Different Weather, But Another Great Bass and Flounder Bite

By Scott Lenox

Different Weather, But Another Great Bass and Flounder Bite

Kristen and I are starting our vacation on the beautiful island of St. Lucia so we don’t really care how fishing was back home, thankfully it was good so I can report from paradise!

Captain Chris Mizurak of the Angler reported a different sea this morning with a wind out of the northeast at 15 or more making for a bumpy ride out.  Things calmed down after a bit and the fish were chewing with some flounder and sea bass up to almost 4 pounds.

14-Year-old Mason Hetherington did the work today and put three nice keeper flounder in the box using Gulp.

Big Bird Cropper had Steve out this morning and then Tom from the ACSA out this afternoon for some Roy Rigging and put some fish in the boat.  The guys caught and released a bunch of rockfish and Tom lucked into a nice 25″ bluefish.

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star had to deal with the ocean first thing this morning, but by this afternoon it was another boat limit of sea bass.

Sun coming up as we cleared the inlet, a bit more sea was revealed than I’d anticipated. Checked all my forecast sites – each foretold decreasing winds as they had previously.
Though it was ‘on the line’ for me, we pressed on.
Dern sure didn’t get too far before mate Vic saw a small humpback whale in full breach hard to starboard. Scarcely a mile off the beach; never did see the little fellow breach again. He was sure making vigorous circles though. Learned from momma; the whale was keeping a large school of menhaden knotted up for easier feeding. I bet when it did breach it was to spook the bait into a tighter shoal.
We had a few good looks at the 30/35 foot beast surfacing this way and that before heading on off to Al Berger’s Reef. Owing sea conditions, which were even then starting to pipe down; Eric pushed two ten-block half-stacks off before heading further off.
Today ends another streak. Weather goes south on us tonight (almost did this morning!) Four boat limits in a row – I sure like that sort of catching.
Today’s first limit was caught by man, myth, legend–in the flesh and plenty of it(!) – our very own superhero–despite his being unable to catch cold in a kindergarten after Christmas scarcely two days ago; that popular portly prince of pastries & bringer of great joy to pie makers wherever he goes – Yes! None other than Hurricane Murray his dern self was first to box 15 sea bass today.
Who knew Rodney Dangerfield had a grandson?
Seriously, I ask you, with dozens of weekly raffle items to draw for in the OC Reef Foundation raffle, who else but the Hurricane could win the same prize, a Kunnan spinning combo donated by Capt Gus, as second prize in week one and then third prize in week two?
That story surely isn’t over. Lots of weeks remain before the New Year’s Day Grand Prize drawings..
Still, he’s already got backup tackle for mahi next year..
Pretty steady around the rail, one octogenarian bit off more than he could chew given today’s seas. Despite calming all the while, all he could do was hang on. His cooler, however, sure had some fish before long. Never wet a line and limited an hour before the boat was done. Hmmm.. Clever bit of magic that.
Our pool winner yesterday?
Oh My! Shades of a downturn in luck I fear. He did give up a stern spot for the old timer though. Must have knocked his mojo sideways a bit. Got the job done, if it lacked panache..
Today’s pool winner, John C, kept the drama alive til the bitter end. His last fish, a real dandy, took everyone’s money..
Just begun two weeks ago, our annual raffle is all she wrote for reef fundraising in 2023. Hopefully we’ll have some money left after we tow the next tug a loooong way around and put it on a mooring at Jackspot. Certainly a fantastic bit of structure and already spoken for with naming rights; looks to be our last barge/tug/boat sort of reef for a while.
More opportunity will pop up for those; dern I’d sure like to start on the ‘dream reef’ this winter. Units made of 5 to 9 pieces of concrete pipe bundled together with old crane cable (aged out by OSHA but plenty good for reef building!) A good size hammer drill pops a hole right through the thickest of pipes. We’ll eventually deploy dozens of pipe units on hard bottom at the Bass Grounds (where natural reef was once abundant) and then overtop the whole area with a bargeload of cobble or block..
A tog utopia – & used by every reef species we have; this reef is actually my concept for maximizing an oyster population within a permitted reef site – a way to fashion a reef Reginald Truitt (who founded the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory) envisioned just over a century ago. While I don’t think he predicted the lowly state of water quality we’d allow to happen in the 1970s, nor its worsening affect in the Mid-Atlantic region – even the ocean out beyond our canyons(!) has become green in modern times; Professor Truitt did anticipate oysters would collapse; that watermen needed “concrete brood stock preserves” for the oyster fishery to continue.
Instead of a solid structure, however, we should utilize the hundreds of acres of miscast and test concrete pipes combined from every place of their manufacture – load this industrial waste on a barge and cable them together. By building a hollow reef high above the Bay floor, where substrate is found throughout the height of the reef yet has good water-flow; the idea of a natural biofilter can be fashioned using much less acreage.
Having turned the ocean green, we need biofilters to become a priority.
While some factions will deplore this sort of reef – it’s not ‘natural’ – and others would strenuously object to using more bayfloor – the amount of spawn such a reef would throw every year is incomprehensible. We’d see more spat than since the first sticks of dynamite were ‘naturally’ used to loosen ancient oyster bottoms for dredging, or the first cannon fired to keep Long Island boats out.
One thing I’ve learned with a lifetime of sea bass fishing – maximizing spawning production is one of three keys to restoration – regulation, habitat discovery & restoration, plus learning how to get the most from spawning production are all needed if we’re to ever see black sea bass populations of 1950.
For oysters we have incredibly detailed knowledge of reefs and bars that once existed – and we now see fantastic success in habitat rebuilding in MD & VA – but still the myth this massive task can be accomplished using single pieces of shell with spat captured in tanks persists.
Like freshwater trout stocked in a mud puddle? Perhaps a subsidized fishery has its place, especially using the oyster tax. But for the many ecosystem tasks oysters once performed?
No.
An industrial approach is needed to repair a problem caused by industrial fishing. Re-reefing more than two centuries of destructive fishing isn’t going to happen with pretty pieces of shell or lovely reef units turned out at a snail’s pace.
There’s an abundance of rock quarries in our region. All manner of rock – even hardened mud – works as a substrate.
Then too, just in those manufacturers’ yards I’ve looked at there’s enough scrap concrete to re-reef the Bay and the Ocean out to fifty fathoms.
It may not start pretty; but once grown in? Gorgeous.
Big Barges – Big Jobs – Industrial.
That’s what will turn the ocean blue again..
Cheers,
Monty
PS – for all the sea bass I’ve seen in Jumbo fluke? A tiny bit of payback..

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