Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Wednesday, April 06, 2016:
Below: Maps like this will change the way you look at the ocean. Read more about it further below.
Wednesday, April 06, 2016:
I’ve never been big on weakfish as meat fish. It’s flavor is a hard sell in many of my recipes. However, when I say weakies are weal cuisine, the deep-fryer folks protests … with forks upraised. Apparently, weakfish deep fries wonderfully, especially when first dipped in a just-right batter.
I simply never deep-fry, likely turned off form years of sweating – and cussing -- over commercial Fryolators. I still have arm scars from splashed grease. Then having to empty, clean and refill them. Screw all deep-fried food.
Since we’re on the subject of fish eating, I always give a pescetarian thumbs up to white perch. So tasty they have a savory spot in colonial history.
I’ll forego the lengthy piece I wrote on the white perch role in American history and run with this mention in a website piece called “Introducing: The White Perch: Pennsylvania's Premiere Tidal River Panfish,” by ron P. swegman.
“White perch have the look and solid feel of silver dollars, and were an equally important commercial fish. So popular was the white perch that when the oldest club of its kind in the world, The Schuylkill Fishing Company, formed near Philadelphia in 1732, the white perch was adopted onto its flag of state. The heraldry evolved into a single white perch in profile, surrounded by a circle of 13 stars and a red, white, and blue backdrop. The Revolutionary War had by then begun, and Generals George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette dined on white perch in the club's well-appointed fish house.”
My write-up included the Schuylkill Fishing Company’s requirement that a member be able to flip -- with one arm --- a designated number of perch fillets as they fried in a heavy skillet. Knowing the weight of some of those big iron skillets, that club must have had some beefy members.
Flavor-wise, white perch are very similar tasting to their close relative, the striped bass. However, they are far firmer and come in filet sizes that lend themselves to pan frying -- which is a world apart from deep-frying. In fact, mildly spiced filets cooked in a pan lightly coated with coconut oil is all it takes. Makes one of the best fish sandwiches going.
You’ve likely seen the ongoing tugboat activity off Beach Haven. All that is in preparation of the arrival of the two Great Lakes dredges, which will vacuum up then spew forth sand for Queen City’s replenishment.
The dredges are still a ways off. Dodge Island is moored in Norfolk. Padre Island is at sea, down off Jacksonville, on its way to Norfolk. I imagine they’re mustering there. Though the Dodge Island is ready to roll.
By the by, I was among many angrily put-off when Great Lakes pulled stakes to go work on a submarine base down south. I thought the company had pulled a fast one. Wrong. And I should have guessed the reality: The feds told the company it had to go save the subs … for national security.
Obviously, that delay might still play into the hands of those of us looking for Little Egg Inlet’s channel-clogging sugar sand to replenish the people part of the Holgate beachfront. I promise I’m keeping an almost daily vigil to see if that last-minute change in the borrow site can be pulled off to the benefit of beachgoers and mariners alike. Congressman LoBiondo said the only thing working against it is, and I quote “It’s too logical.”
A shout-out to Facebook friend Barbara Bishop for pointing out the fascinating coastal mariner sight http://www.marinetraffic.com.
You’ll have some serious coastal fun with this site. , though I have no doubt many a gamefishermen dreads this site since it clearly displays a near minute-by-minute account of where they’re fishing – inshore or offshore. It also shows where commercialites are hanging.
From the get-go, Marinetraffic.com is a quick-learn. It is very scroll wheel-friendly. Use it on the opening age and you’ll see what I mean … as you home in one our local waters.
Its more advanced features – some of which need to be purchased – are a lot trickier, as I’m learning.
Don’t overlook the small hard-to-see search-engine box in the upper right-hand corner, entitled “Port/Vessel.” That’s where you can type in the name of vessel to find out it whereabouts.
Below: By cursoring over any blip on the map it gives the vessels name. Click on it and there's a photo and tons of right-now data. No, not the map in this photo. You have to go to website and get a "live" map. You're gonna love this.
Quite the sparkler ...
This cold weather is holding down spring bassing interest on LBI … to a minimum. That’s not the case over toward Graveling Point, where a very steady showing of casters has garnered a few quite-keepable fish. Bloodworms rule, though clams chunks suffice for us poorer folks. I know they work, but I've never had luck with salted clams in spring.
I hope to dig some local bloodworms soon. Turning low tide mud also gives me a read on the benthic health of the bay. The more worms the better – all types of worms. I’ll mention here that jumbo, so-called “bass bloodworms,” are a real rarity in our muds. However, being so fresh, a wad of local bloods stay lively longer on the hook, especially if you avoid the vital internal organ near the front of the worms.
I saw the photo of a solid 30-pounder attributed to the Mullica waters but on closer exam I think it was a Delaware River cow. I’m told the Tacony–Palmyra area is into bass right about now. Speaking of that area, I haven’t gotten any word about shad moving in for the annual spring run? I can clean fish with the best of them but I still have mastered deboning a shad. I’ve been studying a YouTube entitled “How to clean American Shad by Captain Vincent Russo.” Give it a look.
Above: Palmyra Cove Nature Park
Below: Lardner's Point Park
I’ve found ice in the bucket for three of the past seven mornings. That’s brutal for April. However, it’s not as hard on the migrating fish and shrimp as you might think. Spring migration, for fishes, is based far more on length of day. The thought of spawning always puts a migratory hop in their step.
Below: Candle made with ice from five-gallon bucket ... hole punched in the top.
I mentioned shrimp above because I noticed that grass shrimp are now moving, in goodly numbers, toward the backbay shallows and creeks. That could be upbeat news, after a couple/few lousy grass shrimp years. While these tiny, clear crustaceans are mainly famed as the indispensable foodstuff of weakfish, they can also be found bulging the bellies of eels, bass, bluefish, winter flounder, and fluke. A healthy bay is a shrimp-filled bay. Shrimp are yet another one of those mine -kept canaries, responding to environmental turns like a barometer. At the same time, the shrimp themselves are tough buggers, as I found when I had a saltwater aquarium and saw the shrimp survive just about every catastrophe.
Above: A very preggy grassie
White perch fishing is nowhere near prime. Now there’s a species that doesn’t care a drip about cold water, though warmer water gets them very aggressive. I fish them near the Road-to-Nowhere impounds, using tiny spinners and grub jigs. They attack when it’s warm. Still, nothing works on spring white perch better than grass shrimp, fished off a bobber. Though it’s seldom done, white perch readily respond to chumming.
I prefer to go old-school when bobbering ...
Winter flounder fishing is there for the chilly taking. Per usual, conditions have to be boat-favorable and the very limited allowable take home has ended the days of boats on end in the bay off Harvey Cedars. That’s said, a couple blackbacks I’ve seen on Facebook have been keeper-fluke-sized.