Thursday, November 19, 2020

Fish Report 11/19/20

Fish Report 11/19/20 
Catching Sea Bass! (..and, dare I say it? Lots of limits! Knock Wood!)
New Dates/New Covid Passenger Limits. 
New Reservation Line! 
And, far below, my most difficult task: Why Managers Must Lower The Size Limit On Sea Bass... 

As many are already aware, my old reservation line of 18 years is no more. Have a new system. You may recognize Anna's voice as she builds her new answering service company. Eight AM to Eight PM 100% Live Answer (except when life necessitates letting the message system have the helm awhile..)

All Trips - All - Even Saturdays - 7 to 3:30pm (leave early/get home when we've wrangled all we can from a day is what will really happen..) Now $150.00 per-person with the same "No Refund/Reschedule Only" policy as May through November. New covid restrictions may seriously impact my business any day as the crisis worsens again.. My minimized cash flow cannot handle a string of refund days. And if the guvmint shuts us completely? Well, eventually we'll reopen. If canceled for whatever reason - Please know I'm good for your trip another day. 
If you have a reschedule on the book you're welcome to reserve any spot that's open on any day with a similarly priced trip. I am not going to charge you an extra $15 on a $135 reschedule.. Saturdays too?When you work 7 days a week the days blend together. Just simplifying.)

Weather Cancellations Happen - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way..
COVID Regs Trips Are NonRefundable! Reschedule in event of bad weather? Of Course! But no refunds.. If you can't abide a reschedule - don't book! 
NonRefundable sea bass/reef fishing trips. Size limit on sea bass 12.5 inches & 15 sea bass per person. 

Just a handful of trips here and according to long range weather.. Sat/Sun Nov 21/22 - Sea Bass. 
Wednesday & Friday Nov 25 & 27 Sea Bass. 
These Trips All 7 to 3:30. (Yes! We'll try to leave up to 1/2 hour early. And, yes, I rarely get in on time unless the fishing's just been outrageously good..)

Boat Now Sells Out At 15! (used to be 25 before Covid, then 18, now reduced further for client and crew safety) See new spots chart at .. Everyone liked a smaller crowd as COVID regs hit - including me. It's going to stay that way even after Covid's long gone. 

NEW Reservation Line 443-235-5577 from 8am to 8pm — No More 24 hour answers.. (emailing me about reservation availability does no good. Anna will have real time info. Worse is FB messenger. I only check it once a week or so. Want Reservation info? Want to know if your favorite spot is available? Call Anna! Sometimes you'll get a very sharp Daughter, Hanna..) 

Am posting somewhat detailed day by day reports on Facebook...but I Do Not have FB messenger on my phone. If you want to book a spot - call. Need info from me? Email I make a sincere effort to reply to every email inquiry. 

If in the passenger salon - Mask Required. If you refuse a mask, BYO life jacket! (but seriously, not only do I not want anyone taking ill -- if one Partyboat anywhere sparks an outbreak we'll ALL get shut down again. With many states at new highs, it's anyone's guess.. Regardless DelMarVa's less dramatic increase in corona, we must remain vigilant.) 

Be a half hour early! We always leave early!
..except when someone shows up right on time.
Clients (but not the Captain) 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
overslept or had a flat. No Refund or Reschedule for a missed trip! 

Trips Also Announced on Facebook at Morning Star Fishing & my personal FB page along with after action (or lack thereof) reports..

Bait is provided on all trips—Clam & squid now. Rod rentals are $7.00 & include all rigs. 

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
Two People. Do Not Bring A Very Large Coffin 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.

