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  1. As usual, I read through the many fishing reports and see the amazing pictures of anglers proudly posing with their catch. By the time I have finished looking at the photos for the fourth time, the “fishy” part of my brain is creating a new list of excuses that may convince my wife to let me go fishing. Once I have finished explaining how the tide will be perfect for the next few hours, the weather forecast could not get any better and the tackle shop just received fresh bait, she usually gives her approval. In a rush to get out the door before she changes her mind, I find myself quickly going through my mental list of surf fishing necessities. Before I know it, I am on the sand wishing I had spent a little more time on that mental list. Depending on where you fish, having to run back to your house or the nearest tackle shop may not be a big deal, however if you fish areas like the southern end of Assateague Island, having to admit to your fishing buddy how you managed to forget the bait knife is not a good feeling. Some anglers like to step out for an hour or two and they don’t need to take much with them. On the other hand, if you are like me and can’t help but fish until it hurts, there are many items you can bring that will ease the pain. First of all, make sure you know the license requirements, regulations and creel limits for the beach you will be fishing. It is also a good idea to keep a fish species reference guide with you to help identify your catch. If you are not sure what you have caught, safely remove the hook and get it back into the water as fast as possible. A good photo will last much longer than any fish you will catch, so don’t hesitate to snap a quick picture. You will need something to help carry your gear through the soft sand. A surf fishing cart can be a great investment for fishing spots such as the North end of Assateague Island. On some beaches, such as the federal side of Assateague Island, you are allowed to drive your vehicle on the beach. This is very convenient for longer fishing trips that require more fishing gear. Of course you will need your surf fishing rod and reel, sinkers, hooks, and other basic fishing tackle. Choosing the type of tackle needed always depends on the species of fish you will be targeting. There are numerous options when it comes to choosing your tackle, however don’t let it overwhelm you. Your best bet will be checking out the fishing reports on the Internet and spending some time talking to the folks at our local tackle shops. They will be able to help you get an idea which rigs are best for your tackle box. You are going to need a cooler with ice to keep your bait fresh. It does not take long for the sun and warm air to dry out even the freshest bait. In the spring, the most commonly used baits, such as bunker or peeler crabs are going to need to be cut into pieces, so having a strong, serrated knife and cutting board are essential. The springtime sun can feel very warm at home; however the ocean breeze can feel surprisingly cold! Make sure you dress appropriately and have a good idea of the weather forecast. Even on those cloudy days, you will get sunburned so don’t forget sunscreen. Having a hat and a pair of polarized sunglasses will not only help with the sun’s glare on the water, it will also keep you from getting the painful “squint eye” headache. Wearing a comfortable pair of waterproof waders will certainly help keep your legs warm and dry when that unexpected wave sneaks up on you right in the middle of your cast. After you have heaved your bait into the surf, you are going to need a sturdy sand spike to hold your rod. When choosing your sand spike, make sure the bottom of your rod easily fits into the sand spike. In my opinion, the longer the sand spike, the better. You will need to shove it down into the sand far enough to be able to put pressure against it without it falling over. As the tide comes in and the sand becomes soft, make sure you frequently check your sand spike to ensure it does not move easily. One of the most common critters you are likely to catch is the Clearnose skate. Trust me, having a quality pair of needle nose pliers and fishing gloves will come in very handy when removing the hook from these spine covered bottom dwellers, as well as many other fish. Being able to sit down and rest while you wait for that record fish to swim by will make your trip much more enjoyable. Although your cooler can also serve as a seat, I recommend a lightweight beach chair with a cup holder. It’s always a good idea to bring something to eat and plenty of fresh water for drinking and washing your hands. Most importantly, you must remember you will be in constant contact with things that can hurt you if you fail to respect them. Think about it, you are dealing with sharp hooks and lead weights that are being hurled at incredible speeds. Be aware of the power of the ocean and the heat of the sun. There is always the possibility that you will have to unhook many different types of critters and just about all of them have some sort of natural defense. Excitement and adrenaline can take over very quickly when surf fishing and you have to remember to stay focused. Always have a first-aid kit and cell phone, especially if you are fishing alone. Although it may not be on your list of surf fishing gear, being safe is without a doubt the last thing you want to forget. Whenever possible, bring a friend with you. Not only can they help you untangle that spiny dogfish from your line, but in my opinion, sharing a good day on the beach with a buddy is a reward in itself.
  2. Things are slow here in the Myrtle Beach/Murrells Inlet SC area this time of year... Fishing Reports Myrtle Beach/Murrells Inlet area Fishing Report Fishing the Murrells Inlet/Myrtle Beach area is seasonal with the fishing a little slow for March til the middle of April. Mid April, the fishing starts to pick-up for some Flounder and Red Drum. Everything[Fishing] is always weather related in Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach the sooner the water temp. gets in the 60's the fishing will get better. Late April thru December is always a good time for fishing for Red Drum, the bait moves in and the fishing turns on. June, July and August, the water temp is getting rite for ALL fishing in the Murrells Inlet/Myrtle Beach areas! Everything is good at the beach! People are out in the sun,shopping,fishing and the Murrells Inlet/Myrtle Beach area is hopping! August and September the Spanish and King Mackerel are on the beach and can be caught live baiting along the coast. We often catch them at the jetties or 3-mile reef or trolling with planners and spoons. Fishing at Murrells Inlet/Myrtle Beach during the summer months you never know what you are going to hook-up with so expect to catch a anything while fishing,maybe even a SHARK. For all you that like catching Trout, Weakfish Trout are plentiful sometimes around Sept/ Oct. While the true Winter Trout only starts when the water temps start dropping in to the 60's and lower. I'm Capt Shannon Currie and hope you have a great fishing experience while fishing in Murrells Inlet/Myrtle Beach please call or visit the site below if you need more info.There you will find all fishing info and pictures.
  3. Going down to ocmd to surf fish. How's the bite? What boat shouting use?
  4. A bunch of friends and I are heading down to Assateague March 13th through the end of the weekend. I an experienced fisherman but I've never been to the island. I've been doing research and was wondering is someone could tell me what I could expect to catch that time of year down there. I've seen a lot of the shark pictures and have the kayaks to bring bait far out but wanted to know if they'll even be active in-shore that early. Also I know most guys are tight lipped when it comes to spots but if someone could point me in the right direction as far as location it would be much appreciated although I'm not sure that that is really possible when it comes to surf fishing. Thanks for any help.
  5. Downsized my truck, have for sale a cooler rack from justice welding, size 60 1/2 " x 24", 8 upright rod tubes, 2 at 45 degree, bucket hoop, bait board, TOOL/KNIFE HOLDER, 4 sand spike with bracket, front "curb feelers". Mounting brackets for late model chevy. $ 300.00 or may consider trade for smaller rack or 6 or 8 tube fold down cooler rack. Best contact. Cell 443-235- 1553. Thanks john
  6. Hi Everyone, i am heading down in a couple days. Can anyone tell me where they sell fresh bait? and maybe what baits are best now,,.. or is anything biting in this hot weather? Thanks.
