Friday, February 24, 2017

Fish Report 2/24/17

Fish Report 2/24/17 
Going Toggin  
Low Budget Reef Building Too 
MRIP = Major Rip Off  

Volunteers Needed For Low Budget Reef Building! Saturday, Feb 25th at 7:30 AM & Sunday, Feb 26th, 9am (reef times are sharp - no need to be early) No forklift. No cranes. Strong backs fueled by fried chicken moving lots of heavy concrete blocks. Bring boots & gloves - wear layers. We'll get the chicken. Usually back by 1pm..
Contact Monty at if you'd care to sweat on a wonderful February morning...

If you know anyone with pallets of unsalable block, I know a toggy place or two we can store them. Forever. Will pay for trucking. 

Folks - This is WINTER tog fishing. A trip can go south fast. Tog DO NOT always bite! We had AWFUL toggin recently  ..and fish up to 19.25 pounds. 

Busy with personal matters; it's too late to offer a fishing trip Saturday, offering a Tog Trip, Monday, Feb 27th, 2017 - 6:30 to 3:30 - $125 - 12 People Sells out. 

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. 

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 (but learning) 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..

16,386 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 3,145 - St. Ann's 1,585 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,185 - Eagle Scout Reef 904 - Sue's Block Drop 229 - Nichols' Concrete 822 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 663 - Benelli Reef 341 - Capt. Bob's Reef 223 - Wolf & Daughters Reef 230 ..
Blocks Provided By Potomac Valley Brick - Thank You!
Blocks are a small part of what we're doing. Prefer bargeloads of substrate but believe any forward motion is good..
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! 
If you know anyone with pallets of unsalable block, I know a toggy place or two we can store them. Forever. Will pay for trucking. 

On Facebook now too (a little..) Morning Star Fishing

Greetings All, 
Went fishing in some great weather last bunch of days. Did NOT have consistent fishing. Did see an unlucky client wind in a jumbo bull tog ..only to pull the hook in plain view of 4 or 5 guys. Mate Wes estimated 15 pounds. He's seen a bunch of em. Knows. 
Suffered a lot of skunks too. Ughh.. 
Also had a crazy good shot of fish where every next fish bumped the last out of the pool. Fellow won with a 19.25 pounder.. 

I tell you, we need to get tog right again - it ain't. 
It's there, smoldering. But to get it on fire we need a distractor. Sea bass would work. Sea trout would help a lot. Even Boston mackerel, absent our region's recreational schedule so long and now, I hear, returning in VA Beach: we need to pull effort away from tog with other fish--a far better solution than more draconian regulation/closures.  
With pictures of rows of small female tog almost the norm, it's safe to think years and years of client effort at tossing back females has now been largely squandered. 
On my boat released fish count for the pool - we do it by length. Tag card length counts like one in the boat. Used to be almost every trip a tagged fish would win. 
No more. 
Many clients throw legal fish back - tag em - but dinner is a perfectly understandable priority!

Releasing all of em save dinner worked best. In the era prior to real regulation, when I had a 3 fish at 16 inches boat limit (1992 to 2003,) Maryland's marine tog population grew like crazy. Wasn't so much the regs, though they certainly helped at times---but tossing back any tog was simple with a good box of sea bass at your feet. 
What we have today is a sure sign fishing effort has overrun available fish.. 

Yes, we have lots of tog inshore & excellent production. Most are 'hibernating' at the moment. It's likely that we have more tog in our inshore region than ever before in history. There's also more effort. Because the ones we truly want to catch take fifteen years or more to grow; when reefs are mostly fished down to size limit--or even another state's lower size limit--creating jumbos, allowing them to grow huge, becomes far less likely. 

Ken's recent world record with Capt. Kane was 6 years old when we started throwing back tog -- at that exact spot -- of our own accord. The fish was spawned in 1986 & would have been 'undersized' in 1992. His 29 year old tog is the oldest on record so far.. Great Scott but it was a monster..

The number one strategy for increasing a tog population has to be reef building. More the better. Bigger too. 
There might be tog on the Radford, that 565 foot ex-Navy ship on the DelJerseyLand Reef (& few DE anglers have any idea how lucky they were to have Jeff Tinsman building reef!) ..there may be tog inside the Radford that never leave save to rise above the wreckage to spawn. 

