Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Sept. 16, 2013: Great looking weekend but only fairish on the fishing front, unless you got out to the wrecks and nearshore structures to target fluke halos -- those peripheral regions where fluke gather, as they muster to migrate outwards. Some headboats did phenomenally well out there.
I worked the murky, cold-water beachline and had three short fluke on jigs -- and also two bass, one to 26 inches, on the same bunker-colored Wildeye jigs.
If you want the last of the blowfish you better get out there. The super large showing of puffers is on the wane -- hopefully to return next summer. Blowfish migrate flush along the beach so they're only minimally impacted by the Carolina shrimp netters, which brutalize most northbound migrators in the spring. The increased netting is surely the reason behind our lack of Atlantic croakers, the number one shrimping bycatch -- by the reckoning (and stats) of the netters themselves. Not that many years back, the netting nearly stopped in the Carolinas due to market problems. We were swimming in croakers shortly thereafter. When shrimping resumed, our croakering croaked.
Laura Gilbert and (large) sparkly friend ...
D.J. Muller, noted author and expert striped bass angler, will be on hand to share his decades of striped bass surf fishing knowledge at an IGFA-sponsored how-to seminar set for Wednesday night, October 16th at the Toms River, NJ, American Legion Post.
This comprehensive seminar will answer all the questions you've always wanted to ask for catching lunker striped bass from the jetties and surf during the fall season. Learn the secrets on targeting the trophy fish on both artificials and bait. DJ will discuss tides and moon phases, tackle rigging, and the tips for being in the right place at the right time. You'll learn the time-tested strategies used by the pros, including the latest new methods that will help you catch more striped bass this fall.
Admission is $10 ($5 for spouses and juniors under 16) and every attendee will receive a free one-year IGFA I-Membership, brochures, booklets, catalogs and magazines from On the Water and The Fisherman. Valuable door prizes include rods and reels, lures, charter trips, line and more.
The seminar will be held October 16, 2013, from 7 to 10 pm at the Toms River American Legion Post #129 located at 2025 Church St, off of Brick Blvd, GSP exits 88S and 83N. Come early for a good seat. Refreshments and light dinners will be available at the Legion Dining Hall. All proceeds benefit IGFA's Junior Angler Programs.
For more information, please contact IGFA Representative Capt. Pete Barrett at email@example.com.
International Game Fish Association Representatives Bill Feinberg, Jeff Merrill, Capt. Gene Nigro, Rich Keller and Pete Barrett appreciate your support and hope to see you at the seminar.
New Jersey IGFA Reps Striped Bass Seminar 2013
International Game Fish Association
300 Gulf Stream Way
Dania Beach, Florida 33004
954-927-2628 | firstname.lastname@example.org
VERY IMPORTANT ICE CAP READ:
Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
|With ice closing in, many of the 35 small boats attempting Northwest passage won't make it|
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Toronto Star] by Paul Watson Arctic Bureau Sept. 16, 2013
Copyright (c) 2013 The Toronto Star
VANCOUVER -- For sailors drawn to the edge, the seas of Canada's Northwest Passage pull like no other waters can.
The fabled Arctic voyage grabbed hold of Philipp Cottier's imagination when he was a boy in Switzerland reading the logs of legendary explorers such as Sir John Franklin and Roald Amundsen.
It never let go.
As the climate warmed, and vast stretches of sea ice melted this summer, Cottier, 46, joined a growing number of yachtsmen trying to conquer a passage that has killed hundreds who sailed before them.
The Swiss hedge fund investor and philanthropist consulted naval engineers and toughened up the fibreglass hull of Libellule, a 14-metre catamaran, to give her a fighting chance against the Arctic.
He added Kevlar to the bows and sides, and reinforced the rudder shafts.
Then, in mid-July, Cottier, his wife Marielle and their three daughters, Naima, 14, Line, 12, and Anissa, 8, cast off for the Canadian Arctic by way of Nuuk, Greenland.
