Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fish Report 5/25/08

Fish Report 5/25/08
Sea Bass Improve
Reef Raffle Rising
Hi All,
Early in the week we cheated the weatherman out of some cancelations; got some days in that seemed iffy. At that point we were still scratching along with bass/tog/bass catches. Light rails - enjoyable.
Thursday saw the first real bass catch of the year. Pretty fish and lots of 'em. 
Sea Bassing's since been fair to very good. A few limits even.
Fishing pressure on the reefs/wrecks over the holiday weekend has been intense. Saw one of our winter tog spots with 7 outboards fishing over it. There were more boats waiting nearby as if in queue.
I looked at that insanity and thought maybe we'd better hurry along with our reef building...
Caught the WBOC TV weather report Monday evening. Fellow was talking about 30 to 40 mile per hour winds. Scouring the NOAA marine forecasts from Sandy Hook to Virginia Beach showed nothing similar.
Stayed tight to the beach the next day - had gusts to at least 35 on the way in.
That's messed up. If he had it figured right, NOAA should have been able to warn mariners....
Snagged a piece of pipe with my anchor that day. It had been put out as artificial reef by the Ocean City Marlin Club back in the mid-60's; a time when marlin fishing 8 miles out was still fresh in local's minds.
Inside and out, the pipe had the most magnificent coral and sponge growth I've yet seen out of the water.
How many lobster, tog, sea bass and squid had spawned there I couldn't guess. First class seafloor habitat.
Took a bunch of pictures and 'released' it.
Fellow snagged a big string of mussels Saturday; didn't want them...While cleaning the mussels I found all kinds of worms and shrimp living in the tangle of threads that they make; the bissel threads that they use to attach to substrate and each other.
The survivalist type TV shows will occasionally have a desert sequence. Guy wanders along and finds a scorpion - dinner. Sand.
Sea bass cooked with steamed mussels. Reef. Now that's good living.
The sandy ocean floor isn't near as barren as it's terrestrial counterpart, but next to a piece of hard substrate it will have to suffer the comparison.
And why in the heck don't we have mariculuture for mussels. Has to be a market for something that tasty...
A 50/50 raffle onboard everyday for the Ocean City Reef Foundation.  Mate Ritch comes up Friday and sez.. "After all the subway car press, suddenly everyone's heard of the Reef Foundation. Yesterday and today are the 2 biggest raffles I've had yet."
These are my clients he's pitching the 50/50 to. If they're just learning about the foundation..
At the pre-deployment DNR press event for the Susan Power Reef, politicians spoke eloquently of Ocean City's 'fishing heritage'. Indeed it is rich: everything from pre-inlet surf-launched commercial fisheries; to a local trawler caught in a Russian factory ship's net 15 miles out; to Tuffy Bunting's plaque about white marlin: "Release Hell, Put 'Em On The Dock".
As a young man I hunted geese where the White Marlin Mall now stands. I broke many a claybird where Hoopers Crab House is. Friends that grew up in OC pushed a grocery cart full of decoys to the undeveloped marshes of 12th street to hunt duck before school.
Fairly recent as 'heritage' goes. Ain't coming back.
No condos, malls or restaurants in the ocean. Though squandered, we are not without hope of restoration. Artificial reef construction isn't about what was: it's about the future.
There's a lot of work to do before we have a habitat footprint that can sustain both the region's increasing fishing pressure and a rebuilt apex predator population.
Management is about reducing pressure - reducing the number of fish caught. Reef building is about expanding the habitat where fish can spawn, and shelter, and feed.
That coral covered piece of pipe I mentioned - times millions.
Habitat management, fisheries management and an aggressive reef program combined offer the possibility that our legacy will be of improved fisheries and greater opportunity.
That'd be a switch.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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