Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Friday, September 13, 2013: Wait until you see get a load of this weekend. “Classic” just touches on it. Cool, clear, crispish (after that nasty batch of way-hot we just had), fishafied (fluke, panfish and blues), low winds and an active ocean, good for both surfers and surfcasters.
Boaters must keep a wary eye open for large breaking waves near inlet shoals. There is a hurricane swell running. Those waves are hugely problematical not only because of their size but also because of their inconsistency. It can look like a lake out there as you unadvisedly decide to motor cut across the edge of some near-inlet shoals in Beach Haven, Little Egg and Barnegat inlets, only to suddenly run headlong into a hull-grinding set of massive breaking waves. Keep that well in mind when heading out this weekend.
BELOW: ROGUE WAVE, 1,000 miles from shore ...
BELOW: SET WAVE (IN INLET) from massive storm well out at sea ...
And, no (!), they are not “rogue” waves. Rogue waves only happen well out at sea. Any sudden onshore waves are “set waves,” from a definable source, in this weekend’s case, an Atlantic tropical system. A rogue wave is a complex jacking up of the ocean—far from land masses—due to the colliding of at-sea currents, swells and, in some cases, mysterious energy sources.
More and more is being learned about rogue waves and they are being roughly likened to the wave action inside a bucket of water, as it is being shaken or even carried. Waves slap off the sides of the bucket and rebound in a fixed pattern, however, when things get riled, waves happenstancely collide with each other and jack straight up, many times higher than the colliding waves. In fact, if you ever tried to carry a five-gallon bucket with water inside, now and again you’ll get drenched by that collision phenomenon, which sends water clean out of the bucket. When translating that phenomenon into the truly inestimable forces in the ocean – including surface currents, swells and even subsurface current—the resulting rogue waves can be through the ceiling, make that the sky. A researcher has mathematically calibrated that rogue waves can conceivably exceed 75 meters (over 200 feet) in height, albeit for a very short time span. However, if you’re luck is like mine, we’ll be right where all the rogue wave components get together for a Poseidon-esque high five.
WHAT HOOKIN’: As for fishing, the angling pressure has, expectedly, been down somewhat with the end of the summer tourist season. But a load of locals are finally getting lines out and this ideal-looking weekend is going to call out to any off-Islander who has a place to stay down here.
Please include me (email@example.com) when handing out any fishing stories. I have a way with words when retelling such. That’s because I truly enjoy the sport, though my attention deficit places me at the deep low-end of angling success.
Fluking is fast and furious when, well, it’s fast and furious. At other times, it’s a struggle finding a flattie. Per Rutgers studies, the fluke don’t leave, they just stop eating. Yes, the feeding patterns of fluke are very much tide driven. As I oft note, the Rutgers studies placed transmitters on fluke to follow their movements and feeding patterns. When those buggers stop eating, they grind to a halt, sometimes literally. When not feeding, they hunker down in the mud, more than usual; burying themselves and showing no feeding interest when even a seemingly luscious meal passes right over their noses. When they turn on, not only do the fluke go full-bore, attacking anything edible in sight, but they move, a lot. We often envision them as staying in one place, ambushing anything that drifts over, a lot like stargazers.
Fluke will swim a short distance, then bury, often anticipating arriving food they’ve spotted. They attack and then swim away, often many yards away, and repeat the bury-and-attack process. They can travel miles this way. In inlets, the often follow what might be called tidal edges, i.e. convergence zones between incoming and outgoing tides. A video I saw showed mats of fluke lifting up and moving along in this stop-feed-go manner.
CLASSIC CHATTER: I truly fish vicariously through the success of others, though I’m sure as hell going to be out there with all guns blazing during the quickly arriving Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic.
Get this (!): there will be at least one and possibly two days where the single largest bass for just that day will net the hooker $1,000. You heard right. That bass-o’-the-day alone will be worth a cool gran. Important: Sign up well in advance of those special $1,000 days.
Personally, I’m always a bit suspicious of someone who signs up for the tourney and – lo and behold -- an hour later comes in with a winning fish. When that fish is a $1,000 jobber, I get doubly so.
Yes, that’s awful for the guy who really did just sign up and legitimately scored a trophy bass but why the need to wait until the last possible instant to enter an eight-week event?
OK, so maybe that’s just me fretting over nothing. More rational is Margaret at Jingles. She astutely advises: If you’re going to sign up at the last minute and hook that payday fish, make sure you have a frickin’ witness. Hell, that applies even if you’re signed up well ahead of time. Land a major fish and look for a witness, ASAP. In the because of the one-day $1,000 bass, look for a witness even on merely a modest fish. In obviously suspicious cases, the Classic committee will use the polygraph.
