Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Monday, June 22, 2015: Lots of west winds and warm temps. The beach is quite nice, though the water has dirtied a bit. Fine fishing conditions. Surf casting and inlet fishing should turn on late. There are bass to be had, especially on jigs.
I’m again getting a few reports of scalding hot fluking. Those reports are punctuated by folks getting one lone keeper. Location, location, location. The color white continues to be the best hue for bucktails or plastic. Yes, squid strips qualify as “white.” Minnows are coming back into favor among fluke. BH Middle Grounds offering some decent drifts. North End, go west in bay. Inlet rocks showing high potential when tides excite the bite.
As we move toward stingray season hereabouts, I was researching rays and surfed upon a tucked away video about Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin, a favorite of mine -- until he went and got himself killed by a huge stingray. Crikey, Steve! It took place on the Great Barrier Reef in far north Queensland.
Word first had it that the tele-naturalist just happened to be above an eight-foot-wide ray when the usually mild-mannered creature rose up to swim off, accidently imbuing C. Hunter in the heart with its three-inch stinger in the flight process.
Over the weekend, I watched an interview with Aussie diver, Justin Lyons, who was videotaping Steve when the huge ray ruined the day by lethally erupting, upwardly.
It turns out there’s a lot more to the thought-somber story of a ray casually rising to mosey off, inadvertently killing the planet’s most famous zoologist in the awkward process. Actually, the incident was insane. Not only wasn’t the ray simply moving merrily on its way at the time but it had launched into a frenzied stinging attack – purposely delivering dozens, maybe even hundreds, of meant-unkindly strikes to Irwin’s body.
"I had the camera on, I thought this is going to be a great shot, and all of sudden it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds," Lyons told London’s The Telegraph. That’s a tad more than the much-reported incidental poke to Irwin’s heart.
As to the why behind the full-blown attack, it was very likely a catastrophic case of mistaken identity – shadow-wise. I’ll explain.
Steve was performing one of his famed close-up-and-personal moves, hovering near the ray. He decided to head into commercial break by nuzzling up to the huge ray, causing the fish to rise up and glide off into the oceany depths. Such ray interactions can be done in relative safety, per expert ray raisers. But, at that very instant, the stars aligned against such a move – actually one star to be exact.
In staging the scene, Irwin overlooked the tilt of the late-day sun, which can cause many a large and dark shadow to be cast. Elongated by the sun’s angle, Steve’s shadow assumed the spittin’ image of a tail-gunning tiger shark, every ray’s worst-of-worst nightmare.
According to Lyons, the sudden shadow falling over the ray’s eyes detonated the animal into a fitfully ferocious survival mode; no stings barred. The big fish then swam off.
The cameraman, assuming the ray had simply thrown itself into all-show defensive maneuvers, dutifully followed the ray’s fade-away scene, not realizing Irwin was also fading rapidly.
"I panned with the camera as the stingray swam away and I didn't know it had caused any damage. It was only when I panned the camera back that I saw Steve standing in a huge pool of blood that I realized something had gone wrong," Lyons was quoted as saying.
As to new reports of a single stingray jab just happening to pierce the heart of Irwin, those were way off.
"(The ray’s) jagged barb … went through his chest like a hot knife through butter," Lyons added. “He had a two-inch-wide injury over his heart with blood and fluid coming out of it …”
Survival never entered into it. Irwin’s last words were simply and calmly, “I’m dying.”
I know this is a bit morbid but Steve would want the true story to get out in the end, especially the part about the ray accidently mistaking him for a shark – and doing what nature had prescribed in just such a situation. The Crocodile Hunter was always on the side of nature that way.
Raffa at it again
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Keys News] by Timothy O Hara - June 22, 2015
Spearfishermen who bag at least 10 lionfish a day during the two-day lobster mini-season next month will be entitled to an extra lobster if state fishery managers approve a new pilot program this week.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) board will vote on a proposal when it meets Thursday in Sarasota that would allow divers that harvest 10 or more lionfish a day to take one lobster over the bag limit during the two-day sport season, which is July 29 and 30. In the Keys, recreational divers are entitled to six lobsters a day.
A diver would only be allowed to possess a single lobster above the bag limit per day, regardless of how many lionfish greater than 10 they harvested, FWC spokeswoman Amanda Nalley.
“If you get 50 lionfish, you are not entitled to five extra lobsters,” Nalley said.
In addition, the lionfish must be harvested prior to taking the extra lobster, and divers would be required to retain their lionfish while on the water to verify their qualification for the additional lobster, Nalley said.
FWC staff has been pushing lionfish eradication programs for the past five years and trying to reach more groups interested in killing lionfish. Currently, there is no size limit, bag limit or closed season for lionfish.
“This is the group (spearfishermen) most closely tied to harvesting fish or lobster,” Nalley said.
One of the biggest supporters of lionfish eradication efforts has concerns about the FWC proposal.
“There are other ways to do it without further impacting the lobster fishery,” said Lad Akins, who oversees special projects for the Key Largo-based REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation). “We need rules that are based on sound science. Lobster regulations are in place for a good reason. I understand what they are trying to do, but we don’t need to give up an extra lobster to accomplish the goal.”
REEF has been on the forefront of lionfish research and eradication efforts. The group was one of the first to hold lionfish removal derbies and has worked closely in the past several years with the FWC and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary on eradication.
