Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday, April 17, 2017: Thanks for the offers of “Easter” bluefish but I really want to get out there myself ... eDNA is the future

Below: The next time you come across a lame-ass mime ... do this ... Then jump up all pissed and go after him. 

Invisible wall

Below: After having all his chickens killed by hawks, Norm brought in a mixed martial arts chicken from Brazil ... 

Giant chicken

Monday, April 17, 2017: Thanks for the offers of “Easter” bluefish but I really want to get out there myself … or I’ll never get going.

Slammer catches ran from a mere one/two ... to over a dozen. I got word of hookups from mainly bait casters, though jig/plastic tossers were feeling the tail-gunning wrath of blues … more than hooking into them. Even larger blues are habitual snipers, often grabbing the ass-end of plastics, then getting put off by the tastelessness of the bitten-off tail. It remains astounding how even blues lose interest in plastics when the tail is bitten off.  

A few bass were taken from the surf, a nicer one on an artificial. Take was low, as might be expected when hordes of blues are recklessly zipping about. Bayside bassing is still quite hot in spots. Ask for exactness in local tackle shops. Sure, you can ask in Walmart. Tell me how that works out.


“Our pet department is up front and to your right.”

Seemingly odd tale was a big blue with mullet in its belly. Those baitfish surely hadn't been eaten all that long ago. It wasn't overly odd to me. There are back-bay lagoons and creeks where some mullet occasionally over-winter. During my more crazed net-casting days, I'd cast into salt marsh creeks after ice-out and would net these very mottled-looking mullet, with thready fins from a very tough winter. My guess is the shrimp-seeking blues were going back-bay and spooked some out.


Eventually we all get caught!!! Lol 

Image may contain: sky and outdoor
 Above:  Jim Hutchinson Jr. updated his cover photo.

"Guess who just got back today, them wild eyed boys that had been away..."


Joe H. Report: After reading the daily blog, I had to send a report along. First and foremost, the ticks....I just pulled two off Ginger as we were at my parents in Tabernacle on Saturday fishing at the lake. I think it's going to be a bad year for them. Good Friday my buddy Jake and I headed to Atlantic City to see what all the fuss with the T jetty was. Well we had tons of short bass and a saw a 10lb tog. I missed my only tog bite of the morning. Sunday we found big bluefish on the front beach right around Spray Beach during the lower tide. Plenty of birds picking and looking just past the bar, I suspect they were over bunker pods. We decided to leave and check the bayside and we were instantly into short stripers on small swim shads....fun fishing. I was surprised since it was two hours before sundown. I would think that the night bite would be even better. As for weakfish, I fish with a long time retired Trenton fire fighter friend out of his Mystic Island house and we had over a dozen 3-5 lbers last week around midnight in one of his super secret holes off the sod banks. Those fish prefer old school bucktails with long purple worms. He always thought they are back they eating small eels. Sure enough we kept one for dinner and it had a 6-7 inch eel and a mantis shrimp in its belly! Anyhow, I will be on island doing a lot of construction work starting tomorrow and I have a bunch of groups booking me god guide surf trips so I should have some decent info. ALSO!!! I could use a little guidance on a fish I have never caught or fished for. The perch! I have heard Mill Creek is a hot spot behind BH West. Dante told me the Park is a good area. I'm working on a new customers house that is right on the water this week that is about 1/3 of the way out towards the bay on the creek. Are those perch still in there? I will try and catch a few from his dock while I'm there. Are they fished on the bottom with blood worms or are they near the surface?


DNA DON'T LIE: T’was a Beach Haven old-timer, Chris Sprague, who would jerk the chains of us kids by sniffing a pinch of bay water and telling us what fish were around. Oh, we kinda knew he was joshin’ us one good. Still, what if, just maybe, he really could tell if fish were a-swim with just a sniff or two.

Below: Chris doing what he most loved. He was a master carver and fevered fisherman. As for his driving that old white "paint-mobile" station wagon later in life ... no sidewalk was safe or off-limits.  

Though Chris has since passed – at, what, 90-plus? -- and took his sniffing secrets with him, something highly akin is now happening in a science-breakthrough manner, though I’m taking liberties with the “sniff” angle.