  7. Fri 8/14 Had Cool Hand Al, Ralphy aka Mr Okuma, Brian, Kevin, Arty and Kenny for another day of Fluking... Nj Bob was Nice enough to drop off a crumbcake in the Morning thanks Bob!!! Headed up to the SAME GROUNDS we been fishing for over 3 weeks... In the ruff stuff... Started Out with No drift sliding at .2 but we were able to picka keeper every time we stopped and a couple of shorts... Stayed with that till the Mugging became unbearable with boats stoping 20 ft on each side of us... Moved to a new area in it was More Of the same... keeper here keeper there shorts and some Lulls... We finally started to get some Current and the fish started to chew... Keep making shorts drifts working patches of keepers... some drifts we would get 2,3 or 4 some none But we Kept at it... Bucktails Def out fished bait today... with only a few fish coming on dragged bait... Congrats To Cool Hand Al who had his best day of the 2009 fluke year today... He was high hook with a limit Plus... Arty Caught his limit+ on Gulp... and Kenny Jigged Up his Limit as well... Way To hang with it Brian who came on strong at the end with some nice keepers ... Ralphy Banged a couple of keepers as soon as he switched Rods! So Some guys fared better than others today Depending on setups but we had a pick all day and grinded away at quality Keepers to fill the cooler! By days end the Cooler was filled with 36 Keeper Fluke the 6 man Limit... And everybody went home again with a jumbo bag o fillets On a side Note it is unbelievable how unprofessional Some Other Charter Capts Are... Fishing an General Area Is one Thing But a Belmar and Pt Charter Boat that circles around ya when you net a fluke and parks where you could cast your bucktail in his cockpit is Terrible and pathetic! Find Your own! Thanks again guys! SaT 8/15 It CONTINUES!!! Capt Wayne called me about an hour ago and the fluke cont to bite in da rough stuff ... Same area WE BEEN FISHING! Bucktails and Big baits! They have Tims the ex blackcat charter today a 5 man crew and have 30 keepers A 5 man Limit.... Bob bates had his limit by 10:00 am and is now high hook with double digit keepers... High Hook was in the double digits with keepers! Top fish were 7lbs, 2 @ 6.6lbs, 6.3lbs, 5.15lbs Thanks Guys! Sun 8/16 The beat goes on! 7 trips in a row with guys on the boat having limits... Capt. Wayne on the helm again today SAME AREA WE BEEN FISHING... Bill LavBob, Matt Avid, Brian and friends headed back to the rough stuff... Just read my text and Lavbob Bill had his limit by 9:30 am and is high hook with double digit keepers... Matt aka Avid has now been on the boat 3 times and limited out EVERY TIME.... He has some nice fish today with almost his whole limit of 6 fish being over 5 lbs... Brian also landed a couple of good ones! 5 man crew(one guy bailed tin the am) and 30 keeper fluke are in da cooler Bucktails and teaser again outfished bait... Matt Aka Avid Had the most impressive limit i have seen all year... All 6 fish were between 5-7.5lbs... Just Himself his 6 Fish were 7.5lbs 7.3lbs 7lbs 6.3lbs 5.4 and 5.2lbs not to mention he has caught 5 Limits + on his last 3 trips with us way to Go Matt!!! Bill had the Top fish @ 8lbs and Brian Jr and Scott put some nice Fish in the boat as well everyone went home with Jumbo bags o fillets again! All the fish in the front row are 5-8lbs... Enjoy! Thanks Again!!!
  8. Please feel free to post your fishing experiences. It is a little slow right now except for the occational schools of croaker and spot. There has been some exceptional sharking this year! Keep Fishin!
  10. Went to <acronym title="Rhode Island"><acronym title="Rhode Island"><acronym title="Rhode Island">RI</acronym></acronym></acronym> on our little 3 day family trip we do every year.Camped at Burlingame.Got there Thursday and set up camp.Friday morning we launched out of the Charlestown Breachway and headed to Block Island.The sky was overcast I sea was clam and like glas.I have never seen it like that.We have wanted to head out there for a few years.We have got fish off Nebraska Shoal,but,the guy in the bait shop kept telling up to go to the block.We got there and there was 50 boats or so fishing the self.I dropped a Diamond jig and Bam,I got a 6 lb Blue.We hammered fish till noon BIG blues Keeper Stripers (no monsters) some Dogfish and a Skate or two. We headed over to Fisherman's Point around 1 pm.Met the family,had lunch.Then we loaded the boat with our 2 boys and all the Scuba gear.Took them out to the Shoal.It was there first open dive in the ocean.We sat on the boat while they we down.It sucked sitting there ,but,I was on the water and .oh well.They came up after 20 mins or so ,telling us of the HUGE Stripes and Blues they saw and an abundance of other sea life.Pretty cool.Just as they came up ,the sky got dark.We headed in and half way back we got HAMMERED! We got to the boat ramp,it was low tide.I jumped off the boat bare foot,stepped on the ramp.Next thing I knew I was getting picked up off the concrete ramp.I went down hard.Cut up my hand ,and I'm hurting still. We loaded up and head to Galilee got 6 lbs of Steamers and headed back to camp/I washed the Steamers and let them sit in cornmeal till the next day. Saturday we headed out in the am again .After a night of soaking thunder storms.The sea was 2-3 ' waves.We headed to Block Island again.Rough LONG ride out there.We fished the same spots.About 70 boats out there.We didn't get any Stripers but,I got a PB Blue fish at 15 lbs!What a fight!The sea calmed down around 10 and so did the fishing.We hung till noon and went back to camp.The boys picked up 6 1 1/2 -2 lbs Lobsters.We went back to camp and had a seafood feast fit for a King.Plus Pork chops, baked potatos, best corn on the cob I have had so far this season, we got at a farm stand by Matunik exit off rt 1..Just as we finished eating.the sky started to darken.We had checked the weather for last night and Sunday.It said rain.So ,we packed up and headed home.Just as we left the sky opened up again.