Wishbone never replaces backbone.. Have to keep a shoulder into reef building to make it happen. 
Donations help too! 
Have CRAZY opportunities this fall - Great Time To Donate!! 
Please Donate!! 
The price of scrap steel being so low is creating more reef building opportunity than I've had in my entire life!
Here from "Reef Report 11/14/20."
Met four volunteers Saturday morning 11/14 at 7:30am. Already had 6 backyard-built pyramids 
loaded in my truck. We'd get 43 more from the blockpile—pyramids that had been poured at Bear Concrete & Atlantic Concrete in Dagsboro with leftover cement—for a total of 49 pyramids (4.1 tons.) 
We loaded the Morning Star and carried them 4.5 miles out right in-between two close reefs to stitch them loosely together - make a single 'reef group' fishable at once.  
With a bit of luck it will be a flounder hotspot next summer.. 
So far in 2020 we've deployed a 55' barge, an 85' tug, a 50' steel sailboat, plus thousands of reef blocks and almost 150 reef pyramids. 
Now we have a 200' Barge coming - it's ours - we've patched it so it won't leak on the tow down. Cost for a tow from Baltimore to 9nm East of OC is 100% doable - our largest project ever - and we've ALMOST enough funding! 
Although our Benelli Reef Raffle is going well, I thought I'd spice it up with a weekly t-shirt drawing thru the New Year's Day Grand Prize Drawing. New mermaid design or tried and true—winner's choice—starting 11/15/20- every Sunday at 9:00pm we'll gather sales, pull three tickets from the fish bowl, contact winners for a size, give them each a shirt & put their ticket back for the main drawing. Get drawn twice and it's a sweatshirt! (Three times? Ah, you're too spoiled!)
Every donation builds reef!
OCRF's 2020 Benelli Raffle features a Benelli M-2 from their Performance Shop in 12ga or $1,000.00 Cash! 
Drawing January 1, 2021.. 
For the first time ever supporters can buy tix online at - we'll (eh, Courtney) will fill in your name and take a pic of the stubs to email you. 
Tix are one for $10 - six for $50 - fourteen for $100.. 
Tickets also available at Atlantic Tackle, AllTackle WOC, Optical Galleria, on my boat, & at Raceway Citgo with more locations soon.

Oh Man!!
Yes Sir! 2020 has been a royal pain in the neck, but it's going to be the best ever for our fish & fishing!!!
Block & Pyramid Tallies..
As of 11/18/20 we have 32,107 Reef Blocks + 263 Concrete Pyramids (170lb ea) deployed at numerous ACE permitted reef sites. 
Currently being targeted: Virginia Lee Hawkins Memorial Reef 99 Reef Blocks (+ 47 Reef Pyramids begun 8/18/20) - Capt. Jack Kaeufer's Reef 1,616 Blocks (+44 Reef Pyramids) - Doug Ake's Reef 4,114 blocks (+16 Pyramid Reef Pyramids) - St. Ann's 2,505 (+6 Reef Pyramids) - Sue's Block Drop 1,538 (+20 Reef Pyramids) - TwoTanks Reef 1,223 (+ 11 Reef Pyramids) - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 912 - Benelli Reef 1,471 (+ 15 Pyramids) - Rudy's Reef 365 - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 3,154 (+52 reef pyramids)  - Wolf & Daughters Reef 734 - Al Berger's Reef 607 (+4 Reef Pyramids) - Great Eastern Block Drop 854 (+9 Reef Pyramids).. And a soon-to-be-named reef at Russell's Reef 12 & 49 Pyramids...
Take All The Help I Can Find! Donate at - please! 

