Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

August 16, 08: Nice out there; slightly lower t-storm chance

Saturday, August 16, 2008; Waves: Intermittent 2-2.5 foot easterly medium period swell. Winds: Light all day. Water temps: Upper 60s.

It looks like very decent wind and weather conditions today, though that daily threat of a nasty boomer is in place – but not nearly as likely as yesterday when yet even more sky danger took place late-day.

Instead of fluke and weaks, I’ll begin with stripers -- since there is a modest push of linesiders along the beach and toward the inlets. It remains a very off striper season but a couple just keepers off bassers some meatier action. Clams took one take-home to 31 inches. Plugs or jigs early a.m. are producing shorts. Live-lining near Barnegat Inlet is worth collecting bait – spots, bunker, herring.

The jiggers and pluggers I talk to have all seen voracious fluke take their bass-seeking offerings. One fellow said they keep it interesting but frustrating since he takes a few flatties everyday but “never a keeper.”

Boaters are in the same boat, so to speak. I had one very nonregular writer (“I’ve read your blog for years but have never written.”) finally break his silence just to note he has gone 55 and 0 on fluke keepers, over three trips (one rain shortened). He asked if it’s true that next year could see an increase in allowable fluke poundage for recreationalists and I went stick-in-the-mud on his. Even though some significant inroads into an increase for next year have been made through super efforts by a few fishing folks, the folks who push this letter-of-the-law angle (Magnuson Act demands or else) do not seem as receptive to sensible allowances for 2009.

By the by, the anecdotal angle – hundreds of reports of fluke being caught everywhere this year (including one letter from my blog) has made a bit of an impact in the minds of some management folks but, as noted, the perpetual adherence to the target recovery dates (by many in management) really looks like it could win the day – despite some early reports have us gaining poundage next year. Legal challenges could squelch that proposed allowance – which, by the way, is not that great of an increase. I believe it is something along the lines of last year, which didn’t help fall anglers anyway.

Quite a few folks have begun utilizing the loads of baby bunker in the bay – netting at night is easiest – trying to boost take-home fluke numbers. If there is any place that seems to steadily offer bigger fluke it’s out quite a way, 70 feet of water in some instances. Today might be tough there (and elsewhere) since a drift could be hard to find with light winds.

The weakfish biomass in Barnegat Bay is fairly impressive. The spikes along with plenty of take-homes are drawn to chum and grass shrimp. It is much harder finding them in number by drifting on the jig, though floating jigheads with sandworm pieces (or shedders, considering the moon phase) have gotten steady keeper-sized fish in the usual west-bay hotspots. Note: The summer spike count is vitally important to the overall weakfishing action since it represents recruitment genetically drawn back to this area, i.e. weakies that have been reared here and are slowing moving toward sexual maturity. This year seems better than last but not up to those banner years maybe 5 years ago.

I get second-hand word of bluefin fairly close in but when I talk with those actually out there a-troll it’s more a case of seeing or loosing bft, seldom catching.

The BHM&TC has its LBI Cup event today. Good luck to the young’uns in that contest. Check out http://www.bhmtc.com/index.htm to see Sue Kaiser’s new Women's Record Bluefin Tuna! “Caught by the Infamous
"Tuna Sue" Kaiser! There is a fine pic of the 93-pound club record-setting fish.

Cow-nose rays are showing up on lines all over the place, though not nearly in number like we had a few years back. I will be checking with SOCH to see if any pokes have taken place on careless hook removers. I had an angler write me about a sting he took to the inner arm three years ago that “still isn’t quite right.” He says there is a scar and every now and then the underlying muscle gets painful. “I never had that (pain) before I got jabbed,” he emailed. I’ve heard that before from other victims of more serious stingray pokes.

I received a cellphone picture of an American eel that had to be pushing five feet and as thick as the fattest moray eels I’ve ever seen underwater during my tropical diving days. Oddly, it had jammed itself in a trap (I think it was a minnie trap though I’m not sure) and had slimed things so badly that the trap had to be destroyed (cut apart) to release the bugger. “I was going to keep it but read where the eel stocks aren’t that great and this one had to be a reproducer,” noted that one-less-trap writer. Great conservational thinking.

