Monday, December 17, 2018

Fish Report 12/17/18

Fish Report 12/17/18
One Tog Trip - One Sea Bass Trip This Week. 
Same Next Week! 
On Black Water

Trips Also Announced on Facebook at Morning Star Fishing & my personal page..

Wed, 12/19/18 - 12 Hour Sea Bass - Departs 4:30 - $170.00 - Sells Out At 20 - Long Run - Calling for calm seas..
Thursday 12/20/18 - Tautog - 7:30 to 3:00 - $100.00 - Sells Out At 14..  
Monday, 12/24/18 - Shorter Tog Trip.. 7 to 2 - $100.00 - Sells Out At 12 
Wednesday, 12/26/18 - Long Sea Bass - Departs 4:30 - $170.00 - Sells Out At 20 - Long Run - Calling for calm seas..

Bait is provided on all trips: A variety for sea bass; green crabs for tog. (No white crabs at this time. Maybe soon?) Rental Rods are $7.00 - Each A Rod I'd Use Myself..
Wear Boots! Sneakers this time of year can ruin your trip...

Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - Staffed 24/7 (Asking me for a reservation via FB or Email is a guaranteed way to wrench up the business! Use the reservation line!)  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 & LISTEN TO YOUR MESSAGES - 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..

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 Regulation)
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 - sneakers can ruin your day. 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. Tuck a "hot hands" warmer in the palm and life is good..
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..

Sponsor the Ocean City Reef Foundation!
We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential.

If you have concrete blocks in the backyard taking up space and just making snake reef, bring em. We'll toss em overboard with the rest.

23,601 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites as of 12/11/18. Here are sites currently being targeted: Capt. Jack Kaeufer's Reef 618 - Doug Ake's Reef 3,739 - St. Ann's 2,234 - Sue's Block Drop 637 - Two-Tanks Reef 320 - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 900 - Benelli Reef 746 - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 1,218 - Wolf & Daughters Reef 688.

Greetings All, 
Had a scientific research tog trip last week. Clients didn't know it while booking, but they were allowed to take every tog - no throwbacks. And good thing too -- we sure didn't have many +16 inch keepers! A team of MD DNR biologists were dissecting all their fish for aging analysis the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) does on an annual basis. 
As every state is required to do 200 tog, I think it quite wasteful. But because one year all 200 tog came off just one artificial reef, I'm glad to help diffuse the take - spread the effort to more numerous sites. That reef was dead for a couple years.. 
There is talk of combining MD/DE/VA's samples into one region.. The data set is awesome & really doesn't need 200 from everywhere anymore (& never did!) 
Because MRIP tells our biologists MD Private Boats caught 114,281 Tautog in March/April of 2010 - why would they worry over removal of 200? 
Well, from 1988 to 2018 MD's Party Charter Boats are thought to have taken just 23,500.. Not even 25% of MD Private Boat's catch during one year -vs- landings across 30 years of professional March/April effort. 
MRIP Stinks. Lots & Lots Of Laughable Catch Data - would be laughable except it so messes up regulation and clouds our best paths forward to making our oceans & bays as productive as possible.. 

I rarely see a private boat in April. Tempted to say Never in March. I do see a few other For-Hire skippers.. It's just another perfect illustration of how truly dumb MRIP assertions of recreational catch are. Managers' adherence to "Treat MRIP as Fact" is driving restoration efforts hard astern by blowing a smokescreen of bad data across computers everywhere. 
How In Billy Blue Blazes could biologists EVER get a handle on their true tasks when forced to feed fully impossible data into their models...

Also had a much more successful sea bass trip than my previous one. Had to burn a jag of fuel to do it; had some limits & really nice cbass aboard. 
Caught a 27 inch fluke too. When several of us tried to replicate the feat, we only caught green-eyed spiny dogfish devils. 

Still seeing saddleback dolphin on long trips. Have posted video on FB. 
We try sea bass & tog again. Trips Above. . .

Nothing messes up tog fishing like "black water." This is when detritus such as dead algae that has settled through the water column to bottom are wildly stirred up - mixed completely back into the water column. 
For some animals this "marine snow" is food. They must be thriving? 
Algae, you see, is getting worse in the lower & central Mid-Atlantic. Although truly a key component of marine ecosystems, too much is too much. Because we add marine nutrients in vast quantity from DE & Chesapeake Bay outflows, algae in this marine region flourish. It's turned our part of the ocean green. 
Old timers 3 & 4 generations back once caught white marlin as close as 3 miles offshore in blue water; 2 generations ago billfishers knew "The White Marlin Capitol of the World" and only fished 8 to 30 miles offshore in blue water (with the predominate effort at Jackspot Shoal some 21 miles SE OC MD) and today, owing only the greening of our Mid-Atlantic waters, billfishers must travel at least 50 miles - with 80 & 100 mile runs not uncommon.. 

Overnutrified waters.. This is THE battle in Chesapeake Bay. There's a lot to it.. I believe recent successes in oyster reef restoration show it's only a matter of money & construction now. We know how to restore oyster populations in grand scale - have done it several places. Lenny Rudow of Fish Talk magazine told me he'd been sightcasting stripers as if bonefish on a Caribbean flat(!) atop the Harris Creek oyster restoration site last summer. 
Water quality restoration is doable!  
But so far as recognizing the OCEAN is being affected by declining water quality? Hasn't made the work list yet. In fact, I'd argue marine water quality is fully unrecognized as anything in need of repair/restoration.. 

So algae die and slowly settle to the bottom. This can take weeks in the deep, is obviously faster the shallower you go. However, what we're starting to experience more & more of is resuspension of this detritus. 
When an east wind of 45 knots or better builds a deep bodied swell, that wave energy travels all the way to the bottom. Sand gets moved around, even wrecks & artificial reefs can get moved. 
Florida had a huge ship (sunk as artificial reef) move a quarter mile a few years back. All that super-lightweight dead algae? It's like a dry snow - but made of helium - it floats in the water only settling slowly. 

When black water occurs (every bit of detritus resuspended) we find the flounder bite is done - kaput. Tautog too. Sometimes even sea bass can be affected. So much fluff from the bottom is stirred up that visibility becomes zero. Typically an underwater camera sees better than the human eye. After a hearty blow visibility can be completely lost just 20 feet down. 
It HAS to be affecting desirable reef growth too. Some algae is good. It's food. As in our estuaries where submerged aquatic vegetation must have light, blocking sunlight is no good at sea either. 
But that's only if you believe, as I do, that sea whip - a principal habitat maker, a soft coral, is sunlight dependent. We're even ignorant of that.. 
Zooanthellae are studied everywhere known to have important coral habitat. 
Not here. Not yet. We don't have coral habitat above Cape Hatteras.

I feel quite certain this 'black water' is becoming more of an issue off the coast here. It's getting worse. 
Demersal fish feeding all but halts. 
Worst I ever saw was after Hurricane Sandy.. 
But we had a good bit of it a few weeks back in just 45 knots of ENE wind. Killed the inshore tog bite for a week or so. 

Oyster reefs in DE & Ches Bays are the biggest part of it. Oysters clean water incredibly well. 
Of numerous groups working on oyster restoration - The Nature Conservancy, CCA MD, & Chesapeake Bay Foundation seem to be swinging hardest. 
I believe restoring white marlin to the Jackspot is 100% doable. Whole lot of other fisheries will be along for that ride. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 

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