Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fish Report 5/17/16

Fish Report 5/17/16
Normal May Cbass Bite 
Even Some Cbass Limits
What A Dinner!! 
What You Can Do..

Sailing Daily For Sea Bass Weather Permitting - Saturday's 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise 7 to 3 at $110.00.. 
Lots & lots of room Thursday & Friday coming. Most weekdays & Sundays really. 

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. With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you over-slept or had a flat..

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! (Wockenfuss Candies sells crystalized ginger locally - We usually have some aboard - Better is Nuts.Com.. Chewable Meclizine is a good pharmaceutical, there's also a "less drowsy" meclizine pill; Scopolamine Patches are the gold standard.)

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Is Fine For A Few People. 
No Galley! BYO Sandwiches & Soft Drinks. A few beers in cans is fine. (bottles break at bad times)

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! 

12,882 Reef Blocks Deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 2,431 - St. Ann's 1,459 - Al Giles Barge 761 - Eagle Scout Reef 780 - Sue's Block Drop 60 - Nichols' Concrete 578 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 48 

Please Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation!
We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. 
Thank You! 
This is what we we're aiming for with our reef constructions.. Fish seem to like it OK, lobster too. Better than sand or mud, anyway.
Had our annual OC Reef Foundation dinner at the Marlin Club Sunday night - surely set a dinner fund-raising record..

Of the hundreds of attendees & more than 70 contributors--with incredible generosity from all, & at levels I could not have imagined; I'd like to publicly thank Heather Bahrami for shouldering so much of the event. She worked for months - for free - to make it happen... (there are zillions of posts on facebook about many of our contributed items & scenes from the dinner. I don't know anything about facebook--have fun!)

The Ocean City Reef Foundation is growing. We've just had one of our best years ever & built a lot of reef that will look like the pic above in 20-some years. It's OK to build a lot more reef though. I cannot imagine a saturation point--the ocean truly is a vast place. 
Lots & lots & lots of people are putting a shoulder to this effort. It's beginning to show. 

Also attending the dinner and working year-round on reef building were Rick Elyar & Dave Sikorski. These guys are CCA MD; working with CCA's Building Conservation Trust (BCT.)
Dave works non-stop on improving fishing's future. He actually thinks fish not only need habitat & clean water, but they need forage fish too -- food. 
http://www.mafmc.org/actions/unmanaged-forage A comment here would be both timely & appreciated..)
These guys are not OCRF. They're supporters, sure, and I appreciate their efforts; but they live & fish Chesapeake Bay.
Want I want readers to know is that what Dave & Rick and so many others over there are doing is vital for ocean health as well as the Chesapeake's.. We're downstream; getting oysters restored to their place in the ecosystem is vital to our farmers, our fisheries, and our ocean's health. 
I believe the Building Conservation Trust will be key to unlocking the Chesapeake oyster's ability to turn the Mid-Atlantic blue again. 

While OCRF can turn donations into coral--and will; I believe it's these guys & The Nature Conservancy who can clean up Chesapeake outflows with engineered oyster reef complexes.. 
We saw what rock can do in Harris Creek, even small rock. Now it's time to add height & make it hollow. 
Water quality, structured habitat, and forage.. A place like that might be good for fisheries restorations. 


Greetings All, 
Went sea bass fishing opening day. Was hoping for 20 knots of west wind, got 30 to 35 NW by 9:30 or so. Dropped our reef-blocks, caught two keeper sea bass & went home - slowly - in building seas. Issued refunds/reschedules all around. 

Monday, thankfully, was just a normal day in May. 
Had a normal Monday crowd, and normal May weather (not raining like crazy!)
Even had a normal sea bass bite. 
It was a normal May sea bass trip. 
Caught some limits, other passengers close. Moved a couple times. Plenty of throwbacks. 
Saw our first under-9 inch male sea bass too. He wasn't in color like larger fish yet--no bright blue; but he was sporting a clear nuchal hump--was on his way to becoming a 'knothead' sea bass. 

