Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Lucky June 13, 09: A day to chase bunker and single out doormats

Saturday, June 13, 2009: Waves: 2- 3-foot easterly groundswell. Water clarity: Fair but improving. Water temps: low 60s.

It’s gonna be a fishin’ weekend. Things have come together mighty nicely, weather-wise. Light northerly winds should present no major problems – and hopefully offer enough drift for ocean fluking. Overall, fluking has picked up mainly in the numbers category. You’d be hard pressed not to find fluke just about anywhere near the inlets . Finding that large biomass that had been near the Ridge (moving inward) might take some time but with very heavy fishing pressure today, there’s a decent chance that any flotilla you see is on some significant. I was interested in that SandPaper cover story about the commercial guys and how quickly they found a day’s quota in nothing flat not that far out. If you’re boatless and want to get into fluke, give the New South Jetty a try in B.L. The fish have been kinda floating around that area. Bottom of tide – as it backs off (for a short time) is a prime time. GULP! work well when casting and retrieving there.

Bassing is not where it should be. The surf stripering remains in a seeming resident fish mode. We should be seeing more. However, that one fish can be double decent. Bass to 30 pounds are still cruising about, though no new entries in the Simply Bassin’ 2009. Boat fishing is fair to good outside Little Egg Inlet, for those who follow the action daily. It’s lot tougher just to show up one day and figure the bass whereabouts. Luck pays into it. Imagine that.

Bunker are showing in numbers unseen in, maybe, 50 years. The main body of huge bunkies – not just huge in number but also in overall size –is to our north – most recently off Bayhead to Manaloking. I talked with two captains that went that way yesterday and they had real nice fish BUT it is work. Two factors seem to be in play. First, there are surely not bass under the thousands of pods showing and, secondly, the bass absolutely turn on. We’ve always known that fish often hit a Let’s Eat switch. That is profoundly apparent as action (and radio chatter) goes from Slow Go to All Hell Breaking Loose.

Good luck to those in the huge JCAA fluke tourney. Work inlets first then burn fuel to stop and drift. Best advice: Forego the common “Look for the flotilla” approach, as mentioned above. You should be thinking mega-fluke not numbers. Independent thinking and fishing is the way to go. Also (age old belief) big-ass baits are the trick. Contrary to some thinking, a big-ass bait presentation doesn’t have to look sleek and clean. A huge gob of food comes close to a doormat and it’s going to scarf it down like nothin’—the proverbial hook, line and sinker. How do you think it got so big? Worth a try: an entire squid, not just strips.

In the news:

Newsday] BY MARK HARRINGTON June 12, 2009
In a move hailed by Long Island commercial fishing interests, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that he will introduce a bill this week to add 'flexibility' to a federal fishery management law that he said is 'decimating' the local fleet.

The bill, called The Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009, would provide a series of exceptions to hard-and-fast federal rules aimed at restoring species deemed as over fished.

Long Island fishermen by and large question the science and data collection that are behind federal fishing quotas, while environmental groups say the quotas are badly needed.

A similar bill has already been introduced in the House, where it has languished. Schumer, in a statement, questioned the science and the fairness of rules that set the federal quotas, which mandate rebuilding fish stocks in 10 years.

'The current system not only falls short of achieving this goal, but it's taking the Long Island fishing community down with it,' Schumer said. 'Our legislation provides some much needed balance and flexibility within the existing system to both preserve our fishing stocks and allow fisheries to thrive and grow.'

Schumer's bill would allow the secretary of commerce to ease the 10-year rebuilding rule if it turns out the cause of a fish's decline is outside the jurisdiction of fishery management agencies or can't be addressed by limiting fishing.

It would also allow exceptions if it determines an extension would provide for the 'sustained participation of fishing communities or would minimize the economic impacts on such communities,' if a fish stock is on a 'a positive rebuilding trend.'

Local fishing interests hailed the proposed rule change.

'This is a huge step for us,' said Bonnie Brady, director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, an industry group in Montauk. 'The noose around our neck is the 10-year time line.'

'It definitely will help,' said Sandy Mason, a one-time Shinnecock-based commercial fishermen who recently sold his boat and moved to Florida, in part because of the crippling economics.

Mason also criticized data collection methods that determine federal limits, saying they have allowed population explosions of species such as dogfish, which are harming other species.

Lee Crockett, a director at the Pew Environmental Group, agreed that 'you can always get better data' to better manage fisheries, but said he objected to altering fishery management regulations, as Schumer proposes.

'Going back and changing the law and weakening the conservation requirements is not the way to go,' he said.

Schumer said rebuilding the fisheries requires 'a more nuanced approach to regulations that is not overly onerous on our fishing communities.'

Introducing the legislation is one of several recent developments that have given local fishermen hope.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) is scheduled to meet this week with federal fisheries regulators to make the case that New York's low percentage of the annual federal quota of vital species such as fluke is based on flawed data.

Bishop along with officials at the New York Department of Environmental Conservation say they are considering a lawsuit to make the quota more fair.

The DEC also recently said it would pilot a program allowing for weekly catch limits on fluke, stepping away from daily limits that make trips to federal waters unfeasible. It's set to start in the fall, DEC officials said.

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