Monday, May 24, 2010

Fish Report 5/24/10

Fish Report 5/24/10
A Tog Finale 
CBass & The Kurkel Kurse
Thoughts On Our Temperate Reef Dwelling Demersals
Hi All,
Opening day weather for the brand new cannon-shot-start recreational sea bass derby was near delightful this year. So far as I know, no one died in heavy seas.
That's a good thing.
We're striving to get rid of derbies --where everyone rushes to extract fish-- in the commercial sector, and creating them in the recreational sector.
I even saw a tuna/marlin charter skipper wondering what size sinkers to get..
The bite on Saturday -opening day- was ferocious until the tide slacked. Come lunch I had a bunch of anglers pushing mid/upper teens; Thought we were going straight to the finish line..
However, in my eagerness to see who would limit first --daring Mr. Murphy to show himself by counting fish while the bite was on-- I irresponsibly invoked the Kurkel Kurse: We then had to fight for every additional sea bass; There would be no limits.  
She seems like such a nice lady.. bet she keeps a sea bass voodoo doll though; muttered incantations, pins its lip shut when some meanness sneaks out of her.
So, revisiting the curse of 24, Sharkbait & Dewayne came closest to getting the job done, each one cbass shy of a limit.
Two 4 1/2 pounders tied the pool - one of which had a hook removal scar.
A nice day; not epic, but much better than OK.
Sunday was pretty much the same with a few less fish.
Monday the throwback ratio climbed higher; We saw some anglers not get into double digits while others pushed well into the mid-teens. Skill and determination fared better than luck. 
Speaking of Panko bread crumbs & House Autry, the captain managed enough drops Monday to stink a pan..
And the house.
Leftover fried fish: A coastal tradition.
It's great to be fishing for sea bass again, especially with so many regulars gracing the rail. Wonderful.
One Saturday regular to the 23 spot -which I don't even sell anymore- and who has perhaps already been mentioned, may have carried some interesting product packaging home amongst his fish; This the boxes and hard plastic wrappings of certain items that might get used by adventurous and consenting persons, sold by stores with backrooms and pull curtains.
Wasn't just sea bass, seems Saturday was also opening day for raillery - the practical joking that inevitably escalates.
Funny so long as they keep it amongst themselves. . . . .
One thing I always see is gear separation; That given fairly equal skill, those with better gear catch more fish. Fellow fishing a 2 to 1 retrieve reel loaded with mono reminded me of my own sudden realization that reel retrieve really matters..
Long years ago my old friend Acie, who can still be found pedaling fishing paraphernalia to novice and expert alike in a Salisbury store where a child could get lost, was fishing next to me in 165 feet of water. The ling -red hake- were still prolific in those days, the "limit" was determined by ice, cooler size, willingness to get worn out, and how many you wanted to drop in a fry-daddy. Acie was using the then-brand new Shimano Speed Master 6.1:1 geared conventional reel. I was using a grinder, my Diawa 50-H with 4:1 gears. It was impossible, no matter how hard I tried, to stay even with him in bringing up fish.
Long before spectra lines; we both had similar skill in feeling the light bite, yet he would be going back down before I was finished coming up.
For the fishing we do 6 to 1 reels are best, 5 to 1 is fine too; This for the head-down--don't bother me I'm busy, out to maximize his recreational value via number of pan-fulls of sizzling sea bass type of angler. 
Four to one is still plenty OK if you're enjoyment comes not in blistered fingers..
"It was Grandad's" is OK too --you might want to oil the leather strap on the thumb drag though. If you want the antique fishing experience that's fine, just do not worry me with how they sure bit better for everyone else. Recognize that among the advantages some fishermen have acquired, a few are simply mechanical.
Then there's the 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 foot conventional graphite rods characterized by enough rod butt after the reel seat to fit comfortably under the armpit while reeling.
A lighter rod that carries its hook-setting ability nearly to the tip --a fast taper-- and a reel that brings the rig up with less turns of the handle.. Less fatigue - More fish.
Wonderful theory until a 10 year old kid next to you fishing great-Grandad's solid glass Harnell with an Ocean City flip-lever free-spool puts his rabbit-foot charm into overdrive.
But then that should be fun too.. 
Did I mention that it's BYOG?
Yes, the chartreuse gulp swimming mullet and various other flavors along with the new penny crab are performing.. Not a bait the boat's going to provide - It's bring your own Gulp......
My Sincere Thanks to everyone that helped to broaden our sea bass season.
Really. It's nice to be thinking about fishing instead of management.
But, now that I mention it, I did want to offer some distilled thoughts on management before seeking other distillations..
Have been meaning to work this in for weeks: Saw a fellow at the Recreational Fishing Summit, Brad Gentner, describe the state of fisheries economics. On Point! Please see -- very educational -- See especially pages 2 and 3.
Upon seeing this economic picture one could easily surmise that a thriving black sea bass fishery would be beneficial both in the commercial and recreational sectors as well as accretive to local, state & federal taxes. 
The mid-Atlantic's primary remaining temperate reef dwelling demersal, that is: Sea Bass are a Reef Fish, and the smallest member of the groupers too I understand, have been managed north of Hatteras for about 13 years.
Management's Score on this important reef species: Zero reef habitat discovered, Zero reef habitat protected, Zero reef habitat restored.
You see, what our system and many of its constituents either fail to grasp, or do not want to grasp, is the incredible value of habitat production: Where, strangely & requiring some measure of management, one can honestly expect more squirrels in ten 20 acre patches of woods than in two 5 acre patches.
That's how simple the argument is. With more trees you'll have more squirrels if you don't go shooting them all.
Discovering what's missing in both the nearshore and offshore mid-Atlantic reef system is crucial to fisheries restoration: It really is.
Where biologists gush unrestrained over painstaking repairs to corals in the case of ship strike on a Caribbean reef; As opposite to their cute puppy wooing, disdainful petulance lies equally unhidden in the case of artificial reef allowed to grow-in over time and on larger scales.
We've got coral growing on monofilament lost 30 years ago --Just on  fishing line; no rock, no steel, no concrete: Just 40 pound test that I may very well have bought at Paul's Tackle way back when..
Corals are trying to grow on any and every substrate.. and we manage reef fish using only catch-restriction.
Oysters growing on bulkheads..
You could sell a TV show where green-cast low & no light cameras pick up fleeting images of recreational overfishing and then have statisticians and managers testify to the 'facts' of the gross over-quota fishing..
"It's a fact; The flounder fishers on shore did catch more in two months than the charter/party industry will catch in 15 years. I saw bigfoot--I mean the data." 
Twilight Zone Bad-Science & Bad Statistics.
Yet no doctor would hesitate to use bone restoration techniques were someone in need. It is bone that carries all other life functions. Sometimes a cast does just fine, lets the bone heal itself. Other times an artificial lattice--a scaffolding, allows the bone to regrow into it's original shape: And, in worst cases the entire bone & joint must be artificially recreated.
Were we to see the loss of our reefs without the clouding of three layers of generational shift --if all the reef lost occurred in a year or two instead of 70 years-- there'd be no question that we need far more work than a common splint.
Restricting catch alone --by itself-- is not going to work.
We need an incredible amount of artificial reef restoration work.
I had high hopes that THIS would be the NOAA team that discovered the mid-Atlantic bight's remnants of a once-vibrant shallow water reef system..
Now BP's butted in line.
And our problems seem diminished.
We could get started though.

Hope to see you on the rail.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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