Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Saturday, January 15, 2011: It’s sure no bargain out there today but it’s not quite as bitter as it has been of late. We’ve gone over to very brisk south to southeast winds, so the Island sure doesn’…

Saturday, January 15, 2011:

It’s sure no bargain out there today but it’s not quite as bitter as it has been of late. We’ve gone over to very brisk south to southeast winds, so the Island sure doesn’t feel any less frigid those onshore and sideshore winds. However, the mainland is decentish – and calling so me. I’m going tracking near Pinewood Estates.


I want to check on the report of a “huge” coyote seen down “the trail” from the Estates toward Warren Grove. The description really doesn’t sound like a coyote: “Huge, mainly brownish red with a big bushy tail.” It sounds a lot a coywolf -- half/part coyote and half/part wolf.


I’ve never seen a coywolf but I recently found some heavily expanded tracks that I at first assumed were left by a big domesticated breed, like a German Shepard. However, I was in the middle of nowhere and absolutely no humans tracks were around to indicate a large dog was being taken for a run.


(Expanded tracks are older tracks, which, over time -- via meltage in this case -- literally expand outward, losing detail and as much as doubling the apparent imprint size. They are often the stuff of tracking misreads and, on occasion, the essence of Bigfoot reports.)


COYWOLFS ARRIVE: Odds are extremely high that we now have coywolves hereabouts. A recent study done in Maine, indicated that 22 of 100 “coyotes” studied for DNA were “half or more” wolf. One was 89 percent wolf. We get much of our ever-increasing coyote population from the north.


The developing theory is that western coyotes, in what might be described as an ongoing land rush eastward, likely mate with wolves along the way. It makes sense since wolves are not common in the east. This on-the-run DNA exchange is believed to be the reason eastern coyote are much larger – in some cases nearly twice the size! – of the same species out west.

Of course, this also means the eastern version of the species is no longer genetically identical to its western counterpart. It is technically a hybrid -- and not really the same creature. But what difference does this make, short of size variations in our local coyotes? I’m thinkin’ behavioral and aggressiveness changes are in the mix. Truth be told, I’m going to be a tad wary of any huge “coyote” with 89 percent wolf blood.


I’ll let you know what I see – through my new Zeiss binoculars! Yahoo.





“Hi Jay,
I'm a long time reader of your column as well as even longer time striper fisherman. Taking of these 60lb fish in NC is understandable as they are trophy fish. The thing that bothers me is looking at sites such as Oregon inlet & seeing 20,30,40lb fish being kept daily. When is somebody going to realize these are our breeders & give them a break ! Thanks, Scott K
HB Harbor. “
(And you, in a quick question, have encapsulated where the stripering debate is going. 


I can only speak anecdotally but I have found huge support for a true slot fish. That would be a slot wherein you CANNOT take fish. A logical slot would be 32 to 39 inches – some say 40 inches. This true slot set-up would be predicated on freeing up small fish for harvesting.


I have done my homework on the impacts of such a slot set-up. I will, for time’s sake, skirt the issue of how many smaller fish will be freed up via a slot. I am convinced there are too many “schoolie” bass and science will catch up to that fact very soon.


Being a member of a goodly number of tournament committees, I fully understand the, let’s say, annoyances that would arise if a tourney has to exclude fish between 32 and 39 inches. However, I’m thoroughly convinced (committed to) a tourney does not have to be a high-kill event. It’s who catches the biggest fish, be it one fish weighed in or a goodly number. In fact, I assert that the playing field actually gets leveled when the hooking is tough and the weigh-ins are minimal.  


As for registered charter and head boats, I can’t see how it would hurt them to constantly have a goodly allowable catch of smaller fish to satiate the fares and keep them coming back for more. I also see a need to allow some perks for this always-struggling industry, maybe allowing an extra fish here or there – without impinging on the slotfish niche. And when those wow-worthy trophy fish come aboard charters and headboats, they’re fully take-home fish


For anyone who hasn’t seen the numbers when it comes to maintaining a population of better bass, stripers reaching the zone of roughly 34 inches and longer, are very likely carrying genes capable of producing huge trophy fish. And, through nature, a great number of offspring from that size of spawning bass have the potential to reach 40 pounds and beyond. Protecting the “prime spawners” in the zone of 32 to 39 inches would allow the greatest number of fish with a propensity for bigness to have 7 or 8 spawns. And those bigger fish do, indeed, spawn like nobody’s business. Sure, you can argue the Mendel principals that not all those young produced are born champions. Still, the odds favor that as many as 75 percent of the larvae between two reproducing slot fish will be worthy of reaching slot size – and as many as 25 percent could go to gonzo sizes. Admittedly, forage means everything in those equations  But, bass are veritable pit bulls (and pigs) when it comes to foraging. They only hurt for eats when smaller -- and heavily schooled (overpopulated?) inside backwater areas, like Chesapeake Bay and its estuaries.


Personally, I want smaller fish for eating -- safe eating. Yes, even smaller stripers can have some PCBs and related dioxins. However, successful efforts to clean, rescue and remediate our waterways, combined with the fact the smaller fish have not ingested as much of the bad stuff through the food chain, make them a dining delight.


I realize that’s a lengthy answer but you truly did hit on where intellectual bassing should be going in the very near future.  J-mann) 

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