Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Thursday, June 17, 2010: Real nice out there, a tad windy, but a fine look and feel for surf, bay and inlet fishing. Bassing to the north is fair. Some folks are getting very savvy about how best to troll or s&d bunker for better bass. Without some serious insights, the odds go down greatly.
Bayside fluking is best bet. Larger presentations and some bottom jigging action works best for the few keepable flatties. Spro offers a fine lines of fluke tempters, though plenty of fish going for good old basic fluke rigs – drop-looped sinker with a trailing curved hook, as much at 30 inches back.
I had a quick chat with an angler who has been having decent fluke/bluefish combo trips near Barnegat Inlet. “We get a couple take-home fluke then have fun plugging for cocktail bluefish to 4 pounds,” he said. Noting that fishing pressure during the week has been very light.
Bft at 25 miles out. Huge blues in the same zone.
GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) - Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water off Florida beaches, like forest animals fleeing a fire. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into marshes, never to be seen again.
Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some strange phenomena.
Fish and other wildlife seem to be fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering in cleaner waters along the coast in a trend that some researchers see as a potentially troubling sign.
The animals' presence close to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted, and the crowding could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen. Also, the animals could easily be devoured by predators.
'A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable,' said Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist.
The nearly two-month-old spill has created an environmental catastrophe unparalleled in U.S. history as tens of millions of gallons of oil have spewed into the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Scientists are seeing some unusual things as they try to understand the effects on thousands of species of marine life.
Day by day, scientists in boats tally up dead birds, sea turtles and other animals, but the toll is surprisingly small given the size of the disaster. The latest figures show that 783 birds, 353 turtles and 41 mammals have died -- numbers that pale in comparison to what happened after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989, when 250,000 birds and 2,800 otters are believed to have died.
Researchers say there are several reasons for the relatively small death toll: The vast nature of the spill means scientists are able to locate only a small fraction of the dead animals. Many will never be found after sinking to the bottom of the sea or being scavenged by other marine life. And large numbers of birds are meeting their deaths deep in the Louisiana marshes where they seek refuge from the onslaught of oil.
'That is their understanding of how to protect themselves,' said Doug Zimmer, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For nearly four hours Monday, a three-person crew with Greenpeace cruised past delicate islands and mangrove-dotted inlets in Barataria Bay off southern Louisiana. They saw dolphins by the dozen frolicking in the oily sheen and oil-tinged pelicans feeding their young. But they spotted no dead animals.
'I think part of the reason why we're not seeing more yet is that the impacts of this crisis are really just beginning,' Greenpeace marine biologist John Hocevar said.
The counting of dead wildlife in the Gulf is more than an academic exercise: The deaths will help determine how much BP pays in damages.
As for the fish, researchers are still trying to determine where exactly they are migrating to understand the full scope of the disaster, and no scientific consensus has emerged about the trend.
Mark Robson, director of the Division of Marine Fisheries Management with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said his agency has yet to find any scientific evidence that fish are being adversely affected off his state's waters. He noted that it is common for fish to flee major changes in their environment, however.
In some areas along the coast, researchers believe fish are swimming closer to shore because the water is cleaner and more abundant in oxygen. Farther out in the Gulf, researchers say, the spill is not only tainting the water with oil but also depleting oxygen levels.
A similar scenario occurs during 'dead zone' periods -- the time during summer months when oxygen becomes so depleted that fish race toward shore in large numbers. Sometimes, so many fish gather close to the shoreline off Mobile that locals rush to the beach with tubs and nets to reap the harvest.
But this latest shore migration could prove deadly.
First, more oil could eventually wash ashore and overwhelm the fish. They could also become trapped between the slick and the beach, leading to increased competition for oxygen in the water and causing them to die as they run out of air.
'Their ability to avoid it may be limited in the long term, especially if in near-shore refuges they're crowding in close to shore, and oil continues to come in. At some point they'll get trapped,' said Crowder, expert in marine ecology and fisheries. 'It could lead to die-offs.'
The fish could also fall victim to predators such as sharks and seabirds. Already there have been increased shark sightings in shallow waters along the Gulf Coast.
The migration of fish away from the oil spill can be good news for some coastal residents.
