Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Why flies must learn to resist frozen watermelon ...
Convinced the opponent was trying to run home with the last available rugby ball, Lyle stepped in to save the day.
A tad less manly, a bicyclist who hates people trying to touch his pussy ...
Monday, August 07, 2017: Let the rain come down. Not such a bad thing if you’re back at work. i.e., as is me. However, for those laying out monster bucks for a week on LBI, there’s not quite as much room for precipitation tolerance. What’s more, we just had a monthly turnover, so yet another arriving user-group might be miffed at the spitty skies – despite all those jigsaw puzzles left by the landlord.
Another non-useful update on the proposed Little Egg Inlet channel-build: If anything, the prospects are heading further toward Goingnowhereville. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to adamantly demand “No Impact” come from the dredging of a channel. Can’t be done, per experts, who know there's absolutely nothing -- good, bad or in-between -- that can be guaranteed from actions taken within one of the most dynamic inlets left on the Eastern Seaboard.
I do want to make something very clear since it involves buddies of mine at the Army Corps of Engineers. The ACE folks are absolutely not a stumbling block in the permitting process, though they’ve been written up as such. They are fine with the project, even as we speak.
I’ll even be a Negative Nellie by now suggesting there’s not a prayer of a chance for a sure, safe, well-marked waters being seen within Little Egg Inlet, even by the summer of 2018. In this case, I’d love to be proven wrong.
Fluking remains outstanding, based on Rotten Tomatoes-like percentages. That’s the split rating offered by professional flukers -- captaining headboats and charters -- and good-old-boy hoi polloi flukers, reporting takes aboard dozens and dozens of small craft, jetty rocks and beachlines. Right now, I’ll suggest 85 percent of all pros say fluking is five-stars. Recreationalists five-star the season at closer to an 80 percent rate. Both those ratings indicate that fluking 2017 is a hit.
One thing that makes a hodgepodge of any fishing rating system, is an email like this. “Jay, I don’t know where you’re getting all this great fluking reports. I’ve yet to catch my first keeper this summer.”
This email wasn’t as angry as that excerpt sounds. The fellow, out of Little Egg, is just one of those who zigs when the day clearly demands zagging. He is also hampered by an insane work schedule. We all know that rushing out and demanding instant fish in a contained timeframe is the kiss of angling death. I did rag on him for using older spearing, stored in formaldehyde. Oh, that chemical hardening of tender silversides has been done for years but I really think flukers must now go with prime bait presentations, just to keep up with the high-hook doormat Jonses, who use GULP, eyeful jigs, and, recently, snapper blues as bait. Yes, good old minnies and squid combos still work. I just happen to clearly see more trophy flatties falling for larger designer offerings.
PICK YOU POISON: Do you know what a druther is? Well, neither do I. Nonetheless, if I were to have my druthers – and, apparently, they tend to come in droves – I’m choosing talk over text. I’ll explain.
Distracted driving has become nothing short of a highway plague. At this point, it is completely undeterrable, even powerful shots off citation syringes can't cure it. Multitasking drivers rule NJ roads, led by cellphoners and texters.
Out of a surrenderous necessity, I’m forced to decide between the lesser of those two driving evils. I go with (drumroll) … cellphone-talkers being preferable to texters. All that means is I’m significantly less put-off by drivers chatting on cellphones – and at least able to keep an eye on traffic. That form of distraction is ostensibly better than downward-looking texting motorists, who are literally road-blind when attentively tapping messages on lap-resting smartphones.
A recent minor Rte. 72 accident forced me to essentially favor one evil over the other. By the by, “neither” doesn’t enter into it, with so much distracted driving going on in both my lane, and, scariest of all, the passing lane.
Rhetorical question: Why are texters and one-handed cellphone gabbers so hellbent on driving the fast/passing/right lane? Oh, don’t try to tell me they don’t! It’s obvious.
Now, to Rte. 72 and a fender-bender caused by a pregnant texting pause.
You have surely seen these pauses; when a traffic signal switches green and traffic progresses, except for one vehicle just sitting there, going nowhere fast. It seems stalled, even though stalling at lights ended decades ago. The driver of that vehicle is displaying a pregnant texting pause – the driver’s attention riveted on his/her lap, while typing out a surely insignificant message. By the by, the police are very wise to the pause as a prime indicator of distracted driving.
Finally, back to 72, eastbound, where my righthand lane progressed normally after a traffic signal changed to green. But there was no normalcy for me, third vehicle back at the light. I couldn’t help but nervously notice the adjacent left lane was still stopped. Was I missing something? Is there an approaching emergency vehicle, maybe jaywalking pedestrians, or a small furry animal in the road? Nope.
As I slowly inched by a stuck-in-time, medium-sized, black SUV, I looked over and there’s a young blond driver gal looking straight down at her own lap, giggling – a famed texting behavior.
I wanted to stop and yell over but the guy behind me was understandably getting antsy. So, I shook my head in negative judgement, and proceeded, allowing the car behind me to hyper accelerated into the left lane to pass me.
