Sunday, June 02, 2013

Fish Report 6/2/13

Fish Report 6/2/13 
Cbass Bite Improves 
Been Diving 
Okeanos Explorer

X-Long Cbass June 13th 5:30 to 4:30 - $150.00 — Big Boat Ride — Resolute Anglers Preferred!  

Sailing Everyday 
Reservations For Sea Bass Trips at 
410 - 520 - 2076. 
See much more info at 
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 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.. (right Murray?) 

Our problem isn't overfishing, Our problem is figuring out how to pry managers' attention away from what is false, fake & misleading and getting them to look at real biological response of cbass to management's measures..

4,948 'Oyster Castle' Reef Blocks By The Rail — 1,420 @ Jimmy's Reef — Now 476 @ Ake's Reef And Growing – Reef Foundation barge loaded with concrete pipe; Will go to Ake's or Jimmy's soonest depending on weather window.

Greetings All, 
The sea bass bite has improved. Given weather to work with we can scratch up a catch..  
Coming into the holiday weekend, a dying swell with calm winds Friday lured us into a NW wind trap: Calming down.. calmer..  then picking up 15 to 20 — 20 to 30 — gusting over 40.. Had to tuck under the beach to avoid the worst of 35-knot wind-driven waves. 
Got in on time with half-off coupons around. 

Saturday? Fugedaboutit.. Memorial weekend's gale saved many a sea bass from the frying pan. 

Sunday we picked & measured; boxed some. Lowest low tide I've ever seen behind that NWesterly.. 
Monday was calm; a pretty day on the water. Nicked a few.. 
Tuesday I had a special trip – a diving trip with professional u/w videographer Nick Caloyianis and friend to reef building, Ted Green. Last time was Nick's choice – Radford. This time I picked the dive — Natural Reef.. More on that below. Nick & Ted reported 54 degrees on the bottom, up 10 degrees from May 10th.. 

Wednesday's weather concerns had me call clients the night before with a high-seas warning. Some cancelled. 
Naturally the winds were lighter than forecasted & sea bass bit the best they have this season.. 

As the old fisherman's adage goes: If you listen to the weather you'll go broke; If you don't, you'll die. 
On Thursday's x-long cbass trip Coach Bill had our first limit with splendid fish around. Friday & Saturday were much better than I'd hoped.. 

Sunday the weather got me again. Sent everyone home with dinner and a partial credit for another trip.. 
Weather will break Tuesday afternoon – back at it Wednesday.. 

This is not the sea bass fishing we can achieve, this is not what it will look like when management's gotten cbass right: It is the fishing we have however. 
We're averaging 6 to 12 fish per/person in a 20 fish limit with sometimes even 100 throwbacks each. Pool winners are generally over 4 lbs.. If you need to fill a cooler – stay away. 
It can not remain that I would sometimes catch & keep more sea bass in one day than we now catch in two summer months. Management can't keep accusing us of overfishing and not realize they're being mislead by terrible catch estimates.. 

Bottom temps up 10 degrees; we're seeing a lot of turtles in warming water. 
Loggerhead turtles eat what's on our reefs – lobster, crab, perhaps even fish. Old–timers would always stop to try a spot with turtles, would make a test drift. I've got two very good reef fishing spots that came from turtle sightings… 

Saw two turtles Tuesday when I took Nick & Ted to a few patches of natural reef; Reef here long before the first ship ever sank; Reef I've been trying to get scientifically 'found' for almost 15 years.. 
I've only seen back-of-the-camera shots: Video & Pics came out splendidly. Sponges & whips, many hydrozoas & bryzoas.. will get a link to these pics soonest. 
As long as I've been at this.. these are our first professional photos & video of this reef type. 
I can't wait.

NOAA & NMFS are coming this summer. 
With two different studies, three really, we shouldn't remain ignorant of our sunlight dependent temperate coral reef ecologies much longer. 

