Just arrived in Harrisburg, PA today for the Great American Outdoor Show and it’s looking to be a good one. Booth is all set where we’ll have rigs, apparel, Fish in OC magazine 2024, Worcester County Guides and OC Experience magazines. Come by and see us starting Saturday in booth 2518 in the fishing hall…..right next to the bass tub. It was a nice day today back home and Captain Monty Hawkins was able to get out on some tautog.
Aside a sometimes sharp but always present easterly heave, today’s weather forecast was on point. Sure made for a nice day off Ocean City. Blue sky sunny; I actually needed my Hook sunglasses for the morning’s glare. (I get em double polarized so I can see into that blinding cone of hurt your eyes water..)Ty from Lewes dropped 20 blocks on one of the artificial reefs I’m improving – makes 41,295 reef blocks for the project. The vast majority of these blocks were donated by York Building Products in York PA. I cannot thank them enough. Such a simple thing, take 20 or 25 blocks out every trip. When states come to trust their fishers, many boats engaged in dropping blocks will accelerate all manner of reef construction. If a boat only took 6 blocks every trip? It would soon add up.. (especially if we use MRIP’s number of boats!) In oyster restoration we’ve wasted decades seeking the perfection demanded of restoration’s “Shell Only” crowd. What a shame. There were supremely experienced oystermen harvesting even off tires in the 1990s – yet at every meeting back then a biologist would say “Can’t”.. The Nature Conservancy had more oysters growing on “pulverized shell fossils” (eg limestone – pretty much just regular concrete)..TNC had more oysters growing in Virginia’s coastal back bays than VA & MD had in the Chesapeake all together. Having embraced the success they found in vertical substrates – especially oyster castle blocks – TNC’s oyster restoration was well on its way almost two decades before MD. When at last MD abandoned shell because they’d run out: success. Rock as an oyster substrate works. Video I had taken by Capt. Tim & Nick Caloyianis showed oysters in wonderful abundance on concrete pipe reef only 6 years on the bottom. There’s positively nothing special about the concrete. It’s whatever the mix was at the pipe plant in Jessup; not some fancy grade of special cement. Furthermore, pipe can be cabled together and stacked in a unit thus increasing an acre of bottom’s area suitable for oyster spat to strike by 11.3 times in very modest 5 pipe units. We know all we need to know to turn the Chesapeake’s waters clear. Given clean estuarine outflows, oyster restoration’s success shall make the mid-Atlantic ocean blue again in short order. It is 100% doable.
In fact, a trailer load of 252 pyramids and 52 reef balls were deployed in Virginia’s Chesapeake today – a press release is coming!…….. Happened upon a small pod of saddleback dolphin (crisscross or, in the book as ‘common dolphin.’) Stayed with is a while. Toggin today began with a slow, frustrating bite. After a while Dr Gary had el Grande on – only to break his rig when the chiseltoothed thumper headed back down. I know he lives there; but in this fishery? Heartbreaks happen. A move found us with a much better bite of smalls and a few more decent fish. An enjoyable bite even. I am heartened to see so many small tautog offshore. It’s great news for the fishery’s future. By and by I saw a flurry of activity in the stern – net going down, guys casting without bait.. Ahh.. Rod overboard. Nice rod with a top of the line Shimano reel at that. Fellow next to him caught it back. Pretty work. By day’s end seas had piped down considerably, but the current had come slack too. Made for an even tougher bite. Wasn’t without reward though. Couple dandies near the whistle. Serious tog. Frank’s was a whopping 28.5 inches and a bit over 16lb at sea. Getting ready for the Valentine’s weekend Seaside Boat Show. Ocean City/Berlin Optimists have always done a heck of a job. Sure are a lot of folks that attend. I have a meeting with the printer tomorrow to get the 2024 reef charts ready. Can’t miss it! Cheers, Monty