Fishing wasn't "one-stop shopping," but there weren't any dead-drops either. 
We even had one (rather inebriated) fellow with small fish in his cooler. 
Shoot, with everything so "normal" I enjoyed that too! After a lecture for all to hear on the PA system, and several more checks of his catch, even he was in regulatory compliance.. 
Lots & lots of room Thursday & Friday coming. Most all weekdays & Sundays really. Last year was dead-slow in May. Embarrassingly so.  

My gut tells me there's not a lot of "normal" sea bassing left. 
Despite fishing's best managers fighting a near-epic rearguard action, Guv'mint's almost completely cooked the recreational sea bass fishery. I'm afraid we're one catch-estimate away from NOAA's overfishing alarm sounding again.
That'll mean another emergency sea bass closure, followed by who could guess how much tighter regulation
..and the end of normal. 

Lost before NOAA ever discovered our nearshore corals, or age at maturity's influence on spawning production, or even the actual truth of recreational catch; NOAA's embrace of  'approved science' in climate change, and their love for MRIP catch estimates will have undone the first & best fishery restoration. True Statement: DelMarVa sea bass were near or at habitat capacity in 2002/2003. 
Now they are not..

I doubt there's anyone left in management who actually believes MRIP's recreational catch estimates. Maybe, but I doubt it. 
Still, as witnessed even now with cobia, (a fishery where any data at all is rare & should be suspect) we see MRIP catch estimates "proving" recreational overfishing can close Virginia & North Carolina's cobia fishing: Managers may not believe the catch estimates, but they'll sure use them: "We have to."

Patricia Kurkul was our NOAA Regional Administrator before John Bullard took the post in 2012. When MRFSS recreational catch data showed Massachusetts Private Boats had taken more sea bass in 2009 than all Party/Charter fishers from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, and even though NOAA's own biological science clearly showed spawning site habitat fidelity left all populations of sea bass below Massachusetts w/o harm; 

she raised the same red flag Santa Anna had before attacking the Alamo: "No Quarter."

..slit their throats. 
Close the fishery asap. 
The data makes no difference, they've all had time to sell their boats--We gave them a chance to surrender.
No Quarter. If any businesses survive it won't be because NOAA tried to help. 

Up north they have scup - lots of scup & lots of access. 
They also have lots of sea bass, but no access. 
Down here we have no scup, we just make 'em. See lots & lots of tiny scup in August..
We get sea bass right, or we lose. 

No one's ever lowered that red flag. If recreational catch data says we overfished, no one can argue. Regardless if no one believes it, another fishery dies whenever the data says so.
Lots of closures. Lots of tightenings. No Quarter..

A fellow quipped, "They won't look at fishing, but politicians will worry about what bathrooms people can use!
I said; "You can bet your last dollar they've written letters to State & DC reps. Lots of them.. Have you?" 

People ask, "What can I do?" 
I'm telling you - Write. 
Write the truth & from the heart. Write your state & DC reps..

Bad data has no place in science. Congress needs to order NOAA to lower their red flag. Enough recreational fisheries & seasons have died from bad catch data. That flag should be given instead to the National Academy of Sciences for their MRIP investigation. 

Ahhhh...Ummmm.. Is coral fish habitat? Even if we grew it on purpose? Right now it sure isn't. We can take some species of fish & coral to any population we'd like simply by cleaning up concrete manufacturers' bone yards & building reef.

NOAA needs to know how green the ocean's become. 
No. NOAA needs to know the ocean has become green. They haven't the least idea if that's a true statement. We need a plan to fix it. Right now oysters are a fishery, not an ecosystem component in vital need of restoration. 

Stern-towed fishing gears destroyed a LOT of natural seafloor reef bottom 50 & more years ago. We need to find out where & make a plan for restoring that lost fish habitat production. 

Whatever your thoughts, it needn't be a full time job like mine; just write. 
The reauthorization of Magnuson's coming up. It's a great time to let Congress know we're out here. 

Looks like a good time to go sea bassing too. 
Ain't that a switch. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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