To understand this modern-day breakthrough, you must first loosely grasp a research advance that is turning the world of nature scholarship on its ear. It’s based on something called eDNA, standing for Environmental DNA.

In its simplest measure, eDNA focuses on extracting assorted and sundry DNA samples/signatures from within environmental sources; be it water, soil, rain or even wildlife droppings. It’s a form of shot-in-the-dark researching -- seeing what the samples are giving, DNA-wise.  

In theory, eDNA holds the future of fishing in its palm. I kid you not.  

For six months, researchers at NYC’s Rockefeller University have been taking surface-water samples from the Hudson River and the East River; once a week, from given points. They are then adroitly sorting out DNAs markers from within. In doing so, they are pioneering ways to follow fish migrations without going through the netting rigmarole – most often a trawling method, which has long had its accuracy questioned, while leaving the netted-then-released fish feeling gray behind the gills.  

“Indeed, eDNA science is quickly granting humanity a very old wish: an easy way to estimate the abundance and distribution of diverse fish species and other forms of marine life in the dark waters of rivers, lakes, and seas,” reads an article in www.phys.org, entitled “Naked DNA in Water Tells If Fish Have Arrived.”

"Environmental DNA" (eDNA), strained from quart samples … revealed the presence or absence of several key fish species passing through the water on each test day,” explains the article.  

What they deciphered through various eDNA “hits” amounts to a dynamic look at migratory activities of fish. Species detected in this study includes menhaden (most common), conger eel (rarest), herring/alewife, striped bass, American eel, mummichog, black sea bass, bluefish, Atlantic silverside, oyster toadfish, tautog, and bay anchovy.

Offshoots of the eDNA research includes the monitoring of globally invasive fish species.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is already jumping aboard, reporting, “eDNA is used to monitor for the genetic presence of bighead carp and silver carp, two species of Asian carp. By sampling waters that could potentially be invaded by these species, the detection of their DNA can indicate the potential presence of the fish itself.”

The reading of eDNA would surely work remarkably well in Barnegat Bay. As of today, it could easily indicate the presence and comparative biomass sizes of all our spring migratory and spawning species.

The eDNA methodology will quickly become advanced enough to offer a read on less fishy bay occupants, like mollusks, especially clams, bay scallops, and, most critically, oysters. At the same time, it would also offer a read on unwanted crustaceans, including green crabs and Chinese mitten crabs.

In its own way, this whole eDNA thing is simply a metamorphosis of Uncle Chris’s sniff-testing a pinch of bay water. In fact, I can hear his gruff voice from above, all, “Hell, I’ve been doin’ that my whole life … and they’re probably charging an arm and a leg to do it!” 

Below: Breakdown of Rockefeller study. 


Check out Nate, the host of The Show About Science ...

I often talk about getting bitten or stung by sundry creatures ... sometimes purposely. Here's a guy, Coyote, who greatly outdoes me, bite-wise. He's on the remarkable show called "The Show About Science" hosted by Nate ... six-years-old!


026: Biology and Tarantula Hawks with Coyote Peterson


Tom Rizzo Hi Jay - Looking forward to you telling us a personal fishing story or two about catching blues. I took a big one home last spring, and after filleting and cutting out the lateral line, I wasn't satisfied with the dark meet still remaining on the skinned side of the fillets. Took a sharp pair of food scissors, and easily removed it. Might be helpful for others to try doing that too?
Jay Mann
Jay Mann
My favorite ... Shun Kitchen Taskmaster Shears (photo; $50) and Chef's Choice 9-Inch Shears ($40) ...


Am I the only one who has seen a couple of Ravens quietly yet playfully sailing around town? I'm positive they are Ravens, once, flying low overhead and early evening yesterday flying out from a pine tree across my street.
Audrey S. Beach Haven ..." 

