Archive for June, 2009

Monkfish on the Stolt

Saturday, June 13th, 2009
Nice Set of Teeth

We had another great trip to the Stolt this Saturday. Once we cleared the inlet, the seas were flat with just a slight breeze from the north. Reaching the top of the wreck we easily had 40-50 ft of visibility. Again the top was quite warm with the thermocline starting a 70. On the bottom the conditions drop to 30 ft of visibility, and about 44 degrees. On the first dive, I headed out in the sand in search of scallops. While I ran into lots of skates, winter flounder, and a number of small bugs, there were no large scallops in range of my reel. I made a sweeping arc back to the wreck, but still no scallop encounters. Not even a moon snail to be found. After spotting a few small lobster, and many more flounder, I started back up to the line.

Back on board, someone mentioned seeing a large monkfish along the side of the wreck. With tog out of season, and my first jumping castle scallop run coming up empty, I opted to have a go with another monkfish aka goosefish. I dropped down the line and started hunting the creature. The usual flounder, ling, eelpout, and small lobster were readily seen. No Monkfish in sight. Doubling back, to the break, I soon spotted him. A battle soon ensued, and the creature was stuffed into my large catch bag. He did not seem happy about the situation. He barely fit in, and may have been cramped. On the way up the line I made sure to keep my hands away from his gaping maw, and keep his slimy flesh away from my drysuit.

We were soon back at the dock, and I had the unenviable task of cleaning this beast. Many people stopped by to inquire about the creature. Most passers by had no idea what it was. The process of cleaning took a while, and made quite a smelly mess. Still the flesh is quite good, and this guy was large enough for a few meals.

If you see a monkfish on the bottom remember two things: they fight back, someone will have to clean him.

Scallops, Lobster, and Training on the Lillian.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

The Scuba Connection had a charter to the Lillian this week.  Wayne was out with a class. With a few of the usual suspects in tow, the Independence got underway.   NOAA was calling for thunder storms in the afternoon.  The drive out of the inlet was in heavy fog.  Once that open up, we could see on the radar that the rain was following us out (a bit early).  The worst of it hit before we got to the wreck, and mostly cleared by the time Richie had us tied in.

The passengers soon rolled in, and Richie returned with a nice bag of scallops and bugs.   He had us tied into a large pipe next to the engine.  This section of the wreck stood some 20 ft off the silty bottom.  The surface temp was 58.  Bottom temp was 43-48, depending on who you asked, and visibility was a dark 40.  If the sun came out, this would be a fantastic dive.  As it was, it was just great.

The Lillian was a freighter that sunk back in 1939 with a cargo of sugar. It sank in 150 ft of water after a collision in the fog.   The wreck is on the edge of the mud hole, so the conditions can vary depending on the tide.

After seeing all the scallops coming up, I figured I’d have to go out bounce house for sale in the sand to find any.  This proved futile, as the scallops were on the wreck itself.  Once I figured this out, I bagged my share just as my reel decided it did not want to go any further. Flounder were all over this wreck.  Some were so large, I had to check twice.  Many were still buried in the sand.  Those I checked three times.   Ling cod were also about, along with a few Eel Pouts.  One unusual item was the large sponges lodged about the wreck.  These seemed out of place here.  Some were close to 3 feet across, just laying in the sand.  Captain Dan told us to keep an eye out for portholes, so I looked closely as I reeled my line back in.

I headed back to the boilers, and was soon comforted by the sight of the strobe in the distance.  These were great conditions for this wreck.    Back on the boat, we all took turns cleaning scallops.  Several of the passengers had bagged their first scallops, and were learning how to clean them under Captain Dan’s tutelage.

We headed home just as the sun broke through the clouds.  Oh well, it was still a great dive!  The scallop dinner was good too!