Off the wires: Bad news for Gulf – and the world:

[UPI via COMTEX] - August 15, 2008 - WILLIAMSBURG, Va., U.S. and Swedish research suggests the number of dead zones in the world's oceans has increased by a third since 1995.

Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary said dead zones -- areas of the ocean with too little oxygen to support most marine life -- 'rank with overfishing, habitat loss and harmful algal blooms as global environmental problems.'

Agricultural fertilizers are one of the key causes of the dead zones, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science said in a release. 'Scientists and farmers need to continue working together to develop farming methods that minimize the transfer of nutrients from land to sea,' Diaz said.

Rutger Rosenberg of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden collaborated on the research, which appears in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Science.

The researchers counted 405 dead zones around the world, covering an area the size of New Zealand. The largest dead zone in the United States covers more than 8,500 square miles at the mouth of the Mississippi River.


[States News Service] By Deputy Secretary of Commerce John J. Sullivan - August 14, 2008 - In the global market for seafood, the United States, which had been a pioneer in sustainable aquaculture, has fallen alarmingly behind. Today 84 percent of our seafood is imported and half of those imports are farmed-raised. It doesn't need to be this way.

Anyone who enjoys seafood can see shrimp from Vietnam, tilapia from China, salmon from Chile.

To meet rising global demand, aquaculture facilities that culture shellfish and raise fish and other seafood inshore and offshore are now in many parts of the world.

We have been outpaced by other countries in developing those facilities. In fact, U.S. aquaculture is less than 2 percent of the $70 billion worldwide industry, with China accounting for 70 percent of global production.

It is now time to build America's aquaculture capabilities. This is one reason why I am in Seattle Wednesday, because this region is a top American producer of seafood products and has been involved in aquaculture for more than a century.

The consequences of falling behind have been dramatic. America's seafood trade deficit was more than $9 billion last year and our leadership in developing aquaculture technologies and techniques continue to deteriorate. We can do better.

According to a new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the United States has many competitive advantages in marine aquaculture, including millions of square miles of ocean waters, from arctic to tropical. Our country is blessed with the largest available space in the world to raise nearly every saltwater fish and shellfish species imaginable.

As America has become the world's agricultural breadbasket, it is now time to turn our deficit in sustainable aquaculture into a surplus.

According to the NOAA report, the U.S. aquaculture industry has been held back by a lack of clear rules and regulations, particularly for federal ocean waters. Companies have been unwilling to invest until the government establishes ground rules for participants.

Congress now has an opportunity to make a positive difference at minimal taxpayer expense.

President Bush has introduced legislation that will establish a framework for America's ocean aquaculture industry. I am hopeful Congress will take action on this important proposal soon. Passage will allow for many of the report's most important recommendations to be implemented.

This could be the boost for jobs and economic growth in many communities across the country, including here in Washington where thousands of jobs already are tied to aquaculture.

By setting uniform environmental standards, we will become more effective stewards of water resources and the wild seafood stocks that rely on them. By raising more of our seafood domestically, we will enhance our ability to certify and control the safety of the seafood we consume.

For all these reasons I will be discussing aquaculture as I visit NOAA research facilities in the Seattle area, such as the Manchester Research Station, which is at the forefront of research on captive rearing, disease control and hatchery technology. I will be talking to NOAA's aquaculture scientists and engineers who are developing integrated systems for production of important species of fish such as sablefish, rockfish and lingcod.

The United States has a choice to make. We can strengthen a growing industry where we have many advantages, or stand on the sidelines and watch our seafood deficit get larger as our global leadership continues to slip away.

At a time when we need to do everything we can to bring quality jobs to our communities and increase our nation's competitiveness, we have the opportunity to make a positive difference to our environment and our economy. The time for aquaculture reform is now.

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