Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fish Report 6/20/13

Fish Report 6/20/13 
Cbassing OK to V. Good 
A Day Off
Supporting Sharks In Number 

Sailing Everyday (even Sunday 6/23 – lots of spots open then & during the week)
Reservations For Sea Bass Trips at 
410 - 520 - 2076. 
See much more info at 

Back to the deep on Sunday, June 30th. Take a couple guys –- not as deep, no goldens — Jig for sea bass and bluelines (bait's OK too) — 2:30AM till 7 PM(ish) — $300.00 — 8 Sells Out (so crew can fish some too!) — Boat Goes Slow & Not In A Straight Line As I'm Also Looking For New Spots — Manual Reels Only With No More Than 2 Hooks — Weather Sensitive Trip — Leave A Good Contact Number — As Always, Mates Work For Gratuities. 

Regular 8 Hr trips $110.00 - 7AM to 3PM – Saturdays 6AM to 3:30PM - $125.00 
LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Are (far too!) Common - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way.. 

Be A Half Hour Early - We Like To Leave Early.
Clients Arriving Late Will See The West End Of An East Bound Boat..  

5,208 'Oyster Castle' Reef Blocks By The Rail. Now 1,560 at Jimmy's — 578 at Ake's.. 

Greetings All, 
Windy? Yes, but generally worth the wait when we get out. First time I've ever seen cbass bite better in June than May. 
Lost Wednesday to rainy weather. Tuesday we had a few folks in the low teens, Monday too. Seeing a couple flounder almost everyday.. Perhaps we'll start focusing more effort on them.
Friday past was lost to high winds; Saturday the best day sea bassing this year.  
Had a great bite another day mid-week on the 12th—fish were even hitting a 4 ounce jig—followed by another blow day.. 

Lost Friday & Saturday the week before with tropical storm Andrea and offered all those cancelled-trip clients Sunday, which was wide open — No Takers. 

Hmmm.. Good weather but no clients on a Sunday.. 
Senior deckhand Mike said he'd just as soon take a day off -me too- so we met with a few friends to cover fuel at 2:30 AM Sunday morning & went tile fishing. 
Meandering on offshore at a fuel saving speed looking for new-to-me wrecks & rocks.. No discoveries this trip except that some bearings were ruled out as targets. 
Starting our drifts in almost 900 feet of water, we caught golden tiles on each pass: a wonderful day. Exhausting though - no electric reels allowed on my boat.

I think Saturday past's sold-out sea bass trip was every bit as fun. Had 3 of my most long-time clients aboard, fellows who were fishing with me back when I was a new deckhand. Showed 'em some nice sea bassing while we cut-up with their sons & grandsons. The good stuff of life – the best. 

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council passed the Omnibus Amendment for Recreational Accountability Measures. This hurdle was cleared because Council members plainly see our much-touted new method of estimating recreational catch, MRIP, is not fully up to the task of delivering accurate & timely catch-estimates. However, the new method of establishing recreational 'over harvest of quota' must still be reviewed and approved by NOAA/NMFS. 
There will be a comment period for that too: Everyone who thinks NOAA should tighten up on tog regulations because NJ jetty fishermen outfished the whole coast in March/April 2010 will be commenting, they will want to retain catch-data's firm grip on rec-fishers' quotas/seasons & ever-tightening regulatory restriction. I hope anglers who disagree with these sorts of estimates will voice a different opinion when the time comes. 

Capt. Mark Sampson of the Fish Finder has been deep into shark research for decades. Lately he's been tagging makos with satellite tags – amazing science.. 
(Among the most interesting of trips offered in our area is his "shark school" half day charters — take a couple youngsters..) 
Here's a link to his latest article on the Coastal Fisherman website.. 

And a link to the satellite tag info from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation..

