Friday, October 29, 2021

Fish Report 10/29/21 - Nov Trips

Fish Report 10/29/21 

Fishing Sea Bass Everyday Weather Allows! Sundays, Mondays - Everyday wind & swell allow (..and dang sure that's not been often!)

Offering Sea Bass Trips With Prices Same As Last Year. Sea bassing's plenty dagoned good even if they're acting more like mid-Sept than early Nov. 

I don't see need of x-long trips yet. It may well be so after this near-gale of NE wind though. As ever, I'll try to stay until I get the job done. Had a boat limit last cbass trip on 10/23/21 - then took my mates on a long promised voyage into the deep on the 24th where we enjoyed the best golden tile fishing I've ever had (on a trip that was supposed to be bluelines & sea bass..)

Tile trips are too exhausting for me to keep a fishing schedule up. Youth but a memory, I don't see offering them save in the rarest circumstance. 

I am, however, selling sea bass trips—will do all I can to catch clients plenty of cbass. We're allowed fifteen at 12.5 inches and will be having sea bass only pools. 

Ticket Sales Limited To Four. (Let your friends take care of their own reservations!) Will sometimes sell all spots to one company on a weekday—as in a charter. Has to go through me and not terribly likely. I've built a livelihood carrying individual anglers and enjoy their company. 

Opening November 2 thru Nov 10 - Saturdays 6:30 to 3:30 at $155.00 — Weekdays 7 to 3 at $135 — All cbass trips sell out at a nicely spaced 18 Anglers...

Reservations Required  For All Trips - Call Anna (and sometimes daughter Hanna!) Reservation Line is Open 8am to 8pm at 443-235-5577 It always jams when I fist open. 

As ever, 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

overslept or had a flat. No Refund or Reschedule for a missed trip! 

Trips Also Announced (but later - email is always first) on Facebook.

My personal and Morning Star FB pages get daily after action (or lack thereof) reports..

Bait is provided on all trips.

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. This is 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 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.

As of 10/28/21 we have 35,108 Reef Blocks + 359 Concrete Pyramids (170lb ea) deployed at numerous ACE permitted ocean reef sites - and, also as of 10/19/21, we have 312 pyramids in Chesapeake Bay working to restore blue  ocean water…

Currently being targeted oceanside: Virginia Lee Hawkins Memorial Reef 99 Reef Blocks (+53 Reef Pyramids begun 8/18/20) - Capt. Jack Kaeufer's/Lucas Alexander's Reefs 1,856 Blocks (+44 Reef Pyramids) - Doug Ake's Reef 4,174 blocks (+16 Pyramid Reef Pyramids) - St. Ann's 2,777 (+8 Reef Pyramids) - Sue's Block Drop 1,582 (+20 Reef Pyramids) - TwoTanks Reef 1,223 (+ 11 Reef Pyramids) - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 912 - Benelli Reef 1,491 (+ 15 Pyramids) - Rudy's Reef 465 - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 3,563 (+56 reef pyramids) - Wolf & Daughters Reef 734 - Al Berger's Reef 1,009 (+11 Reef Pyramids) - Great Eastern Block Drop 1,094 (+10 Reef Pyramids).. And a soon-to-be-named reef at Russell's Reef 30 Blocks & 49 Pyramids - We've also begun work at Capt Greg Hall's Memorial Reef with 92 Tog Monster Blocks & 2 Pyramids… 

Greetings All, 

NOAA Fisheries is asking 'sea bass experts' their thoughts on the state of the fishery - will be doing interviews. Somehow I was included on that list. Below is the letter I sent before my interview that I might not hit them too hard from out of nowhere. 

Believe me - what I think is really going on with sea bass is neither reflected in the science nor in their management.  

At all. 

Would that we might change our path and enjoy what should be the simplest fishery to rebuild. 



(Email Sent 10/27/21)

Hi Anna & Jon, 

Hoping for the best success with your sea bass program! 

Owing a 1991 conversation with a MD DNR scientist working with the then "Chesapeake Bay Fisheries Plan" (as I recall, and I'll remember her name as soon as I hit send. Ahh! Nancy Butowski - now retired.) I began self-regulating sea bass in 1992 - a full 5 years before council stepped in and began regulating. At that time my clients were likely catching a good percentage of MD's recreational sea bass (seriously. I was running an amazing fast boat while carrying 80/90 passengers.) My boat regs had PROFOUND effect. Overall Catch climbed fabulously. We were doing what no one had ever done (with temperate reef fish) - throwing fish back. By August we'd see tiny sea bass with 3 to 5 hook wounds around their lip; yet many still insisted throwbacks all died. (interestingly, I had used wide gap hooks since the early 1980s because they increased clients success rate. It would be a long time before "recreational discard mortality associated with deep hooking" came to mind. Wide gap hooks (Kahle) work the same as circles so far as small fish are concerned. 

I have since written numerous pieces on bsb—especially concerning their spawning production and how simple size regulation can improve or hamper it. 

Not long ago (2015/2016) I was predicting a huge surge of sea bass off DelMarVa — and that population increase would come from the lowest population I'd ever seen in May 2015, & I do mean awful. As I'd predicted, it climbed to wonderful in just a few years. 

