Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fish Report 8/28/16

Fish Report 8/14/16 
Catching Flounder Decent - Very Few Cbass 
Sea Bass Close Sept. 21 ..not the 18th
BYOG! (Bring Your Own Gulp!)
Regulatory Season Coming

Labor Day Monday, Sept 5th -- Buy two tickets, get a spot free. This offer DOES NOT carry to other days - use it or lose it. I was trying to think of how regulars could invite a friend or bring a child/grand-child - it worked. Newbies had fun.. It's especially important new anglers are aware of motion sickness preventatives. Being sick all day is no fun at all.. (see section below)

Taking September Reservations. We'll book flounder/sea bass trips until Sept 21st when sea bass close. From Sept 22nd to the 30th we'll be straight flounder fishing - no sea bass in closed season. October, once prime weakfish/seatrout time, offers little to the partyboat angler until later in the month.

Sailing Daily For Flounder & Some Sea Bass - Weather Permitting - Saturday's 6:30 to 3:30 - $125.00 – Otherwise, including all Sundays in fall, 7 to 3 at $110.00.. 

There's no way to know whether fluke or sea bass will bite better on any day. Even now, with weeks of mostly flounder, we could have a day where cbass chew. I absolutely couldn't guess ..but I do know my crew & I will be trying our best to make everyday a success. 

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! (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 - We usually have some aboard - Better is Nuts.Com.. Chewable Meclizine is a good pharmaceutical, there's also a "less drowsy" meclizine pill that a lot of clients like, especially Bonine; Scopolamine Patches are the gold standard. Stay away from 'ginger pills.'

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 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! 

13,955 Reef Blocks Deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 2,503 - St. Ann's 1,519 - Al Giles Barge 1,014 - Eagle Scout Reef 880 - Sue's Block Drop 184 - Nichols' Concrete 678 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 72 - Benelli Reef 236

Blocks Provided By Potomac Valley Brick - Thank You!

Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation!  (lots of reef pics here..) We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. Thank You!

Greetings All, 
Fishing for flounder. Somedays it's pretty simple, other days are very challenging indeed.. 
If you like "drop & reel" sea bass or croaker fishing best, this time of year is not for you.
If, however, you enjoy a challenge - come on!
We've not had a boat limit of flounder, but most days a quarter or so of clients will have a limit - some to the point of sharing. 
In many instances, but not all, anglers using Gulp are catching above average. Larger Gulp or smaller seems to not make much difference. Those with the curly tail appear to work best. 
Sea bass have been uncooperative - period. Just a couple good fish a day.

Been having trouble with this Fish Report roster all summer. Switched to a free mass-mailing system I thought was associated with Gmail. It's not, of course, & not free anymore either. Does seem to be working, however. If you know someone who's not getting the reports, but wants to, ask them to send me an email.. It might also help to add to your address book.. While NOT my primary address, it's part of the Fish Report process.. Never know, I might even be a frequent visitor on Facebook one day. 

NOAA/NMFS & Council/Commission have been told by fishery scientists that summer flounder production is way down. Regulators, who must accommodate the best available science in our season/size/bag limits, will be asked to lower our flounder catch by 30% in 2017. 
That's going to be a big deal. 
I'm seeing flounder as small as 11 inches offshore -- but on structure that's untrawlable. 
Savvy trawl skippers I know wait until flounder are off the rocks (and the price is up!) before catching their MD individual quota. Save some bycatch set-aside for all other fisheries such as gillnet, six or seven trawl-men are allotted 60% of Maryland's summer flounder quota. The other 40% goes to the entire MD recreational community. 
If a European seafood conglomerate purchases these Individual Fishery Quotas (or IFQs) from MD's trawl skippers, then 60% of MD's flounder production - when monetized - will land overseas and never benefit Maryland again..

