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Fish Report 11/27/08

Two Days Down - Three To Go

Awesome Day, Worthy of Thanksgiving

Hi All,

Last Sunday --final sea bass trip of the year-- as it should be. Easily one of the best since May.

Fitting send off for a poor season in that it told of days to come..

Toggin' Monday, no real bruisers but a fine day. In early with all hands satisfied. Rare.

Have openings for toggin' on Saturday and Sunday if you're so minded. Not a fishery for everyone, but if it does get your fancy..

I think there's help for most addictions..

As a young man I was often sent to "fetch a box of hooks" after a day's fishing. (secret code for a cheap bottle of vodka) Loosened lips; I'd listen to the old captains tell their tales.

Men who'd spent a life at sea didn't need to stretch the length of fish.

One particular summer evening in 1981 an old-timer that ran 1/2 day trips from West Ocean City was bemoaning the decline of sea bass.

"We had the best sea bass fishing on the coast and we let them destroy it."

Might have been the vodka, but he was crying.

True story.

The old captain was talking about the live-bottom corals around the Bass Grounds that were lost during the surf clamming boom: the places that they'd steered to for years using only a compass and watch. No GPS, not even LORAN A in the early days: they could simply run their course & time, find their depth, and fish.

And catch.

Wholly unregulated in the 50s, 60s, 70s --no one had thought of regulating any marine fishery then-- dozens of hydraulic clammers worked their way off the coast, fishing out every clam bed they could find.

If there were corals in the way, shame on 'em.

Folks at Ho-Jo's sure loved them clam strip rolls...

Wednesday, 11/26/08: took a huge step toward restoring that lost habitat as 44 NYCTA subway cars settled on the bottom.

The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative & Ocean City Reef Foundation's efforts will succeed in ways we can't yet imagine.

Stretching nearly 3 miles, the artificial reef units went down in 5 clusters and numerous singles.

Seven miles off the coast; the Bass Grounds Reef is a newly permitted site. Plenty of room for more.

I had aboard a top-notch dive team that wanted to film the barely settled rail-cars.

Dry suits and high-definition film gear worth more than the balance on my boat, they prepared to descend the never-before-used ladder.

Divers not yet by the rail; mate Ritch had his personal-best tog flopping on deck.

Coincidence I'm sure, but the particular rail-car we'd anchored on was only about 40 feet from another unit we put down in '98.

Nice.

Returning from the first with film and pictures of shiny stainless --the beginning of a video/still timeline of reef growth succession-- we adjusted anchors just a tad for the next dive.

Ritch catches another male tog just north of 10 pounds.

Ritch catches more.

We tag 7.

Required dive interval completed --degassing-- the dive team prepared to film the 10 year old reef.

Pay no mind to the fact that I haven't mentioned my fish. It (singular) was too small to tag & the bite was over. Even for Ritch, who has lost all his fishing privileges.

Using Nitrox, the divers stayed down 51 minutes.

When they surfaced the report came in a rush.

Abundant hard corals, plentiful sea-whip, some small sea bass, a surf clam bed, nearly a hundred mermaid's purses, mussels, many tog -some huge- laid deep in the reef.. LIFE.

Bountiful Life.

This where ten years before there was none.

And fifty years past there'd been plenty.

Now, ten years to the future, more.

Much more.....

Thanksgiving's my favorite holiday. Pretty sure I've already had a good one.

Regards,

Monty

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

The Morning Star

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