Thursday, January 08, 2015

Fish Report 1/8/15

Fish Report 1/8/15 
Went & Going Toggin 
Find Reef Or Die
Big Boulders Make Blue Seas 

Skunks are always possible while tog fishing. 
Really. It's a frequent occurrence, even with a good bite. Not an easy fishery; the very best toggers sometimes get their head handed to them despite folks all around having done well. 
Then too, sometimes the whole boat can do very poorly. 
If you can't take the heat, and there ain't much of that either, stay out of the kitchen. 

But If That Sounds Like Your Kind Of Fishing, Good! Cause We're Going Toggin Anyway! Tog Only, Sea Bass Closed. 
We may have to break ice Saturday afternoon for Sunday's trip.. 
Long Tog - Brass Ring Trip* - January 11th - Sunday - 5:00AM to 5PM - $175.00 - 16 Sells Out. Be sure to dress in layers because air temps should climb above freezing by 10AM - A Heat Wave! 
We'll let it rain Monday, then blow a half-gale Tuesday, Then Fish! 
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday - January 14th, 15th & 16th - Toggin - $125.00 - 6:30AM to 3:30PM - 14 Sells Out..

*Reach For The Brass Ring = Swing For The Fence.. Might fall off or strike out! And, for those who really want to know where the expression comes from:  

New! Currently Have White Crabs For Sale AT THE DOCK for the low, low price of just $5.00 per generous dozen. (they're small) There Is No Guarantee We'll Have Whites For Any Trip. Sometimes they all die. That shrinkage is why I prefer greens. We will not be bringing whites with us in the ocean. Green Crabs Remain Provided As Boat Bait.   

Reservations Required for All Trips. 
Reservations at 410 - 520 - 2076 — They Answer 24/7. 
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.. 

We provide green crabs. You're welcome to bring any kind of crab you like – even lobster, even plastic. 


No Live Tog Leave The Boat - Dead & Bled - Period. (I Believe The Live Tog Black Market Has Hurt This Fishery ..But Not As Much As Bad Sea Bass Regulations)
Agreed With Or Not, All Regulations Observed – Maryland: 4 Tog @ 16 Inches – Sea Bass Closed On Jan 1st. 
If You Won't Measure & Count Your Fish The State Will Provide A Man With A Gun To Do It For You. We Measure & Count — ALWAYS — No Exceptions! 

It's Winter! Wear Boots, Not Sneakers! Fingerless Wool Or Thin Fleece-Lined Waterproof Gloves With Handwarmers Tucked Into The Palms Make For A Comfortable Day..
Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! Crystalized Ginger Works Great Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure.  

Bring A (not terribly big) Fish Cooler With ICE (or fresh snow) For Your Party.. A 48 QT Cooler Is Good For 2 Guys. Even Now You Should ICE Fresh Fish.. 
Be A Half Hour Early - We Like To Leave Early.
Clients Arriving Late Will See The West End Of An East Bound Boat.. 

My crew & I just packed over 35 boxes for Reef Foundation donors.. Please believe Sue Foster's contribution to our fishing community will be remembered in a memorial reef.. I Need All Of You To Help Make That Happen!  

10,784 Reef Blocks by the rail – 2,146 at Doug Ake's – 1,182 at Saint Ann's – 558 at Eagle Scout Reef - 557 at Lindsey's Isle of Wight Reef and, just begun, 166 at the Brian Sauerzopf Memorial Reef.. Presently out of blocks but will try to change that (again) this week. 

Greetings All, 
I was thinking, "Boy, I'm pretty good at anchoring.
Ol` Murphy (of Murphy's luck) must have gotten wind of such hubris.. 
On Tuesday's trip the wind & current were so perfectly opposite that even a 180 degree spread on two anchors wouldn't work. You have to have something to draw the anchor lines tight, if just a little. I stayed at the helm with one anchor hard to starboard most of the day; just nudging her fore & aft a little as needed. One client had 18 keepers, another had a goose egg. 
I did personally manage one keeper. By the time the wind & current were suitable for anchoring, the bite had tapered. 
We also carried some of the MD DNR biologists working on aging tautog Tuesday. They sampled operculums, a gill plate section that reveals a tog's age as 'rings on a tree.' They also took samples for genetic research being done by VIMS. 