  11. The weather is still warm to hot and the fishing is the same, some days warm; some day we have hot fishing. The water temps in the area are getting to late July temps already in June; I believe this is going to give us a summer trend of fishing for most of the season. To the fishing report>>>. We are still seeing so good numbers of Cobia around the area waters. The Cobia are around the inlets, shoals, and bars just off the beach. We are also still seeing them offshore a bit; around hard bottoms and reefs. Live bait has been the key to the bigger fish lately. Smaller Cobia have hit jigs around the inlets and ocean sand bars. Sight casting live bait to bigger Cobia just off the beach has produced some nice Cobia form Carolina Beach to Topsail. When we drift fish for Cobia, we are using carolina rigs with three to four once egg sinkers and 7/0 circle hooks with an eighty pound Berkley big game mono leader. The baits we are using are small Bluefish, Mullet, and Menhaden. The Flounder fishing is really starting to pick up. We are seeing Flounder inshore as well as just off the beaches. The places we look for Flounder are in the ICW, Cape Fear River and Creeks off the ICW. Look for drop offs on the edge of the main channel with current or any where baitfish are passing by. Most of the Flounder are eating little menhaden and Mud minnows on light Carolina rigs. The Flounder are mixed in size to just under keeper size to a few over five pounds. We have caught some Flounder on Artificial baits as well. We have had the best luck with Berkley Gulp 3” pogy in pearl white and smelt colors. Rig the grubs on a red or black jig head for best results. We have had some great Sharks fishing trips in the last two weeks; the bigger fish are just starting to show up. We are already even starting to see a few Hammerheads just off the beach. Shark fishing will be good until early October. Best baits for the near shore sharks are, fresh and live Menhaden. When we use bait to catch the sharks we use spinning reels, with 300+ yards of thirty and fifty pound Spider wire Ultracast braid. Rigging the baits; eight feet of 80 pound mono leader; some will wind on to the reel. Connected the 80 pound mono to a fifty pound swivel, then to Two to three foot of #9 SS wire and an 8/0 or 9/0 off set J hook. If you prefer Fly fishing, I like Striped bass flies in Menhaden patterns with 4/0 and 5/0 hook sizes. We use ten to twelve weight set ups; have lots of extra flies with you! When Shark fishing gets good, it’s not long before we start to see some Tarpon in the area. We have seen some nice schools of Tarpon pushing up the beaches in the last two weeks. Tarpon fishing in North Carolina can be very fun but it can be a challenge to get one to bite! We fish for Tarpon on the bottom or free lining, using live and fresh dead baits like; spots, bluefish and Menhaden. We are rigging these baits on fish finder rigs, with three to five feet of 80 to 100 pound mono leaders. Circle hooks are the best bet for good hook ups and landings for Tarpon in hook sizes 7/0 to 9/0 depending what hook series you like. I have also had a fair share of Tarpon on my kite rig with live baits like greenies, bluefish and menhaden. Nothing like seeing a Tarpon hit kite baits! Redfish are still biting well, but with all the hot weather its best to go early in the morning or later afternoons when the water is a bit cooler. Topwater lures and rattling corks in the shallow waters earlier mornings and afternoons will produce some Redfish. Working grubs like Berkley Gulp later in the day in deeper waters will also produce Reds for ya. Sometimes it can be just like colder mouths, slow down your presentation a little when the water gets hot. Give the Redfish a little more time to catch up with your bait. A few other fish that are biting lately; Spanish mackerel bite has been hit or miss lately. The best catching have been earlier in the morning and casting jigs and spoons to jumping fish, has put most of the fish in the boat lately. The Sheephead bite has really picked up in the last few weeks, fishing around bridges, pilings and bulkheads will produce some nice Sheephead. Off the beach from five to fifth teen miles the King Mackerel and Mahi are showing some. Fast trolling Ballyhoo or slow trolling lives baits a working for the Mackerel and Mahi. There has also been a few Sailfish caught as well lately in the same areas. Fishing Gear we use: Reels Penn Conquer and Sargus spinning in sizes 2000 and 4000. Spiderwire Ultra-cast braid in 10 and 15#. Rods: Ugly stick lite 6’6” and 7’ Med & Med-Heavy and the All Star ASR spinning rod ASR844S and ASR845S. Cobia, Shark and Tarpon: Spinning setup Penn Conquer 7000 with an Ugly Stick Tiger lite Jigging rod 6’ 6” and Penn 320LD Reel and a Tiger lite jigging rod. Line for Cobia, Shark and Tarpon: Berkley Big Game 30# mono and 50# Spiderwire Stealth High-Vis Yellow. Thanks for reading this report, if you would like to go fishing drop me a line. Book now for this coming summer fishing season and don’t forget to take a kid fishing! Good Luck, Captain Jot Owens Ranger Boats Pro Staff PENN Reels Elite Staff Wilmington North Carolina Guided Fishing Charters Wrightsville Beach <acronym title="North Carolina">NC</acronym> Inshore Fishing Boats 910-233-4139
  12. I have some family in town this week so i offered to take my uncle and cousins fishing. We headed out of wise point around 9am and found a nice smooth ride to the highrise. With my uncle, cousin Jim and the wife on board we started by drifting for flounder. Within minutes we had our first flounder on board caught by my wife. It was her first flounder ever but it came up an inch short. I tried around the piles for spades but only had a few nibbles and didnt even see any in the water. On one drift past the piles my uncle caught a nice triggerfish and a few minuts later i had one as well. This was my first trigger. He caught his on squid and mine was caught on shrimp. We continued to drift around hoping for that keeper flounder but after 9 caught and all thrown back we diecided to go to the 4th island. It didnt take long and we started to catch fish. Still no keepers though. Tried for spades at the 4th as well with no luck. We headed back to the highrise and caught a few more throw back flounder and headed in around 4. We ended the day with 12 flounder, all within an inch of legal size, countless huge oystertoads, black sea bass, 2 triggers around 4 lbs, and of course a ray. We caught fish constantly all day and had a great time. The best flounder bait seemed to be minnow/squid combo (best oyster toad bait too!!). I did catch one on a "lead head" with a twister tail tipped with squid while jigging across the bottom. Thanks to everyone that replied to my flounder rig question. We had a great time cating them. Maybe next time we can keep a few.
  13. Hey guys, thanks a lot for the info on this forum. I'm buddies with mwheatley, who posted here before our last trip two weeks ago. The info you guys have shared with us has proved to be a big help. Our first trip was a big success. Our first time out we caught two nice sharks, the largest being a 6 1/2 foot sand tiger. We went out again to <acronym title="Assateague Island"><acronym title="Assateague Island">AI</acronym></acronym> this last weekend Friday night/Saturday morning, a few miles down from our spot two weeks ago. This time we got skunked (except for a tiny 18 incher). If you don't mind, I've got a few questions. When we went two weeks ago there was no moon and the beach was full of sand fleas and crabs. They were everywhere. I can't help but think fish had come in to feed on these critters, and other fish came in to feed on those fish, etc., and sharks were more active. This time, it was nearly a full moon so there was plenty of light and no crabs/sand fleas. Plus there were no bigger sharks caught. (The moon did set about 4:00 am, and the crabs did come out then, and that's when we caught our small 18 incher.) So my first question is, have you guys seen any correlation between lunar cycles and shark catches (i.e., it's better with no moon, worse at full moon)? Or are other factors more significant, i.e. wind direction and water temp, more significant than the lunar cycle. (Last time we went (July 16/17), I didn't record the air or water temp, but there was a definite east wind, and the air seemed a bit cooler. This time, the wind was from the south-southwest, and it seemed generally warmer.) Second question is we're halving our bunker, casting out 1/2 pieces (5-6 inch head and tail). We did the same last time and caught some nice sharks with it. But if we were to cut the bunker into thirds, we could cast it further out. So there's trade offs with small bait (less blood trail, harder for sharks to find) cast out further or larger bait (more blood trail, easier to find) cast out not nearly as far. Are you guys halving your bunker or are you cutting it into smaller pieces and getting it further? What do you think yields more hits? Thanks in advance for the info. You guys have been a big help.