Tom Sabo has been fishing off Panama City, Fla., for years, and he's never seen the fishing better or the water any clearer than it was last weekend 16 to 20 miles off the coast. His fishing spot was far enough east that it wasn't affected by the pollution or federal restrictions, and it's possible that his huge catch of red snapper, grouper, king mackerel and amberjack was a result of fish fleeing the spill.
In Alabama, locals are seeing large schools hanging around piers where fishing has been banned, leading them to believe the fish feel safer now that they are not being disturbed by fishermen.
'We pretty much just got tired of catching fish,' Sabo said. 'It was just inordinately easy, and these were strong fish, nothing that was affected by oil. It's not just me. I had to wait at the cleaning table to clean fish.'
June 17, 2010 - NOAA is seeking a record $7.4 million fine against Albacora SA, and its fishing vessel Albacora Uno.
NOAA has accused the vessel of illegally setting 67 fish aggregating devices in U.S. waters without a permit, over a period of two years. If upheld, the fine would be the highest ever assessed by NOAA.
The case resulted from an investigation by agents with NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), who boarded the vessel when it docked in the U.S. port of Pago Pago, American Samoa, in March 2010, and found records documenting the Albacora Uno's activities inside the US EEZ in U.S. waters.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act prohibits foreign-flagged vessels from catching, taking or harvesting fish, or supporting those actions, in U.S. waters without a U.S. permit, which the Albacora Uno did not have.
The NOVA charges that the Albacora Uno deployed 67 fish aggregating devices inside the 200-mile EEZ around Howland/Baker Islands and Jarvis Island between November 2007 and October 2009.
Albacora, which is the largest tuna fishing company in Europe, based in Spain, has vigorously responded to the charges.
In a statement, they said 'Firstly, the ship Albacora Uno never fished in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). At no time has it caught (not even a single tuna) in prohibited waters. To date, due to the peculiarities of the U.S. administrative procedure, Albacora has not had the opportunity to present arguments as to the facts set out in what, until now, is merely a proposed penalty. In this sense, the company has a 30-day period (extendable to 60 days) to make representations. These arguments will be based on the internal investigation of events, which is now taking place.'
The Spanish fisheries ministry and the embassy in the U.S. is also gathering information, as is the company itself. Albacora has sent a delegation of top executives to examine the logbooks, observer reports and the vessels positioning system.
While strongly denying catching even one tuna, the company also says that although they feel innocent of accusations they would 'assume responsibility that may apply due to the actions of our captains or our fishing techniques, if in fact these were executed in the terms expressed by NOAA.'
REEDVILLE, Va. (AP) - A panel of Virginia legislators, environmentalists and watermen will study fishing pressures on menhaden, a small fish in big demand for use in health supplements and a critical food source for other Chesapeake Bay fish.
The creation of the 26-member panel follows a report earlier this year by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. It recommends limits on the menhaden fishery because of relatively low spawning stock.
The oily, bony fish are key in the bay's food chain, supporting striped bass, bluefish and other species. They are also processed into omega-3 fish oils sold as heart-healthy food supplements.
Sen. Ralph Northam, a Norfolk Democrat, said Wednesday the menhaden is key to the bay's overall health.
'Menhaden are a very important fishery to the Chesapeake Bay, a lot of other fish feed off them, and they're a filter fish,' he said. 'It's an important resource that we really have to take care of.'
Menhaden has made the Northern Neck town of Reedville one of the biggest fishing ports in the U.S., based on pounds landed.
Omega Protein Corp., which employs about 250 people, is allowed to catch 109,020 metric tons of menhaden annually from the Virginia portion of the bay.
The Virginia General Assembly this year extended the catch limit until 2014.
Northam has sought tighter catch limits on menhaden but has faced opposition from lawmakers who fear they will lead to Omega layoffs. The General Assembly 'needs to take a long, hard look at the management of menhaden,' he said.
Northam would like to see the Virginia Marine Resources Commission manage menhaden. He cited its successful measures to help restore the bay's blue crab population.
The study panel includes the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Virginia Seafood Council, Omega and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, among others.
'I believe the diverse and inclusive group we have assembled will take this task seriously, and help flesh out some of the complex issues involved with sustainable use of this important species,' he said.