Monday, June 11, 2007

Fish Report 6/11/07

Fish Report 6/11/07
Sea Bass &
Hi All,
As is common come summer, the fishing is more variable and the passengers occasionally sunburned.
Mostly working hard for our sea bass. Easy some days, like Saturday's limit-out and home early, but occasionally struggling to get folks into double digits. Still nice fish, pool winners are averaging 4+ pounds. Flounder have been scarce so far, just a few. I look forward to that changing. Tog are only the odd bonus fish; we see 2 or 3 a day. Some bonus though! We had two over 15 pounds this week and about twenty tags. 
Many of the sea bass are loaded with krill; feeding up in the water column, "off the bottom" as we say. According to Gosner's reference these are big-eyed krill, the small shrimp-like animals that whales feed on as well. 
'Spect I need to find plastic "Gulp" krill, put 'em on tiny #22 gold trout hooks - that's what they're feeding on. 
Thankfully, we can still nick a few on clams and various Gulp baits - the fleas, shrimp and crabs have worked well. I hope the chemist that came up with the idea has a piece of the action...
This feeding behavior makes the 'shelter' function of reef-like habitat more obvious. Sea bass will be 10 - 20 - even 30 feet off the bottom but never far from structure. Had they no need of a reef to scurry back to, to hide in, the cbass would be scattered all across the shelfwaters. It's a time when I keep a careful eye on the fishfinders hopeful of a new addition to my log of wrecks and reefs. Many of the spots that I fish offer little in the way of profile, as in a wreck that is easily seen on a depth sounder, and are only a collection of rocks or sandstone slabs with growth on 'em ~ natural reef.
Did find a new spot Sunday in fact. Just a quick shot of nice fish, didn't last long, but then no other spot did either. Shoot and move...
Odd. At least some recreational fishers are switching to scented plastic baits. The last few years there've been several new products come out. Ripple effects remain to be seen. Live/frozen bait market economics will surely shift. When we see the boys on 'Deadliest Catch' stapling a strip of scented material in place of bait and the crews on the multi-million dollar sportfishers rigging their dredges with 8 inch plastic "hoos" we'll know the change is real.
Ocean City lost one of it's favorite captains last week to a massive heart attack. Capt. Dale Brown ran the Tortuga's flounder trips for many a year. But at 77 years of age he'd seen many fisheries from the helm, often at their peak. Clamming, trawling, charter fishing ~ he was one of the fellows that told me about catching white marlin at the Bass Grounds scarcely 8 miles offshore. Several times in the early 60's his largest fish came from that area.
Baseline shift in the fisheries complicates rebuilding efforts. If you've been fishing a species for 10 years and then see an increase in catches you might say that fishing has recovered. However, if those 10 years were at the bottom, your 'baseline' -what you accept as the state of things- is quite low; recovery might very well still be a ways off.
If you took all the changes that have occurred at the Bass Grounds in the last 50 years and condensed that transition into 5 years there'd be a terrible cry from the fishing community. But no, our acceptance of today's fishing is based on our experiences ~ our baseline is skewed, the transition's been gradual.
We -as a country- really need to find the Capt. Dales out there and pick their brain. The old-time trawl skippers, trap fishers, clammers, charter operators ~ all of 'em. There's information there that's going to be invaluable if we're to recreate fisheries as they once were. 
Meanwhile, we're scratching up some nice cbass dinners ~ putting a few in the freezer too some days. It's not going to be an easy summer of sea bassing, but doable.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservations 410 520 2076

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