Some 10 Pound Togs and Reef Block #33,000

By Scott Lenox

We got off to a cold, windy start today with stiff winds and temps that felt like the low 20s.  It was a good day to stay home inside or at least wait to head out and catch a couple of tautog and drop some reef blocks for the Ocean City Reef Foundation.

Captain Chase Eberle of Chasin’ Tides Charters was able to get the day in by waiting for the wind to lie down.  Chasin’ Tides left the inlet around 11 AM and then proceeded to put a baker’s dozen of keeper tog in the cooler with the largest being this 10.7 pounder.

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star didn’t catch any tautog today, but he and some OCRF volunteers did make some nice habitat for them.  They dropped reef block #33,000 along the way today.

Greetings Reef Supporters! 
Took advantage of marginal fishing weather for an inshore reef deployment with 7 tons of concrete Sunday 1/24/21.. 
Volunteers, 18 in all, met about 9:30 to load Rich’s giant flatbed. I’d advertised a 10am start – they were waiting to load the boat with 125 seventy pound blocks donated by York Building Products when I arrived! 
Somewhere in that bunch was block #33,000 for this project..
Those plus 16 pyramids and 27 tog condo chimney blocks loaded aboard made for almost exactly seven tons of concrete we mounded atop a barge at Harry Kelly’s Reef 2.5 miles south of OC inlet where we hid from today’s westerly winds.. (You can see shadow of mounds on barge in sidescan shot on Facebook..)  
Reef sponsors have caught tog, triggers, sea bass, & sheepshead too atop this barge for over a decade. Today’s deployment added not only some height to the reef but tremendous complexity—the type of structure that a reef’s food web flourishes on—plus small caverns for fish to hide in.  
That’s why we do it. Many in the fishing industry believe nothing could possibly come from throwing cement blocks by the rail. After all, what in the world are a few cement blocks going to do against habitat loss dating back to 1950?
I’ve fished 40 years off the MD Coast. Two of my best days of flounder fishing ever, and numerous limits of sea bass, have come from block piles we’ve built off the back of my boat. 
They’re not secret. Perfect coordinates to all our reefs are published in OCRF charts available to sponsors starting at the $50 level. (See ocreefs.org

to donate. We’ll print 2021 charts in mid-March. Dig a little deeper too – this will be our best year of reef building in over a decade!) 
My crew loads a few blocks every fishing trip, but only rarely am I able to sneak in a dedicated trip such as today’s. 

Any boat anywhere should be able to do this. They MUST build only on permitted reef sites and with the blessing of their state’s reef coordinator. 
It works!! And it’s CHEAP!! I’ve used reef blocks to ‘save’ reef that had scoured into the bottom; reef laying just beneath the sand, or ‘sanded over’ as we say, can serve as a foundation. I have used blocks to tie two small reefs together such as “Two Tanks Reef” at the Queen site where an M60 tank and an APC dating from the Army’s “Operation Reef Ex” in 1994 lie just 60 feet apart. I’ve especially used blocks to add complexity to flat areas of an existing reef—a broad expanse of bare steel where it’s so hard for growth to gain a toehold—once broken by blocks, that steel explodes with life. 
It’s a small thing in the reef building world, this type of load with just six or seven tons aboard. We have, in far larger fashion, a 200 foot barge in our immediate future. Nicky Ferrara of Bear Concrete is going to donate and load nearly 300 tons of precast concrete pipe on that barge. What a tog palace it shall become..(Nicky’s plant along with Atlantic Concrete made all of the pyramids we dropped today and many more.) I just sent McLean a check for the big barge. Hope to get it ready this coming week and out of Chesapeake Bay to our mooring before ice blocks us. 
We also have a 40 foot barge coming. (Thanks Doug Whittington!) which we’ll load with as much cement as she’ll hold and sink it close to an existing spot. 
We’ve a BUNCH of other projects coming – maybe even a true game changer in the largest grant I’ve ever applied for. 
In the last 9 months we’ve deployed two sailboats, a small barge & an 85’ tug – For us? That’s Reef Building!
There is no “MD State Marine Artificial Reef Program. It’s just our little non-profit and her donors vs the sea.. 
If we are to leave the ocean better than we found it, then rereefing the seafloor is an important aspect of the work that lies ahead. I’ll use every chance given to see the job done.

Here Are Block & Pyramid Tallies.. 
As of 1/23/21 we have 33,091 Reef Blocks + 279 Concrete Pyramids (170lb ea) deployed at numerous ACE permitted reef sites.
Currently being targeted: Virginia Lee Hawkins Memorial Reef 99 Reef Blocks (+ 47 Reef Pyramids begun 8/18/20) – Capt. Jack Kaeufer’s Reef 1,696 Blocks (+44 Reef Pyramids) – Doug Ake’s Reef 4,114 blocks (+16 Pyramid Reef Pyramids) – St. Ann’s 2,545 (+6 Reef Pyramids) – Sue’s Block Drop 1,562 (+20 Reef Pyramids) – TwoTanks Reef 1,243 (+ 11 Reef Pyramids) – Capt. Bob’s Inshore Block Drop 912 – Benelli Reef 1,471 (+ 15 Pyramids) – Rudy’s Reef 425 – Capt. Bob’s Bass Grounds Reef 3,234 (+52 reef pyramids) – Wolf & Daughters Reef 734 – Al Berger’s Reef 629 (+4 Reef Pyramids) – Great Eastern Block Drop 890 (+9 Reef Pyramids).. And a soon-to-be-named reef at Russell’s Reef 30 Blocks & 49 Pyramids – plus we’ve also begun work at Capt Greg Hall’s Memorial Reef with 72 Tog Penthouse Blocks.
Today’s deployment will be on 2021 Reef Charts. 

We turn donations into coral.. 
OCReefs.org 
Cheers!!
Monty

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