  14. It was a great day yesterday, the weather was perfect and the fish were plentiful. I took Chad Baniowski of Williamsburg Virginia out to the Chesapeake Light Tower. Chad is a Chef at Berrets Seafood Resturant in Historic Williamsburg so I am looking forward to getting some new recipes for ways to cook Spades from him. I had been telling him all about Spadefish and spear fishing and he was eager to give it a try. We departed Rudee Inlet around 0930 and went straight to the tower, it was nice, there was not another boat in sight so we had the tower to ourselves. The current was ripping but the visibility was decent at about 15-20 feet. There were tons of spade fish and we saw quite a few Amberjack as well. Chad speared his first spadefish and we were able to get our limit of 8 after a good workout of fighting the strong current and swells. Chad also tried some jigging but could not get one of the Jacks to bite, I am sure a live bait would have done the trick. About the time we were leaving two other jet skis showed up to try and catch some fish (I may be starting a jet ski trend). We were back at the ramp and on the road around 1530, just in time for rush hour traffic. Ha. The Chesapeake Light Tower is about 16 miiles off shore from Virginia Beach. I carry a Spot GPS Tracker with me here is the link to one of my "Spots" showing the Lat/Long of the tower.\-75.71265 It was another great day, here are some of the pictures I took while out.
  15. August 8, 2010 INSHORE - The inshore fishing has improved over this past week with the snapper bite being the best thing going. Try along the channel edges or around any structure and use a small live shrimp. Most of the fish this week were 1 to 3 pounders. The redfish has been a little on the picky side but I did have a few reported coming from along the docks of North Indian River Drive. Try using a gold spoon or a live shrimp. The trout bite has been steady but you had to be there before first light or just before dark. Most of the trout were 5 pounds and under. Try using a topwater bait if you are fishing early or late and the rest of the time use a pigfish. There has been good catch and release snook action in the Ft. Pierce Inlet. Fish the first hour of the out going tide and use a pinfish, pigfish or a mullet and keep them on the bottom. OFFSHORE - We had very few dolphin come into the docks this weekend. The ones that did have dolphin caught them in 60 to 120 feet of water and the biggest one was 15 pounds. A pink/white skirted ballyhoo worked best. Several anglers reported sailfish in 100 to 120 feet of water to the south of the Ft. Pierce Inlet and they were also hitting ballyhoo. Over the reefs and wrecks there were the usual snapper, seabass, jacks and plenty of cuda's to keep you busy. Several anglers reported seeing tarpon off the North Beach but said they were not feeding. The divers that went out of the motel had a good number of lobster and there were several over 5 pounds. One boat had 6 lobster over 5 pounds and most were 3 to 4 pounders. JUNIOR TEEN ANGLERS - The first from shore tournament for the new school year is scheduled for Saturday - August 28th at Harbour Pointe Park in Ft. Pierce. Junior Teen Anglers is for the 5 to 11 age group. If you have a child that would like to fish with the Junior Teen Anglers you can call 772-201-5773 for more info or go to the web at National Teen Anglers If you would like to report a catch you can e-mail me at or call me at 772-201-5770. You can also reach me on the web at Indian River Lagoon Fishing Charters - Ft. Pierce Fishing Charters - Vero Beach Fishing Charters - Capt. Joe Ward Capt. Joe Ward Capt. Joe's River Charters
  16. Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking my sister Allison, Rachael, my 13 year old niece and Christopher, my 27 year old nephew spear fishing. This was Allison and Rachael’s first time spearing. We all met at my house in Poquoson and towed the skis to Virginia Beach. We departed Rudee Inlet around 0930 hours and went 16 miles offshore to the Chesapeake Light Tower. The sea conditions were great all day and we averaged about 25 mph going and 35-40 mph coming back. The water visibility was fair at about 20 feet and the spadefish were plentiful. Rachael is a quick learner and after I showed her how to get it done by spearing a couple, she had no problem shooting a couple her self. There was plenty of life out at the tower and we saw some amberjack, barracuda, triggerfish and a lot of bait fish. My sister did not want her daughter to show her up so she also got in on the action and shot her first ever as well. Christopher and I finished up getting our limits and we had our coolers full of 4 fish per person, 16 fish in all, before heading back at 1530. I had a great time with my family and was proud at how well my niece handled herself on the ski and in the water. We covered about thirty four miles and each ski burned about nine gallons. Another great day! Here are some of the pictures from our trip.
  17. My wife and i left wise point yesterday around noon and headed out to the bridge. The water was like glass and it wasn't to hot. We got to the high rise and found a slack tide so we tried drifting clam around the pilings with no luck so we headed out to the 4th island. Tried 2 favorite spots with no results and didn't see the large schools of spades that everyone has been seeing. The water was erie and we never had a good tide pick up. We tried some bottom fishing for bait and could hold the bottom in 40ft of water with a 1oz sinker. Before heading in we tried the high rise again and this time managed two 5 LB spades. I did catch one 2LB blue at the bayside of the fourth and we saw a couple flounder caught but overall it looked like a slow day. Although it was one of the prettier days at the mouth of the bay.