Oddly, the person most heavily impacted by that “find a witness” concept is yours truly. I fish alone and often very far from the maddening crowd – that way I can talk around talking and yelling at myself while waiting for the stupid rod to move.
The upside for me is the minimal odds of me going large. However, as noted, this year count me in. I lost my mullet contract for this year (ouch!) but I can still throw a fairly mean net so I’ll be able to live line a lot. To me, live bait is still the best way to bigger bass, though not at all so with chopper blues, which live for chunks.
Here’s a chopper blue theory of mine: Blues often fear a whole wounded bait, i.e. live-lined offerings. Watch the way they attack foodstuffs. Wham! A flashingly fast bite and outta there in nothing flat. That comes from an utter dread of going after a prime target and having a bigger one of your own kind snapping your body clean in half, either intentionally or by accident. Blues are not lingerers when eating.
Despite what we might think, bluefish are nowhere near the top of the food chain. From sharks to dolphins to their own kind, blues themselves are constantly targeted as foodstuff. They survive by being almost psychotically paranoid – and thus constantly on the move. It’s defensive.
That is the why they’re not highly targetable via live baits. They’ll take one flash-bite and bolt – leaving the telltale severed live bait.
Big blues love low-danger chunks of food. They get to approach dead food somewhat carefully, they get to snag the whole bait in a single passage and, most of all, they get to hit and run.
One mystery to me (and many others) is why a bluefish will dissect a live bait, causing the now-dead forage fish to sink , but won’t so much as touch the remains of the forage fish as it then lies on the bottom. We’ve all see this. For some bizarre bluefish reason, that once-bitten, once-live forage fish is suddenly forsaken. You can sit there until the cows come home and nothing is going to get near a severed, once-live baitfish on the bottom – until, maybe, it ages enough for sharks to notice. There’s not a savvy angler out there that doesn’t nix a severed live-lined baitfish, knowing it’s utterly useless.
How weird is this story???????
Hawaii molasses spill killing thousands of fish
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Associated Press] by Audrey McAvoy - Sept. 13, 2013
HONOLULU (AP) - Thousands of fish are expected to die in Honolulu waters after a leaky pipe caused 1,400 tons of molasses to ooze into the harbor and kill marine life, state officials said.
Hundreds of fish have been collected so far, the state Department of Health said in a statement Wednesday. Many more fish are expected to die and thousands will likely be collected, it said.
The fish are dying because the high concentration of molasses is making it difficult for them to breathe, said department spokeswoman Janice Okubo. Television footage shows some fish sticking their mouths out of the water.
The department has warned people to stay out of the area because the dead fish could attract sharks and other predators like barracuda.
The brown, sugary substance spilled Monday from a pipe used to load molasses from storage tanks to ships sailing to California. The shipping company, Matson Navigation Co., repaired the hole and the pipe stopped leaking Tuesday morning, spokesman Jeff Hull said.
As much as 233,000 gallons of molasses leaked into the harbor, Matson said. That's equivalent to what would fill about seven rail cars or about one-third of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Underwater video taken by Honolulu television station Hawaii News Now showed dead fish, crabs and eels scattered along the ocean floor of the harbor and the water tinted a yellowish brown.
State officials expect the spill's brown plume will remain visible for weeks as tides and currents flush the molasses in to nearby Keehi Lagoon and out to sea.
There's a possibility the state could fine Matson for violations of Clean Water Act after the department investigates the circumstances of the spill, Okubo said. The state's focus is currently on public safety, she said.
The state was documenting the fish it collected and keeping them on ice for possible testing. Officials were also collecting water samples. The data will allow the department to estimate the duration and severity of the contamination.
Matson ships molasses from Hawaii to the mainland about once a week. Molasses are a made at Hawaii's last sugar plantation, run by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. on Maui.
Matson said in a statement it takes its role an environmental steward very seriously. The company is taking steps ensure spills don't occur in the future, it said.
Study suggests depth where fish feed important factor in mercury concentration
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS (VerticalNews) -- Sept. 13, 2013
Ann Arbor- University of Michigan researchers and their University of Hawaii colleagues say they've solved the longstanding mystery of how mercury gets into open-ocean fish, and their findings suggest that levels of the toxin in Pacific Ocean fish will likely rise in coming decades.
Using isotopic measurement techniques developed at U-M, the researchers determined that up to 80 percent of the toxic form of mercury, called methylmercury, found in the tissues of deep-feeding North Pacific Ocean fish is produced deep in the ocean, most likely by bacteria clinging to sinking bits of organic matter.
