Saturday, August 05, 2023

Fish Report 7/15/23

Fish Report 7/15/23

Offering Summer Long Trips for..

A Letter to the President (who has a Delaware beach house not ten miles from some of our coral fish habitat. I bet No One in NOAA can tell him where or how valuable the habitat is to marine fisheries productions. 

If knowledge is king, where DelMarVa's seafloor is concerned we are all paupers..) 


Anna is a one person operation. She might be slammed when I hit send.  (or maybe not!) If she cannot pick up, Leave her a message. She has a method to her madness.. 

Weather Cancellations Happen - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way..

I always try to leave a half hour early. 


This announcement has trips from 7/21 to 9/4 - 2023. 

Saturdays I'm fishing 6:30 to 4 Summer "fish for what's biting" reef trips. Sea Bass mostly with some guys heroically targeting summer flounder/fluke. If mahi show I'll sure put them in the mix as best I can. If fluke/flounder are really chewing we'll work that angle. It's high summer! If you cannot be flexible and Have to have a certain species? Wait til fall. Boat sells out with 18 Anglers @ $175.00 ea.. 

Sundays & Mondays I'm targeting fluke for the diehards. Couple guys might limit, maybe. Sometimes a few 20+ inch fish.. Have to WORK for these fish. Of course any day could be "The Trip" too! 6:30 to 5:30 - 18 Anglers at $180.00 

Tuesdays & Wednesdays - Summer  "fish for what's biting" reef trips. Sea Bass mostly with some guys heroically targeting summer flounder/fluke. If mahi show I'll sure put them in the mix as best I can. Boat sells out with 18 Anglers 6:30 to 3:30 - $155.. 

Thursdays & Fridays Time for getting a bit further offshore in my slow old boat. Mahi Trips - absolutely no guarantee of mahi but will try hard and usually catch some - they'll show up any moment - if mahi are NOT happening on any given day will switch to catching cbass/fluke for dinner - $240.00 - 6:30 to 4:30 - 14 sells out so we can put everyone on the drift.. 

This reservation announcement closes with 9/4/23

Anna is a one person operation. She might be slammed when I hit send.  (or maybe not!) If she cannot pick up, Leave her a message. She has a method to her madness.. 

Reservations at 443-235-5577 - She's a one person operation & has other jobs too. The line closes at 8pm and reopens at 8am. She won't take reservations for trips that are not announced. 

If you want a spot call the reservation line at 443-235-5577.. Emailing me is no good - any info I give could well be wrong time you receive it - service handles reservations. I do check email for questions; check FaceBook messenger too.. 

Be a half hour early! We always try to leave early

..except when someone shows up right on time.

Clients arriving late will see the west end of an east-bound boat. Seriously, with a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you overslept or had a flat.. If you're reserved and the last person we're waiting on - you'll need to answer your phone. I will not make on-time clients wait past scheduled departure because of a misfortune on your part. 

I rarely get in on time either. If you have a worrier at home, please advise them I often come home late. It's what I do. 

Trips Also Sometimes Announced on Facebook at Morning Star Fishing 

I post after action reports (or lack thereof) (and sometimes detailed thoughts on fisheries issues) for every trip on my personal FB page and Morning Star page..

Bait is provided on all trips. 

No Galley. Bring Your Own Food & Beverage. 

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. Truly cheap & effective insurance.

Honestly - If you get to go on the ocean once a 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.

I've recently discovered ZOFRAN - prescription anti-nausea for chemo and surgery. Seems to work - has worked - for motion sickness. Serious day saver really. It's a prescription - though one Doc I trust thought it should be over the counter.. 

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. Do Not Bring A Very Large Cooler. We have a few loaners - you'll still need ice. Should you catch some monstrous fish, we'll be able to ice it. 

No Galley! Bring Food & Beverages To Suit. A few beers in cans is fine for the ride home.  

Wishbone doesn't replace backbone.. Have to keep a shoulder into reef building to make it happen. 

In addition to OC Reef Foundation deployments of barges, tugs, & bargeloads of material (such as Tiki XIV's winter deployments of 750 reef pyramids,) I take reef blocks every time the boat goes in the ocean. 

Block Update - As of 7/15/23 we have 39,681 Reef Blocks & 1,255 Reef Pyramids (170lb ea) deployed at numerous ACE permitted ocean reef sites - there are also 1,336 pyramids deployed by MD CCA at Chesapeake Bay oyster sites working to restore blue ocean water - Counting those awaiting deployment there have been over 2,825 pyramids made since my crew and I fashioned a prototype mold in late August 2019. 