With two experienced French skippers to take the wheel, they set sail for history, determined to make Libellulethe first cruising catamaran to navigate the Northwest Passage, which joins the Atlantic to the Pacific across the top of the world.
Weeks later, Cottier is almost there. A lifelong dream is now riding on a hard Arctic reality: ice.
It's back with a vengeance after retreating to record lows in recent years, almost disappearing completely over the past two summers.
Cottier and his crew are among dozens of mariners scattered across the Northwest Passage, searching for some way out as hull-crushing ice clogs up the exits and a bitter winter closes in.
"Life is too short to live it in a boring way," he emails from aboard Libellule, heading northwest of Cambridge Bay, on Victoria Island.
"I prefer to live a full life, including some adventures from time to time (such as mountaineering or sailing expeditions). And, fortunately, I have a family who is willing to share some of these adventures."
Word that the Arctic has been warming faster than anywhere else on the planet - and images of calm, ice-free waters, even of sunbathers on deck - has made the Northwest Passage a new magnet for marine adventurers.
Luxury cruise ships full of tourists are almost as common as polar bears in Canada's Arctic.
So being in the Northwest Passage is losing the buzz it had when only grizzled explorers dared venture. The race now is to transit by the most treacherous routes or in the smallest craft afloat.
At least three rowboats and a tandem kayak launched attempts this year. And a team of four Americans on jet skis set out on a voyage through the passage in search of reality TV glory.
Douglas Pohl, an American sea captain who keeps a close watch on traffic in the Northwest Passage after some 30 years navigating the world's oceans, calls paddling rowers insane for launching such attempts.
"It serves no real purpose and places people at extreme risk," he says from his 16.7-metre steel motor yacht Grey Goose, where he is cruising, and blogging about the Northwest Passage, among the Caribbean islands of Bocas del Toro Panama.
Mount Everest, another destination once reserved for major expeditions, is now inundated with climbers, many with more money than alpine experience. Fatal accidents keep rising with the crowds.
Canada's overstretched Coast Guard fears the same will happen in the Northwest Passage, where the agency says emergency rescues are still rare despite a steady increase in inexperienced boaters.
"So far, we've been lucky that we haven't really had any major incidents involving any of those type of navigators or vessels to date," says Jean-Pierre Sharp, regional supervisor, maritime search and rescue, from his base in Trenton, Ont.
Pohl says he tried to talk the rowboaters out of making the trip. Two have abandoned their attempts in recent days after only making it about half way.
The final rowboat and the tandem kayak won't last much longer, Pohl predicts.
Since 2010, Ottawa has required all Arctic-bound ships over 300 tonnes, or carrying dangerous goods, to register. That remains voluntary for smaller vessels, which make up the majority of traffic through the Northwest Passage.
Although Canada claims the route as territorial waters, it doesn't require vessels to get permission to enter the way Russia does in the much busier waters along its Arctic coast.
So even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper declares Arctic sovereignty one of his top priorities, the Coast Guard can only estimate how many vessels are passing through.
It knows even less about who is on board or what they are up to. Harper closed the only Coast Guard station in the western Arctic last year.
Shifts of three Coast Guard staff in Iqaluit are left to monitor sea traffic, and field calls for weather and hazard information, across Canada's vast north.
They keep watch over a dangerous wilderness from Greenland west to Alaska, from the northern tip of Ellesmere Island south to James Bay, and along the busy Mackenzie River.
Some of their information comes from listening to radios, or monitoring GPS satellite locations. They also search the Internet for clues about vessels that haven't declared their intentions.
If you run into trouble in the Northwest Passage and the Coast Guard can't raise another ship nearby, you'll likely have a long wait for help.
Rescue operations in Canada's Arctic are run out of Trenton, 170 kilometres east of Toronto.
The Coast Guard doesn't have the authority to tell boaters to stay out - even if they look like they'd be in over their heads in Arctic waters.
"We just hope, and try to tell them to be prepared," says Sharp. "Hopefully, they may have groups with them, or monitoring them, or have a good support team in that sense.