  18. Fish Report 8/1/10 Sea Bass Continue A Taste of Fluke How Goes the Watching? Hi All, Some outstanding fishing this week. Odd for heart of summer really. Take your luck where you find it I suppose. It certainly wasn't all gravy. As most clients were reeling in sea bass Wednesday, Flounder George & I twitched strips for fluke. Caught the heck out of 'em too. Tagged or just thrown back; He & I had no keepers in close to 40 fish. Not a back-bay trip, this was ocean fishing not quite 30 miles from the inlet. My mates both fished -on my direct order- for a short while. They of course both quickly caught a keeper and --being clear-thinking young men-- wisely and generously decided to allow George & Captain their fish-fry. Young Matt too: He hung a strip of cut-bait on his bottom hook and pushed aside all comers at the fish pool weigh-in, his six pound flattie easily trumping some very nice bass. Saturday we had a pleasant, sustained bite on sea bass with no flounder at all. Several mahi however were invited to dinner, one of which ran a solid 50 yards off Ralph's spinner before being worked back to the gaff. ..some clients had to go out to dinner this week too: bitter with the sweet. I really think fluke will bust loose soon, but I've been maintaining that position for some while.. I'm certain that we'll go fishing, not sure what we'll bring home. A new picture committed to personal memory: Chum overboard, two kites up, 4 baits out. With sea bass coming over the rail a Bruiser comes sliding in, investigating. Couldn't tell species. Big. Calorically unimpressive, our baits were investigated and left alone. This shark wanted at least a whole bluefish and perhaps would have preferred partaking of whale carcass.. Neat stuff.... Not so neat but of our time: It defies reason that we catch very respectable fish such as 18 inch flounder and 12 inch sea bass --fish that practically have Purdue Pop-Up baking timers built-in, yet have to throw them all back. MRFSS recreational catch estimate data is destroying constituents' good will toward management. It really is very poor recreational catch estimate data, the MRFSS data, that is, in many ways, strangling the rec-fish industry. Years ahead of management; in 1992 I was the first to put a 9 inch size limit on sea bass. At times a very ugly, heated effort; Resistance was intense. But the benefits were soon plain to see. We are no longer restoring with our releases; We are, instead, squandering our restoration. Strict adherence to data sets easily satired is where we lost sight of our target, of Fisheries Restoration. Conflict created by absurd statistic.. What now of the new Registry? The new MRIP program that should give a much better gauge of participation, Tell us how many fishers there are, The program designed to replace MRFSS.. Maryland's flounder anglers were granted a 3 month extension on season this spring with a very-stern warning: We'll Be Watching. That meant management would close the season early --Again-- if MRFSS said some segment of our recreational fishery had somehow managed to do better than the trawl industry -- Again. I know full-well that managers must do what the voices in MRFSS' hard-drive tell them. As a result I have come to know the deep anguish of early closure, of fiscal catastrophe from worthless statistic, of a season lost not to real oil gushing from a real pipe but meaningless numbers transmitted without wire. . . MRIP's registry.. How many people are really, actually going fishing.. I think that MRIP will show for MRFSS estimates to be correct it would often require that every registered angler had exceeded the legal limit many times over to achieve the statistically estimated catch. MRIP will force many catch estimates down, sometimes way down. Crazy-high estimates will be unsupportable if actually catching that many fish would require a "Catch Per Unit of Effort" far greater than the party/charter fishers experienced... Here's a measure we desperately need: Truth. OK Management: How goes the watching? What if the first result of "The Registry" was to loosen-up, to lower size limits.. That'd be a switch. Wonder if that could happen with the sudden ferocity of a closure.......... I hold that were it not for a very few boulders, storm caused shipwrecks & Nazi Wolf Pack torpedoes, our region's reef ecology --including the fish living on them-- would not have survived into the 1980s. On a budget, our fishery restoration efforts require forward thinking. Yet managers are still attempting to rebuild the huge fish populations of yesteryear with our present day seafloor habitat remnants, the footprint leftover from fishing's industrial revolution..... Consequently; if MRFSS paperwork sez private boats in Maryland caught zero tautog in all of 2006 yet caught 43,505 of these non-migratory man-made reef residents in 2007 - And it does: Then that's bloody-well what happened and quit'cher complaining already. If the scientific paperwork sez there ain't no reef where all those reef-fish and reef-loving lobster get caught, where once far more were caught - And it does: Then there ain't no reef so don't worry about it.. A blood-letting on the full moon with weekly leech treatments and two months of mountain airs should cure the insanity. That'd be some good 'ol fashioned doctoring: Nevermind lead's fumes when returning to work. We squander the economic benefits of 'catch-restriction only' restoration in the disappointment of anglers tossing fish overboard that they might otherwise have taken pictures of, fed their family and friends with.. This isn't billfishing: What goes in the cooler really does matter. In our hot-blooded quota battles caused by catch-data that infuriates, we --year after year-- miss opportunity to begin habitat restoration. Feet under a desk: Papers are real. Two anchors tight, lines down: Fish & fish habitat are real. Rock-Paper-Scissors: Coral grows on rock. Paper wins. Fishers lose. Needs Fixin. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 Morning Star Fishing
  19. It has been a real oven here the last couple of days with temps at 100-105. It is either sit inside or be out on and in the water. I chose the water. Saturday I towed my jet ski to Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach and ran 16 miles offshore to the Chesapeake Light Tower for some Spadefish. There were only a couple of boats there and the water visibility was decent at about 20 feet. The fish were very skitish and I only saw one caught on rod and reel. In the water they were also constantly on the run but I still managed to spear my four fish. I did not see anything other than spades. I was out from 1030-1530 hrs. Today My wife and I dropped at Messick Boat Ramp in Poquoson Virginia and ran all along Grandview, Buckroe, Fort Monroe and around The Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. We fished off of Hampton Bar and caught some spot, croaker and a small speckled trout using bottom rigs and fishbites--blood worms for bait. Covered almost 60 miles this weekend and burned 15 gallons. Here are some pictures I took, the one of the water is a bunch of spadefish on the surface at the CLT.
  20. Part 1 - Reading the Water Why is this important? If what lies below the surf waters was thoroughly understood and embraced, the more success the surf fisherman would have at catching fish! Sounds simple, but truth is reading the water is difficult. So what is below the surf waters? Well, certainly there are fish, we already know this...and for many of us that is all that needs to be known... So, for those so inclined, I guess reading the water is not a prerequisite to successfully catching fish... And there is some truth in this...a surf fisherman can totally disregard what the water is telling him, make a cast, and put a fish on the beach...happens all the time. Why? Because the fisherman more than likely, but unknowingly, had put his offering into the surf where there happened to be a fish... The question though is why was that fish there? Was it by random chance that the fish happened to be swimming by at that exact moment? Well yes, maybe...but the fish may have very well been there for other of those reasons is what I will call the physical environment or "structure" of the surf waters or more precisely the structure of the sandy bottom of the surf waters that attracts game fish... I'll address bottom fishing w/ bait along the sandy beaches of the the DelMarVa coast. Fishing the inlets, rock groins, piers and backwaters of the DelMarVa peninsula is a subject unto itself and perhaps can be discussed in another thread... Our beaches for all intended purposes are typically very flat w/ a gentle incline. This beach structure is rather common up and down the east coast and is deceptively uninteresting at first glance. The following is a simplistic drawing of a cross section of the beach and surf... Note, there are "generally" 2 main sandbars that run parallel to the the drawing they are labeled the outer and near shore sandbars... Also, there are "generally" 2 main sloughs (troughs) that too run parallel to the beach... The location of sandbars is revealed above the surf waters where waves initially crest and rollover...these crashing waves are called "breakers." The outer sandbar of course has larger breakers, while the near shore sandbar breakers are smaller... The sloughs also are revealed above the waters where there are little to no breakers. The next image is a picture of a typical looking surf on the DelMarVa coast... The above picture I took not for the waves