Monday, August 07, 2006

Fish Report 8/7/06

Fish Report 8/7/06       
High Summer Picking
Hi All,
Just a pick. Couple decent shots of fish in the last week but mostly working hard to get something going on.
We did have an 8 1/2 pound flounder and a few 5s and 6s but the catch rate has decreased of late. I hope it rebounds! Might have even set a new state record for winter flounder, a black back. Jury's still out s'far as I know.
Sea bass too are tough to keep coming. A slow but steady pick is all I can ask of it. There are a few over 4 lbs now and again.
A really good angler might end the day with 10 - 12 keeper cbass and a few flounder. It's a mess for dinner; maybe even a couple nights worth.
C'mon fall!
And c'mon croakers!
The waters off our coast are above 80 degrees. One small pocket of water I went through was 88. Great Scott.
Flying fish, manta rays, a school of amberjack and lots of immature sharks are all signs of high summer.  
As is the White Marlin Open Tournament which began today. A lot of boats went out in what seemed a favorable forecast; it was certainly calm in the morning. I was thinking of them as we got a proper thrashing on the way home though. Just a short, sharp, slap you around kind of sea but building rapidly. Hope all made it home safely.
I have spoken at length with many fellows that worked as mates full time back in the 1950s. Mostly they worked on Talbot Street aboard the charter boats. Since most of the guys in the tournament this week are running more than 60 miles, some 80 or 90, off to waters so deep a fathometer can't read bottom ~ and that before they even get a line wet ~ I thought I'd pass along this tale.
Everyone 'knows' about the Jackspot. It's 20 miles to the SE and has several well defined edges. The fishing there was legendary; that's how Ocean City became the "White Marlin Capitol of the World". 
The Sugar Lump and Winter Quarter Shoal are 16 to 20 NMs south of OC. and were not fished often. But sometimes they were; the charters would catch white marlin and dolphin(mahi) right on top of the hills; they could see the bottom. 
Twenty three feet's a long way from a thousand fathoms.
Plenty of work to do before that fishery is recreated. It could be done.
Water quality, target species management, and prey base restoration ought to do it.
We'll get right on it.
Or ought to.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076
Fish Report 8/7/06       
Fish Report 7/30/06
Flat Bass?      
Hi All,
This happened last year too. I don't know what to make of it. (except dinner!)
In the last few days sea bass have tapered mightily and flounder have come on strong. There's been a few dandies, up to 8 pounds, but most are a just an inch or 2 over the 15 1/2 inch size limit. There have even been keeper doubles. Two drops like that and you're bagged out ~ 4 is the creel limit!
Sea bass are still in the mix, but much slower. I'm fishing the same type of spots for both species. Today we had several mixed doubles - a good bass and a good flounder on one drop.
Believe me, it isn't 'red hot' fishing, but it has it's moments.
And now, having written about it, you can bet the flounder and sea bass will both flip me the fin! No worries, we'll find something to scratch a dinner up with. 
Any day now we'll find croakers thick. I like to lay into 'em and then go do something else. It's really nice when they cooperate! Not yet though...
If you're purely into sea bass, "...the best is yet to be." Mid September or October will see the start of the fall cbass crush - the weeding. It's coming.
My crew and I made the Washington Post today. Angus Phillips wrote a kind piece about his trip last Tuesday.
One of the things he was keenly interested in, besides Tucker and Chef's next crack(Boy, they were in rare form!), was our region's corals. He, like so many others, had no idea that we have coral reefs off the DelMarVa coast. (Video is still on my website - Yes, one day I'll make another! I wrote the script targeting management)
It really is odd; I mean you can review fisheries literature from around the world and see all manner of protection for coral reefs. If a ship strikes a reef in Florida people are getting fired and insurance companies are digging deep for restoration funds...
Here in the mid-Atlantic? No worries - there are no reefs. You can drag tons of steel or a trawl net across any piece of bottom. The only risk is losing gear.
The very best habitat source document for our region's seafloor is Frank Stiemle and Christine Zetlin's "Reef Habitats in the Middle Atlantic Bight: Abundance, Distribution, Associated Biological Communities, and Fishery Resource Use".
In that document there are two areas of rocky bottom mentioned - the Shrewsbury Rocks off of northern Jersey and "some rock deposits 35 - 40 miles off of Delaware" which would be the Cape May Rocks.
Great night! There's a lot of bottom left out of that picture! 10s of thousands of acres I'm sure.
The authors freely admit that there isn't much information to go on and that they're findings are only what is currently 'known'.
Oh, it's high time we learned a little more...
Anyway, I wonder if flounder eat 3 to 5 inch sea bass?
There's a lot to it. Increasing the footprint of our regions reefs through habitat protection would sure help.
High summer's no time for freezer filling, but there's still good days to be had.
I'll see you on the rail.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076
Fish Report 7/30/06

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