Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Fish Report 12/20/23

Fish Report 12/20/23 

Sea Bass & Tog Fishing in the final days of advent.. 

Fantastic video of Oysters GROWING where we were told we couldn't on FB.. On a 2017 pipe reef built by CCA MD & MARI.. 

If Nothing Else - Have A Merry Christmas!! 

Have had some clients catch a sea bass limit, but not the whole boat of late. After this ferocious storm? Might actually help! 

Will our luck hold or fall in a heap?

Derned if I know. 

Going fishing. 

Eighteen Anglers sells out my sea bass trips - makes for lots of room. 

Opening Fri/Sat Dec 22/23 to sea bass trips as we have been running - 6:30 to 4 - $165..

Christmas Eve a shorter day of tog fishing. Leave 7 - return at 1 - 12 sells out at $110.00

Inshore Tog in a post-storm yet calm sea. Boat Regs Enforced: Three Tog at 16 inches - Only One Can Be A Female. Twelve souls - 7 to 3 - $150 - I sell a light rail so anglers can move to the bite. 

Do Not Expect The Next World Record!

Will depart up to half an hour early..

Anna is a one person operation from 8am to 8pm. 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 (unless you've not had a call back after 4 hours!) - 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. 

Block Update - As of 12/20/23 we have 40,948 Reef Blocks & 1,801 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 4,500 pyramids made since my crew and I fashioned a prototype mold in late August 2019. 

Currently being targeted oceanside: at our brand new Uncle Murphy's Reef 220 Reef Blocks; Rambler Reef 360 Reef Blocks & 11 Pyramids - Pete Maugan's Memorial Reef 92 Blocks & 6 Pyramids - Tyler Long's Memorial Reef 698 (+18 Reef Pyramids & a 115 ft barge!) Virginia Lee Hawkins Memorial Reef 526 Reef Blocks (+76 Reef Pyramids) - Capt. Jack Kaeufer's/Lucas Alexander's Reefs 2064 Blocks (+49 Reef Pyramids) - Doug Ake's Reef 4,194 blocks (+16 Reef Pyramids) - St. Ann's 2,969 (+14 Reef Pyramids) Lindsay's Mini Reef 140 Blocks - Sue's Block Drop 1,722 (+30 Reef Pyramids) - Farewell/Kathy's Cable 188 blocks(3 pyramids) - Rudys/Big Dad's Barges 140 Reef Blocks (+9 Pyramids) - Benelli Reef 1,552 (+118 Pyramids) - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 4,344 (+ 90 reef pyramids) - Al Berger's Reef 1,886 (+36 Reef Pyramids) - Great Eastern South Block Drop 248 Reef Blocks (+ 8  Pyramids) - Cristina's Blast 120 Reef Blocks & 2 Pyramids - Capt Greg Hall's Memorial Reef 362 Blocks (+2 Pyramids) - Kinsley's Reef 756 Pyramids - Bear Concrete Reef 44 Blocks and 512 Pyramids plus 16 pipes -  We've also an Unnamed site at the Bass Grounds in 80 feet with 345 Castle & Terracotta Tog Blocks, 10 Pyramids, & 16 pieces pipe.

Greetings All!

To me? This is a Merry Christmas!

This piece began as a "PS" on an email to upper science & management. I'll never give up on this idea. I hope my work will be attacking the absence of seafloor habitat in fisheries restorations policies even after my trip to Davey Jones locker!  

I intend to build a demo reef 9 miles off Ocean City - in the Atlantic where corals, not oysters, grow. Hope to start soon! 

I do believe this type of reef would accelerate turning the ocean blue though - and that's an oyster issue. 

Pics (on FB anyway - you needn't have an account) on the surface, above water(!) are Pipe Units going in at a marine site off MD's coast in 2015. I hope to build dozens this winter for a major reef at the Bass Grounds. The  underwater pics that I'm really excited to share, however, are single pipes (not cabled together) in the Chesapeake deployed at Tangier Reef in 2017 by CCA MD & MARI. This spread of video/pics was just shot by Nick Caloyianis on Saturday 12/16/23 with Capt Tim McDowell. The pictures show just six years of natural colonization--nothing pre-spat in tanks. Imagine in 10 more or 100 years! 

What if instead of single pipes we used pipe units? 

Makes me crazy.. 

I had pressed & pressed for using rock in oyster restoration in the mis/late 2000s. As long time chair of MD Artificial Reef Initiative (MARI) back in 2008/09, the committee had $100k in the MD reef budget (not the coastal 501(C)(3) non profit OCRF!) for a project. We BEGGED to use rock on an oyster bar permit. (I even had t-shirts made in 2009 "MARI Builds Big Rock Reef."