Currently being targeted oceanside: at the Rambler Reef 300 Reef Blocks & 11 Pyramids - Pete Maugan's Memorial Reef 40 Blocks & 6 Pyramids - Tyler Long's Memorial Reef 698 (+18 Reef Pyramids & a 115 ft barge!) Virginia Lee Hawkins Memorial Reef 446 Reef Blocks (+72 Reef Pyramids) - Capt. Jack Kaeufer's/Lucas Alexander's Reefs 1,988 Blocks (+46 Reef Pyramids) - Doug Ake's Reef 4,174 blocks (+16 Reef Pyramids) - St. Ann's 2,909 (+14 Reef Pyramids) Lindsay's Mini Reef 120 Blocks - Sue's Block Drop 1,662 (+24 Reef Pyramids) - (Farewell Cable) 80 blocks - Brian Sauerzop's (SP!) 8 Blocks - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 912 - Benelli Reef 1,552 (+ 118 Pyramids) - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 4,211 (+ 90 reef pyramids) - Al Berger's Reef 1,618 (+33 Reef Pyramids) - Great Eastern South Block Drop 220 Reef Blocks & 2 Pyramids - Cristina's Blast 120 Reef Blocks & 2 Pyramids - Capt Greg Hall's Memorial Reef 242 Blocks & 2 Pyramids - Bear Concrete Reef 44 Blocks -  And 345 Castle & Terracotta Tog Blocks, 10 Pyramids, & 16 pieces pipe 81 feet Bass Grounds Unnamed. 

Here is an open letter to the President - I have tried across 5 administrations to get habitat etc on NOAA's "To Do" list. Our current President has a beach house quite close to our corals - I'm hoping it will pique his interest. 

As my friend Pat taught me decades ago: "Everyone is your friend when you want to accomplish something in politics.." 

Five administrations and beaten every time. Try again. 

You can send this letter too. Maybe someone will get it read. 




Mr President, I believe if you borrow a neighbor's ax, you should return it well sharpened, perhaps even sanded & painted; certainly in better condition then you received it. 

I write you today about the ocean; the ocean just offshore of Delaware, Maryland & Virginia. It was borrowed by past generations and in no way put back right from their abuses. 

I doubt those men had any idea the repercussions fishing in grand scale post WWII would have on future fisheries productions. There was never evil intent; they were just making a living in one of the hardest, most dangerous professions. 

Where marine restorations have a special emphasis in many parts of the country, indeed around the world; along DelMarVa the ocean has a special challenge - it is situated between two huge funding vacuums: Chesapeake & Delaware Bays. In between lies a sea of ignorance.. 

I promise you Sir: If you ask from among your most knowledgeable of NOAA staff, even and especially at the top - and this a group I have confidence in unlike at any other time; you'll find no one who comprehends what todays temperate coral footprint is in the Mid-Atlantic and surely not 10 miles from your beach residence; no one who can value habitat productions of lobster, sea bass, tautog, summer flounder or squid; you'll find no scientist with knowledge of how vast and valuable these reefs once were; and certainly no plan - not even the vaguest notion there might be need of a plan - for restoring reef habitat lost a half-century and more ago. 

Remember clam strip sandwiches at Howard Johnsons? Plenty tasty, but that period was our worst for habitat impacts owed to stern towed gears. The DelMarVa coast was ground zero for surfclam harvest. With fifty and more boats fishing a clam bed at any one time, each using a hydraulic dredge weighing many tons; the fleets from every port literally liquified whatever bottom they were working. Just 9 miles off Ocean City is the Bass Grounds. Once 4.5 square miles of patchy sea whip meadows (soft coral) & star coral (a hard coral) growing on a somewhat hard substrate I believe was once marsh peat - it was reduced to mere square yards. 

I do not jest. 

Certainly dozens & perhaps hundreds of square miles of hardbottom substrate along the coast from NY to VA did not survive the fishery.  Similar tales have been told to me from fishers as far north as Massachusetts. 

I have so much more to tell you and it all ties together. As you'd well imagine,our large marine ecosystem is not simple. Discovery of what once was and a plan to put it back won't come easy either. 

