Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Fish Report 5/3/16

Fish Report 5/3/16 
Adding Saturday 5/7/16 
An Oyster Plea 
Monetizing Phytoplankton 

Going Thursday, May 5th - Friday May 6th, & Saturday, May 7th - 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 - 12 Sells Out. 
Sunday - May 8th - is now cancelled for weather. 
Opening June to Sea Bass Reservations. It is also possible flounder (fluke to you northerners) might come in early--arrive on our reefs and wrecks in force by late June. 
So: You can now reserve spots from the May 15th Sea Bass Opener to the end of June.
For trips this coming weekend see tog trips below.

After May 15th we're sailing daily.

Going Toggin: Getting a lot more bites & throwbacks, tagging more. We catch more tog in a day now than in two (or 3) weeks this past winter. (ouch) 
Some anglers will do from OK to very well - but not everyone.. 

Reservations Required

Be a half hour early! We (almost) always leave early! 

Going Toggin? 
Skunks are always possible while tog fishing. Luck & Skill Count. 

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

Until May 15th: Tog Only, Sea Bass Are Closed Because NOAA Has Accepted Poor Statistical Catch Estimates As If They Represented 'Certain Knowledge' For Decades. NOAA Has No Idea How Best To Manage The Sea Bass Fishery. (yet) 
No Live Tog Leave The Boat - Dead & Bled - Period. (I Believe The Live Tog Black Market Has Hurt This Fishery ..But Nowhere Near As Much As Bad Sea Bass Regulations)
Agreed With Or Not, All Regulations Observed – Maryland: 4 Tog @ 16 Inches 

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! 

Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - On My Rig You Can Reserve What Spot You're In. Please See http://morningstarfishing.com 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.  
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.   

12,810 Reef Blocks Deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 2,431 - St. Ann's 1,459 - Al Giles Barge 725 - Eagle Scout Reef 768 - Sue's Drifting Easy Reef 147 - Nichols' Concrete 578 - Upside Down Tank 132 

Please Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation!
Reef Dinner May 15th At The Marlin Club! 4:30 to 7:00 - Tickets $25.00 at the Door..
We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. 
Thank You! 

If This
Becomes This:
What can unlimited supplies of this material build? 

Our little non-profit, OCRF, is growing coral. 
These fellows, CCA's Building Conservation Trust, http://www.buildingconservation.org are about to dive headfirst into Chesapeake oyster restoration.. No part of fisheries production stands alone. We all fish in a large marine ecosystem.. 

Greetings All,
Weather man had a change of heart. Now Saturday looks good & Sunday does not..
Tog truly are chewing. They've got the feed bag on; fattening up, getting ready to spawn. Good weather coming: going Friday & Saturday - May 6th & 7th.. (Thursday's sold out) 

It's still toggin - They are brutally unforgiving if your technique isn't up to snuff. 

Sea Bass open May 15th. I'll go investigate the MD Wind Energy Area soon and sample some reefs in & out of the survey-impacted area. See what we have in store for spring sea bass. Sure seeing sea bass inshore. 

Rode up to the CCA's Oyster Summit in Baltimore last week. Life happens - got there just as the last lecture was letting out. Darn. I went over to the reception 'wedding crasher' style.. 
I spoke with people who are at the very, very top of oyster restoration. Folks from Texas to Maryland - none of them were aware we've lost blue water across the shelf-waters of the Mid-Atlantic. 

I'm telling any who will read or listen: What should be a National Priority - Ocean Water Quality Restoration in the Mid-Atlantic - is only talk from a crazy party boat skipper. There is no clear idea in the science, (not that I'm aware of,) pointing toward a decline in our region's marine water quality.

But decline it has - hugely.  

Back in the 1990s I was called a loose cannon by Jim Donofrio of RFA.. (I was supporting recreational sea bass regulation, having witnessed it working for 6 or 7 years. Same meeting some threatened to burn my boat..) Folks in fisheries think "loose cannon' quite appropriate even today. I can sometimes get a chuckle at a meeting with it. 
I promise; although it may seem I'm working on too many projects, (and it feels that way too,) improving  fisheries is really all about restoring ocean health. And the ocean, it turns out, is firmly bound to streams, rivers, & bays. 

