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Capt. Monty Hawkins Report - May 25, 2016
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Greetings All,
Have seen more limits of sea bass. One fellow reminded me he'd caught last year's first limit of sea bass on my boat --- in the second week of July!!
This is much better than last year.
In fact, we limited all but one client on Tuesday's trip. (5/24)
Cbass fishing's OK, but not perfect.
Oh no.

OC Reef Foundation mailer went out. Sent it late because I'd just sent an emergency plea back in December. As pres, secretary, and senior advisor to mail room staff, that means I'm up to my eyes in packaging charts, t-shirts, coffee mugs & such for reef donors. Lot of work..

There are studies right now:
With Rutgers at lead, (I think!) researchers from several regions are trying to model a sea bass stock assessment (population estimate) with hook & line as opposed to trawl. (One of the reasons red snapper are in such turmoil in the Gulf of Mexico is because, even after years of people screaming, and incredible quantities of video showing wonderful snapper populations on man-made reefs where no trawl can go, management's assessments are still created by trawl nets..) I think trawl's worked better for sea bass up here. Seems like population estimates I've looked at are congruent with reality; at least they're not wildly out of proportion like catch estimates. I absolutely support refining the sea bass estimates with reef-specific hook & line sampling.

Rutgers is also looking at release mortality.
Really? We're doing that science after making anglers throw them back almost two decades now?
Personally, I put it to bed a long time ago with the help of Rudy Lukacovic (ret) - before federal regs began even. Then later, maybe 2007 or 2008? 10?, I invited federal & state fisheries personnel aboard to examine sea bass mortality. Fishing even in 125 feet of water, I could not get a fish to float away dead.. If it's hot & calm--if there's no overwash keeping their bellies cool as they drift & reacclimate their gas pressure, they die from overheating. In this instance venting does a fine job. Numerous times I've been about to vent a sea bass & have seen an old venting scar.. Release excess gas, they swim right down. Not hard to master; it works when needed.
Venting is something we have to do a few times a season.
A four hour boat would not have to vent sea bass in the Mid-Atlantic - too shallow to cause barotrauma worries.

There's a nation-wide artificial reef conference coming up; a true brain-trust of US reef building.. I'm just a hack compared to these guys. They know how to make fish - will NOAA listen?
You can quote me on this: "Reef restorations make fishery restorations possible."
If NOAA takes a mind to turn the ocean blue & fill it with fish, they'll need to master reef building..

Weather broke. Calm & warm a while. Another nor-easter next week..

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