Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fish Report 7/21/13

Fish Report 7/21/13 
Summer Catching 
Science & Experience 

Sailing Everyday

Reservations For Sea Bass/Flounder Trips at 410 - 520 - 2076. 

See much more info at   

Bring A Fish Cooler With ICE For Your Party.. We want to avoid keeping the chips & hoagies cold while fresh fish cook in a hot bucket.. 


From Coastal Fisherman: See Our Latest "Show You Around The Boat" Video For New Clients (many regulars have pics in it). 


Eight Hour 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..  


5,904 'Oyster Castle' Reef Blocks By The Rail. Now 1,798 at Jimmy's — 890 at Ake's.. New truckload sponsored by An Anonymous George, Allied Concrete, Morning Star 50/50 Raffle & the Ocean City Reef Foundation.. 

Greetings All, 
I'd like to see Friday's fishing everyday. 
One stop shopping. Pretty sea bass, a few ling; Some folks very close to a limit.. 
Most days we're working harder for a catch. Sending almost everyone home with a good fish fry. 
Despite an incredible calm, there weren't many fluke/flounder this week. Mostly sea bass.  
Then, Saturday, when it was borderline-rough; Windy enough for me to issue a weather warning advising, and I quote: "If you closed (a locally famous bar) last night, this would be a great time for you to reschedule" — Well.. the boyz in the bachelor party predictably left a lot of room at the rail for crew to fish. I give these guys credit though: Despite a few sorrowful groans, there were no whiners. 

Hardly a scientifically sound sample; I have asked numerous experienced anglers how many times they went in the ocean with a hangover: "Once!" 
I suppose ignoring the lessons of history lies at the core of wisdom. Learning to recognize the experience of others as having great value must come the hard way least for those of us with a Y chromosome.  

Ahh, digression aside; Crew (making use of all that rail-space where no one was fishing) caught more keeper flounder Saturday (when they shouldn't have bit at all in heavy seas) then we did all week (when they should have been biting fine in a flat-calm..) 
Summer is all about sea bass & flounder. One will bite better than the other everyday. I can not predict it. We find out which species while fishing.. 

Get another chance this week — looks like a LOT of calm weather coming. 
Waves have fallen flat as I write. Cancelled my 18 hour trip for sea heights days ago — oops. 
Maybe – Just Maybe — Go Filming In The Deep Next Sunday.. (email if interested) 

I believe it was Thursday last when, in the calmest of calms, we spotted a shark finning at the surface on our way home. I slowed the boat and many passengers came forward to see. I was expecting a decent hammerhead: Mako. 
Good sized & fat, probably better than 300 pounds; I bet it's feeding on abundant cownose rays.. 

Scientists have an enormous job on their hands as fishery management shifts away from 'single species' to ecosystem based management. (EBM in their world) 
That mako would have been feeding on bluefish & false albacore 30 & more years ago – tuna even. 
Rebuilding predators w/o consideration for their prey is causing trouble. 
Achieving real fisheries restoration demands we consider the whole food web & not just the apex predators we enjoy catching. 

If I were in charge of collecting hotel room taxes, I'd want to make sure there were lots & lots of FISH  in the sea for sharks to eat..

Part of that food web base: Every couple weeks I write to the folks at the top of fisheries management asking them to FOCUS on our sea bass. 
True statement: I fished one wreck in 1991 that produced more cbass a year than all our wrecks, artificial reefs & natural reefs do today combined—for all our party/charter boats combined: In the last days of unregulated fishing, that one wreck was more productive than everything we've got now put together. 
But that was hardly the best fishing I ever saw. That occurred in the 5th & 6th year of sea bass management, in the early 2000s — when EVERY REEF (in fair cubic measure) was as loaded as that one wreck in 1991.. 
Management & the Environmental Community think I've lost my marbles. They think "It Must Be  That Bigger Spawning Sea Bass Will Produce More Larvae & Therefore More Juveniles & Therefore More Fish For Harvest." 
The flaw in their thinking is only exposed by our experience. 
If NOAA will separate Atlantic City to VA Beach and LOOK AT THEIR OWN DATA, they'll see we had incredibly more productive reefs & fantastically better fishing with an 11.5 inch size limit.. 
Results of early management that slipped by unnoticed at NOAA Command while regulators eyes were focused on MuRFFS catch estimates in coastwide collection, While managers were ONLY watching-out for overfishing: Here & In Many Instances Fishers' Experience Would Have Great Value If Used To Bolster Restoration Efforts. 
Important decisions are made everyday & in every walk of life without science-based data. That's why science and management are different, not one discipline, not one academic study. That's why science should be a component of a decision making process and not the whole of it. Science is forever an incomplete work, an ongoing work — The manager must call it like he sees it for regulation's purpose & not await further data. 
Yet every aspect of fisheries is now driven, by law, from the "Best Available Science" — Managers MUST use whatever has a 'science' label slapped on it.  
Sadly for recreational fisheries, much of our "best available science" is driven by the most putrid data; the recreational catch estimates. 

For sea bass, using recreational catch estimates in coastwide collection while seeking no scientific understanding of regional fishery response to previous regulation will soon leave lower Mid-Atlantic anglers targeting a population of sea bass smaller than at anytime before or during management. 

NOAA press releases correctly claim: "Management Prevents Recreational Overfishing." 
But they omit, "by reducing reef-fish production to historical lows." 

We're not overfishing, not by a long-shot. Sea bass are in decline due to regulation. Sea bass that would have once spawned even in their first year of life—under twelve months of age; when EVERY sea bass spawned in age one: now our 12.5 inch size limit forces a biological population response where most sea bass begin spawning at age three. 
That's right when we're allowed to keep them. 

This week coming a NOAA ship, Hugh Sharp, and a smaller boat towing sidescan sonar will begin to investigate my allegations of natural coral reefs in 60 to 140 feet of water off our coast. 
Tried once before in 2008, those investigators found nothing. 
But we kept catching reef fish & videoing corals on those 'non-existent' reefs.. NOAA has new folks in high office that are curious: Curiosity fuels scientific discovery.    

Making sea bass is easy: Roll rocks off a barge and force them to spawn young. 
Lifted by habitat, sea bass would carry a lot of other marine species up with them including: tautog, red hake, summer flounder, star coral & sea whip, loligo squid, and many predators of each. There's a similar roll-call in our estuaries too. 
Thus far management has ignored every possible habitat aspect while forcing inshore sea bass to spawn 2 years later than in the last 50 years. 

A regulatory face-plant; it could all change very quickly. 

The art & science of fishery management requires filtering science's worst failings from the decision making process while including obvious result from previous actions—the good & bad based from the experience of fishers, even if scientifically unproven. 

True abundance awaits.  


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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