Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Wednesday, September 22, 2010:
Fishing continues to play hard to get. We’ve gone from a active hurricane swell to a nasty southerly wind swell, pushing almost 6 feet. The bigger problem with this latest short-period swell is the wind generating it. We were fully honking yesterday and at sunrise today the gusts continue out of the south. This means another next to unusable fishing day. As we officially hit autumn, none of this is good. Making matters worse is this south wind will persist right into the weekend, when the wind will swing east and north, going from gusty to steady, possibly creating SCA conditions by late Sunday.
The only steady fishing being done is at the far south end where the winds are at anglers backs. Even there, the hooking is small and bluesy. Stu D. continues to catch a decent batch of snappers.
Holgate offs and ons have gotten very tricky about two-thirds of the way to the end. Per usual, it’s dead tree skeletons creating hard-to-get-by zones, especially as the tides rise. We’re back to the two hours before and two hours after high tide parameters for accessing the end in buggies. You can squeak by within, say 90 minutes each side but you’ll likely get damp. The hurricane swell is pretty much gone but the short-period south swell over washes even worse since it’s more of a nonstop attacking wave action. The tide has not dropped enough to allow much clamming in the back.
Got a chance to boat fish behind BH Sunday with one of my buddies and we had a fun outing. We anchored and chummed and suprisingly the first fish has a fat 17" fluke that hit a small piece of clam on a blowfish rig. We caught kingfish, blowfish, seabass, spot, and a handful of decent sized bluefish. Had enough fillets for a really good meal for the wife and I. Back at it tomorrow.
Most reality TV producers follow a simple format: Capture what happens, and then have cast-members fill in story gaps with voice-overs and cutaways. But what to do when reality TV stars jump ship before sitting down for the required interviews?
Sue them, of course.
Discovery is seeking $3 million in damages after two stars of 'Deadliest Catch,' Jonathan and Andy Hillstrand, allegedly failed to live up to an agreement to complete a spin-off project.
According to the breach-of-contract lawsuit, filed last week in Maryland Circuit Court, the Hillstrands were to film a one-time special called 'Hillstranded.' The duo was coming off five seasons of 'Deadliest Catch,' one of the most popular programs on any Discovery-affiliated network. The special was to document the team's various adventures in Alaska; work unrelated to their jobs as crab fisherman. Two weeks of principal photography was shot in June, but there was still work to do.
'The Hillstrand Defendants determined that they would reverse course, dishonor their promises, and refuse to render the services necessary to complete 'Hillstranded,'' reads the complaint.
At the end of August, Discovery allegedly called the brothers to confirm a date, time and location for them to sit for interviews. The complaint says the only response was an e-mail from a lawyer for the brothers informing producers that they shouldn't attempt any further contact with them.
Discovery argues that the failure by Hillstrands to complete work has caused production on the show to remain uncompleted. The company says that the show would have earned significant ratings and that it has suffered substantial losses as a result.
The Hillstrands' lawyer likened the lawsuit to extortion, and said it might even force his clients to sell their boats and fire their crews. He also took aim at the network's well-paid top executive.
'The recent actions of Discovery Communications are an astonishing and shameful instance of arrogance and greed run amok,' attorney Jeff Cohen said in a statement.
'While CEO David Zaslav reaps a $33.9 million bonanza in a single day in January 2010, his company attempts to bankrupt hardworking fishermen. Three million dollars is exponentially greater than any compensation ever paid to the 'Deadliest Catch' captains, and yet this is the figure Discovery is trying to extort from these men.
'Isn't there enough unemployment in America without forcing hard-working sea captains to declare bankruptcy, sell their boats and fire their crews?,' he asked.
He also referenced the death earlier this year of Captain Phil Harris, which was chronicled by the show.
'Discovery is a multi-billion dollar corporation making hundreds of millions of dollars from broadcasting the dangerous exploits of our clients. In light of all the tragedy witnessed by Captain Sig (Hansen), Capt. John and Capt. Andy this year, why can't Discovery let these working men move on with their lives?'
[BANR Japan reports] Sept 21, 2010 - Tokyo - Big bluefin tunas caught off Boston are now being delivered in large numbers to fish markets in Japan.
Brisk landings of bluefin tuna, the best in several years have occurred in the eastern coast area of the U.S., and exports to Japan have been boosted, partly helped by the record strength of the Japanese currency.
The Boston tunas are attracting a strong following in Japan for its superb quality--equivalent with that of the domestic brand tunas such as those from renowned producing places such as Oma, Aomori Prefecture, at the northern tip of the Japanese mainland.
At the fresh tuna trading section of Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market, giant Boston bluefin tuna, weighing nearly 200 kg, have been lining up with a special luster among domestic-caught tunas since this summer.
During August when the tuna fishing season started in Boston, a total of 220 bluefin tunas were shipped to Japan, which represented a jump of 70% from the same month a year ago.
Further in September when the season entered the prime period, 235 tunas, five times as much as a year ago, have been delivered to the Japanese market as of September 17.
The wholesale prices stand at around Y4,000 per kilo, more or less unchanged from last year.
An official of a wholesale company at Tsukiji observed that Boston bluefin tunas, received in large quantities this year, generally enjoy higher evaluation than domestically-harvested tunas which have lower fatty contents probably under the impact of high temperatures.