An issue blinding science is that recreational catch estimates remain a complete farce - worsening even - a slap in the face to fisheries scientists & managers who MUST use NOAA's recreational catch data despite no professional has confidence in the numbers anymore. When folks on NJ jetties are said to have caught more tautog in March & April than all commercial & recreational professional effort in the species' range catch all year; when folks fishing Delaware's shoreline are shown to catch more and vastly larger sea bass than Delaware's skilled charter skippers; when private boats, mostly weekend fishers, & just those in New York catch 2X as many sea bass as All Professional Recreational & Commercial fishers land from Hatteras north All Year.. Two Times ALL professional effort! 


It's not real. It's not true. 

No confidence remains. 

In fact, some managers are deeply concerned the myth of ever-larger recreational catch has skewed fish population estimates so much that commercial quotas, raised incredibly in 2018, have not been met since. 

I promise - these estimates of small private boats are often orders of magnitude too high and regularly an order of magnitude. NOAA's MRIP estimates, all of them, are garbage. 

I do believe the men newly in charge, Jon Hare & Evan Howell, want very much to make repairs - but, even from their high positions, they're going to need a nudge from on high to rock the boat. 

Time after time after time in administration after administration Commerce or the NAS has blocked repair. The NAS even refused to hear fishers' thoughts owing our ignorance of statistics. 

But to fishers? We're out here nearly everyday of season. It's not much beyond checkbook math to us. In fact, a video camera experiment in OC Inlet proved NOAA is calculating impossibly high recreational effort.. 

We need help out here. 

Wherever fishery management has had good result while guided by such bad data - it's only been by luck. 

Means of regulating sea bass, forcing them into exponential reproduction are blatent to me after 43 years of fishing. I predicted the last such surge in their spawning two years beforehand; yet this result, surely the best fisheries science has to offer, remains far beyond the grasp of anyone forced to include NOAA's catch data in their calculations. 

Even habitat, Mr President, even our temperate coral reef habitat cannot be brought into focus; "Why would habitat  matter when recreational catch varies so greatly?" (a quote from one of the sharpest mid level federal managers you could ever hope to meet. It's NOT catch that varies so - it's the statistics!) 

And blue water.. The Mid-Atlantic has turned green in your lifetime Mr. President. When oysters collapsed in our major estuaries; our marine waters - dammed so efficiently by the Gulf Stream and Labrador Current - our part of the Atlantic became laden with nutrients that fed algae. Those algae have turned a huge swath of sea off our coast green. 

The whole story of a greening sea is writ plain in our famous marlin fishing. When you were but a boy marlin were caught from small, slow wooden boats, sometimes in sight of shore (without highrises) from Lewes, Indian River & Ocean City. Today those beautiful fish are caught in again fantastic numbers - but 50 and more miles further out. Sometime many more. 

NOAA knows nothing of marine water quality loss, not that I've seen. 

Yes, there are efforts to restore estuarine waters and wonderful progress has come of late. When at last successful they'll carry the ocean too. 

But the time of CAN'T has passed. We KNOW how to restore oysters. A ten fold increase in restoration effort could clean the sea & restore blue water in half a decade. 


Essential Fish Habitat Corals off the Delaware coast? Ignorance. 

Ocean water quality sadly diminished over 70 years? Ignorance. 

How much recreational fishers actually catch? Ignorance. 

How vast was the area of 'livebottom' - our coral seafloors - that was destroyed, lost forever, in the early industrial fisheries? What would be a plan to restore them? How much money would such a restoration add to our waterfronts via increased fisheries productions? Only the deepest of ignorance.. 

How can we force some fish to Make More Fish - the Most Fish? Ignorance.. 

Fishery management's promise is real, but not if formed from ignorance. After 43 years of fishing I often wonder If my business will survive the next round of regulation. We should instead be flying high..

It's 100% doable. But scientists and regulators won't often listen to 'annecdotal evidence' offered by fishers. First then we must have scientists learn what work needs done. 

If NOAA intends to begin with the Bigelow's work from July 2007? Save taxpayers the money and just pull the plug. 

If instead the work Vince Guida did in 2012 forms a beginning? Discovery shall come rapidly and in great leaps. 

There is no distraction by fabrication here - everything I've told you is true. 

If it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease; sometimes its helpful if the guy with all the oil has an interest..

I sincerely hope your grandchildren and their children come to know a Delaware seacoast with beautiful clear blue waters teeming with fish. 

Cheers Mr. President, 


Capt. Monty Hawkins (nautical) 

Berlin, MD

Capt Monty Hawkins

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