Posted on March 12th, 2020
Had a nice winter day today on land with decent temperatures and light breezes for most of the day. There was a pretty good rain storm that passed through this morning, and some random raindrops this afternoon, but overall it was a nice day for February. The day was also nice thanks to a couple of fishing reports that I had come in from two of our boat partners with good tidings of fishing fortune and more hope for what the changing season might bring.
Captain Marc Spagnola of Dusk to Dawn Bowfishing ran a scouting trip last night to see what his bright lights could illuminate and he was pleasantly surprised by some good snakehead fishing. Captain Marc and his crew slung arrows at some nice fish and ended up with about 10 tasty snakeheads that made it into the fish box.
Captain Monty Hawkins had a reel good day of tog fishing today with some jumbo sized fish, and he also dropped block number 29,000 for the Ocean City Reef Foundation along the way.
With the ocean flat as a mill pond this morning we cleared the inlet and struck a course for Capt. Bob Gowar’s Memorial Reef. Though sunrise offered great promise, the kind of cloud cover that gives the best sunrise pics; density was too great right at the horizon—first light couldn’t get beneath the clouds to give us those spectacular colors. When I slowed for our daily block drop Tanner & Jonah had built a giant unit with 45 blocks, the very last of which made exactly 29,000 for my small reef project. See separate post for much more, just know this: we’ve built some very fishable reef over the last decade with the block project. The spots we drop on are mostly ‘reef rescues’ where good substrate has scoured too deeply. Put a couple thousand blocks there (using the original as a foundation) and a reef will spring back to life.
Another strategy is to join two smaller reefs together – say 60 or 70 feet apart – filling in the void makes a single larger reef. Yet another win for reef building on such small scale is dropping blocks on a barge’s deck. Slick smooth steel won’t allow much growth. When you break up the current on that surface, however, mussels and corals find it easier to attach and grow – works.
Building a little at a time sure adds up. We’ll start toward 30,000 blocks Saturday if the wind allows..
As I pulled her back at my first fishing spot today the sky darkened to our west then opened up in a downpour. Wind switch and at a steady 25 or more NNW, I told clients to stay dry in the salon a while: there’d be no use at all anchoring until the squall had passed.
Looked here and there while the rain fell. When winds switched back and fell out I anchored over a little piece of structure I’ve known long years.
Dennis Muhlenforth of Hockessin DE hooks up first. Somehow my business model failing, (fewer anglers offering more angler opportunity and fewer tangles) Denn’s also tangled. I’d about swear I heard a muted evil chuckle..
A young NJ partyboat mate here on busman’s holiday, Peyton Gepp from Belmar NJ, up fishing the bow, catches back to back jumbos. One is 14lbs 9oz – a fine new ‘personal best’ for him that may last awhile. Won the pool too.
Giving me hope for the future of this specialized fishery, Peyton puts em both back sporting a yellow ALS fish tag. He would go on to tag several more – most of which would have been PBs until today.
A young, handsome, quietly polite young man with impeccable manners who requested anonymity—this tog sniper from the Hamptons in East Long Island I think (who maybe called in sick?) lands a pretty one – he too tags it. Then Chan Park of Sterling VA, and Dennis again but larger, others, many – All tagged, we’re doing it right.
Make a move. Hunting. Anchors in and tight—crickets. Nearly 15 minutes go by before the first rod bows up. It’s Thornton Booker of Queens NY with a major league chinner. Though tagged the fish unfortunately popped back up on the other side of the boat and is instead boxed.
My third stop I’m super-jazzed. Place looks toggy as all get out. Lines in
Our last stop was quite the opposite. A fairly decent bite with numerous keepers and even more jumbos tagged to bite another day; it’s been an unusually fine day of toggin.
Nothing to do but keep going. We’ll fish every chance we get. All winter/early spring trips announced via Fish Report emails (sign up at Morningstar fishing.com) & Facebook as weather forecasts firm up.
Make no mistake though – this fishery is brutal. Even today I had several expert tog anglers land a goose egg. It happens to the very best and to the beginner even more. . .
Will be opening the reservation book to May sea bass Fishingbwith my next emailed report.
In today’s group snap are also Frank Graziano of Newark DE & Nathan Andrews of Carlisle MD..