Morning Star Fish Report

Monday, July 25, 2022

Fish Report 7/25/22

Fish Report 7/25/22 

Opening most of August. 

Thoughts on where sea bass will wander..


Sea bass limits quite rare now in high summer - size limit 13 inches - 15 per person. 

Seeing some mahi but not enough to justify "mahi fishing." There hasn't  been anyone remotely close to a mahi limit yet - just bonus fish while sea bassing. Will it get better? I sure hope so. For now trips are a mix - sea bass/with precious few mahi & even a flounder now and again for those dedicated souls who must target flounder while sea bass are coming over the rail. If you target fluke/flounder all day it can create a very light cooler at day's end. 


IF YOU BOOK LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER & LISTEN TO YOUR MESSAGES -

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


Getting a bit further offshore some days in my slow old boat. Xtra Long Sea Bass hoping for Mahi mix days - absolutely no guarantee of mahi but will try hard - $225.00 - 6:30 to 5:30 - Aug 1, 3 , 8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 20.. 


Sailing Daily - Fishing harder and Am scheduling numerous 11 hour trips in August; sea bass trips where hunting mahi will be a major emphasis at $225.00 from 6:30 to 5:30 (Yes, be a half hour early!)

Otherwise Saturdays 6:30 to 4:30 at $175.00 — Weekdays & Sundays 7 to 3:30 at $155.00 - All Trips Sell Out at 18 Anglers for a lot of room at the rail. 


This reservation announcement closes with 8/21. 


Anna will be slammed when I hit send. Leave her a message. She has a method to her madness.. Reservations at 443-235-5577


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. Seriously, with a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you overslept or had a flat..

Trips Also Sometimes Announced on Facebook at Morning Star Fishing

https://www.facebook.com/ocfishing/ 


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.


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.


As of 7/25/22 we have 37,282 Reef Blocks & 519 Reef Pyramids (170lb ea) deployed at numerous ACE permitted ocean reef sites - we also have 786 pyramids deployed by MD CCA at Chesapeake Bay oyster sites working to restore blue ocean water…

Currently being targeted oceanside: Tyler Long Memorial Reef 307 (+11 Reef Pyramids) Virginia Lee Hawkins Memorial Reef 383 Reef Blocks (+71 Reef Pyramids) - Capt. Jack Kaeufer's/Lucas Alexander's Reefs 1,920 Blocks (+48 Reef Pyramids) - Doug Ake's Reef 4,174 blocks (+16 Reef Pyramids) - St. Ann's 2,847 (+14 Reef Pyramids) - Sue's Block Drop 1,602 (+22 Reef Pyramids) - TwoTanks Reef 1,263 (+ 13 Reef Pyramids) Benelli Reef 1,531 (+ 117 Pyramids) - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 3,931 (+82 reef pyramids) - Dr. Al Berger's Reef 1,295 (+ 25 Reef Pyramids) - Great Eastern Block Drop 1,4786 (+24 Reef Pyramids) Capt Greg Hall's Memorial Reef 222 Blocks & 2 Pyramids - And 325 Castle & Terracotta Tog Blocks & 10 Pyramids 81 feet Bass Grounds Unnamed ..



Greetings All, 

For the last two years we rode high with many limits, even boat limits in high summer. 

Quite different now - & was predicted. Nicer fish (those that escaped fishing pressure) but fewer as spawning production returns to the norm caused by managing with MRIP data. 

Our great sea bass fishing was brought on by the spawning surge as sea bass recolonized the Maryland Wind Energy Area. As I've been writing for years now, that peak must taper - is - has. Fish that escaped effort are growing some kind of nice, but numbers are diminishing. 

I predicted the whole thing in writing to management and science several times in 2016/17. If you're like me, you'd think fisheries management & science would be super keen on finding a way to make a population of sea bass absolutely explode. 

No interest at all so far as I can tell. 

Pretty disappointing. 

But what the heck, I've tried to get NOAA interested in our corals since 2000 too. Yeah, no. While they do recognize we have reef fish; I've yet to see concern for their habitat. 


I've lived mad sea bass expansion twice. In 2003 I absolutely believed our sea bass were at habitat capacity—that the only way we could ever make them more abundant was by building reef. As regulation grew more and more constrictive, in 100% counterintuitive fashion sea bass numbers fell. 

From 2004 to 2006 I ran every scenario I knew of trying to figure why our region's sea bass stock was diminishing despite tougher and tougher regs. 

Turns out, and I am sure, that management manipulates spawning age via size limit. And, unlike common theory that big females are the path to grand restorations; in sea bass we want ALL ocean found fish spawning, not just huge females with "big bullies" (larger males.)

During pre-regulation/self regulation/early state and fed regulation we'd see a good percentage of under 9 inch sea bass becoming mini-knotheads — all lit up in green & blue into 2001 or so. They're spawning males & super easy to spot. We also saw them in great number as the MD WEA recolonized with sea bass in 2016/17/18. 

In every case when I've seen small males, sea bass numbers surged. 

This year(2022), and my guys have watched closely, we've seen one under 9 inch male. 

One. 

That fish will likely be blinded and killed by larger males. Nature is like that - everywhere you turn the 'right to reproduce' is determined by something -  and it's often violent. 

We've also seen a tiny handful of 10.5 inch males that may suffer the same fate. The 11.5 & 12 inch males we do see, though few, will probably fluff up and grow into size limit. 

That's the difference. 

When the size limit was 9/10/11 inches every male we put back (even a thousand male throwbacks in a single day somedays during the late 1990s) ..and all would survive to spawn the entire summer - perhaps even another year.  

Now the throwback males will probably grow into the size limit and be boxed up before long. 


Repetitive, I know. I keep hoping the right set of eyes will read this - or a reader will write the right person at NOAA. One day I hope to see it used. I absolutely guarantee we could take sea bass to habitat capacity again. By building reef we could take sea bass to a greater population that we had after WWII. 

Boy they had a lot of fish. 

There were more sea bass caught commercially, mostly by trawl, from 1950 to 1961 than in all decades since, all combined. 

A lot of large, toothy critters would feast on that abundance. 

I was amazed to read of a study off our coast using sound and locator tags that showed bottlenose dolphin using echolocation at night to feast on sea bass.. I'd have never guessed. Will have to go back and give that a thorough study. 

But for sea bass management? In 2015 we had the worst sea bass fishing in OC's history. I'm pretty sure management will allow our region to revisit that low rather than use experience to drive them upward. 

We're on our way down again. 

When nearing bottom in two or three years wind power will be under construction. 

Everyone will blame construction on sea bass's failing. 

But it will have actually been managing with MRIP/MRFSS catch data no one believed that blinded management to populations that would make management shine. 

Would that we could even fish one isolated reef or an entire artificial reef site down to 11 inches. From there I believe we'd see under 9 inch males beginning to spawn again. 

When that happens fishing improves rapidly. 

Cheers 

Monty


Capt Monty Hawkins 
Mhawkins@morningstarfishing.com 
Info@ocreefs.org

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