but something else...let's see if any of you sharpies can identify what is going on... Now that this basic surf structure is understood visually the next step is easy... Fish will frequent the sloughs in the surf, especially Stripers. They like to get as low as possible w/ their bellies virtually touching the sand as they cruise the is here they are most comfortable plus the slough gives them a certain degree of stealth as they move about looking for food... So, placing your offerings in the slough would be optimal as shown in the next image... A less viable option IMHO would be to place the offering on the sandbar...if the slough does not produce fish I would considered placing the offering on the sandbar...but only during high tide and not at all on the near shore sandbar at low tide...the water would just be too skinny at that time and location... Part 2 - Reading the Water Lets look at another surf structure that probably accounts for more "fishy activity" than any other—the out-suck aka rip current aka hole aka riptide aka break in the sandbar, etc. Here is a drawing that depicts an out-suck...for simplicity purposes only 1 sandbar is shown... Note, not all "breaks in the sandbar" are out-sucks... This picture shows a wide break in the outer sandbar on AI...but there was no out-suck. Remember, Stripers like moving water and they are masterful and powerful swimmers, using their broad tails to maneuver about in the surf... So the area around an out-suck from the feeders, through the neck (channel) and out into the head is prime Striper habitat... Why? Because at the out-suck water is swirling about, forming a current to and past the outer sandbar wherein small bait fish can get swept up or caught in the dynamics of the moving water and ending up as easy prey for the Striper. The place where Stripers will congregate the most at an out-suck of course is at the head or just outside the outer sandbar. Here they lie in wait to ambush their prey...sort of like a feeding station. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to place (cast) an offering beyond the outer sandbar as the distance is too great. However, the Stripers will come into the neck and even the near shore feeders of the out-suck when they are hungry (which is all the time) looking for prey... So optimally, you want to place (X) your offerings perhaps as follows...note, a very good area would be the ends of the sandbar which are sometimes called a shoulder... Out-sucks are hard to see at times, especially at water level... I'll climb a dune or stand on my truck to see better the water conditions. Also, out-sucks are more pronounce at or near low tide. Finally, here are some pic's of out-sucks... Standing on a beach they could look rather subtle and therefore easily overlooked... By: Rumble Fish aka Poppy on
  21. The next meeting of the Bull Island Anglers Club will be Monday July 26th at 7pm. The meeting will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church in Poquoson, Va. The address is 1294 Poquoson, Ave. The meeting is free and open to the public. Our topic this month will be sheepshead and triggerfish. These fish can often be caught together on offshore wrecks or banging pilings at the bridge tunnel and are available most of the summer months. Everything one needs to know from rod and reel selection to how to hook the bait for optimum hook set will be discussed. So come on down and pick up a few tips on sheepshead and triggerfish. We will also be discussing the upcoming Flat and Furious Flounder tournament that we are helping promote and run. This tournament has been great the last few years and the prize money is guaranteed, so tell a friend or two to enter the tournament. $1000 for 1st place. Hope to see ya'll there.
  22. So early Sunday morning I was slowly lifting my 12ft rod and dragging my bait (shrimp) and 4oz weight across the bottom. when the tip would get all the way up, I would reel it back down and then slowly repeat the process...essentially out of bordom, and because I was a little cold so it was nice to have something to do. So i'm bringing it in, and all of a sudden- it's stuck. Not really like in the lake where if you catch something it slowly brings up tension as you pull harder on it. This was just...stuck. Figured the surf had pushed it under something... But, I'm in the ocean? So what the hell am I stuck on? I've been casting in this spot all weekend, and never had any issue. So, I pull, and pull, and pull. I'm putting A LOT of force into my rod. Getting nervous I'm going to break it the thing is bent over double, I could easly pull a fairly large hunk of wood through the water...I've got 20lb test w/ 80lb shock leader, so I know I can put a fair bit of force on it. So after pulling for 5 min. with no success, I start to let the line go slack, like you do when bass fishing, to let the sinker or hook de-lodge itself. No good. After 15 more min of me walking up and down the beach trying various angles, I let it go completely slack walk back to the sand spikes and other rods, reel up the slack, and really pull. Then, it kinda moves and instantly comes free. Not broken, no damage to the sinker or hook (2/0 circle), no damage to shock leader. So, I tell my friend about this (a long time Maryland surf fisherman) and he thinks I wasn't stuck at all- he thinks it was a big ray or skate, possibly buried itself in the sand. And now I'm kicking myself, because at least that would have been something for the photo album. What do you guys think? A bunch of BS? Or could I actually have had something? Ever heard of this happening? Or of people getting stuck on the camping beaches at AI????? It's been bugging me since I got back...something just doesn't make sense...
  23. :glasses1:Pat Fitzgerald and his sons have fished with me for years. This year, the boys brought some friends along for a boat-load of six, including Pat, sons Jimmy and Tommy and friends, Matthew, Jacob, and Brandon. We headed out of New Pass Thursday morning, 7/1, to fish in 44 feet. The boys caught a mess of yellowtail snapper and kept two of those that were 14 inches. They also caught a few nice whitebone porgies to 15 inches, along with a 44-inch king mackerel. We caught a big blue runner, about 4 ½ pounds, and used him as bait to hook and release a huge goliath grouper—I estimated him at about 375 pounds and about as big around as an oil-drum! We also released small mangrove snapper, triggerfish, Spanish mackerel and porgies. Friday, 7/2, Scott and Jeanette Thron and friends, Mike Radkin and Jerry Vojtush, had hoped to spend a full-day fishing offshore. But, after checking the weather forecast, I had to tell them that we’d likely be lucky to get a half-day in before the rains. So, we headed out of New Pass with intentions to fish as long as we could. We did well with hogfish, catching four of them, three of which were keepers to 16 ½ inches. We also caught eight keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, keeper porkfish to 12 inches and some keeper whitebone porgies, all on live shrimp. We released smaller porgies and yellowtail snapper, along with a 90-pound goliath grouper that bit a 25-inch mackerel. We made it in just before the heavy rains began so we got wet while cleaning fish but, at least, we were off the water. After a rainy weekend over the 4th of July holiday, long-time customers, Dennis and Jamie Riddell brought their friends, Doyce & Kay Paine along to fish offshore with me on Monday morning, 7/5. We fished with live shrimp in 34 feet, off of Naples. Dennis caught a keeper gag grouper at 23 inches and Jamie caught two keeper hogfish, 13 ½ and 15 inches. The group also caught a half dozen keeper mangrove snapper to 15 inches. We had tried to catch a grouper on a pinfish at one point, reeled in the bait and had it hanging just at the water’s surface to lure a cobia, when a 4-foot bull shark bit the pinfish—we released him, along with some smaller mangrove snapper and undersized triggerfish. Tuesday morning, the rains held off but seas were pretty sloppy early in the day, having been churned up by storms the evening before. I headed offshore with Tanner Rust and family to 45 feet, and we decided not to venture further than that in the sloppy conditions. The boys had a great time with goliath grouper, hooking and releasing seven of those, to 150 pounds. They also released mangrove and yellowtail snapper shorts, short red grouper and short gag grouper to 21 inches. They caught a mess of good-sized whitebone porgies and grunts so they could have something to cook after their day of goliath adventures. Tim Otterlee and his three young sons fished Wednesday morning with me, over live-bottom in about 35 feet, near-shore, where we caught keeper mangrove and lane snapper, porgies and Spanish mackerel. We released red grouper shorts. Robert Duhlberg was in town on business, along with his boss, Lair, so the two snuck away for a morning of fishing in Estero Bay on Thursday. We used live shrimp to catch eleven trout, though only one was keeper size at 16 inches. We also caught fifteen mangrove snapper, two of which were keepers. Monday morning, 7/12, Frank Krumm and his twelve-year-old son, Jordan, fished in 75 feet with me, using live shrimp. They caught six keeper yellowtail snapper and released smaller ones, along with porgies and triggerfish. They had planned to fish all day, but decided they'd had enough heat by 1PM, so we returned then. The photo shown is of young angler Alex Bayer, with a 28-inch kingfish, caught on shrimp on a recent offshore trip.