Tog offer a strong case for Mid-Atlantic fishery management's reconsideration of long-held reef building beliefs. 
The work in use; or more properly, "the work most top of mind" among today's management leads to the 'Attraction vs Production debate' being won hands-down by Attraction. 
Reef builders believe this was settled long ago in their favor, that Fishery Production is now recognized by the management community as a benefit of artificial reef building, yet that's hardly the case. Very few in upper management today believe marine reef construction has any value as a tool, a method of fish population increase. 
I firmly believe A) The notion "Artificial Reef only concentrates fish for easier harvest" (attraction) is false even in its premise. If any fish, any fish at all, move to any new reef construction, then that fish population has been thinned, not concentrated. 
I also believe B) It is precisely this 'thinning' that creates new fisheries production on new habitat. As new reefs are colonized, those newly colonized fish engage in spawning.. 
Tautog in particular have shown a blatant disregard for managers who desire the species might only shelter, feed, grow to maturity & spawn on natural habitat. (not that management seems to have any interest in discovering our natural reef habitat either!) 

True: If we removed all man-made reef, including shipwrecks & rock jetties, there would be a massive die-off of Mid-Atlantic tautog. This is because the carrying capacity of our remaining natural habitat is in no way sufficient to allow all of today's tog to shelter, feed, grow to maturity & spawn. Removing man-made habitat would force a life or death 'musical chairs' event. There would be far too many tog vying for available habitat & so some would starve or be eaten. 
And, because managers must agree today's tautog population has indeed grown far beyond it's natural "habitat holding capacity," (expressed as "K" in biological calculations) we must insist management conclude man-made habitat has been instrumental in allowing the population to become "restored."  

Any biologist will admit you cannot support a fish population above the area's habitat holding capacity - you cannot exceed K
What we fishers have to pound into management's head is; "Yeah. We get that. But everytime we sink a barge or dump some rocks - we raise K. We increase an area's holding capacity by creating more habitat tautog use to shelter, feed, grow to maturity & spawn.. 
(*Essential Fish Habitat or EFH as defined by the Magnuson-Stevens Act from --Those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity.)  

At some point (soon would be good) we need management to actually HELP with reef construction. 
NOAA? Maybe one day..
For now, even some states that have a reef program, and especially NOAA, stay away from reef building as though the notion were sickened with ebola. "Artificial Reef just attracts fish for easier extraction." 
Artificial Reef Building Is Bad.. 
Know anyone deeply involved with oyster restoration? Ask them if they build artificial reef. They'll do back-flips to escape the label while doing absolutely everything they possibly can to secure funding for another bargeload of rock..
..but Artificial Reef Building Is Bad. 

From my point of view, however, the Attraction of artificial reef to fish is "find reef or die." If reef fish are not attracted to reef, or unsuccessful in their search, they'll starve or be eaten; dead fish don't spawn.  

With entire volumes dedicated to it's examination; no one involved with any aspect of fisheries believes 'habitat loss' has had a beneficial effect on any species. Instead, they almost certainly believe habitat loss creates greater difficulty in their task of fisheries restoration & may even make restoration of some fish impossible. 
Yet almost no one in a well-paid position in fisheries along the Mid-Atlantic believes marine habitat creation via artificial reef would truly aid their goal of "fishery restoration." 

If it is true that every habitat impact lowers fisheries production, then it must also be true that every expansion of habitat, no matter how small, increases fishery production.  
At this point in fisheries restoration Big Bargeloads of Big Boulders would do fantastically more work than any new regulation. 

From 80 fathoms to the coast, every boulder would add to our region's fisheries production; every bargeload would add a lot. 

Consider: A large reef built offshore would certainly be colonized by sea bass & blueline tile. Lobsterman would have success there; mahi fishers too under those lobster balls. Squid would spawn among the rocks.. 
Hmm. What eats squid? 
Us too. 

Far inshore, oyster's absence has turned our "deep blue sea" green. 
Oyster Reef Restorations (but NOT artificial reef, oh no) can turn the ocean blue again.. 

Big Boulders Make Blue Seas ..and some damn fine fishing. 

Hope to see some of that soon; in every aspect. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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