 2002. Better still was the just phenomenal 2003 season.. (I so remember MD biologist and super great guy, Dale Weinrich, throwing his clipboard down, "Enough!" ..at about 5pm. We'd tagged 1,115 sea bass - that went on to conclusively show habitat fidelity as I'd been telling y'all about.) (In 2003 many of my clients fished super self-imposed limits. Though the limit was 12 inches then (first year of 12 inches & first bag limit at 25) I'd recommend 13 inches on the PA system every morning, but many clients would go 15 & 16! ..and still limit-out far more often then not. I was so apologetic when I didn't limit the whole rail at 25 cbass each..)
Based on my early work—when I was striving to understand our first bsb population explosion; I was able to predict our recent great fishing men; was writing about the coming increase starting in 2015. Wasn't hard. When you force ALL of a region's cbass population into the ssb, and a size limit protects that enormous ssb, great fishing will result.
That's been the precise result twice now.
Beginning in 2020 and now completely in 2021, we no longer see sub-9 inch male sea bass in color off DelMarVa.
With only 11.5inch bsb beginning to show a nuchal hump, the population will do exactly as it has done before - decline as a result of a shrunken ssb.
Those 11.5 males in mid-May grow FAST. I think their tails lengthen especially—they're trying to attract the ladies! ..and, instead of becoming a Yankee Doodle Dandy, they grow into our size limit.
Spawning production tapers quickly when nearly all your males are swimming in hot oil.
Anyway, here from a letter to y'all & others on 5/11/17 (and a subsequent Fish Report) Where I refer below to 'rock bottom' - that sea bass fishing in May 2015 was sooo awful. Sometimes 2 or 3 fish a man in May! ..when I should have been limiting out and coming home early.
Men - the absolutely AMAZING fishing several of you witnessed in 2002 was primarily with fish who'd been spawned when there was NO recreational bag limit and only a 9 or 10 inch size limit..
Catch estimates prevent you from finding our best path forward. MRIP will now, I very much fear, take this fishery down.
We've proven twice that spawning production is what to watch ..and countless times now how MRFSS/MRIP driven regulation is what to avoid.
What I wrote then…..
(written May 2017)
Two years ago, owing a long & continuous slide in our region's sea bass population--but especially from the impact of sounding surveys for wind power driving away entire reef populations ..two years ago our region's sea bass hit rock bottom. Spawning populations over nearly all our reefs were at the lowest I'd ever seen.
I fished over a decade of the last of unregulated fisheries (1980s). Where we should have seen sea bass's nadir has now been replaced with a recent event.
But in that nadir we witnessed a return of age one/age zero spawning last summer -- in 2016. From that sudden influx of so many more spawning sea bass we will see a rapid population rise as we experienced year after year in the 1990s & into 2000.
And from that population rise we will see increases in catch.
The absolute codswallop of sea bass 'shifting north,' as if the sea bass population could be rebuilt between Florida & Hatteras, and "Too Warm" between New Jersey & Virginia; that baseless theory will soon be tested. Habitat expansion? Absolutely. Newly warmed rocky bottoms are as new artificial reef & colonized at once.
We could absolutely increase a sea bass population by increasing a region's reef footprint.
We could also increase that population by decreasing age at maturity - by forcing an additional 70% of a stock into the SSB.
Would that we might ever do both together and on purpose; Fisheries Management will have entered a new & modern phase.
Instead, MRIP will, as it always does, grab a little increase in catch and make it MONUMENTAL.
In two years, NOAA will see wicked overfishing along our shores too.
And, well oxygenated business blood-flow of tickets sales lost, my life's work will have been squandered.
Well, I shall, again, in purest Sysyphian fashion, attempt to discredit MRIP's wild guesses of recreational catch.. My prediction was off by a year but staved off by reaction to covid. It would seem the pressure builds.