In sole possession of the right lane, I did a rear-view mirror look-back, just to see how long before Lady Lookdown finally registered the green light. It wasn’t before two cars behind her both swung into the left lane at the same time – to get past her. Bang! They exchanged plastic bumper material.
Seeing the bumper-on-bumper meet-up wasn’t all that bad, I opted to go after the suddenly speeding SUV. I know she was hauling ass because of what she just caused. I was hoping to get her tag info but she lost me at the last light before LBI. So, I circled back to find both vehicles had gone.
As a bycatch from that incident, I now have even more ammo to loose upon a gal I know who got a ticket for texting at a stop light. She angrily swears there’s no danger in that -- and it should be allowable. Her thinking fell on deaf judge ears.
That is now the second dangerous Rte. 72 scenario I’ve seen caused by texters failing to get up to speed with a light change. The other entailed hideously screeching brake but no contacts. Face it, even better drivers don’t expect traffic to be stopped on green – as a texter gets in a couple more letters before proceeding.
Even if you're into NASCAR, per se, you really should be agog over Mayetta (Stafford Township) resident and Southern Regional grad Martin Truex Jr. (MTJ) as he continues to dominate the Monster Energy Series, the premier division of NASCAR racing. Martin won his fourth race of the year yesterday, tying his previous total wins. He is also nearly uncatchable in the points race, used to decide who makes makes it into NASCAR'S post season. In fact, it's likely he'll automatically be qualified for the final four in that season-ending series of races. MTJ has done all this while him and his girlfriend have soldiered through her ovarian cancer diagnosis. What a great effort by all involved.
It has been an absolute banner year for Fluke and now the ocean is really starting to heat up. The ocean is definitely holding much better ratios of keepers to shorts and we like fishing a variety of structure to put them on the deck. The Bay is still very active, but your approaching much higher amounts of short Fluke with ratios at 15-20 to 1. I’m still waiting for the bay Blowfish bite to start as this makes for perfect trips for the little ones. But right now, it’s all about quality Fluke in the ocean. Reminder: We continue to run 7 days a week until September and we are now starting to book our Fall Striped Bass trips.
With an Ocean planned for this week, my wife Jennifer, Luke and I scouted out a couple of my choice areas. With our 1st drift, Luke boated the first keeper at 18.5 inches. We scored keeper Fluke on the next few drifts to 6 pounds. We finished in the bay and boated two more keepers to 5 pounds. Jen was the high hook catching 5 out of our 7 keepers (18.5, 19, 19, 20, 23, 23, 24). Awesome day on the water with the family!! I think the Ocean is ready for charters!
Next, I had Mike Edwards, Tom Heisroth, and Neil Ringel on a 4hr Bay/Inlet charter. We concentrated our efforts just in and just outside the inlet. Even with outgoing tide conditions, the guys released close to 30 Fluke and had 3 keepers (18.5, 20, 21.5 inches). They worked the S&S BigEye bucktails tipped with natural bait. Great job!
During midweek, I had Dan Perlman, his wife Melissa, and their 3 boys (Aaron-age 12, Brody-age 10, and Elijah-age 7) on a 4hr Bay/Inlet charter. We worked some of the same areas as the day prior and had the same tidal conditions (outgoing). With all three boys new to bucktailing and saltwater Fluke fishing, they did a pretty good job catching 23 Fluke with two keepers (18, 19.5). There is nothing better than seeing kids catch fish!
I had Matt Windover of Philadelphia, PA and Charles Jack of Limerick, PA on a 5hr Ocean charter. We started working an area close to home and only had one keeper after multiple drifts. With little to no drift, we headed out to some a few deeper snags and it was "Game On”! Matt and Charles boxed 9 keepers to 6.5 pounds. Charles caught his personal best at 26 inches and weighing 6.5 pounds. It’s not everyday that you play catch and release on keepers for the last hour. Great day on the water!
I had return client Tom Dillon and his son Tommy on a 4hr Bay & Inlet charter. We worked some areas close to the inlet and the father-son team caught close to 40 Fluke with two keepers at 3.5 pounds (20in) and 5 pounds (23in). New Jersey Fish & Wildlife was doing surveying at Bobbie's Boats in Barnegat Light (charter pickup/dropoff location) and weighed each fish as part of their survey. All fish were caught on the S&S BigEye tipped with artificials.
35.4, 52.5, 59.09, 69.75
Great Drone shots from John McNichol
We had a great day in the BHMTC family tournament today! Mommy caught the biggest fish again and placed 1st in Bluefish and 3rd in Fluke for the Women's division. Matt placed 1st in Bluefish, Fluke and Sea Bass in the Junior division! G3 placed 2nd for Bluefish and Sea bass in Junior and I even placed 1st for Bluefish in the Men's. Always a great tournament with great people and Lady Luck was on our side today!!
Scientists have determined this year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone,” an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life, is 8,776 square miles, an area about the size of New Jersey. It is the largest measured since dead zone mapping began there in 1985.