Although this past year offered the best sea bassing since 2003, it's nearing an end. Last year we ceased to observe small sea bass displaying a nuchal hump (under 9 inch.) With this huge percentage of the region's ssb now removed—with all age one cbass no longer in the ssb (spawning stock biomass) & with only 11.5 inch entering the ssb (which is right when a burst of growth shoots them into legal 12.5in size) — I think sea bass fishing will be greatly hampered by 2024 as we again suffer regulation-caused reduction in spawning. (By then wind power will be under construction. Our region's sea bass decline will be "their fault." Oyyyy…) 

The full tale is, of course, much more involved. 

MRFFS/MRIP recreational catch estimates will one day make US fisheries a laughing stock. I have written about it since 1997; but only since MRIP has it grown to gross negligence.  

It's just astounding how poorly done the estimates are - and yet glide right through the regulatory process.. 

So for instance a couple years back MRIP sez small boats in NY killed more sea bass than ALL Commercial & ALL Party/Charter COMBINED(!) From Hatteras to Cape Cod!! And in just two months vs professionals' Entire Year? Do Tell, MRIP! Do Tell! 

Management: "Well, gosh, we'd better regulate better.." 

Dumb beyond belief to EVER allow such nonsense into our regulatory system. 

Just 2021 wave 3 (May/June) MD bsb (black sea bass) estimates prove that no repair is in sight. 

MRIP's Maryland Wave 3 (May/June) Party/Charter estimate is lower than what my boat alone caught. And their (MRIP's) Private Boat side is just ludicrously too high. 


Further irritating is when MRIP influences science. 

Unreal.. Look at the work showing vast sea bass shift north where MRIP so inflates catch up north - and then look only at VTRs. VTR reports will show high catches where Pinsky's model shows virtually none.. (Them dagone private boat skippers are pretty slick to catch where Party/Charter/Commercial professionals have no clue there's an abundance of profitable fish. Uncanny!) 

Yes, the waters soon lapping at Jon's office door are warmer. Yes, Buzzards Bay has become wonderful sea bass habitat. (Believe me, I did my level best to eradicate scup from Buzzards Bay in my wasted youth. There were no sea bass. Those sea bass there now scream of warming.) But Florida remains sea bass habitat also! Dead center is the Mid-Atlantic. 

Promise: IF we'll manage for production, production we shall have. 

Indeed, part of our scientific blindness is in MRIP. But perhaps you'd look at the works on bsb prior to 2004 or so also. From much earlier works "age at length" is fantastically garbled. (I have numerous comparisons all worked out in several pieces I've written. Can dig them up.) 

Back in the 1950s/1990s a nine inch fish could be shown as three to five years old. Today we know that's age one. 

Scientists cherry pick age from length back when - or use just length to suit. 

I tried to tell everyone we had a grand experiment going on off DelMarVa in 2013/14/15 as sea bass & summer flounder were pushed from the MD Wind Energy Area (MD WEA). Measured by chart guys at The Nature Conservancy - by mid 2014 we had over 500 square miles of patch reef with NO sea bass. I videoed it in 2015. 



BOEM, (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) of course, said "Impossible!" and everyone else went along with them. 

Following cessation of surveys; it was from the recolonization of all that bottom—when even 7.5 inch sea bass again displayed a nuchal hump as they had in the 1990s, and spawning shot skyward—that we had the incredible fishing of the last two years. 

I've seen it twice now. All through the 1990s and again in late twenty-teens: Make sea bass spawn young and they'll populate every tiny piece of reef. 

In 2003 I actually thought we were at habitat capacity. Also by fall of 2003 I wondered aloud "where are the smalls?"  

By 2004/5 I knew we were in trouble. In 2007 a fantastic shot of summer flounder saved my business and others in the region. I had, many times, caught more sea bass in a day than we caught in the entire summer those next few seasons. 


We spent late June to  late Sept focused on sfl (traditionally sea bass fishing time) and there was no benefit to bsb.  

In May 2015 we had an unimaginable low - - when sea bass should have been flooding nearshore reefs preparing to spawn, there were few. 

Very few. 

Almost none really. 

I should imagine there are applications across many fisheries where an understanding of regulation's effect on spawning production might be of use.. 

Pull up long term graphs of many managed species - in cases where management was at least partly successful you'll see an early surge in population - and then regulators have to fight tooth and nail for every tiny population increase — or, fight to simply stave off a decrease in population. (do you see a striped bass in your mind's eye?) What's that called.. a K graph? Yes - MREP teachings, perhaps from your sessions Jon.. .. If we ANTICIPATE exponential growth early in management, or if we witness exponential growth in a period of management, why can't we learn to manage for it? learn to MAINTAIN exponential growth — and thereby allow greater fisheries removals. Fish & Fishers Benefit..

Importantly- in none of those instances of rapid population increase were there BOFF-like circumstances. (BOFF is Big Old Fecund Females. It's commonly held fisheries gospel and I think it among our greatest flaws..) 

No indeed, with management having only begun, females are invariably small. 

But, when a (fisheries restoration) plan is going to work, populations rise to habitat capacity swiftly regardless the absence of BOFF. 

Thing is - fish cannot know "habitat capacity" (apparently we don't either!) but instead have an instinctual perception "Let's back off the spawning. Too many of us are big." 

Well Anna, as Jon can attest, I've written about all of this for so very long. Would gladly send some of that work to whatever poor soul is tasked with talking to me. Be better to 'soften the beaches' as it were than have no idea what I'm talking about. 



Capt Monty Hawkins

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