I haven't any idea how or when trawl samples are used to determine flounder populations. I do know the species sure has taken a shine to artificial reefs - especially in the time of year when they once would have 'rocked-up' from mid-summer into mid fall. 
Picture a trawl skipper in the early 1960s.. John's not catching in the sand & knows where the flounder (fluke to most folks) have gone - the rocks. Although he runs a higher risk of getting snagged, a healthy profit awaits if the risk is taken. 
Digging through sea whip (a soft coral,) and a handful of football-sized ancient river/sea-smoothed rocks, his crew loads 70 boxes of fluke in one tow (7,000 lbs.) There's a few sea bass & even enough lobster for dinner. They set the net back over again & throw the rocks overboard on a nearby hill with a buoy. Trawlers know the rocks by the buoy will sand-in & never get caught again (or support reef growth..) They call rock removal "cleaning up a tow."
Now John knows the tow - knows the depth and it's relation to nearby shoals; knows it as a farmer knows his fields. Several other skippers see John working the area and learn of his catch. 
They too begin working in the enormous whip meadow - pulling a net with a chain along its lower edge over & across broad swaths of the low-lying reef. When caught, lobster traps are thrown back over. 
In a few months the area is spent. A new hunting ground is needed until the other replenishes. Repeating those first catches from virgin seafloor is very unlikely. 
They Fish Harder. 
LORAN C would soon become cutting edge technology for these 1960s trawl skippers. Incredible accuracy would allow them to tow just past the largest rocks & wrecks. Because nets are expensive, they're towing right to the edge of danger for one reason - more fish. 
(LORAN C would also allow recreational For-Hire skippers opportunity to find & re-find fabulous new populations of fish on these wrecks and large rocks where trawlers could not go.)

On & on & on.. Years into decades; tow after tow. Habitat impacts by stern-towed gears have a cumulative effect going back to their earliest use. From broad meadows of soft coral to a few sparse patches of bare rock. 
In fact, there's written testimony from England taken many centuries ago where fishers complained bitterly about the 'wondrychurn' 'which destroys the flowers of the sea.' (see Kurlansky's "Cod" - should be required reading before owning ANY type of saltwater fishing equipment..) 

NOAA/NMFS.guv doesn't think historical marine habitat loss is very important. 
Estuary? Sure. 
Riverine? Yes! 
Marine seabed? What? Why? The waves are unchanged, the bottom must be the same too. 

I've been pleading with fisheries.guv for an in-depth investigation for nearly twenty years. I'd especially like to see long interviews with our oldest fishers. WHERE they ONCE caught fish, but we no longer can, reveals--almost precisely--habitat impacts across time.. 
But NOAA/NMFS is not interested. Not enough, not yet. Some scientists are, regulators too--and keenly so; but it takes a lot of interest at all levels to begin anew. 
Dot.guv remains determined to repair fish populations from long-lost habitat production with today's catch restriction policies, and from today's habitat footprint. Whether any fishing industry survives or not is of no apparent concern. Populations of yesteryear, aka "stock rebuilding targets," must be met. Economic suffering is "all going to be worth it" (..once populations of fish that existed on lost historical  habitats are recreated w/o habitat restorations or even habitat understanding? Oh miraculous joy. I can hardly wait.) 

With next year's regulatory inputs just beginning to enter the Council/Commission process, and with a great-many of MRIP's recreational catch estimates yet to be calculated - and given we already know a 30% quota reduction in flounder is coming: perhaps it would be a good time for habitat ecologists to educate regulatory bodies on fisheries production. 
Won't happen. Battle soon joined; lectures on population ecology won't even be a consideration. Vicious trench warfare over state-by-state quota cuts & men attending Council deliberations with a thousand-yard stare; this unending battle created by data we know to be ill-found will have some skippers canceling Christmas

Fish do not fall from the sky. They must be successfully spawned. While it is true a "spawning population" must exist; "spawning habitat" must also exist. Fertilized eggs ARE sourced from fish. Post-fertalization, spawning success is dependent on habitat quality. 
Hard to reckon our ability to improve spawning success through ecological means when a species' habitat remains unrecognized. Science is just now beginning to grapple our nearshore seafloor ecology. There are bits & pieces, a very thin trail for science to follow. We'll need a highway before Mid-Atlantic seafloor reef ecology is accepted as an important aspect of fisheries restorations.

Near as I can tell, More Is Better - more spawning fish & more spawning habitat makes for more fish on .guv's computers & more fish swimming in clients' Fry-Daddy aquariums. 

We'll get to building some new reef habitat here shortly; soon as summer's over. Know anyone with a 100 foot barge?
Meanwhile - flounder await anglers who will work for success. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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