The measured size is close to the 8,185 square miles forecast by NOAA in June.
The annual forecast, generated from a suite of NOAA-sponsored models, is based on nutrient runoff data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Both NOAA’s June forecast and the actual size show the role of Mississippi River nutrient runoff in determining the size of the dead zone.
This large dead zone size shows that nutrient pollution, primarily from agriculture and developed land runoff in the Mississippi River watershed is continuing to affect the nation’s coastal resources and habitats in the Gulf.
These nutrients stimulate massive algal growth that eventually decomposes, which uses up the oxygen needed to support life in the Gulf. This loss of oxygen can cause the loss of fish habitat or force them to move to other areas to survive, decreased reproductive capabilities in fish species and a reduction in the average size of shrimp caught.
The Gulf dead zone may slow shrimp growth, leading to fewer large shrimp, according to a NOAA-funded study led by Duke University. The study also found the price of small shrimp went down and the price of large shrimp increased, which led to short-term economic ripples in the Gulf brown shrimp fishery.
A team of scientists led by Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium collected data to determine the size of the dead zone during a survey mission from July 24 to 31 aboard the R/V Pelican.
“We expected one of the largest zones ever recorded because the Mississippi River discharge levels, and the May data indicated a high delivery of nutrients during this critical month which stimulates the mid-summer dead zone,” said Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D., research professor at LSU offsite linkand LUMCONoffsite link, who led the survey mission.
“Having a long-term record of the size of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone is vital in forecasting its size, trends and effects each year,” said Steven Thur, Ph.D., acting director of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. “These measurements ultimately inform the best strategies for managers to reduce both its size and its impacts on the sustainability and productivity of our coastal living resources and economy.”
Previously the largest Gulf of Mexico dead zone was measured in 2002, encompassing 8,497 square miles. The average size of the dead zone over the past five years has been about 5,806 square miles, three times larger than the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force target of 1,900 square miles.
NOAA funds monitoring and research efforts to understand the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico through its Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems & Hypoxia Assessment program, known as NGOMEX. The annual dead zone measurement is used by the Gulf of Mexico/Mississippi River Watershed Nutrient Task Forceto determine whether efforts to reduce nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River basin are working. New initiatives such as the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast are designed to help farmers apply fertilizer at optimum times to limit nutrient runoff to the Gulf.
LUMCON’s Gulf Hypoxia websiteoffsite link has additional graphics and information about this summer’s research mission as well as missions in previous years.
Update: Necropsies on dead birds taken from within and near Beach Haven West lagoons have shown the birds dies of botulism poisoning. Likely contributing factors: Recent rains, extreme lack of water movement within the lagoon system -- and a buildup of algae and plant matter in all Barnegat Bay.
By the by, thanks to Stafford Mayor Spodafora, a naturalist himself, for helping move things quickly along after a goodly number of common lagoon birds – mainly ducks – had been reported dead.
Background: Avian botulism poisoning is far and away the prime cause of avian die-offs in summer. The culprit is called Clostridium botulinum. The toxins from C. botulinum can accumulate in anaerobic conditions within decomposing vegetation -- and also decomposing animal carcasses. The warmer weather/water expedites the decay process, offering perfect condition for botulism bacteria to go wild.
A study presented by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, offers a theory, “In wetlands, it has been found that some C. botulinum strains can associate with toxin-unaffected organisms– including algae, plants, and invertebrates– in which the bacteria appear to germinate and stay in the vegetative form for longer periods of time.”
The study also suggests, “Pollution supports mass production of algae, followed by decay …”
That offers something of a “Bingo” moment. We have likely never seen so much algae within the Beach Haven West lagoons – and the entire bay. This is the result of an oversupply of man-based nutrients, leading to eutrophic conditions – an organic overgrowth, once again, ideal for botulism development.
Yes, there could be an increasing number of botulism die-off if the bay can't compensate for the current people overgrowth.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up another less likely – and highly preventable – purveyor of botulism: human food handouts, often directed toward ducks and such. Bird feedings have already been linked to botulism outbreaks, primarily when food is randomly thrown out in large amounts that rapidly decay before it can be polished off by the birds – but still looks tasty to the ducks and such that finally come upon the spoiled throw-outs.
There's also rather disgusting botulism cycle that can develop whereby fly maggots infest animal carcasses and ingest botulism toxins. Ducks then consume toxin-laden maggots and can take in fatal botulism amounts in as few as few as 3 or 4 maggots.
I must now touch on something that won’t sit well with many an angler -- and even more so with BHW anglers. I have long questioned the advisably of dumping large numbers of fish carcasses in the bay, especially in the going-nowhere-fast waters of lagoons. Yes, crabs and minnows do what they can to clean the bones, even then I’ve seen rotting fish remains sit one the bottom for weeks – longer in the case of larger offshore fish remains. I know that won’t change the age-old dockside fish-cleaning tradition but I'll at least worry a bit about it.