Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fish Report 6/25/14

Fish Report 6/9/14 
Sea Bass 
Fluke Soon 
An Ecosystem Consideration  

Taking Reservations for July & August "Whatever's Biting On The Reef Trips" - Think Flounder!  

Sailing Daily For Sea Bass. Saturday's 6:00 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00..
Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - 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 always leave early! 
..except when someone shows up right on time. 
Clients arriving late will see the west end of an east bound boat. 

Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! Crystalized Ginger Works Great Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure.  If You Suffer Mal-de-Mer In A Car You Should Experiment On Shorter Half-Day Trips First! 

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. 

9,538 "Oyster Castle" reef blocks by the rail – 2,668 at Jimmy's Reef – 2,010 at Ake's – 456 at Lindsey Power's – 356 at Patrick's Eagle Scout Reef. 

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Greetings All, 
Sea bass remain somewhat unpredictable. We did have a couple fellows catch limits this week – Monday & Tuesday. That's the exception, not the rule. Robust bite though..
I also saw several double headers of ling Sunday – aka red hake. A pretty bit of fishing as winter's waters ceed to summer: cod, ling & sea bass on the bottom – with peanut mahi on top. Seeing doubles of ling brought back memories. We could stand a red hake management strategy. Used to be great fishing.
Had a swift pick of flounder on an "OK" flounder spot Wednesday. Moved to a "Really Good" flounder spot nearby and caught only cbass. 
I hope the fluke turn on for us soon – flounder fishing where everyone goes home with dinner suits me fine. It'll be a cbass/flounder mix most likely for the rest of summer. 
For now we're catching cbass very well but putting a lot back. Six to eight keeper cbass is not unusual. 
Of course, some days we've had to work hard just to stink a pan. 

Taking Eagle scout applicant, Patrick, out for another reef run Sunday, June 29th. 
We'll load a couple pallets of Oyster Castles & 40 or so concrete planks, then build reef units 6 miles off the beach. 
In thirty years – Coral. 
Lot of fish between now & then too. 
Shoot me an email if you have a strong back & a free day – are looking to volunteer. 

Saw two amazing sights lately. 
One day we had an enormous loggerhead sea turtle rise right next to the boat. Generally a sea turtle will see the boat and change course before surfacing. At least it will scurry.. 
Not this old-boy. Could have touched him w/a rod tip as he drifted down the side. Lines separating the scutes/scales on his head were especially sharp & vivid at such close range. I expect he was pondering what in the heck we were.. 
Feeding over an artificial reef; used to be old-timers would stop and make a few drops if they saw loggerheads. I found one nice wreck myself that way. 
I've also noted a shift offshore – away from inshore; that it's not just white marlin & bluefish, turtles too are further out.  
I'm told their jaws can crack a conch – lobster's a cinch. If you've ever used hermits for tog bait, you know cracking a conch shell requires serious force. 
A big, old loggerhead. What, nearing 70 years of age? 
It happens that NOAA & NMFS are doing some "sea turtle week" or something. In their press release NOAA revealed they want to decrease catch – bycatch of course. 
Turtle restoration is a fantastic work in progress. So much has been done; especially with nesting, but with Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in trawl & shrimping too. 
Still, again & again there's no sign NOAA/NMFS recognize battles won won't win the war so long as the sea grows greener, not more blue. 
Leatherbacks, our largest sea turtles, feed on jellyfish. They'll probably fare OK no matter what the water quality is. 
Reef feeding turtles such as the loggerhead have to find shellfish & crustaceans.. 

The other amazing sight was a NOAA guy, a good guy, tell a small group of recreational fishermen that NOAA, improving as they shift away from their Bureau of Commercial Fisheries tasks of 40 years ago; He told us NOAA was very concerned about baurotrauma.  
Any sea bass fisherman has seen baurotrauma: bauro = pressure, trauma = wound. As fish are reeled in, pressure lessens allowing internal gasses to expand. This results in the everted stomach & bugged eyes common in slightly deeper water. 

I did a lot of work on it all through the 1990s. We were throwing fish back like crazy but no one really knew if they lived. 
Turns out they do. 
In fact, our sea bass population rose from an estimated 13 million pounds in 1997 to almost 40 million pounds in 2003. 
In that time no one was venting sea bass or 'recompressing' by any other means. The population skyrocketed. 

At both Recreational Summits West Coast fishers deep dropping in 70+ fathoms lobbied hard for baurotrauma work/studies. 

NOAA held workshops along the East Coast last summer to demonstrate techniques for combatting baurotrauma. 
With incredible clarity they demonstrated they know nothing about our issues with it. 
Really was sad. Any of my mates of the last 20 years might have done a better job and had a better grasp. 

At both Recreational Summits – 4 years apart – I lobbied for habitat discovery/restoration & sensibility in recreational catch estimates. I lobbied hard for corals and population biology's inclusion in management of sea bass.

Now NOAA's getting all 'Recreational.' They're lecturing us (poorly) on a West Coast problem which clearly demonstrates they have no idea the East Coast's issues. 

And that's how we can have catch estimates that no one believes still retained for management's exact measure – that's why no recreational fishery is safe from MRIP's solemn declaration, by one of the voices in its head, that we've gone over-quota. 
That's why "sorry about your luck" will be all NOAA has to offer for whatever recreational fishery suffers closure owing to MRIP's indefensible catch-estimates this coming fall. 

As 2014 catch estimates come in, you can bet somewhere there will be statistical outliers that remain uncorrected. Those flyers will cause Accountability Measures to kick in, closing or severely restricting some unfortunate fishery. 

I hope it's not sea bass again. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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