Greetings All, 
Reef building has me busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest. While that's wonderful, it sure has dampened my advocacy and fisheries work. 
All in time I suppose. 
I do want to point out something about our sea bass fishing - want to really dig into it, but it's a deep dive. Will just scratch it here. Sea bassing's been off the chain this year - best since 2003 without a doubt. Younger skippers are saying "Best Ever!" Ahhhh.. They've no idea what this could be like if the dagoned guvmint wasn't hobbled by nutso-crazy recreational catch estimates. 
You see, I believe we could send sea bass spawning production into the stratosphere by lowering the size limit. Yup, I said lowering--make sea bass incredibly more numerous by lowering the size limit. 
But everyone knows big females make big populations, right? Well, that is what's believed. 
Ain't so in sea bass. I bet it's not so in many species known to change sex. (Ahh Yes, sequential hermaphrodites.. Many reef species can change sex from female to male.) We have had larger females today than science even believed existed prior to 2000; and, more of them. If BOFF (Big Old Fecund Females) theory of fisheries production held true in sea bass, our sea bass would have pushed upward unceasingly since 1998 or so. 
Instead? DelMarVa sea bass crashed beginning in 2004. 
I'm not guessing about increasing production. I'm right. I predicted this current surge in sea bass as early as 2015. Was hammering at it to management by 2017. 
Perhaps a few readers will remember Fish Reports from the MD Wind Energy Area surveying period. It drove me NUTS. Those survey boats worked three and a half years 13 to 18 miles east of us - their "sub-bottom profiler" survey equipment made sea bass & flounder STOP EATING. 
NOAA & BOEM said, "Hawkins, you're full of it." 
But I'm not. 
Going into the second year of surveying sea bass & flounder evacuated all of the MD Wind Area including all the area 4 miles outside its perimeter. In those days I had a confederate whose livelihood is in GPS mapping. He calculated the area quite precisely. Reef of every sort across 550 square miles had been evacuated by sea bass and summer flounder. 
I filmed it. See "Survey Impacts to Reef Fish off the Coast of Maryland" -- used video from 2004 to show abundance and August 16th, 2015 to illustrate their decline — and on the EXACT same reefs. The difference in populations is stark. 
NOAA & BOEM? "Nawww! Plenty of fish, plus we all know sea bass have shifted north owing climate change." 
You know, it's almost enough to irritate a skipper who knows what the heck he's talking about.. 
So, well, gosh; Hey NOAA & BOEM! Have sea bass now shifted south? We're damn sure catching the billy blue blazes out of em down here.. 
It's almost as if localized spawning production determined populations. 
"Okay, wait a minute skipper. How in the heck does the complete absence of fish a few years ago result in a huge abundance now?" 
Here's what I wrote in my 2/17/16 fish report:
""Last year, in 2015, we had no spring run of sea bass. I'd never seen such a thing. 
Having thought long & hard, I attributed the 2015 spring run failure to there being so few spawning sea bass that any remaining impetus--any race among them to be first to claim the best spawning spots--is now gone. 
But I wonder if instead year after year of surveys has taught our sea bass NOT to spawn here, not at all.. Spawning site fidelity is everywhere in the animal world. Similar to salmon, sea bass return to exactly the same spot to spawn. Except, unlike salmon, sea bass survive to spawn again & again. (if we don't catch them!) We've shown spawning site fidelity in cbass with tags hundreds of times.  
What's going to happen now that we've forced them --year after year by sub-bottom profiler noise impacts-- to leave the only spawning ground they know? 

I think what's going to happen is all that bottom in the Maryland Wind Energy Area (MD WEA) will become as if it were a brand new artificial reef - a huge new reef spread out in fantastically greater area than we could ever hope to permit for reef building ..with no fish on it. 
With it's previous spawning population having vacated the premises over what I calculate to be about 500 square miles of seafloor; a new spawning population will take a while to rebuild. 
What I didn't write in 2015, but talked about numerous times in other reports, is wide-open habitat re-triggers the age 1 spawning response. All Reef Resident Sea Bass Will Spawn If The Habitat Is Not "Owned" By Age 3 & 4 Sea Bass. 
If larger fish are present? They either bully (think top bull in a herd of horned mammals) or use pheromones to stop the spawning instinct in age 1 fish... 
That amazing fishing we had in the early 2000s and again this year owes to 'all hands on deck' spawning. 
I have a lot more work on this. Will come to it as weather worsens and in between reef building's chores. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins

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