  24. The warm days of July have already provided many anglers with early surprises this month. Huge schools of feeding Redfish, an abundance of scallops in shallow water and the early arrival of many hard fighting sharks in some of the deeper waters and holes have provided many Nature Coast Anglers with tons of action packed angling experiences. July’s light winds and slight chances of rain have allowed the fishing and scalloping grounds off of Crystal River and Homosassa to reach a pristine gin clear state, and when conditions like this arrive “Look Out” because the skies the limit when it comes to angling opportunities. With the water reaching such a clarity tons of sight casting opportunities have led to some trips of a life time. Just ask 13 year old Tommy who recently spent the day fishing with myself and his grandfather. On this trip Tommy caught and released a number of Redfish, Speckled Trout, Jack Crevalle, Bluefish, Snapper, Shark, Black Drum, and he was even rewarded with a Hook Up of a 60+lb Tarpon. What a Day!!!!! Obviously, Tommy’s trip will be one that he will not soon forget, but there have been a few other Red Hot anglers that will have some fishing stories to brag about including myself. Schools of 100 plus fish are not all that rare in the grand scheme of things when you think about the saltwater fishing world. Schools of 100’s (in some cases 1000’s) of Jacks, Bonita, Black Drum, Spanish Mackerel and even Tarpon happen all through out the year Nature Coast. But if you have ever been fortunate enough to come across 100+ Redfish in knee deep water this would definitely be a spectacle that an angler would never forget. In recent weeks the backcountry areas of the Crystal River and Homosassa have been inundated with some of the largest schools of Redfish this year may see. And with most boaters focused on scalloping this fishery should see a complete lack of pressure for quite some time. On a recent back-to-back trip both Cathy Stone and Steve Earheart both set personal bests when these big schools of Reds came rolling their way. Because most of these fish are way outside of the slot limit I like to use a 4/0 Circle Hook with Cut bait. The circle hook ensures a proper corner of the mouth hook up which allows these big breeding Redfish to be set free practically unharmed. As good as the Redfishing has been the most action packed fishing to date has to be the Shark fishing. Sharks can be targeted up and down the Nature Coast but my favorite method of Shark fishing is anchoring up just off a shallow clear flat adjacent from a deep hole and setting out a good chum slick. Chumming with sardines, ground mackerel, and even hanging Bluefish or Bonita over the side of the boat will always get the attention of Mackerel, Bluefish, Speckled Trout and especially Sharks. Bonnetheads, Spinners, BlackTips, Hammerheads, and Bull sharks are the most common sharks this time of year and it is not unheard of to hook up with one of each during a day of Shark fishing. If you have never tried Shark fishing there are very few instances in the world of fishing that are more exciting than hearing the ZING!!!!!!!! of the fishing line coming off a reel when a hungry shark comes calling. Not to mention Shark steaks are one of the more underrated seafood delicacies. Now with all of this talk of Sharks I hope I have not deterred anyone from jumping into the water and enjoying some of the best Scalloping the Nature Coast has seen in years. For over 3 weeks now the Scallop season has been open off of the Crystal River and Homosassa areas and it seems that as the weeks move on the scalloping only continues to gets better. The excellent scalloping can be accredited to strong recent tides of the moth. As the tides move in and out the scallops hitch a ride on many of the floating grasses. The good news to be reported for Scallopers is that there are NO!!! Jellyfish to speak of on the scallop grounds. In recent years jellyfish have been one of the real challenges for snorkeler’s pursuing the tasty scallops but up to date the waters are jellyfish free and should continue to be for quite some time. So with the weather warming and the fishing and scalloping heating up why not incorporate a fishing/scalloping adventure with Red Hot Fishing Charters during your summer break. We can custom build a trip that can surely suit your needs and wants. If you’re interested in creating an inshore fishing or scalloping memory please feel free to give Red Hot Fishing Charters a call today!!! Capt. Kyle Messier (352) 634-4002 Red Hot FIshing Charters - Captain Kyle Messier
  25. Fish Report 7/11/10 East Wind Broadside of a Barn Message to SSC Hi All, This week past was not a hum-dinger. Monday a Grady-White outboard came screaming by with more people aboard than I had. Ouch. Had its moments though.. Hot & hotter, the heat finally broke in an east wind. Wonderful relief. By Friday that wind had produced a deep bodied wave-set that likely made local surfers go to work late and leave early. Swells to 8 feet but with a fair distance between them; conditions reminded me of approaching tropical weather. Seemed to make the sea bass snap though. Friday we had the best, most consistent, bite in a while. Current forecast at Kite's been up quite a bit. Chum out. Mahi, several small sharks, one bruiser deep that we probably didn't have a bait big enough for and a good hammerhead that came up hot ..right after we pulled all the gear to make a move. Some get caught, they all make a sight.. Especially the 6 foot ocean sunfish that chilled down-current no more than 5 feet astern.. It's fishing. I am having some clients get into the mid-teens on cbass--certainly no majority, just high-hook. Scratch up dinner & hope to see something big. Perhaps the fluke will turn on as this easterly swell settles. Did catch a few keepers before it developed. Catching cbass is plenty fine and tasty, but let a couple head-shaking fluke come over the rail and most will switch gears to go after the flatties. . . . . . Three feet of slender energy; a houndfish dashes away -bounding- with 30 some leaps in the early morning sun. Escape. Couple flicks of the tail would have put it out of harm's way. The calories used evading my boat were wasted. While its instinctive response made an enjoyable sight, it wasn't about to be eaten. Clients have to fish for what's biting. Don't waste effort on flounder until we see them; Worry with the tog next winter. Managers also have to watch how they expend their efforts, need to see through the smoke & mirrors of their own paperwork for real success and real failure, need to stop wasting recreational fishing's economic potential in search of safety from that big mean boat shadow - the paper-tiger of MRFSS asserted overfishing.. Crunched some numbers to see what the difference in the years might be for this week. Not a very sound or useful comparison but factual. Here-goes: In 2000 we averaged 11.37 sea bass per person last week ~ 54.01 in 2003 ~ 22.13 in 2004 and 33.92 in 2010. I'm sure client satisfaction was the worst in 2004 because most of those folks had limited out with me the year before: They had far higher expectations. This year's client caught more yet kept fewer, but bigger, fish. It's just a one week snapshot in a handful of years. If management similarly compared same-fisher's catch rates of sea bass over larger time scales then the truth of "regional" importance to management --as opposed to an all-inclusive "coast-wide" mounding of data-- would