Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fish Report 8/20/15

Fish report 8/20/15 
Another Long Flounder Trip 
The Catching 
Your Thoughts Matter 

Special Flounder Trip - Sunday, August 23rd - 6:30AM to 4PM - $125.00 - Reservations Required. 

Sailing For Sea Bass & Flounder (called Fluke from NJ north). 
Absolutely Cannot Predict Which Species Will Bite Better On Any Given Day. Very Firmly: If you positively want one species & not the other you can watch the gut bucket to see which day would have been best for you. Fishing has been OK, which is always better than not fishing at all. Sending almost every party home with a fish fry's worth at least - but it requires work. We cannot know what will bite better on any given day until the bite is over. 

Saturdays 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Sundays In August By Announcement Only - Scheduling September Sundays - Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00.  
Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - On My Rig You Can Reserve What Spot You're In. Please See For How The Rail's Laid Out..
LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Happen - 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. With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you over-slept or had a flat..

Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! (Meclizine's Better!) 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! (Wockenfuss Candies sells crystalized ginger locally - Better is Nuts.Com.. Chewable Meclizine is a good pharmaceutical with Scopolamine Patches the gold standard.) For Anglers With Known Issues Dramamine & Meclizine Work Best If Treatment Begins The Night Before..
Honestly - If you get to go on the ocean once month, once a year, or even less; why risk chumming all day? Similarly, if you howl at the moon all night, chances are good you'll howl into a bucket all day.  

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. Do Not Bring A Very Large Cooler. We DO have a few loaners - you'll still need ice. 
No Galley! Bring Food & Beverages To Suit. A few beers in cans is fine for the ride home.  

Small-scale reef building that adds up over time; We've recently reloaded the block pile with 90 pound reef blocks. Now 11,943 Reef Blocks Deployed at numerous sites. Active presently are Doug Ake's Reef with 2,274 - St. Ann's 1,361 - Al Giles Barge 482 - Eagle Scout Reef 648 - Sue's Drifting Easy Reef 62 - Nichols' Concrete 528 - And 120 at the upside-down tank. (Yes, it's an M-60A1 that landed on it's turret. Only the treads and bottom are exposed. I'm thinking it will support the weight of many reef blocks provided we site them accurately. All Stop at 120 - will deploy more blocks here after camera inspection.) Now Elaine's Concrete - a reef we built in the mid-1990s to about 18 inches thick. After wonderful colonization, it scoured in after just 3 years. Using the old buried-in reef as a foundation, now 24 reef blocks at Elaine's..

Please Sponsor Our Larger-Scale Reef Building At - Believe This: We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. Another Big Project Come Fall.   Thank You! 

Greetings All, 
Been pretty steady on the flounder. Some nice fishing, though sometimes with more throwbacks than we'd care for. I think it fair to say virtually every client has gone home with dinner over the last several weeks save one. The same day he goose-egged, so did I - while folks all around had fish; some with limits of fish and even forced to give away fish. 
Such is the luck. 
targeting flounder, sea bass are few & far between. With heavy weather always a possibility this time of year, fishing could flip after a good blow. 

Last Sunday I could have sold tickets heavily into a gorgeous calm day. Instead, I rounded up a few hands and went on an underwater video trip to see if we could discern effects of multi-year surveys in the MD Wind Area. We also monitored some old & new artificial reef sets around the Bass Grounds. 

I'm concerned "the system" has shrugged-off the effects of sub-bottom profilers in this year-after-year survey situation. I'll include a single contact below that wants to hear your thoughts. 

What happened this year on our reefs in the MD Wind Area is much worse than any other survey effect I've ever observed - it was cumulative. 
I believe NOAA, BOEM & the rest of .guv agencies concerned with things marine need to understand what happened off Maryland's coast this summer. 
Right now BOEM, ("The Agency Is The Expert,") holds sea bass cannot hear a sub-bottom profiler & therefore no effect has occurred. 

More below. 
While breathlessly awaiting several videos from our trip Sunday, please see 
A local diver, Oleg's given us several unique views of an undersea world we do not yet comprehend. 
The artificial reef he filmed here is about 35 years old..

NOAA, in their version of "The Agency Is The Expert" cannot decide whether building artificial reef substrates for coral colonization is good thing or not. 

Whatever, we'll keep throwing reef blocks off the back of the boat until they figure it out. 

Pic is the most dense school of sea bass we found Sunday. 
In a video I produced in 2008 (but is composed mostly with video shot in 2004) -- Common Mid-Atlantic Seafloor Habitats -- The reef scene from 6:05 to the video's end is from the same reef as this pic. It's just outside what I would consider the worst of the survey's effects but still in range for some effect. 
Although we looked at a lot of reef, we did not observe this many sea bass on any other reef in the impacted zone. On several reefs we observed no sea bass at all including reefs that I videoed in 2004 densely packed with sea bass. 
We did observe cod though. 
Caught and released several cod these past few weeks, yet government's going to tell us sea bass are down because of global warming. 
I guarantee - sea bass are down because of government. They need to fix it. 
Amazing sea bass abundances shown in my earlier work had been known about for a very long time prior to my video.  These reef-fish populations survived foreign factory trawlers, generations of sea bass/lobster trap gear and recreational partyboat effort for nearly as long  ..but they could not survive computer-blind management & "harmless" surveys. 