Oyster folks said?

'Heck No! That's not shell!' 

Fat dern chance of ever using concrete. Hell with the ocean. 

Been told "Won't! & Can't! for as long as I can remember. 

But concrete does work. Oysters DO spat to it naturally. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge rubble of the 1990s and now the 2017 pipe reef at Tilghman show We CAN restore water quality - restore blue water to our now-green Mid-Atlantic Ocean.. It's even probable there's enough scrap at manufacturing sites to get a fine start on turning the ocean blue. 

There's been progress. When MD finally ran out of shell? Rock! ..rather than lay-flat & 'mimic a dead reef' shell that can be measured in simple sq ft; now the measurable amount of colonizable bottom depends on the size of the rock - depends on the rugosity it creates. Raised inclines, vertical, even inverted surfaces of just a few inches work much better for successful oyster growth than flat shell. 

And Are. 

Oyster restorationists are gaining ground like never before. 

But it isn't enough. 

In the Chesapeake, artificial reef permits are where we can build with concrete. I doubt we'd see a permit expansion there without a heck of a fight. 

My question has long been: How can we create a functioning series of biofilters using only the minimum of bottom? 

It would be helpful here if readers were familiar with two things: NOAA claims a single oyster can filter more than fifty gallons of bay water a day - & my longstanding argument that following the marlin fishery's OC MD history from just a few miles off (and unwanted because they destroyed gear!) in the 1920s; to twenty miles off at Jackspot in the 1950s & 60s, even early 1970s; and then rapidly accelerated offshore by the collapse of oysters in the late 1970s: now, despite record numbers of white marlin being caught recently, today's anglers must run sixty/eighty, even a hundred miles offshore. Marlin are blue water sight feeders: I believe this historical trail of fishing effort shows with perfect timing how a keystone species' removal--the loss of oysters in our estuaries, has altered our region's marine ecology to distant canyons and beyond. That's often hundreds of miles away as the fish swims..

How can we build biofilter reefs holding  enough oysters to turn the ocean blue? 

My answer has long been "Pipe Units."

They gather natural spat just fine. There's no need to 'pre spat' anything. 

Yes, I believe we can turn the Mid-Atlantic Ocean blue again using industrial scrap. Precast concrete of all types including pipe is often available for the trucking. Owing manufacturers must pay to have miscast work crushed, sometimes they'll even truck it for free. There are enormous lengths of cable available for free too (or scrap value) because OSHA regs make em change heavy equipment cable at specific intervals.. 

Putting units together and especially getting them on site is not free. The less we spend on materials, however, the more funding that's available for deployments. 

Comparing a twelve foot square piece of bayfloor - 144 sq ft of (really expensive!) oyster shell bottom; I've calculated on that same twelve sq ft of bottom using pipe units the colonizable area becomes over 1,600 sq ft of surface fit for oyster growth. 

That's over 11X more colonizable surface available to oyster spat from even modest pipe units constructed with 3 ft diameter/8 ft long scrap pipe cabled into five piece units.. 

They could be made much larger. 

Shell, and then more recently, 'spat on shell' has been used since after the Civil War. I've yet to see a reef or bar restored with it. Maybe there is? Perhaps in Virginia? But I have asked many oyster people.. 

Concrete has been madly successful for The Nature Conservancy behind Virginia's barrier islands. Rock too has shown wonderful success now in both Virginia & Maryland's oyster rebuilding efforts. 

A full century ago the founder of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL), Reginald Truitt, saw in 1920/21 the need of "Concrete Brood Stock Preserves" for declining oyster populations. 

Those commercial guys who fought the idea in the 1920s would have either remembered tales of, or were still taking part in, dynamiting live reefs for better dredge access.. Why spend a penny on reef they couldn't dredge!?! 

I have reason to hope some commercial oystermen are beginning to see how huge reefs/bars throwing unimaginable spawn into our region's bays can create a major boon to their industry. 

That's already happening, I suspect. 

Were we to build aggressively with pipe units you'd only need to carefully control oyster diving on those reefs. Any manner of tonging/power tonging on pipe unit reefs would only gather from the tops of the units. 

With even modest pipe units creating elevenX more surface, that essentially means there are eleven more 144 sq ft pieces of bottom where there'd have only been one. Harvest from the top still leaves ten more equal areas.. 

And all those areas will pump out spawn every year.

In the ocean? A fabulous Ritz Carlton for all our reef species. I fully expect tautog to especially use it.. 

Will deploy pipe units tightly together then  overlay with a barge load of unwanted block.. 


Capt Monty Hawkins (address NOT good right now!)

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