Friday, August 18, 2006

Fish Report 8/18/06

Fish Report 8/18/06
Squid: Key species?
Hi All,
The fishing part of this report won't vary much from my last. It's still the heart of August - traditionally the slowest bottom fishing.
It's not been without bright spots though. We even had one day where many were in the upper teens, a few in the twenties and one fellow limited out on sea bass. Naturally, that was the day after I sent the report that said only a skilled angler could even get to double digits.
That's fishing. It has not been the norm.
Flounder continue to be 'everywhere'. We've caught flounder from 40 to 135 feet. Not especially thick but enough to get your attention. Most everyday there's a couple guys with their 4 fish limit. Usually there's a 5 or 6 pounder in the mix. Personally, I'm enjoying the fluking around the wrecks and reefs. It's as challenging as toggin' I think. Lose just as many sinkers too!
Today the 1/2 day boats caught croakers pretty good. Sounded like a better sign than they'd been seeing. The fish were moving though. When they settle and start to feed we'll try some quick stops on 'em.
I tried a piece of natural rocky bottom a while back. The screen was loaded! Marks 20 feet up in the water column right to the bottom. Looked awesome. Set up on a big two anchor spread and --- goose egged! Zero fish.
But folks were coming up with no bait. Some regulars described the bite as though the fish were 'sucking'. After about 10 minutes we finally had a guy snag a squid - then another...
I'd seen it before but it's been a few years. I wrote some thoughts on it in '01 and, to my knowledge, they haven't been proven wrong.
I think squid use areas of sea whip - a soft, branching, tree-like coral - as spawning habitat.
The last time I found squid thick I joked about it on the radio - even put the location on the air. File that under stupid captain tricks. That evening there were trawlers working them. The next day there was a fleet of 'em...
Kept off the radio this time! I'd have given anything to go back out and drop the underwater camera on them; it was not to be. The wind blew, visibility was zip. No joy. I still can't prove it!
If the goal of management is fisheries restoration then surely squid are part of the plan. (yes, there is a management plan for squid. It's one plan where small mesh trawl bycatch has been heavily weighed and resulted in closed areas - especially to protect juvenile scup from becoming bycatch discards. It's been a long time since I read it but I doubt that there are any habitat considerations in the plan nor are there any considerations for their role as prey for larger predators.) 
I have written numerous anecdotes about 'how fishing used to be' in this area. Often times I've mentioned that marlin fishers would target inshore shoals - even Great Gull Shoal scarcely 5 miles out. Yes, to catch marlin!
They all have areas nearby where I think sea whip once flourished. (and isn't there now)
This year's White Marlin Open had numerous fish caught within 40 miles I'm told. Weights on the fish were up from recent years. The fish were well fed on squid. "Bellies full of 'em"...
See any connection there?
It is certainly possible that up until the very early 1960's that there could have been large populations of squid coming far inshore to spawn. All of the fishers from that era that I've interviewed rigged only squid as bait. (on wire at that - no fluorocarbon then!) Predators follow the bait.
A great big piece to the puzzle I think.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076
Fish Report 8/18/06

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