Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Tuesday, July 03, 2012:
It’s hard to believe things could get any busier here at work – but they did. Damnit all. It’s no picnic being an editor – even during a holiday famed for picnics.
Griping done, I got a goodly load of reports, mainly via research and development (of story ideas). With Facebook, Tweets, radio chatter, tackle shop websites and insider info (Wawa and church data), I’ve heard plenty of news about occasional nice fluke and very obliging blues. Not much on bass, though.
Somewhat unexpectedly, I’m issuing an official Angling Alert (!) for a rapidly up and coming fishery: surfline sharks, of many colors, so to speak.
The angling action with gray suits has gotten so brisk it now qualifies as an easily targeted fishery. The odds of scoring after-dark sharks – to who-knows sizes -- are surely in the angler’s favor.
The stories of decent to wow-sized sharks -- taking bunker chunks -- have not only intensified but have taken on a new face, namely threshers. Yes, in the suds. A major thresher was almost landed a night back. It was pushing a buck-fifty by eyewitness reckonings.
Per usual, a number of landed sharks went “unidentified” before release, though most seemed to be browns upon verbal description.
Despite cell phones now packing enough mega pixels to enlarge the single tooth of a photographed shark to an 8x10, many anglers are not taking pics. Makes no sense. A photo is as good as a positive ID, once shown to an expert. Doing that, an angler can learn what that un-ID’ed shark is called. It’s a learning proposition.
Amid the hooking of sharks is the rapidly increasing hooking of massive stingrays. We’re not even remotely talking about clumsy cow-nosed rays. I’m almost positive some of the unturnable rays taking bunker chunks are rough-tailed rays, the largest species we get hereabouts. However, some landed ones have had long, smooth wispy tails and very triangular wings. Those are possibly spiny butterfly rays.
I’m kind of a nostalgic fan of bayside spiny butterfly rays.
Back in the 60s, huge summer rays were totally ordinary around Little Egg Harbor, especially in the shallows of the Middle Grounds.
Gospel truth: As kids, we would go out at night in a small Run-about and easily spotlight them. Then, being good idiotic kids, we’d jump out of the boats and onto their backs. We wore sneakers for protection. Yeah, right.
The instant we landed on the terrified beast, we were flipped off it – and sometimes into the air -- as it took off. This was actually a fairly common fun-thing back then, done by quite a few local folks. How we never got jabbed is utterly unexplainable.
The largest ray we ever found – I member it was summer 1968 -- was so large that just the turbulence of it when it took off – no one was going to jump on that sucker -- rocked our boat so heavily we almost fell out. The sand cloud left behind – a way to gauge how large a ray is – showed it might have been over 10 feet across.
I was recently informed that the once totally common butterfly ray is now so rare it’s on the endangered list in some states.
As for landing a mega-ray, it just ain’t happnein’ – even with shark-fishing gear. Not only are they astoundingly strong on the initial run, they are masters at suctioning onto the bottom. Still, it’s quite the rush to have line ripping off a reel.
Asscociated Press] by Clarke Canfield - June 3, 2012
A glut has driven down lobster prices in Maine — bringing cheer to lobster-loving consumers at the start of the state’s tourist season but gloom among lobstermen.
Retailers have been selling small soft-shell lobsters in the Portland area for an unusually low $3.79 to $4.99 a pound. At those prices, lobsters have been selling for less than the per-pound price of bologna at many supermarket deli counters.
Zane Nemazie of Austin, Texas, was expecting low lobster prices — but not this low — while on vacation in Maine with his family.
“This is as good as it gets,” Nemazie said late last week after paying $4.59 a pound for large 1½-pound lobsters at a seafood shop on Portland’s waterfront. “We’re from Texas, where we’d be paying at least $12 a pound.”
At Docks Seafood in South Portland, owner Bob Coppersmith said customers were eating up the low prices, including a deal where he was selling five small live lobsters for $25. He later dropped it to five for $24.
“One gentleman came in and said, ‘So I get five lobsters for $25. What’s the catch?’” Coppersmith said. “I said there’s no catch. He said, ‘You’re going to put five lobsters in a bag and not weigh them and give me them to me for 25 bucks?’ He just couldn’t believe it.”
The Fourth of July represents the unofficial start to Maine’s tourist season, when out-of-state visitors begin arriving in earnest.
Typically, Independence Day also is when Maine’s lobster catch begins picking up as lobsters begin shedding their hard shells in favor of new soft shells. Soft-shell lobsters have less meat than hard-shell ones, but they are easier to crack open — it can be done by hand, no claw cracker needed — and sell for a lower price.
This year, though, soft-shell lobsters began showing up in abundance in fishermen’s traps weeks earlier than normal.
Most of those lobsters usually go to Canadian processors. But the processors haven’t been able to handle the Maine catch because Canadian lobstermen had such strong catches during their spring season, resulting in a backlog, said Neal Workman, head of The Fisheries Exchange, a Biddeford company that tracks prices, catches and other market information for the lobster industry.
Supply right now far exceeds demand, resulting in a “perfect storm” for the industry, he said.
“Things are plugged up,” Workman said.
Virtually all soft-shell lobsters are sold to processors or on the local market, because they’re too fragile to ship long distances. The lobsters sold at retailers outside of New England are most often hard-shell lobsters, which command a premium price and are hardy enough to be shipped long distances.
For now, the excess supply in Maine has driven retail prices to under $4 a pound for the smallest of the soft-shell lobsters. Larger lobsters, and those that still have hard shells, are more expensive.
While consumers may be smiling, lobstermen are smarting because of the low prices — between $2.50 and $3 a pound — they’re getting for their catches.
The fishing season is young and lobstermen are hopeful prices soon will rebound to their normal levels, said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
“The Fourth of July is a big boom in demand for us,” she said. “We’re going to see some lobsters move through the system, so there’s hope that we’ll see a balancing in the market once we get through the holiday demand and get back on track for a typical season.
“But there’s definitely a lot of angst among harvesters.”
With Independence Day around the corner, Pete McAleney of New Meadows Lobster, a lobster dealer in Portland, was using the low prices as a marketing opportunity.
“To heck with hot dogs and hamburgers, eat a lobster,” McAleney said. “They’re very affordable.”