Akins instead proposed waiving the lobster endorsement tag fee for people who hunt or harvest a certain number of lionfish, he said.
In the past five years, the FWC has launched several projects to reduce regulations for individuals who want to harvest lionfish. Recreational lionfish harvesters are no longer required to have a recreational fishing license when using a pole spear, Hawaiian sling, hand-held net, or any other spearing device designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish.
Measures have also been put in place to minimize the potential for new introductions of lionfish into Florida waters. FWC staff worked with the Division of Aquaculture at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to coordinate implementation of a prohibition on breeding lionfish and cultivating their eggs or larvae in captivity. Measures have also been added to limit the possibility of new introductions by prohibiting the import of any lionfish into the state of Florida.
The FWC created a Lionfish Outreach Team with the goal of educating the public about lionfish and the invasive species’ impact on the marine ecosystem.
FWC has also designed a new program, Reef Rangers, which is comparable to the Adopt-A-Highway Program offered by the Florida Department of Transportation where volunteers commit to litter removal from their section of the highway. Similarly, participants in the Reef Rangers program pledge to protect their local reefs against the lionfish invasion and conduct lionfish removals at regularly scheduled intervals on reefs of their choice. Divers can sign up for the Reef Rangers program online at ReefRangers.com or at a lionfish event using the program’s traveling sign-up kiosks.
Jake w his first keeper fluke of the summer and Zach (high hook for the day) w one just an inch too short to keep. Good day on the bay for the boys.
Well Two Garveys out and two pontoons so far Fathers day has been officially extended Fluke bite is on and its right in front our dock . Fresh caught Minnows seem to be the Bait of choice .. Two Keepers already on the in coming tide I have three boats left hurry on down .
Always a fun day fishing with Matteo Delmonico
They are still here.
Three Lower Keys brothers who illegally harvested lobster commercially from artificial habitats will serve six months in prison, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King approved a plea agreement between Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-Fitzgerald and defense attorneys that called for six months imprisonment followed by a year of supervised release and a $25,000 fine.
Brothers Charles, Tyson and Ryan Veach already forfeited a 32-foot Invincible center console boat, spent $24,000 to remove the casitas from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary waters, and gave up their commercial lobster licenses prior to their arrival in court, defense attorneys said.
The brothers are accused of diving commercially for lobster on artificial habitats, or casitas.
None of the three brothers addressed the court prior to sentencing, though several members of the community, including Key West eye doctor Steven Oppenheimer and Gerald Adams Elementary principal Frannie Herrin, testified that Charles Veach is a committed family man with no other criminal background.
Both urged King to eschew jail time in favor of community service, but King was not swayed.
Instead, King spoke to the courtroom full of Veach supporters and to the Keys community writ large in warning them to the seriousness of conservation violations.
King told the audience he wanted to comment on what he perceived to be a possible misunderstanding of public perception in Monroe County, particularly among entrenched families who have lived on the island chain for generations, that “these offenses are not very serious.”
King clarified that he was not speaking to the Veach brothers or anyone in the courtroom specifically, and even stated that the Veach brothers are otherwise “good people” from a “good family” that made a mistake.
King spoke of his 50 years presiding on the bench and working in the Florida Keys before he continued, speaking in a slow cadence to a silent courtroom.
“The preservation of the natural resources of this beautiful community in which you all live is tremendously important and deserves everyone’s full support in preserving these wonderful resources,” King said. “The court’s concern, simply put, is the casual attitude toward these offenses because so many people go fishing. You go out and catch a few fish and the the family cooks them up and it’s a wonderful day.”
King mentioned the “cocaine cowboy” days of the 1980’s and the rampant drug smuggling that was once prevalent in the Keys and Miami-Dade county. He mentioned families would discuss drug cases that were prosecuted while passing him on the street and the high regard people seemed to have for law enforcement in those days.
But King said that support for law enforcement seems to have faded in terms of fisheries enforcement, adding that he perceives the public’s view that such violations are “no big deal.”
“I hope I’m wrong,” King said. “I hope the families of this community take another look at the laws and not treat this type of offense as just another fishing trip. I’m simply saying the laws are needed and they are not something to be lightly tossed aside, but this perception troubles me to the extent that I’ve given very serious consideration to these plea (agreements).”
King added he was not inclined to accept the plea agreement hammered out between the lawyers on both sides had it not been that the Veach brothers have clean or minimal criminal records.
“The message that I’m trying to get across is that this is a serious matter ... and always will be at least as long as I’m serving as (U.S.) District Judge,” King said.
The Veach brothers are latest in a long string of defendants accused of harvesting lobsters in the Keys using casitas over the last seven years.
The use of casitas is controversial in the Keys as proponents argue they are better for the environment than traditional traps, the latter of which can damage coral and sea grass beds and create marine debris when they break during storms.
Opponents of casitas argue they negatively impact lobster migration routes by creating clusters of lobsters that are easy to catch, which would otherwise normally continue to migrate.
Opponents of casitas also argue their use encourages people to put trash such as car hoods in the ocean.
The Veach brothers are also the latest defendants to be prosecuted under the U.S. Lacey Act, which makes it a federal offense to import, export, transport, sell or purchase in interstate commerce any wildlife protected at the state level. Nearly every illegal lobster harvest case filed by the federal government in the last seven years has been a Lacey Act case.