There is not one clear path to ocean restoration. Our marine science is a jumble & ill-informed. Here are some of our greatest roadblocks to concerted mult-agency action: the United States is capable of ocean restoration - I'm certain - but agencies we'll need to help have no vision of their task.
  • This simple question; "Has the Mid-Atlantic ocean turned green?" cannot be answered by today's science.
  • Our corals & historical hardbottom reef footprint remains undiscovered, uninvestigated, & unimportant. Restoration of lost Mid-Atlantic nearshore marine reef habitat isn't even a late-night nag in the back of NOAA's mind. 
  • Artificial Reef can grow corals, oysters, and some populations of fish in whatever quantity we desire. Science & management of today--folks at the top who schooled with texts showing artificial reef as more a detriment to fish populations than a help--have only what's on a computer to compare. There's no life experience of absolutely barren, unproductive bottom being converted by artificial reef into areas that now support dozens of businesses, thousands of anglers; and, over time, millions & millions of fish   ..and thousands of tons of corals. Managers at the top today are far more likely to block reefs' construction than support it. 
  • MRIP's recreational catch estimates so cloud science's vision; science & management can't tell whether simple fishing regulations are working - or not. An incredible amount of government effort is being squandered hunting recreational 'overfishing.' MRIP's nightmares are everywhere, in every fishery's closet & under every season's bed. When we have finally turned the lights on and management's frightened screams subside; we'll see science & management's night terrors of chronic overfishing by small boats in every fishery, was everywhere a fiction. 

I've seen water-quality deterioration in my time. I heard an earful from previous generations of fishers 
..but that's just anecdotal. 
No one's asked science to go look; "Hey, is the ocean greener?"
It's not real. 

In 3 generations Maryland Coast bluewater fisheries have moved about 60 miles further offshore. 
Consider: a billfisher from Stuart, Florida can still catch a sailfish where his great-grandad did. That's not at all true in Virginia Beach, or Ocean City, or Indian River, Or Cape May, or Atlantic City.. 
Because Chesapeake & Delaware outflows are damed by the Gulf Stream as it shoots offshore at Cape Hatteras. The slow & cold Labrador current wanders south and picks up major estuaries' nutrient overload. While phytoplankton rejoice in ever-expanding habitat, blue & white marlin do not.

Overnutrification; that's why phytoplankton {algae} grows - our phytoplankton enriched green soupy water is because well fed algae thrive. When algae die in vast number, bacteria spawn exponentially in a feeding bonanza & consume much of the available oxygen. 
As water becomes anoxic (without oxygen or low oxygen) a dead-zone develops.. 

Here's a clear example of oyster's contribution to water quality: 
They can turn nutrients into dinner
..and crazy-good fish habitat.

An incredible effort is occurring in our estuaries. Monumental battles occur all the time. The effort to save estuaries is intense. (See Chesapeake Bay Foundation http://www.cbf.org )

What I see most clearly is many decades of can't concerning oyster restoration piling up against farmers. 
Yes, of course we need to be smart about fertilizer & chicken manure. We need to be especially smart about human wastewater treatment as well. 
To ignore the collapse of oysters, and lay almost all the blame of overnutrification on our farmers, gives far too much burden on those who feed us, while the put & take oyster fishery contributes nothing to long-term ecosystem repair. 

Consider: one type of aquaculture has striped bass & tilapia in the same tank. Stripers are fed; tilapia, ahh.. clean the stripers' waste from the tanks - a large percentage of it anyway.. 
That is the oyster's task today. 
Nutrients that are, literally, darkening bay & ocean waters by allowing algae to thrive at dangerous levels--even causing annual dead zones in the Chesapeake, could be converted into oyster dinners. 
We should USE those nutrients. 
But instead of building biofilter reefs large enough to do the job, we're jumping ahead a step each year as  "Restoration Efforts" are dredged up and sold. 

Put & take "spat on shell" plantings go back a long-long time. Even after the Civil War we were taking shell out for planting in the Chesapeake. For decades we've been allowing shell to gather spat in tanks for later transplanting and eventual harvest. 
Although Wikipedia has oyster cultivation for over a century, I'd anticipate eastern cultures having some form of oyster aquaculture far longer. 

What we need today is a system of commercial oystering that captures the unimaginable juvenile production from an oyster biofilter reef -- a reef capable of noticeably lowering algae as water flows though & over it is going to put off a lot of spawn every year. 

I imagine a fully permeable reef, a reef which allows water to flow through from top to bottom--a hollow reef with lots of vertical substrate excellent for oyster growth. Once colonized, (and even in a reef's earliest colonization,) commercial spat traps would be suspended down-current during the oyster spawn. I see hundreds, even thousands of Christmas trees with a light coat of cement suspended all through the water column. I see ingenuity creating means to capture juvenile production that can be transported to grow-out locations.. 

Traditional oystering's path was made plain when New Yorker oystermen came south in the early/mid 1800s.. Their reefs already fished out, they came armed. There is even a period of 60 or more years called the Oyster Wars - cannon fire was used to protect reefs
..but not common sense. 
Might made right; but reefs fished down to bare sand no longer produced any oysters at all. 

Works that way with corals in the ocean too. 

It's a solid wager: When we're beginning to see white marlin on the Jackspot again, when dependable billfishing can be had along the 20 fathom line as it was 40 & 50 years ago; some in the oyster fishery will be driving a Mercedes-Benz. 

Nutrients that now deprive our estuaries of oxygen can instead be turned into money. 
If we fail to monetize nutrient overload via biofilters supplying oyster fisheries, we'll lose the Mid-Atlantic ocean as we know it. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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