Number two is abundant sea bass. Really. I even saw my Russian friend, Alex, stop togging & drop a jig when I was catching double jumbo sea bass every drop.. Open season and prolific spawning -- not the stupid mess of wacky regulation driven by fabulously incorrect recreational catch data we have today -- that's what sea bass management will look like. Abundance is the goal - but an abundance we can use. 

Number three? Respect. Kill 'em all and stomp the eggs don't work. Did that in the early 1980s. With almost zero commercial effort we drove tog off a cliff during a lull in sea bass over a few years.. By fall of 1984 I was working a trap boat and throwing back those few jumbo females we caught. Pissed the skipper off good, but he allowed a few of my monetary indiscretions.. 
Can't be just females. Boys too. 
Less effort. Less tog sizzling in a pan. Couple decades - abundant jumbos.
I hear tell the VA boats are catching mackerel. That, actually, would help tog too! Been since 1991 or 92 since we had them as a fishery. More on that in weeks to come. 
More also, a lot more -- a huge project for me right now in making a case to NOAA of how insane MRIP's assertions look if you have any true knowledge of a fishery. My "MRIP's Failings 2/17/17" report landed solidly on NOAA's chin. 
Theirs is a really hard chin. 
If you know a truly experienced skipper who might help with observations from his area on this project of mine, ask him to write. I have some super-simple questions regarding catch & effort of scup, sea bass, and summer flounder. 

Here's an example: Last year NY's Private Boats are said by MRIP (NOAA's official recreational catch estimate source) to have caught more sea bass in high summer than scup.. The info I have thus far points toward that being highly unlikely. 
Will pound it into shape. 

Bad data is destroying our fisheries more surely than Russian factory trawlers of yore. It really needs repair -- or managers need to be able to smile politely and ignore MRIP's crazy data (like they do every time I mention 'habitat.') We really need to move on from "Catch Restriction Only" based restoration strategies and start looking for real solutions. (there I go with habitat again..) 

Everything we need to know is made plain in fishing's true history. 
All that truth is obfuscated beyond any use by MRIP & MRFSS before it. 
An even bigger problem is our greening sea. Below is a piece I sent to many in management and a link to CCA's article.. 
I think by the time we have abundant huge tog, we'll also be able to SEE them on the bottom again. 
Was a time when I could WATCH a tog swim up to a client's crab; if the fish lit up - he'd bite. 
No more. Water clarity worse--greener every generation. We'll need oysters in our major estuaries by the trillion to turn the ocean blue. 
Absolutely doable. 


Sent 2/23/17......
I suppose Rick Elyar gets photo credit for this drone shot. 
Though a small disappointment that I was unable to manufacture pre-spat pipe units; Rick Elyar, through CCA & MARI, (OCRF helped too!) put down a GIANT LOAD of pipe at Tangier Reef. Some of these are HUGE!

When an unprespat reef ball was hauled & inspected two years ago by Rick Younger's crew at Tangier Reef; Bill Goldsborough said it appeared "Pre-Contact." (Bill DOES NOT remember saying that! But it is what I was told that day. Bill writes: "Specifically I was thinking of descriptions from Dr. William Brooks in 1891." ) To my knowledge, this is our best natural oyster colonization of artificial reef..
While many in the .enviro world think reef balls have some top secret concrete mix - that's fertilizer. They're just concrete off a truck. Period. 
These pipes are made the same.. (Bill called me on this too. And he's right because these reef balls were made by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation nearly 20 years ago. On this side of the tracks we don't fuss with it. Concrete's concrete. Now I need to go look up that 1891 work!)

While I wasn't able to get a pre-spat component into pipe units as I'd envisioned; I just suggested to Rick Elyar that he place pre-spat reef balls inside some of the larger pipes to fashion (J Odell, January 2015) "Spat Cannons"... 
He loves the idea. 

It was a true genius who thought of that. Carson Beldin of OC (long since passed) thought of it as his retirement plan, to just harvest oysters grown in such a fashion..

The Mid-Atlantic truly has become a green sea. Reestablishing our primary biofilter is of greatest importance to marine water quality restoration across the Mid-Atlantic's shelf waters -- and even beyond canyon's edge at times. 
Here's to Blue Seas! 

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