"But we really can't persuade people not to go. The Coast Guard has no 'legal side' to us, if you will. It's not just the North. I can't refuse people from venturing out on the Great Lakes or anything else."
By late August, the Coast Guard knew of 24 vessels either in the Northwest Passage or planning to go there, and only three of those were large ships required to file notice, says Iqaluit spokesman Louis Robert.
Pohl has counted around 35 vessels in the passage this season, several of which contacted him for free guidance.
Russia is much more strict in regulating its Arctic sea passages, called the Northern Sea Route. More than 500 ships, mostly large commercial vessels, received permits to sail at least part of the way between Asia and Europe this year.
All vessels must apply for a permit to transit the Russian route. Getting one requires, among other things, proof of experience navigating in sea ice, adequate preparations and insurance. Russia also charges Arctic mariners hefty fees to pay for mandatory icebreaker escorts.
Canada's much smaller fleet of Coast Guard icebreakers only help vessels in the Passage if a call for help goes out.
The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier had to rescue the American jet skiers and drop them off at Gjoa Haven, the only settlement on King William Island.
Rachelle Smith, a spokeswoman for the department of fisheries and oceans, declined to say specifically whether the jet skiers or the producers of the Dangerous Waters TV show have to pay for the costly rescue.
Coast Guard "operations are funded on a yearly/seasonal basis not on a service basis," she says in an email. "Therefore, the department does not calculate cost estimates or assess cost recovery for individual search and rescue cases."
To Pohl, it's obvious the jet skiers, and small self-propelled craft like rowboats, shouldn't be trying to voyage across the Arctic in the first place.
"I knew it was sheer madness from the start and it has got to be gut-wrenching to know that Mother Nature once again showed her power and kicked their butts," Pohl says. "Their failure was their poor preparation for the legendary Arctic ice and weather. They just didn't do their homework."
Seven possible routes
By the end of last year, 185 vessels had navigated the Northwest Passage since 1903, when Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was the first to sail through aboard Gjoa, according to Robert Headland, a polar historian at Cambridge University.
Amundsen and his crew took three years to succeed.
By far the majority of the voyages through the passage - 109 of them - have been completed since 2000. Most of those vessels were sailboats or motor yachts, Headland's research shows.
The Northwest Passage is made up of seven possible routes, and ice choke-points have blocked several of the main ones this summer, Pohl says.
That "puts extreme pressure on vessel skippers to make a decision - to wait or to attempt to find a way through the ice," Pohl adds. "Good decisions are never made under duress - you only get one chance in the Arctic.
"A poor decision usually means someone is going to suffer. Ice pressure against a ship's hull usually means you lose and Mother Nature wins - imagine the forces from thousands of tons of ice being moved by winds coming to rest against a ship's hull."
As ice closes in, skippers close enough to a hamlet that is equipped to haul them out can surrender, put the boat on blocks so she stays in one piece, and be ready to try again next summer. Mariners call it "going on the hard."
But the facilities to do that are few and far between in the Canadian Arctic.
And mariners who want bragging rights for transiting the Northwest Passage crave the phrase "in a single season." Winter breaks don't have quite the same cache.
"I think Roald Amundsen had sage advise: 'Adventure is just bad planning,' " Pohl says.
Even in a good year, the Arctic's patience for mariners is short and the window for transiting the Northwest Passage shuts fast.
Pohl has some advice for the seamen still there: "Get out of the Arctic before Sept. 15 or else make plans to winter over near a hamlet with services."
Despite the risks, Cottier has had enough magic moments, such as watching his daughters' eyes light up as they floated past polar bears on an ice floe, and met enough friendly people on his voyage to ask: "What can you wish more?"
But it's easy to be romantic about the Arctic, until her icy breath hits you in the face in a howling gale.
Cottier felt it on Sept. 1 when winds gusting to 45 knots dragged Libellule on her anchor for some 200 metres. With snow blowing horizontally, two-metre waves hammered the boat while shoals and rocks waited to tear a hole in the hull.