A sushi restaurant owner in Tokyo said he specifically designated buying of Boston tunas, saying that 'they can fully substitute the best-quality bluefin tuna provided from Tsugaru Strait in Aomori.'
In spite of massive landings, U.S. fishermen are said to be giving priority to less efficient and time-consuming fishing methods, such as pole-and-line and longlining, to conserve the fish stock, refraining from the use of purse-seine that can catch the fish en mass with one cast of the net.
A Japanese importer noted that landings came in the amount that cannot be consumed in the U.S. market alone.
'Exports to Japan have been heating up, in a way reminiscent of the bubble economy period, as traders' profit can be secured helped by the yen's rally, even after discounting air-freight and other costs,' he said.
In the meantime, as for the Atlantic bluefin tuna, including those caught near Boston, there was debate in March this year over whether or not international trade in this species should be banned because of deteriorating stock status.
PIERSON -- It looks like an abandoned shack in the middle of nowhere, but a small sign tells travelers on this almost deserted road north of Pierson there is life inside.
The unevenly hand-scribbled black letters C and R are larger than the A and B followed by a tall leaning S:
As many as 30,000 of these creatures swiped with wire traps from Lake George, Lake Crescent, the St. Johns River and other bodies of water in neighboring states make a daily stop at this disheveled-looking building to be packed into boxes.
Live and clean crabs are then sent on their long journey on trucks or planes to restaurants in Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia and as far west as Los Angeles.
Locally, the crab products find their way into eateries in Jacksonville, Orlando, Ormond Beach and Daytona Beach.
Inside this lonely outpost at Menton Road and County Road 3 last week sat Rod Zeak, owner of the packing plant. With a laptop propped up to his right and a phone to his ear the 44-year-old South Jersey native conducts business.
His companions are two workers and some live crabs, scratching as they joust in a cardboard box on ice.
Zeak talks about crabs, where they come from and how fast they can be delivered.
'I have 20 crabbers who deliver crabs to me,' Zeak said. 'I get anywhere from 1,500 to 30,000 pounds of blue crabs a day.'
Customers with palates for blue crab talk of the crustacean delicacy and how it can be eaten: fried, boiled Maryland style, and in a soup popular with local Mexicans featuring spicy picante, corn tortillas and potatoes.
'It's a nice spot to get crabs,' said Jose Santos, 19, of Pierson, who purchased 8 pounds. 'I have family visiting who never have eaten crab before. I always come here for those who want to try crabs for the first time.'
Zeak said his retail business usually is a discovery for a diverse group of people who happen upon the small sign and stop to pick up some of the crawling creatures.
'We are not on the side of a major busy highway or near a big city so people may not know of us,' Zeak said. 'But I do a lot of wholesale business from here.'
Zeak used to buy crabs from Louisiana, the biggest supplier, but since the oil spill, his business has seen a decrease in sales, Zeak said.
'Last year we had over $2 million in sales but the oil spill is killing my business,' Zeak said. 'This year, we are seeing about a quarter of that.'
The crabbing industry in Volusia and surrounding areas has been around for a long time. One of the crabbers who supplies Zeak is in his late 70s and has been crabbing since his early teens, Zeak said.
Zeak and his two workers, Eddie Fuentes and Rigoberto Flores, dip wooden boxes filled with crabs into ice water, starting the packing process.
Bubbles float from the crabs' mouths after they drink the icy water. It helps them survive a couple days longer so they can be delivered alive, Zeak said.
Zeak wasn't always a crab expert, but he is a lifelong salesman.
In the summer of 1989, the salesman found himself without a job. Growing up in South Jersey, and around a lot of water, he realized crabs were the only thing he had not tried selling.
'The idea of selling crabs on the side of the road was the best thing I had left,' Zeak said. 'I started selling from a roadside stand on Route 73 in Palmyra.'
Sales were so good he kept running out of crabs and, instead of buying from a supplier, he started purchasing directly from commercial fishermen. That brought on a new problem -- too many crabs.
To liquidate the excess crabs, he bought trucks to sell them and before he knew it he became a wholesale and retail crab distributor in the Northeast for 14 years.
'I was bringing crabs into New Jersey; Delaware; Maryland; Washington, D.C. ; North Carolin and Virginia,' Zeak said.
Zeak sold the business in 2003 and moved to Florida where he could get crabs all year 'round.
In 2004, as a Palm Coast resident, Zeak started a crab delivery route. It led him to the location in Pierson he bought in 2007.
What Zeak knows is also rubbing off onto his workers. Fuentes and Flores said they suffered lots of nips from sharp claws when angry crabs resisted being stuffed in paper bags or packed in boxes. But they eventually learned to handle the hard-shelled critters.
'I did not know these little animals existed, much less that they are edible,' Fuentes said. 'But I tasted them and they are delicious.'
Taste, Zeak said, has a lot to do with loving the crab business. Crabs have been the sales job he has come to love more than any other.
'I kinda understand crabs and how fanatical people are about eating them,' Zeak said. 'It's like a drug. When the demand is really high the adrenaline in getting them ready for shipping gets you pumped up.'
A bumper harvest of blue crabs is expected this year, state agriculture officials said this week, thanks to spring and summer rainfall.
'Our fishermen tell us that blue crabs are running larger than normal and are in excellent supply,' said Charles Bronson, state agriculture commissioner.