Sunday, January 08, 2017

Fish Report 1/8/17

Fish Report 1/8/17 
Been & Going 
Regional Reef-Fish Management 

Folks - This is WINTER tog fishing. A trip can go south fast. Tog DO NOT always bite! 
(If they did they'd more closely resemble the distinguished portly rotundity of a partyboat skipper..) Yes, my clients have caught 7 tog over 20 pounds   ..but there were many other days when we paid dearly. 
My crew MIGHT have white crabs, usually do. The boat provides green crabs. Reservation staff hardly know what species we're after, let alone whether there will be a certain kind of bait. 

Sea Bass Are Closed. I sincerely hope this will be the last year of that nonsense. 

All Winter Trips Posted Via Email. There's just no use trying to go everyday in winter.. (especially THIS Winter!)
Tog Fishing Tuesday - January 10th - $100 - 7 to 2 (a little shorter..) - 10 Sells Out
Tog Fishing Thursday & Friday - January 12th & 13th - 7 to 3 - $110.00 - 12 Sells Out. 

Will be scheduling some Long Tog trips soon. (I hope!) (per a special request by Frank)

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..

My Crew Have (usually 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.   

Skunks are always possible while tog fishing. 
Really. It's a frequent occurrence. Sometimes even the very best toggers 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. 

Going Toggin Anyway! Tog Only, Sea Bass Are Closed Because NOAA Has Absolutely No Real Idea* How Best To Manage The Fishery. 
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! 

It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure. Bonine seems best because it's non-drowsy. Truly cheap & effective insurance. 
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.   

In winter waterproof boots are almost a necessity. (and great socks! like over the calf smart wool .) While some rarely, or never, wear gloves for fishing, you'd not likely see me fishing this time of year w/o at least the half-finger wool gloves. 
Layers are best because, believe it or not, sometimes it can be very pleasant offshore--especially when the wind lays down. In winter it's warmer offshore owing to warmer waters. In summer it's cooler..

15,448 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 3,121 - St. Ann's 1,555 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,113 - Eagle Scout Reef 904 - Sue's Block Drop 184 - Nichols' Concrete 762 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 156 - Benelli Reef 341 - 230 Wolf & Daughters Reef..
Blocks Provided By Potomac Valley Brick - Thank You!
Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation! (lots of reef pics here..) The OC Reef Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit with no payroll & no rented office space -- We Build Reef. Also registered w/Amazon Smile. We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. Thank You! 

Greetings All, 
So nice to be togging again. Some limits. Not many. Have had a few fish in solid double-digit range too in our three 2017 trips, but nothing outrageous. Fighting current issues; the bite's been OK when the water's moving. CJ has the best release of the year--so far. He let a 25 inch female swim away sporting her new yellow tag. 
Coming up on 1,000 tag returns--fish we released to later see recaptured. Many of those thousand recaptures were tautog. Return info from several programs, including ALS (which anyone can use with very little investment) has been instrumental in allowing tog regulation & science to mature. Ain't done yet. Management very much needs refining. I think 2017 will be an important year.  
If it were up to me I'd have a smaller size limit in the estuaries, 15 inches most likely; and a growing size limit offshore. In moving up a 1/2 inch every other year; by 2023 we'd be at 18 inches.. 
Make an amazing fishery.

Far more likely will be the Can't. Never a shortage. 
Regulators will say: 'Can't split regulation between estuarine and marine. Don't have the data.
Comments on proposals will probably include: 'Can't catch a legal fish now. Raising the size limit at all---EVER---will destroy the fishery' -- and especially: 'We need to LOWER the size limit. I can't catch a legal fish anywhere!

I've heard enough Can't. Decades worth. Before sea bass & tautog regulation even began I was asking--commenting--that management recognize regions (as opposed to the huge area from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod) because of habitat fidelity. Reef fish movements are confined, and not at all like a striped bass's. These reef dwellers we struggle to manage correctly require geographically defined regulation as suits each region's habitat production. 

For years and years -- Can't. 
"Don't have the data." 
"Not genetically separate species." 
"What we have is fine." 
..except it wasn't. Made a royal mess of the sea bass fishery & gave the poorest possible economic and biological result. The sea bass fishery of the last decade was, literally, better off before regulation began. We had far better result here with just our simple self-enforced 9 inch cbass size limit before ANY regulations were in place. 
Already divided from Cape Hatteras south and also separated in the Gulf of Mexico; his year Mid-Atlantic/Southern New England sea bass will, most likely, finally be divided into north & south regions -- probably NJ south to Hatteras & NY north to Canada. 

I hope regulators will be ESPECIALLY sure to prevent overfishing on a single area's population while sea bass are tightened up in winter. 
If, say, RI, NY, NJ, MD, & VA trawlers gang-up on sea bass at the Cape May Rocks, (another of our reef environments that don't exist) (yet), the result would be a near-loss of the recreational fishery in southern NJ & DE come spring. 
I saw it happen in 2004. Winter trawl cut clients' catch right in half come spring. And those sea bass weren't even targeted. They were bycatch in the fluke fishery. A positively amazing sea bass population squandered; most were just shoveled back dead when quotas filled. 

Yup. Habitat fidelity is a really big deal. We'll need to understand it to better refine regulation. The "fight" we're about to have with sea bass quota is precisely as if we were suddenly in possession of a red snapper fishery off Maryland. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council would be loath to give DelMarVa any red snapper quota, regardless any red snapper population up here would HAVE to be a result of habitat production UP HERE. 
That's why habitat production needs to be recognized in quota management ---- especially in times of greatest landings. 

I run this little non-profit, the Ocean City Reef Foundation. Rode over to the OC Post Office to check the PO box for reef mail after Christmas. Opened up $14,800.00 in checks! WOW!!  
Put the mail down, fired up the truck  ..and backed into a Prius. 
Driving While Elated - My DWE made it not such a good day anymore. 
Little checks & big ones; saving it up. We'll find a way to build reef here soon. 

If we put the best anti-fouling bottom paint in the world on our reef materials it would only delay the inevitable. Hard substrates on the bottom become colonized by growth--you cannot stop it. 
First mussels & fast growing bryzoa; in decades those growths will have matured into hard & soft corals. It's  a 'succession' not at all dissimilar to forest biology taught in junior high. 
Fish colonize too, yet are more mobile. 
I'm positive: habitat restoration/creation is vital to fisheries restorations. 
On the Mid-Atlantic seafloor, unfortunately, we still need discovery--especially in a historic context--of our nearshore reef habitats & their value to fisheries productions.  
We'll come to it. 

Saw this quote on an article about China's air pollution: 
“People should carry umbrellas if they walk outside and quickly brush off any snow that falls on their skin,” meteorologist Guo Jianxing reportedly said.
Rain, snow, shear weight; pollution eventually finds its way to the sea. I don't know anything about it; but I'd bet restoration's challenges are hard enough without China-style air pollution. 

Right now snow's enough of a pain. 
Have to go shovel.. 

Pic below is from a reef in 110 feet of water off Maryland's Atlantic coast. See that chinner in there? Our crab-crunching quarry, tautog, REQUIRE ledges & holes. Artificial reef is all about it. Tog are already, I believe, in greater number than ever before - but spread out. In time, and with good management strategies, we'll have a truly awesome year round fishery. 
I'm unsure if this particular reef is natural stone calved from long-ago iceberg, or spilled from a barge in heavy weather just twenty years ago. I'm positive none of the coral, crabs, shrimp, lobster, or fish that ever lived here gave a dern. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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