But the storm passed and she sailed on.
So far, ice has been the biggest headache and the most stunning sight. Judging from Amundsen's account of his voyage, Cottier thinks he's come up against more of it than the Norwegian did in 1903.
"Generally, being in the ice is very, very beautiful, but very extreme at the same time because you never know how to get out," Cottier says. "It is very scary.
"As our youngest daughter nicely summarized it, being in the pack ice is 'like a labyrinth, except that it is for real, and the labyrinth is constantly changing and you don't even know if there is an exit!' "
That held up Libellule so long that Cottier's wife and daughters had to go ashore at Cambridge Bay.
It was time for the girls to fly back to school, leaving their father and his crew to see what was stronger, a boyhood dream or the ice.
Celebrations on board
Cottier completed his transit of the Northwest Passage Tuesday, when Libellule crossed the Arctic Circle in the morning and then headed into the Bering Strait that evening.
"The sun was shining, for the first time since Herschel Island, Canada, and we could clearly see Siberia on our starboard side and Alaska on our port side," the triumphant yachtsman writes.
He and his crew celebrated with the last beer on board and a bottle of rum as they set sail for port in Nome, Alaska.
"We have just spotted a walrus colony on nearby Fairway Rock," Cottier says, signing off on a 7,500-kilometre voyage "across the Arctic waters and ice of Greenland, Canada and Alaska.
"Life is beautiful."
[Capital News Service] By Robbie Feinberg - September 16, 2013 -
WASHINGTON, Chesapeake crabbers and scientists say 2013 has been one of the worst years in decades for blue crab harvesting, and scientists are attributing the collapse, at least in part, to a murderous biological process: crab cannibalism.
Brenda Davis, manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Blue Crab Program, said last year’s count of 765 million crabs in the Chesapeake Bay was a 20-year high. And with so many creatures clumped together, Davis said, the crabs took care of each other.
“So when you get in that situation, there’s something called density-dependent mortality,” Davis said. “Basically, they’re incredibly cannibalistic, and they eat each other … Last year, there were lots and lots of little crabs. So they’re likely to be eating each other at a fairly high rate.”
According to a 2013 dredge survey from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, crab numbers were down even before the crabbing season started this year. The survey, which was conducted this winter, indicated there were only 300 million blue crabs in the bay, a decline of more than 60 percent from last year.
Davis said crab cannibalism wasn’t the only factor that led to a decreased population. She added that Maryland’s warmer, saltier waters in 2012 also played a part, as the increased temperatures allowed fish like striped bass and red drum, predators of the blue crab, to invade the area.
“So water temperatures probably won’t have a direct effect on blue crab abundance,” Davis said. “But it will affect an abundance of their predators.”
Dan Brooks, president of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association, said the declining crab harvest has severely hurt the seafood industry, even forcing some watermen to leave their boats and find new jobs.
"Just the scarcity of crabs,” Brooks said. “Prices are up significantly. But luckily for Maryland watermen, this has not only been a bay-wide event but a coast-wide event. One thing that's kind of strange is that it's up and down the east coast. From Florida to Delaware.”
If the decrease in crab harvests had only occurred in Maryland and not across the east coast, Brooks said, fishermen in other states could have sold their crab at lower prices, taking away business from Maryland watermen.
Crab numbers in the bay have been low before, dipping to 254 million in 2001. To protect the species from collapse, both Maryland and Virginia took action in 2008, with each state imposing a 34 percent reduction in the catch of female blue crabs.
Those restrictions, combined with natural biological processes, led to the blue crab population recovering and reaching a 20-year high of 765 million in 2012. This year, both states have imposed an additional 10 percent restriction on the catch of female blue crabs.
John McConaugha, a professor of biological oceanography at Old Dominion University, said the states are taking the right approach. And because of that recent recovery, he said not to worry just yet.
“The good news is that it seems to be a very robust fishery and that it can come back,” McConaugha said. “That’s the thing with fisheries. You have good recruitment years and bad recruitment years, and they normally come back.”