I'll be on the look. I'd love to see them. Last ones in this area was quite a ways back. However, their numbers have soared in just the last couple years.
had published this odd angle on them: In May, 1889, George Benners secured two young Ravens from a nest in a gum tree, between West Creek and Tuckerton, which he reared in captivity and named them, appropriately, “Never” and “More.” Unfortunately they lost any love they may have had for one another and, as they grew older, engaged in several conflicts and eventually “Never” killed “More” and partly devoured him. “Never” is now in the collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia. (Witmer Stone. 1937. Bird Studies at Old Cape May, p. 720)

Here's the tell-tale call: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Raven/sounds
And a favorite: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Raven/sounds


Below: (Salmon interest over sea lions. It's a tough call. In Callie, they're saying 300,000-plus sea lions just might spell oppressively hard times for suffering salmon stocks.

As something of a drop-in-the-bucket culling, thought is being given to allowing the original/historic cullers, Native Americans, to at least put a dent in the sea lion biomass -- which, it should be noted, is likely way over the underestimated 300,000 number; even 400,000 is not an outlandish count ... and obviously growing.  

Despite my attraction to local Pinnipeds, there is a ton of ecological sensibility behind lowering the number of sea lions -- and, quite possible, the number of seals along our coastline.  

Oh, don't go jumping all over me for saying that. I just want to see some solid studies on the impacts of ever-increasing seal numbers hereabouts. It all comes down to what I have long feared is the mindless human nursing of one species over another, sometimes just because we think one is cuter than the other. Just think how cute we think monkeys are ... and they're scheduled to take over the entire planet -- in a post-apocalyptic (post-Trump?) world. jm)

Photo ... Hmmm:

California Law Will Allow Tribes to Kill Sea Lions to Reduce Columbia River Salmon Predation

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Chinook Observer] - April 17, 2017
Portland — The Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act, introduced April 8 by U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR), aims to “clear up inefficiencies and red tape to allow more effective management of alarming predation levels by California sea lions on Columbia River spring Chinook and other species.”
If approved by Congress and the president, the legislation will authorize states and tribes to remove a limited number of predatory sea lions. It allows active management of the growing Columbia River sea lion population and removes a requirement that individual sea lions be identified as preying on salmon before they can be removed.
According to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) five-year review, sea lion management actions are needed in the Lower Columbia. The service stated, “…predation by pinnipeds [sea lions and seals] on listed stocks of Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead, as well as eulachon, has increased at an unprecedented rate. So while there are management efforts to reduce pinniped predation in the vicinity of Bonneville Dam, this management effort is insufficient to reduce the severity of the threat, especially pinniped predation in the Columbia River estuary (river miles 1 to 145) and at Willamette Falls.”
A limited removal program has been in effect since 2011 but the NMFS review concluded that the current program doesn’t do enough to protect endangered salmon. Last year, approximately 190 sea lions killed over 9,500 adult spring Chinook within sight of Bonneville Dam. This represents a 5.8 percent loss of the 2016 spring Chinook run a quarter mile of Bonneville Dam alone. NOAA Fisheries Service also estimates that up to 45 percent of the 2014 spring Chinook run was potentially lost to sea lions in the 145 river miles between the estuary and Bonneville Dam.
Tribal leaders have expressed support for a key provision in the bill that would provide the Warm Springs, Umatilla, Yakama and Nez Perce tribes with access to the same authority currently available only to states.
The Yakama Nation, in a Monday press release, praised the new legislation while challenging those who oppose sea lion population-control efforts.
“Easily 20 percent of the spring runs endeavoring to return to their spawning grounds are being taken by sea lions. Those who suggest that this — sea lions eating fish near Bonneville Dam — is a natural phenomenon are not familiar with either the normal habitat of sea lions or the hard-fought compromises that so many in the Columbia Basin have reached in order to try and have a productive fishery,” the Yakama said.
Dam construction, water pollution, stream diversions and habitat destruction have radically altered the river, the tribe said.
“We cannot pretend that this is just nature at work when man has so altered the natural balance that might have otherwise made it a fair fight. Now the fish are at too great a disadvantage for the well-intended but naïve protectors of sea lions to say that man should butt out of the sea lion versus salmon issue,” the Yakama said.
“Our tribes are working hard to restore ecological balance to a highly altered and degraded river system. The Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act are thoughtful laws, however they need to be reconciled with one another,” said Leland Bill, chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “The Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act honors the underlying intent of both laws while providing professional fisheries managers with tools to manage both protected and endangered species.”
Sea lion populations have seen resurgence under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In 1972 when the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed, the California sea lion population hovered around 30,000 animals. The population has currently grown to over 300,000.


