Nice To Get Back on the Ocean

By Scott Lenox

Nice To Get Back on the Ocean

I’m happy to report that the wind did not blow today!  Thankfully we had very nice temperatures, sunny skies and light winds so it was very nice on the bay, and at least for today, very nice on the ocean.

It was also nice to see some tuna coming to the dock this afternoon as several boats put some fish in the box.  Captain Chris Watkowski of the Spring Mix II had a nice day with four yellowfins to 95 pounds.

Captain Mike Burt of the Pumpin’ Hard had a good day for his anglers putting them on three yellowfin tuna for the grill.

Captain Jason Mumford of Lucky Break Charters had a good couple of trips today with flounder, tautog, rockfish, bluefish, croaker, spot and kingfish to keep his anglers busy.

Anglers fishing on board On the Run with Captain Dave Caffrey kept busy today as well with rockfish, bluefish, tautog, flounder and more in the OC Inlet.

Big Bird Cropper had Rob Calcara and Dan Crockery on board today after their high bid at the OC Reef Foundation dinner a few months back. Bird treated the guys to a great time casting Roy Rigs and catching bluefish, rockfish and even some nice red drum.

Peter Hudson caught this 20″ keeper flounder at the Indian River Inlet on a sand flea.

Shooters on Dusk to Dawn Bowfishing with Captain Marc Spagnola had successful trips that ended with several cow nosed and southern rays.

Justin Starts of LHF had a nice day of bottom fishing in the ocean putting three keeper flounder up to 19″ and a keeper sea bass in the boat.  Two of the keeper flounder fell for the Deadly Tackle Deadly Squidly rig.

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star was glad to get back on the ocean today and he showed his folks some nice fishing too.

July second, 2024, began pretty as you’d like; calm winds, a flat sea – perfect.
As ever, we paused on our way out so Cathy from McConnell AFB could send 4 pyramids by the stern rail atop Al Berger’s Reef before pressing on.
Thought I’d drift first thing this morning. That’s because the forecast site that showed rain,rain,rain Sunday (the real kind, nothing similar to Eric Clapton’s early work “Let It Rain” which I stumbled upon recently expressing a rather dubious true, mature love during the era of free love.. Incredibly, computer music also played a cover of Clapton’s “The Cure” which I think is better than the master’s – Shannon Curfman’s work.. But I digress) ..rain, rain, rain; except, forecasts being what they are, it didn’t rain at all here Sunday till almost midnight. That same forecast site had winds under 5 knots far into the day..
Ah well.
At least we had an hour of pure calm out of it.
With the current on a tear and just enough N wind to whitecap (about 10 knots in the Beaufort scale as I recall) – we drifted.
Sea bass weren’t too upset by the speed.
Caught OKish.
Then the forecast really did materialize. Wind fell out
..and the bite quit.
Moving to greener pastures I found a new spot – small, but new. Amazing how a tiny patch of seabed habitat can make the whole thing happen. My kingdom to truly understand habitat fidelity in sea bass.
When tagging in the 1990s I saw time and again how sea bass we tagged in high summer would vacate to offshore waters for winter, then return to the exact same reef or wreck the following summer – even two summers on.
That’s habitat fidelity in mature fish. A federal study in 2002/2003 & archival tagging in 05 confirmed it. (federal work came about owing my constant complaint we should use knowledge of habitat fidelity in management, TYVM Congressman Gilchrest. Regionalization ever ever got used until MRFSS/MRIP forced management’s hand. Habitat fidelity didn’t really matter one bit. Regionalizing sea bass regulations was done to shield states from the worst catch estimates – a way to average out massive overages so they wouldn’t cause undo closures.)
Still – why did the burst of spawning production we so enjoyed from 2017 to 2022/23 (and even now in the occasional jumbo – large fish of any species are simply those that escaped natural mortality and fishing’s extraction to grow large) – why didn’t those newly spawned tiny fellows colonize our more nearshore Bass Grounds or Queen Reefs? They must have crossed those reefs and kept swimming in favor of more distant habitat.. What? Why? Why was that giant lift in cbass population only seen NxNNE & SxSSW of ‘ground zero’ – – That is, as the MD Wind Energy Area recolonized, small sea bass again rejoined the spawning biomass and, just as before and during early regulation, we experienced exponential population growth with all age one and age two sea bass ‘allowed’ to spawn – but additional spawn offered naught to points west/inshore..
In salmon, smolts are fairly well developed when they leave their natal river – the same river we know they’ll return to and spawn.
In sea bass eggs are fertilized in broadcast fashion and drift inshore for development. Back bays can be loaded with little fellows and have no mature fish at all. Can a newly fertilized egg develop habitat fidelity? Do they return to sea bound for their natal reef? Seems an awful long stretch – but that is what I’m seeing points too. NOAA could sort it out in a year or two ..but they’d need a dose of ‘want to.’
Not a lot of that I can see where temperate reefs or temperate reef fish are concerned..
States are worried about state waters (inside 3nm) while federal management (out to 200nm) has a laser focus on recreational fishing’s catch estimates and nothing else.
Hmmm.. What could go wrong?
Ahh, Sorry. Another digression.
We did fish. We did catch. Pretty good for this year. Ken pocketed everyone’s money with a nice cbass caught just before the bell..

This huge Nantucket flounder vid is going ballistic!!  Find out why…..check it out!!

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