be easily seen. Using the same mandatory fishing vessel trip reports (VTRs) they could get a sense of habitat's importance too.... Among many, I have a spot I call Franky Two Fingers' Rock. It's a small spot, a couple square yards of emergent hard-bottom that has avoided trawl impact for 15 years or more. Well grown in; had a nice shot of fish off it one day this week. Two pound bass, 3 pounder, flurry of keepers, a cod and a couple good tog on clam.. Sometimes a reef goes hot--the bite is on. Usually when tog bite sea bass rigs it's time to get with some serious fishing -- Unless tog are the only fish biting sea bass baits.. that will probably be a long day for all aboard. Point is: This rock patch is small, real small. Even with the hyper-precision of GPS I'll have to make a few passes to locate it. Any small hard-spot, be it Clay or fossil-laden sandstone; Granite or waterlogged wooden shipwreck; Concrete or steel -- Even a piled-up lost gill net: So long as it ain't sand -and sits still- it becomes, through the growth upon it, hard-bottom reef. I hold that in the mid-Atlantic we have lost a fantastic percentage of a once vibrant --but susceptible to damage-- reef community. It wasn't beach replenishment where sand bars are dug into and pumped ashore to protect a tax base; It's not the marshes filled then built upon and from where property-tax dollars now flow: It is fishing gear towed by some of the hardest working men and very often good men; Gear that sometimes scrapes growth off rock, Gear that has liquefied clay fields to near-gone, Gear that picks up smaller rock for deposit elsewhere, Gear that simply flips rock over smothering whatever was growing upon it. An easy solution to restoring the productivity of stern-towed gear impacted areas would be simply banning all the gears. In those places where the physical substrate remains we'd get fantastic growth, a real resurgence of life, starting in under a decade. Bolstered by select restoration using artificial reef we could improve many-fold even on that. But that would be like the red snapper reef closure to our south which robs a coast of their hard-earned fishery; Especially right now when they would have a jubilee of clients. Ban & closure accomplish much. So can training-wheels and an adult hand balance a toddler on a bicycle: "Mommy, I did it!" Fiddle. Regulating the surf-clam fishery was the first work of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. In the difficulties of creating sound regulation, of creating control in what was an all-out free-for-all, men died. The first-ever U.S. individual fishery quota or "IFQ" as solution, the industry is now almost wholly owned by a few corporations. Very well funded, deeply entrenched, influential: Where fishers have size limits that go up when populations dip, clammers have quotas that stay the same and size limits 'suspended.' How nice for them. Ten tons of dredge, more, with high-pressure water jets that cut the bottom--liquefy it--so that clams tumble into the dredge. It's the most destructive stern-towed fishing gear in the world. I am certain that this fishery can exist harmoniously with reef. I'm also certain that, in times past, it didn't. Trawling has a gentle touch compared to clamming. It too can coexist with reef but hasn't. First management has to recognize where our reef-dwelling fish live & then protect--in remarkably fine scale--those habitats. To date we have 'discovered' no natural reef in the mid-Atlantic save in the canyons some sixty and more miles out & in 600 feet of water.. To my knowledge there's no data on our nearshore natural reefs. There's scarcely even any interest. Those couple rocks I call Franky's are in 95 feet of water. They are among what's left after fishing's industrial revolution. There's more. Need to take the training wheels off. The simple biological truth that habitat is crucial in fisheries restoration must be dealt with. There will be very few instances where real, firm & lasting fishery restoration can be accomplished without habitat restoration. Whether it's food supply in prey base, the very difficult task of restoring water quality or "epibenthic faunal communities" that most would simply call Reef: Habitat consideration is a necessary component of fishery restoration. That bad data can destroy businesses also needs to be accounted. The Courtiers who delight in "The Emperor's New Clothes" demonstrate their paper-rebuildings with smokey data sets whose values drift like fashion. For real restoration the data must be brought closer to truth. Data in coastwide collection hides regional calamity. I once heard that building the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel caused the collapse of croaker; That the pilings took so much suitable sand habitat away that the species collapsed.. Pretty remarkable assertion. I'm sure some think the same of mine. Spatially challenged; How much sand bottom was left in the Chesapeake after the bridge pilings were constructed.. how much was gained in the loss of the oyster. Still, I think it can be very difficult to envision how much area these reefs I write of--and fish on--actually occupy; How much of the seafloor really is reef. More importantly, one day we'll need to know how much reef once was, how big an area has been lost. . . . Hand-sawn and hewn, Pennsylvanian barns from the 1800s are a wonder. Sometimes made of chestnut: those trees, the whole species, is now lost to blight. Unlike loss of marine reef, the tree's clearing made for vital tillable farmland and wood for construction. The blight that wiped them out did not take the woodland creatures too: There are other trees. A wealthy landowner in that time may have been able to contract construction of a barn built with clear lumber--boards without knots. Yet upon completion, and despite best effort, a few boards have small knots. You'll have to really look for them in that 100 by 30 foot side but they're there; allowed because they're insignificant in the side of a barn. Stretch the side of that barn to 100 miles of coast and out 30 miles: Now the knots, those very few knots, represent an idea of how much reef there is -- including our modern artificial and accidental reef. Paint a few whole boards, not just the knots, an odd color and we might approach an idea of what reef once was. At sea I ride over mile after mile of sand I know there is no use of dropping a line on save perhaps the chance intersection of school fish. Two anchors tight--catching--requires precise adjustment so all are over small reef. Plenty of room for trawling and clamming, scalloping too further offshore. Just watch the knots. When the Science & Statistical Committee (SSC) meets this week I hope they see that there can be no possible natural restoration of each region's black sea bass population. Each local stock will either be engineered --managed-- for increased spawning population that bolsters economic output; Or be made to appear as a natural stock might have--an illusion in the modern era--with lower fecundity: Size limits are key. In either event, without reef's discovery & attempted restoration, one could say management hasn't hit the broad side of a barn. Management's rebuilding of reef species with no grasp whatsoever of needed supporting habitats; fishers are now squeezed against mandatory population rebuilding timelines. It's costing us our livelihoods. Regards, Monty Capt. Monty Hawkins Party Boat "Morning Star" Reservation Line 410 520 2076 Morning Star Fishing