Ecosystem considerations become larger & larger as restoration efforts climb the food web. Fishery management becomes more difficult still when we look down the web at what prey species eat, where they spawn – apex predators need an enormous base under them converting calories all the while.. (and, if you really enjoy the exercise, consider the Mandersonian/Friedlandian view of the first weeks of life when larvae are drifting in a far different ocean that we're accustomed to thinking of – a place where small jellies may eat sea bass by the tens of millions..)
We have over-restored spiny dogfish, a small shark, to a greater number than has likely ever existed—they must eat.
We seek to restore billfish, the tunas & great sharks; marine mammals & turtles as well.. 
While electronic tagging data has these large oceanic sharks, mako, paying no mind to depth or distance from shore, in many instances their food, their prey, does. 
Management is beginning to tackle menhaden, herring & shad as ecosystem species. Its hard work to create politically  acceptable reductions in catch, but the work is begun. I look forward to management's continued efforts to use other tools aside from catch-restriction. You can bet habitat & water quality are important; that's why century-old dams are coming down..  
Still, what must atlantic and other mackerels, tuna of all types, bluefish and other oceanic shark prey-species populations look like in order to support the numbers of apex predators that we'd like to see available to fishing effort? 

I remember when the "Slick Chick" caught the state record mako just 8 miles offshore  ..but of course we still had abundant bluefish at the Bass Grounds back in the mid-1980s.. 
To reclaim some prey species' former nearshore range we'll need improved water quality; less algae-green water, more blue: To make more of our ocean's shelf waters viable & productive habitat again we'll need restored oysters in the billions cleaning/filtering estuarine outflows..

We should be vigilant with croaker & sea trout populations too because sharks, especially young sharks, appear to thrive on them. It very likely became an evolutionary development, a factor in successful spawning location, that YOY sharks along DelMarVa had this abundant prey every fall. 
In my experience sharks eat sea bass & red hake also. I have often seen where a lightly fished reef/wreck will have large sharks about. 
Squid spawn on hardbottoms everywhere else in the world but we don't "know" where they spawn here. When I've seen large knots of squid inshore its been on hard bottoms overgrown with sea whip….  

What strikes me most when I'm off off in the deep, on my way to the canyons for tiles or tuna, isn't just the vastness of the sea but that there truly isn't a whole lot of natural rocky bottom between our nearshore reef remnants and the 100 fathom edge, at least not that I've found yet — not off here. 
There can easily be more than 10 or more miles between natural hard-bottom reefs, much more when measured north & south.. 
Our sea bass move from far offshore in winter to nearshore spawning grounds in spring/early summer. While I'm convinced there have been immense declines in our natural nearshore cbass spawning habitat, offshore remains more of a mystery. 
There may be, very likely was, a large area of natural substrate covered-over at a 30 fathom dumpsite, a "municipal sewage sludge" site east of Ocean City. 
There are several large areas of rock still in existence with great distances between them—rock bottoms known to serve as winter habitat between 30 & 50 fathoms. 
Shipwrecks on the deeper part of the shelf are enormous artifacts in our perception, but minuscule in their service to the marine ecosystem; yet they also serve as important hardbottom & especially winter habitat for sea bass. 

We just don't know of present-day or yesteryear's reef habitat importance even to sea bass, let alone it's scheme in the greater food web. 
The Mid-Atlantic covers an immense area of ocean. It's hard to comprehend that only a small sliver, a tiny fraction within that area is actually useful to our reef fish — is actually reef.

This summer, soon, NOAA & NMFS will have begun several projects with research boats equipped with serious electronics looking at our nearshore hardbottoms. 
There's another ongoing project too out of UMES with multiple Go Pro cameras mounted on sea bass traps. Designed as an experiment to see if sea bass populations can be better estimated by stationary video gear than with traditional trawl methods, these scientists are seeing first-hand the importance of complex bottom habitat to having ANY population of sea bass.. 

It always seems a keystone is found that's vital to any biological restoration. Repair of our marine ecosystem, the Mid-Atlantic Ocean, is an incredible undertaking; I believe the marine & estuarine hardbottoms are vital to re-establishing abundance in all of our fisheries. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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