Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fish Report 4/13/08

Fish Report 4/13/08
~100 Tags
~A Discussion of Fish Populations & Artificial Reef Destined to Glaze the Eye and Perhaps Help Steer Maryland Toward a Reef Program
~Reef Foundation Dinner - Hall's Restaurant - Wednesday, May 7th from 5-8 PM.
Hi All,
Nicked a few days out of it. Tight fog Thursday and Friday; go slow and make a lot of noise. As often happens, it took a big wind to push the stalled front out; cancelling Saturday.
I'm opening up the book for next week, Wednesday Thru Sunday, April 16th through the 20th and still have space for Monday the 14th. Unfortunately, Saturday's already booked for a bit of science. Otherwise we'll be tog fishing - 15 sells out the rail - crabs provided. 
Despite the poor visibility, fishing was decent with limits and lots of keepers tagged and released.
One fellow claimed to have had a precognitive dream of catching a big fish. An allegation backed up by his buddy ragging on him for going-on about it on the ride down. (Something about his age and what dreams used to be made of..)
Then, with music from Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone," he swept the pool.
Nice fish too. Ought to keep a pen and paper by the bed in case he dreams about lottery numbers...
Sunday's rain forecast had folks put off. Lightest crowd this year, on the calmest day. No rain. 20 tags by the rail at 8:37 - 40 at 9:12 - 70 at 9:58 - 100th at 11:32  ~ Uncle!
Had we fished there a decade ago there would have been no tog whatsoever - none. Natural reef and shipwrecks nearby have not become impoverished.
There are fisheries staff  in the highest points that argue the validity of an artificial reef program. The thought goes that artificial reef simply concentrates the existing fish population making it easier to target them. Publishing the locations ensures the fish get pummeled.
At least for our coastal bottom dwelling reef fish.
Fishery Management being essential; building reef-like habitat initiates natural life sequences that trigger a population increase in fish that use the habitat.
Don't know what the scientific philosophers such as Kuhn, Hume, or Popper would have made of my argument. Not much I'd wager, but I can't digest their work either..
This fisherman's experience is simply that the addition of a hard substrate ~rock, concrete, steel~ to an otherwise less productive sand bottom provides settlement places for the growth that defines a reef such as mussels, coral, or oysters. An eruption of life ensues.
It may be that striped bass or sea trout utilize additions to the local food web, as in grass shrimp on an estuarine reef, creating positive effects in fisheries not associated with being reef habitat dependant.
By not building enough reef -just some- fishing pressure would then appear to justify the argument against any reef building; that the fish will concentrate and get pummeled ~ or regulations will constantly tighten and fishers get pummeled.
Reef construction has to be a sincere effort.
Chesapeake oyster reef habitat can realistically be claimed at greater than 85% lost, especially if a pre-civil war habitat footprint estimate were used. Seliger and Boggs (1988) demonstrate a higher percentage lost in certain locations.
Artificial reef can put it back.
Despite the fantastic gains of the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative over the last 15 months, The Maryland Department of Natural Resources does not have a reef program.
I think they should.
The Governor's Fisheries Task Force should strongly consider it. Fisheries management alone can not accomplish what habitat restoration and management can.
Maryland should have a program that creates solid, long lasting restoration progress.
If you agree, you ought to tell 'em.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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