Sea Bass to 6 Pounds and Tautog to 15

By Scott Lenox

Sea Bass to 6 Pounds and Tautog to 15

You got one day left to shop the “12 Days of Christmas” at Atlantic Tackle!!

It was an absolutely beautiful December day today with clear skies, light winds and mildish temperatures and it was a great day to be on the ocean with just over a week left in Maryland’s black sea bass season.

John and Andrew Cooper of Gumboro, DE had a crazy good day of bottom fishing over ocean structure today.  The guys had a limit of sea bass up to a massive 6 pounds and some good tog action with fish up to 15 pounds.

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star has to paddle a little further east now to get on the sea bass, but when he finds them it’s been boat limits of jumbo fish.

Tied her loose into a beautiful pre-dawn morning, the ocean almost like glass. Forecasts said it would about stay that way; but, of course, it didn’t.
A deckhand of mine from long years ago, now a generation later Tim’s son pushed a 20 block unit onto Calder’s Reef where we shall return again and again with more blocks and pyramids.
Aside a bit of artificial reef and one small patch of natural bottom, we went mile after mile after mile across barren seafloor to reach our destination–a piece of a shipwreck forty some miles off. There we caught a boat limit of jumbo sea bass from which Bernie won the pool – but not easily!
I often wonder how different, how much more successful our fisheries restorations would be, how much further along on the path of rebuilding to true pre-industrial populations we’d be if the great might of federal .gov deployed just 5 bargeloads of granite in between Cape Cod & Cape Henry (VA Beach) each year.
I can create a ‘reef’ big enough to become a spawning site for sea bass with just a few dozen concrete blocks – – have built several a year with the nearly 41,000 reef blocks we’ve deployed from the stern of my boat.
How much more grand a giant barge load of boulder would be. Dropped in patches the rock would, over time, create incredible new coral colonies with all their associated fish spawning. Just a few barges a year; year after year – would sure add up. The feds could, quite inexpensively in their neighborhood, increase commercial and recreational fish quotas by building habitat in its least complex format. As I’ve written a hundred times or more: It’s as simple as rolling rocks off a barge.
Here, however, is what all the people at the top of fisheries management have thought until very recently..
The fellow who has spent fifteen years or more as the “recreational representative” to the top of NOAA asked me; “Did we ever resolve that? Is artificial reef ‘attraction’ or ‘production’?”
He was likely taught in college that ‘Artificial reef only concentrates fish for easier extraction.’
Makes me crazy.
Here from just six years before Ronald Reagan became governor of California for the first time: A 1961 study – California Fish Bulletin 146, Man-Made Reef Ecology: Summary & Conclusions — Page 198
Brackets { } are mine, BOLD original but emphasized. Parenthesis ( ) & quotes are original. is apparent that “non-productive” areas of nearshore ocean floor can be made “productive” by installation of relief structures {artificial reef}. Initially, these structures attract fishes from surrounding areas and present a substrate suitable for development of the complex biotic assemblages {reef growths, e.g. mussels & coral} typical of natural reefs. As these new reefs mature, biological succession occurs and fishes which may have been initially attracted only to the structures are incorporated into the reef community in response to increasingly available food and shelter. Ultimately (in about 5 years) a natural situation is attained and the plant & animal populations exhibit fluctuations typical of {natural} reef ecosystems.
Therefore: Yes, Artificial reef substrates create natural reef production.
NOAA, to my knowledge, has never noted our sea whip and star corals as ‘fish habitat’ of any sort. Nor that we can grow that habitat almost at will simply by putting down hard substrates.
One day NOAA will be done with “How can we further restrict catch” & instead consider, “How can we make more fish?”
Lots of ways.. �Promise.
Merry Christmas,

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