Beautiful Weather, Good Fishing

By Scott Lenox

Beautiful Weather, Good Fishing

Hit the video to see tautog and rockfish gear at Atlantic Tackle.

It was another beautiful spring day today with warm temps, sunny skies and little to no wind for most of the day.  The breeze did pick up this afternoon, but it wasn’t too bad and by that time the fishing damage had been done.

I took a solo trip to the eastern shore of Virginia today to do some flounder fishing and I had an absolutely awesome day!  The weather was picture perfect and I ended the day with a personal limit of flounder from 17″ to 20.5″.  The Fish in OC Deadly Double in orange was on fire today with three of my four keepers coming on that with shiners.  The big fish of the day was caught on the Deadly Double in chartreuse with an Otter Tails straight split in white.

Captain Wayne Blanks of Bayside Guide Service found some flounder in the Thorofare this morning including this 18.5″ keeper.

Flounder fishing in Ocean City was pretty good today for some with several keepers ending up in coolers.  Donny Post and his buddies Sammy Luzier and Griffin Pualk had a nice day with some tog, rockfish and two keeper flounder.  The flounder were 17″ and 19″ and fell for Deadly Doubles baited with minnows.

Jordan Helsel and his gang had some fun with the catch and release rockfish this afternoon and Jordan also landed a keeper flounder in the Thorofare using the Deadly Double in chartreuse with a white gulp.

Josh Twilley and his little cousin Brian Smith had a nice trip yesterday evening.  The guys had two keeper flounder of 18″ and 19″ and then had some catch and release rockfish fun after dark.

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star enjoyed some flat calm seas today and his anglers enjoyed some good tog fishing.

Rare sea that – calm as a forest pond on a still summer’s morning. Even come a NE breeze, made for a nice day. 

Dropped 20 blocks and a pyramid, then paddled a bit more. 

Wanted to sample from nearshore reefs today. Nothing wrong with it. Nice sign of fish. Some of my clients boxed their three fish. I allow 2 males and a female (or 3 males.) Others, regulars, tossed nice keepers back and kept none. State allows four at 16 inches.. 

In 1992 I put a sixteen inch/three per-person limit on tautog because I thought that would maximize spawning production. Six years later the feds and state allowed up to 10 per-person (DE) and 5 in MD at 14 inches as the first legal regs on tog.. (Actually, lead by Capt. Dale Parsons no less, Delaware had the first regs on tautog. Might have been before mine. Writing was on the wall with the collapse of sea trout/weakfish..) 

With recreational catch estimates such as Maryland’s Sept/Oct 2016 Shore catch estimate of 174,000 pounds of sea bass – yes, from shore in two months; and, NOAA says, those sea bass averaged 1.4lb apiece. That makes them bigger, on average, than what I’ve caught since 2004 or so. 

Honestly, it takes OC’s Partyboats 3 or 4 years to catch that many sea bass. When the estimate was published we turned the internet inside out and discovered a keeper sea bass – one – from near the Oceanic Pier. It did not weigh 1.4lbs. 

With catch estimates like that NOAA soon discovered we were “overfishing” sea bass – frequently. How could we not? In 2018 & 19 anyone who  fished a boat for sea bass in Delaware was probably wasting money – NOAA showed many sea bass from DE’s shore. Fat ones too. 

Those tiny errors had no bearing, but many huge foul estimates became sea bass closures. 

Fishing pressure on tautog, of course, shot through the roof. It’s fairly well remained so ever since. 

Some years ago I was among a few who successfully pushed for a 16 inch regional limit on tog. Wasn’t long after that MD DNR biologists discovered juvenile tautog in far greater numbers in summer seine surveys..

At first we all thought it would be a one-off event; just a great spawn. But no, it’s remained high for the last 5 years. Takes these fish a while to grow, and we’ll need to work with regulations a bit more to re-enliven/ensure  our jumbo tog fishery into the future; but now we’re seeing that increase in spawning production as a real increase in tautog offshore. 

Lots of little fellows across more habitat than there once was. 

A lot more.

More habitat to feed/spawn/shelter on, populated with larger females, resulting in an increase in fish. 

Almost like it was a plan. 

Now NOAA has seen Private Boats in Massachusetts & NY catch dern near as many sea bass as all commercial effort from Hatteras north. 

Uh hu.. 

Indeed, just the small boats in MA, RI, CT, or NY caught several times what all the Party/Charter Boats caught along this huge piece of coast from Hatteras north. 

Strange world on them computers at NOAA HQ – truly an alternate universe. By my carefully weighed calculations NOAA is showing 7.2 Million Pounds more sea bass than we likely actually caught last year. 

With such ‘overfishing’ rampant, sea bass are now closed an additional 3 weeks in early winter 2022. 

Wonder what will happen to our “beginning to flourish” tog fishery with sea bass closed in early winter.. 

I tell you – catch estimates have messed up every avenue of real fisheries restoration. Every single one. They blind science and management to great successes & failures. It’s high time we fixed that mess. 

Biggest difference between now and every other time we’ve tried? Now managers & scientists agree. 

See my ‘Fish Report 4/10/22’ if you’d like to encourage NOAA to repair their estimates. 

A few simple emails.. 

http://morningstarfishing.com/report.htm 

Cheers 

Monty 

Check out our flounder catch, clean and cook video and subscribe to the channel if you like!

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