If you care you should write Dr. Chu below.


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Written on 8/11/15...
Concerning survey impacts to reef fish in the Maryland Wind Area. 
Although I am positive a sub-bottom profiler causes sea bass & flounder to stop feeding completely at 3 miles and affects feeding even at 6 miles, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) claims otherwise. 
This exact survey equipment has been used repeatedly off Ocean City in recent years for up to several months at a time. 
Fishing in the MD Wind Area went from bad to awful during and following this year's survey. 
I believe reef fish have left. (8/15 was the first sign fish were using the affected reefs again in any number.)

NOAA wants to hear other user's observations concerning the MD Wind Area. 
Anyone with ANY observation please write Kevin Chu  <> who is in charge of constituent engagement for NOAA's Greater Atlantic Region. 
If you think my observations warrant further study of sub-bottom profiler survey work - write Dr. Chu. 
A single year's surveying can cause fish & fishers headaches. Here we've had year after year surveys; they've had a bad & lasting effect on our fishing & our reefs, especially the Great Eastern Reef. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Greetings All, 
BOEM informs me today that a sub-bottom profiler has no effect on fish. 
I beg to differ. 
We have a HUGE AREA of seafloor reef-fish appear to have vacated. I believe it is an area greater than 500 square miles. 

When Maryland's R/V Kehrin was doing survey work for the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative (MARI) prior to deployment of NYCTA cars at Jackspot Reef in, I believe, May 2007; Capt. Rick Younger did not seem surprised in the least that his sub-bottom profiler had the instantaneous effect of shutting off what-was a magnificent sea bass bite. The Kehrin's unit was turned on just several hundred yards from my boat because the reef site is only 1/2 a square mile.
Fishing and catching wonderfully; the profiler positively & instantaneously shut-off the feeding of sea bass. 
Capt. Younger, of course, turned his profiler unit off and the fish resumed feeding. 

Survey boats for wind energy have not been so gracious. 

In recent years surveys have been relentless. There is no variance. The effect to flounder & sea bass is 100% predictable.
Another illustration: on July 31st, 2013, I was fishing the Great Eastern artificial reef about 18 NM ESE OC MD in the southern-most portion of the wind lease. I could see the Scarlett Isabella closing and watched my clients' success diminish to absolute-zero when she was approximately 3NM N our position. As my nearest reef that might provide suitable success was either 8NM south or 13NM ESE, I waited for the survey boat to turn north and move its equipment out of range (about 5 to 7 miles).
Closing to 2NM ENE my position with survey gear in use, no fish at all bit while the Scarlett Isabella was so near. None. 
Then, at 10:15, she came full-stop and the bite went 'wild' (comparatively). With flounder & sea bass coming over the rail, clients cheerfully exclaimed; "Don't move Captain, they're here!" (I, of course, had kept clients over fish all the while.) 
A helicopter approached the Scarlett Isabella and landed aboard ship. That's why she'd stopped. When the helicopter left a while later, the ship came-about and began a new survey leg. 
The bite, of course, died completely & at once as they re-started their survey gear. 
At 10:40 AM I hailed the Scarlett Isabella on VHF 16 & asked to switch to channel 10. I questioned if they had turned off the sub-bottom profiler while the helicopter was aboard. A few minutes later I was told, "Yes, the sub-bottom profiler was off then."  
The Scarlett Isabella was back again last year. 
Then this year the Shearwater came and surveyed the whole blasted thing yet again. 
There are several notations in my log how the bite would fall off, then stop, as the Shearwater approached on several occasions over the last several months. 

It was too much.
Like me, the fish have had enough. 
They left. 
Or died. 

The survey is long since done - weeks ago. 
The bottom it killed is still dead. 
Spending money I do not have, I'll film affected reefs soon. 

BOEM's done nothing. Survey's have done nothing. Sub-bottom profilers are as gentle as a mother's kiss... 
That's one side of the story. 
There's another. 

Perhaps this work would be better suited page 107 "Major Impacts"   
  •   Major impacts would be detectable, extensive, and severe and would include a high level of physiological/anatomical damage to, mortality to, or extended, long-term displacement of, a federally managed fish species. Major impacts would also include extensive, long-term damage (quantifiable loss depending on the habitat type) to EFH, or extensive, chronic disruption of behavioral patterns (including spawning, feeding, or ontogenetic migrations) that would adversely affect a species. 

Government's not done a damn thing but let fish & fishers down on anything reef related in the Mid-Atlantic. 
Government needs to change gears. 
I will have a new video up by late next week. The comparison of the same reefs between 2004 and 2015 is not going to be pretty. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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