The study also confirmed that the mercury found in Pacific fish near Hawaii likely traveled through the air for thousands of miles before being deposited on the ocean surface in rainfall, said U-M environmental scientist Joel Blum. The North Pacific fisheries are downwind from rapidly industrializing nations such as China and India that are increasingly reliant on coal-burning power plants, a major source of mercury pollution.
In 2009, researchers at the University of Hawaii determined that the depth at which a species of fish feeds is nearly as important as its position in the food chain in determining how much methylmercury it contains.
"We found that predatory fish that feed at deeper depths in the open ocean, like opah and swordfish, have higher mercury concentrations than those that feed in waters near the surface, like mahi-mahi and yellowfin tuna," said Brian Popp, a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and co-author of both the 2009 paper and the new Nature Geoscience paper. "We knew this was true, but we didn't know why."
That observation was difficult to explain because researchers had presumed that if methylmercury production occurs in the open ocean, it most likely takes place in the biologically active surface layer, carried out by microbes that convert inorganic mercury into the toxic organic form through a process called methylation.
But in the latest study, the Michigan and Hawaii researchers showed that perhaps as much as 80 percent of the methylmercury found at depth in the central North Pacific is produced below what is known as the surface mixed layer, a region extending down to about 165 feet. They found that methylation continues down to a depth of about 2,000 feet, most likely the work of oxygen-shunning bacteria attached to sinking particles of dead plant and animal matter containing inorganic mercury.
That finding is important in part because scientists expect mercury levels at intermediate depths (660 to 3,300 feet) in the North Pacific to rise in coming decades; one estimate calls for a doubling by mid-century. At the same time, oxygen-depleted regions called oxygen minimum zones, which typically occur at depths greater than 1,300 feet, are expanding in oceans worldwide, and human-caused climate change is expected to accelerate that process.
The work by Blum and his colleagues suggests that if these two trends unfold as expected, conditions will favor increased production of methylmercury by microbes known as anaerobic bacteria, which will increase the threat to the North Pacific fisheries, the world's most important source of seafood.
"The implication is that predictions for increased mercury in deeper water will result in higher levels in fish," said Blum, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
In their study, the researchers analyzed tissue samples from nine species of marine fish that feed at different depths in a region near Hawaii called the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. The work combined biogeochemistry with direct marine ecology observations.
Blum led the effort to very precisely measure the ratios of the stable isotopes of mercury, relying on techniques his lab has developed to take advantage of a natural phenomenon called isotopic fractionation. Popp led the Hawaii group that sampled fish at various depths, measured the total amount of mercury in their muscle tissues, and determined their position in the marine food web.
Together, the researchers showed how and where methylation occurs in the open ocean and explained the previously observed increases in the mercury concentration of predatory fish with depth. They found that while methylation occurs in well-lit near-surface waters, sunlight destroys up to 80 percent of the methylmercury formed there, through a process called photochemical degradation.
"The crystal-clear waters surrounding Hawaii and the unique information that we had about the depths at which our local fish feed allowed us to clearly identify both the photochemical degradation of methylmercury at surface levels and the microbial production of methylmercury from inorganic mercury in deeper waters," said Popp, a University of Michigan graduate.
In addition, the isotopic composition of the mercury found in the fish tissues was "a nearly perfect match" with the chemical signature of mercury in the atmosphere known to travel long distances, far from pollution sources such as coal-burning power plants, Blum said.
That finding confirms an idea that was long-suspected but previously unsupported by hard evidence: "These results strongly support the hypothesis that long-range transport of mercury deposited to the ocean surface is ultimately what's ending up in these fish," Blum said.
"This study reinforces the links between mercury emitted from Asian countries and the fish that we catch off Hawaii and consume in this country," said Blum, the lead author of a paper scheduled for online publication Aug. 25 in Nature Geoscience.
"The implications are that if we're going to effectively reduce the mercury concentrations in open-ocean fish, we're going to have to reduce global emissions of mercury, including emissions from places like China and India," Blum said. "Cleaning up our own shorelines is not going to be enough. This is a global atmospheric problem."
In December 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency released new standards sharply limiting future emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal- and oil-burning power plants in the United States. Earlier this year, the United Nations Environment Programme negotiated the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international treaty aimed at curbing future mercury emissions; it is still unclear what level of mercury-emission reductions will result.
It has been known for some time that large predatory marine fish contain high levels of methylmercury in part because they eat lots of smaller, mercury-containing fish. The toxin builds up in the tissues of the top-of-the-food-chain predators through a process called bioaccumulation.
The nine species of fish used in the study, listed from shallowest- to deepest-feeding, are flying fish, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, moonfish (opah), bigeye tuna, swordfish, and two species of lantern fish.