Toggin’ On A Pretty Day

By Scott Lenox

Toggin’ On A Pretty Day

It’s been over a week since the last Daily Angle hit the airwaves and I for one am glad to be typing again.  We’ve had some cold and windy weather so not a lot of fishing is going on, but today it was nice and calm with warm temperatures so it was a nice day to be on the water.

Captain Kane Bounds and the crew of Fish Bound has been getting out when the weather does cooperate and the tog fishing has been good.  Anglers on Fish Bound have been seeing plenty of keeper fish with some very nice tog coming to the rail as well.  The largest of the past few trips was a nice 12 pounder!

Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star was happy to get out on the calm ocean today, and was even happier to put his anglers on some nice fish.

Ahhh.. Couple days of calm winds made for calm seas. Blackwater finally settled too after 20+ foot storm seas had resuspended dead algae far off the seafloor. We hadn’t any swell to contend with either.
Nice to be underway again and confident of decent water quality so important to clients’ success.
Water quality shouldn’t be a worry in the ocean. It won’t be either a few years after we’ve had functioning oyster biofilters in our major estuaries again.
After decades of Can’t? “Oh, we Can’t restore oysters!”
Heard it over and over in the 1990s especially.
Can’t.
No excuse now. Rock works. Concrete works. Restored oyster bars and reefs are thriving. We know everything we need to know in order to turn the Mid-Atlantic ocean blue again.
Seriously.
It’s not a national priority because marine water quality isn’t on anyone’s ‘to do’ list. It’s not generally known – it’s not understood that not only have we fouled our estuaries, but the ocean too even out beyond our region’s canyons.
Where boats from even central NJ would steam to Jackspot shoal just 20 miles off our beach in the 1950s/60s/even early 70s? Today there is no hope of a billfish there or anywhere else for another 30+ miles off (if you’re lucky!)
Now today we suffer even worse water quality.
Without oysters filtering our large bay waters, especially owing additional nutrients owed a careless humanity, algae flourishes, both in our estuaries and at sea.
Makes for green water.
Sometimes pea soup.
And it dies, falling through the water column as part of “marine snow.”
We need only ramp everything up. Build more reef and do it now.
My suggestion to accelerate the success we’re seeing in single strata/single veneer rock reef filtration is to use pipe units. Stack em up. Hundreds of units per reef. With oysters growing inside and outside each pipe–by stacking them with cable we get many times the filtration value from the same piece of reef bottom. Even a modest five pipe unit creates 11.3X more substrate than just rock on the bottom. From a hundred acres of complex reef with manmade substrate then we’d get the same or better filtration as you would from 1,100 acres of one layer reef; would filter much higher in the water column too.
“But that’s not natural!”
Oh Devil. The heck with shell. Just turn the ocean blue again already.
In time you’d not be able to see any concrete. It will be thick with live oysters. In a hundred years folks will have no idea save those who look at the reef’s history.
With large artificial reef sites offering many times the filtration value of rock within the same footprint; we’d minimize loss of bottom for commercial fisheries in the bays – do a lot more work with less bottom. In fact, With so many layers of substrate, watermen could work the tops of pipe reefs without dampening a reefs effectiveness much at all.
I’m quite sure they’d swiftly become some of the best estuarine fishing spots on the planet too.
A beautiful day; Joe & Jack sent some heavy dagone scrap fence post pieces down to a reef I’m supplementing – could see them decent on the sounder. We carried on.
Arriving at my first fishing spot I detected a ‘disturbance in the force.’ Ahh.. Despite 10 to 12 knots of southerly breeze; with the current fairly well opposite there was no clear way to position my anchors.
Couldn’t cipher it.
Finally thought I had her dialed in and made an anchor set, a full straddle. With one off the nose & one off a stern cleat the boat was responding to every adjustment owing tension on the anchor lines. We had caught two tog when both anchor lines just went slack & she started walking into the wind..
What?
Going on 44 years of anchoring. Boat didn’t belong to walk into that breeze.
Hundreds of millions of years of current said: “I’ll walk it south if I want..”
With that reality in mind, I reanchored.
Worked.
Was a fair piece offshore on this 11 hr trip. Although I wasn’t anticipating smalls, there were quite a few. A lot really. Far more small tog than I’ve ever seen in the deep. Was a good thing. Maybe this fishery management thing can work.
Picking away. Not a bad bite. Wasn’t the jumbos of past decades either. Nicked a couple pretty ones.
Made a move requiring an even tighter anchor set. Pulled it off.
Couple fish, a good one. Scott put an ALS tag in a 26.5 inch DD male. That fish would win the pool ..but derned if it didn’t deliver some terrible voodoo!
Everything very fine – good for the soul kind of day when Vic informed me a client was writhing in pain on the saloon floor.
Oyyyy – a tog curse unlike any seen before!
No doctors aboard but Vic and I have both had our share of kidney stones. Other clients knew the pain too. Sure seemed like a stone. He’s on his way to find out.
In a tad early on a day when I’d have gladly stayed late? Yeah, but damn a kidney stone hurts..
Sold out a few trips coming. Weather looks to make short work of one day – but which? Keeps bouncing around..
Time will tell.
Sure hope it’s a kidney stone and nothing else.
Will be announcing more trips via email as weather permits.
Cheers,
Monty

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