I thought the same in 2008 though when the brand-spanking new 50 million dollar research boat, Bigelow, showed up for a week long cruise to survey where I said our corals grew. I thought science would pick it up & run; the provisions in the Magnuson-Stevens Act for Essential Fish Habitat seem so clear — Protect, Preserve & Enhance.. 
ROV pilots were off that week – no video or stills. 
Sonar crew were off too — no electronic mapping. 
Much touted hull mounted multi-beam sonar was so new no one could read it. 
They pulled a 2 meter beam-trawl & proved there were no sea bass where they towed. 
Of course they didn't tow over the reefs for fear of losing the trawl. 
Didn't look like "reef building" corals anyway. 
Habitat Science stepped backward that week. 
Where the Bigelow said there were only 'sand waves' in coordinates I had personally given the scientific team – two years later I dropped an underwater camera attached to a $99.00 Walmart TV and showed scientists rocks—not sand. 
Where once many sea whips grew upon that broad rocky area, now only a few whips remained protected in rock fissures; all flat surfaces were scrapped bare…   

Friday this week we cleared the inlet to see NOAA's Okeanos Explorer, sister to the Bigelow, outside OC inlet. Reprovisioning I hope & nothing more urgent; this voyage and preceding forays into the deep have been very fruitful. Those folks aren't just finding rock & deep sea corals beyond our canyon walls, they're finding new life forms in cold methane seeps far offshore..
Instead of chemolithic-autotrophic-hyper-thermophiles; these creatures of the hots seeps, the black-smokers, the hydrothermal vent communities where somehow life survives at 450 degrees F; These animals they're finding feed themselves from chemicals too, are chemo-autotrophs, are able to thrive w/o sunlight — oxygen optional — in cold environments.. 

We have these methane seeps, here - off our coast. Its cutting edge science happening right now. 

But there's no tog or cbass off there. 
Mussels growing on these seeps would taste awful – at least to us. 
No lobster fishery..

My primary fishery, sea bass, suffers closure after closure because of make-believe data, while real-world marine habitat production remains make-believe. 

Our reefs' importance undiscovered; now climate change is a 'culprit.' 
Warming waters should have no effect whatever on sea bass in the lower Mid-Atlantic — not yet, they're doing fine in Georgia & South Carolina. Its Not Climate Change That's Hampering Our Sea Bass Populations. 
Warming waters are, however, turning nearshore New England rocks into black sea bass spawning grounds. 
Where science in the 1970s had the sea bass fishery stopping at about Block Island, now even New Hampshire is beginning to catch a few. 
Not a population shift north, this is habitat expansion—not a southern population contraction. Managed right, expanded habitat should create a population explosion when measured throughout the species range. 
Instead, management is statistically stymied by catch estimates; is holding all this new habitat's production & catch against us as if it were a real part of the old "Block Island south" fishery; We're tripping quota triggers that are set far too lightly.. 
From virtual collapse in the mid/late 1980s; the cbass fishery was better off with our first attempts at self-management beginning in 1992. We swiftly had a LOT more fish with just a 9 inch limit in the early/mid 90s. We had incredibly better fishing & numbers of fish when management first began with simple size limit restriction in the late mid-1990s and into the early 2000s.. 
Today's regulatory complexity arises from catch estimate accusations of overfishing that are unfit to line a bird cage: The tighter regulations become in response to bad data's accusations of overfishing, the worse cbass fishing gets.. 
Our problem isn't overfishing, Our problem is figuring out how to pry managers' attention away from what is false, fake & misleading and getting them to look at real biological response of cbass to management's measures.. If today's spawning production had remained constant from early management—without benefit of today's larger fish on every reef—we'd have an embarrassingly easy fishery, like it was in 2003.. 
Instead, our spawning production is, I believe, at its lowest point ever despite also being under the strictest management
Larger male sea bass on every reef are keeping the little fellows out of the picture..

Need to reinvigorate spawning in the lower Mid-Atlantic's sea bass. Just dropping the size limit an inch would do it. 

Need to discover our nearshore coral reefs and find their history — make repairs. 

When all the folks working inshore on oyster restoration win, and they will with industrial scale & method; Oysters filtering Bay waters of algae & nutrients will turn our ocean waters blue again. 

For at least four decades our ocean has grown greener, not more blue. 
We have diminished marine seafloor fish habitat, not restored it—science hasn't even found it. 

Both marine & estuarine hard-bottom habitats are at the very heart of fishery restoration. 
We'll know we got it right when folks are catching white marlin at the Jackspot again..


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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