Man Overboard Rescue Device Developed by Milford Lab Staff

U.S. Patent Pending on device

Recovering an unresponsive person in the water and bringing them aboard a vessel has been a longstanding problem in marine safety and training. Until now. A new invention from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center's Milford Laboratory looks like a practical and effective tool for saving lives at sea.

Robert Alix, captain of the Lab’s 49-foot research vessel Victor Loosanoff, and Werner Schreiner, a former deck hand on the boat, developed the Man Overboard Recovery device, or MOB, and a U.S. patent is pending. The rights belong to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the parent organization of NOAA Fisheries.

“We thought it would be useful and could save lives, especially on small boats that usually have a small crew,” said Alix, who came up with the idea with Werner about five years ago during safety training in local waters.  “It is hard enough to get a person who is conscious and cooperative into a boat with high freeboard, but much harder if the person is unconscious and cannot help in their own rescue.”

The device allows a single rescuer to attach a lifting sling to a person in the water without the need for a second rescuer to enter the water and without help from the victim, who may be unresponsive. A lifting sling, constructed of nylon webbing similar to automotive seat belt material, and a section of rope are attached to a wishbone-shaped ‘Y” at the end of a long handle.

During a rescue, the sling is attached to the victim and detached from the ‘Y’ and handle. The rope is then attached to a lifting device on the rescue vessel, such as a block and tackle, to hoist the victim onto the vessel. The wishbone shape of the ‘Y’ allows the rescuer to attach the lifting sling to a victim who is floating horizontally or vertically.

Alix and Werner approached NOAA’s Technology Partnership Office for help after doing some research on their own. “The patent process is a lengthy one, even with legal help,” Alix said. “We’ve spent between $5,000 and $6,000 on the prototypes and legal fees so far, but we have a patent pending so we are making progress. We are looking for a manufacturer who may be able to further test and refine the design, and hope to hear something about the patent application in the next six months or so.”   

The original prototype, a fiberglass pole and a bent stainless tubing ‘Y’, led to a second version constructed entirely of fiberglass tubing. It more closely resembles the drawings in the patent application, which allows for some modification of the device, including the ability of the handle to be telescoping and the ‘Y’ to fold. The device could be stored in a bag or case, with lifting sling and rope fully rigged, ready for use. The rescuer would simply remove the device from the case, unfold and telescope the unit, and proceed to perform a rescue.

"Bob Alix approached me when I was conducting training at the Millford Lab.  He showed me the MOB device and how useful it could be in a limited crew situation,” said Derek Parks, technology transfer program manager for NOAA.  “I thought the idea sounded very interesting, so I did some research and found there could be an opportunity for a U.S. patent on the device. Regardless of the outcome of the patent application, we would love to see this device manufactured and used as broadly as possible in the future. It would be a great legacy for Bob and another contribution from NOAA towards saving lives."

Alix believes the market for this device would be vessels from about 25 feet to 75 feet long with relatively high freeboard (the distance from the waterline to the upper edge of the side of the boat) and no dedicated rescue craft such as a rigid hull inflatable boat. These vessels typically have freeboard that is too high to grab and pull a victim up and out of the water by hand. The device might also appeal to search and rescue teams, to vessels that carry passengers for hire, commercial fishing vessels, and to some larger recreational vessels.

“We feel that this device works in situations where currently available devices do not," Alix said. "A vessel equipped with one of our MOB devices, along with an existing rescue device such as a buoyant horse collar, would be able to safely recover both an active victim and a completely unresponsive or deceased victim without the need for a rescuer to enter the water.”

Alix, who plans to retire at the end of May after nearly 40 years at NOAA, and Werner, a contractor who no longer works for NOAA, would share any royalties earned with NOAA and with the Milford Laboratory if the device is manufactured and sold.  But it’s not about the money.

“If it saves even one life, all the time and effort to get it out there will be well worth it,” Alix said. Lt. Erick Estela Gomez of the NOAA Corps will be taking over for Alix as captain of the Loosanoff in June.



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