Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

March 6. 2008: Secret Cells and Stinky Whalers

LOOK, MA, NO HANDS: This week the golden age of one-handed -- and no-handed -- driving skidded to a halt. The statute outlawing handheld cell phones took the driver’s after months of being a secondary offense, punishable only when related to some other type of pullover by the long arm of the law.
Truth be told, I don’t like the law since my driving is a lot more fun to watch when I’m ranting into a cellphone while downing an energy drink and flipping Philadelphia Pretzel Company “Rivets” into the air to catch in my mouth.
Another fear about this law is the static it’ll throw into our now highly refined surf fishing line of cell communications. How will we be able to do a real-time tracking of beachfront bass or bluefish blitzes if we have to keep putting our phone down every time we see a cop car while rushing up and down the Boulevard.
However, after reading the fine print of the law it turns out you can cell and drive if reporting an accident, a crazed driver, a driving hazard, a fire -- in other words, things of utmost urgency (my words). You tell me if there isn’t the utmost urgency to alerting the proper personnel that huge bass are banging poppers in Loveladies. Of course, it won’t hurt to come before the right judge – one wearing chestwaders under his robes. Blink, blink – nod, nod.

LONGER COWS ARE COMING TO WIN US: A couple columns back, I accidentally typo-ed that some larger cow bass – namely 60-pounders -- would be “30 years old.” I meant 20 years old.
Yep, bass merely two-decades a-swim can go 60 pounds.
That error leads into a huge topic of interest to bassers, namely those 60-pounders.
We are now in the vicinity of the 20th anniversary of the striped bass moratorium/recovery. I say “vicinity” because the effort to save the stripers was roughly 1984 to 1989 -- when you consider post-moratorium size limits for bass were a tough-to-find 38 inches and up.
If I recall correctly, it was a semi-decent young-of-year hatch from 1983 that became the rallying point for bringing back the disappearing bass stocks. We strove to shelter that year-class, hell or high water.
Well, there’s little doubt the bass came back, be it that year class or the following year classes. It’s all part of “The Greatest Fish Recovery Story Ever Told.”
However, it’s high time we quit living off the laurels of that comeback and start living off the labors of going years without keeping a single striper. We’re now well within out rights to demand to know the whereabouts of those fish that we saved –- the 25-year-old fish that should be way over 50-pounds by now.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking because I’m in that same tank with ya’ll. The now-unprecedented take of mongo bass down Virginia way might well be the manifestation of our moratorium sacrifices -- after all, the year-class that were being saved were in the Chesapeake.
And, brother, are they still catchin’ ‘em down there. The most recent reports show that in just one season (2007/08) the trophy bass being officially registered in Virginia have outsized all the bass on the all the combined record books, dating back many decades. I had a call from yet another boat (LBI-oriented) that had 6 bass over 50 pounds. I can’t even imagine that. I was told (and don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger) that a great deal of catch-and-release is now being practiced there, as anglers are getting very little recognition for besting huge fish and the smaller ones are the eaters. Yes, I’ve also gone on line to see entire fishing docks covered by huge bass down there.
That southerly action brings up the question about the Hudson River bass and where its moratorium-ized trophy bass are hiding. No one is seeing them. This is not to imply there aren’t a slew of stripers up the river. I have received a pack of reports that the upper river holds bass numbers that all but numb the arms of anglers. Nothing of size, though. While there is no doubt those current schoolie fish are working their way to magnificence, why no major bruisers? Obviously, it will take longer for northerly stripers to eat their way to the 60-pound range, still, there should be literally a nonstop catch of 40- to 50-pounders by now. It’s just not happening.
Since striped bass continue to be the most researched species known to man, scientists should offer up some suggestions as to why the south stocks are apparently exploding while the north stocks are actually worse off than before the moratoriums. I’ll be making some calls.

GET READY FOR 60S: Since I’m one of the few columnists who actually try to predict the upcoming fishing (Come to think of it, I’m the only columnist that tried such risky prognostications), I’ll whet some angling appetites. This spring, I just know we’re going to see big bass like we’ve seldom – if ever – seen before. They’ll be southerly fish drifting northward for our bunker pods, which are out there already. Snag-and-drop techniques will once again rule (as it did last spring). The only thing to remember is you cannot use a treble hook to bait fish for striped bass if you hope to enter a trophy fish with the International Game Fish Association. Imagine breaking the striped bass world record but having it disqualified because you used gang hooks? And don’t be balking at that new world record. It was challenged in Virginia – and the conserved bass are only getting bigger.

A BIG STINK OVER WHALING: Those wild and whacky anti-whaling folks don’t just talk stink about whaling, they’re now throwing some serious stink all over the place.
Activist from the always-radical Sea Shepard Conservation Society recently hurled rotten butter onto the deck of the Japanese whaling ship, Nisshin Maru. The Shepard members were aboard a vessel honorably name the Steve Irwin.
As I often note in any incident like this, “I’m sure they had it coming.”
It was rotten butter for a rotten industry that targets fiercely struggling marine mammals all for the sake of sushi and cosmetics. Lest you suppose the current whaling effort is minimal, the Japanese fleet will be catching 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales during this year's three-month season.
If you were under the misconception that whaling had been globally banned, you’d be right, i.e. living in the lap of ignorance, as I had been.
World opinion had, in fact, led to the universal condemnation of whale killing. Commercial whaling was banned by the International Whaling Commission in 1986. Then, how-so the huge harvest allowances being all but spoon-fed the insatiable Japanese commercial fishing fleet? Prepare to cringe. They are allowed to take the mammals in easily the lamest, most intelligence-insulating cards ever played by fishery management. The International Whaling Commission, specifically its Scientific Committee, agreed to permit the Japanese whaling fleet to kill tons of whales for “scientific purposes.”
No surprise, it was the Japanese government that finagled this thinly veiled end-around. Their sinister success came via something called the “Japanese special permit research in the Antarctic (JARPA) program. The first such program ran out a few years back so Japan scurried ahead and created JAPRA II, instituted by that nation’s Institute of Cetacean Research.
The Japanese government has repeatedly declared these programs are “the best scientific research this world has yet witnessed.” In reality it that country’s belief that the rest of the planet is dumb as dirt or high on dope. Killing nearly 1,000 whales, including 935 whales of the same species, is being done for research? Pass me some Paxil.
That rant rendered useless by distance and dumbness, I was shocked into, uh, extreme interest when I read the fierce effects of rotten butter when hurled in malodorous malevolence. Who woulda thunk it?
The main component leading to the near insufferable stink, which nauseated a number of crewmen aboard the whaling vessel, is butyric acid, found in rotten butter, Parmesan cheese and good-old everyday throw-up. I can relate to the cheese and upchuck as putrid but butter?
“Yuck! That sells just like rotten butter!”
“Say, what?”
Apparently the whalers will now wail at the mere mention of bad butter.
Paul Watson, Sea Shepard head honcho, called the stink bomb “organic” but highly effective in achieving the goal of stinking up the place. Despite efforts by the Nisshin Maru to hose away the residual butyric acid, the after-stench would likely linger for days and even weeks, per Watson. Amazingly, nearby vessels could smell the Sea Shepard attack nearly a mile away.
If I were the Sea Shepard folks, I’d be very wary about using that rotten butter once too often. Knowing the Japanese, they’d soon develop a taste for the stuff. The anti-whaling folks will know things have gone wrong when they throw the rotten butter on the deck and the crew comes running out with thin slices of whale sushi to dip into it.

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