Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Saturday, March 19, 2011:

Amazing days, all things considered -- namely, how recently it had been cold and junky out there and how soon it might well be cold and junky again. That could-be cold crap is scheduled for later in the week. In the interim it’s manly early springish, before the possibility of a few white flakes mixed in with a late-week cold rain.

I got a goodly dose of outdoors yesterday and today, with yesterday seeing me do some minor pickereling. I was working winter waters near Chatsworth – an area that sees the waters gets real low when the bogs are emptied (soon). I had the typical small attack-anything chainys going for my spinners. By the by, I once heard a Piney called them “chaineys” so I flick that odd nickname out there now and again. I was using spinners – and not my favorite Heddon torpedoes -- because the area has very little bottom vegetation, seeing its not an actual bog but something of a reservoir area near the bogs. One of the huge advantages of a torpedo is its flotation, so you can throw it into just a few inches of water, places where a spinner would sink and hang up before you could even flick the bail and get it moving. This site was forgiving, and the pickerel so small, a minor Mepp’s spinner was the smarter presentation. I was a bit surprised to see a water snake already out and sunning. Obviously, it was hoping to take advantage of the noisy showing of frogs, primarily the larger wood frogs. 

There was also a disturbing mass awakening in virtually every portion of wooded area I’ve visited of late. Ticks. Worse, deer ticks. After an amazingly low showing of ticks last year, this year is seemingly making up for lost bloodsucking time. That’s doubly bad news for me, not only because I’m out there more than anyone you know but because those damn small ticks are far more inclined to hang in clothing long enough to make it indoors. Even though I place all daily clothes directly into the washing machine -- and go hot and soapy on them – even one of two deer ticks making themselves at home can eventually find skin. I’ve heard that in some areas of the Pines, over half of all deer ticks carry Lyme disease. By the by, that doesn’t mean you have a 50 percent chance of contracting this nasty disease, should a tick bore its head into you. There is the need for the ticks to hang on for at least 24 hours, along with your body’s ability (or lack of same) to fight the spirochete carrying the illness. Still, it’s a bitch having to be constantly on-guard. For me, I have an antibody gift: when a tick latches onto me, it begins itching within hours – plenty of time to remove, torture and finally destroy.

Local note:  Longer poles are coming to win us. Sounds a bit like a song by the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens – before becoming Yusuf Islam and going Jihad on us.  Anyway, along the south side of Rte. 72 from roughly the Rte. 9 overpass all the way to the first Causeway bridge toward LBI, are huge wooden utility poles, lying intermittently on the easements just beyond the highway’s shoulders. These are some big-ass poles, ready to be righted into place in coming weeks. The poles are a goodly bit larger than the standing ones, which have stood their ground for a solid 50 years. This wood-in-waiting is actually a good sign, sorta. It means we won’t be getting those hulking massive rusty steel utility poles that were recently erected along Rte. 72 from the Parkway to just past Rte 9 overpass -- hideous-looking monsters, advertising overdevelopment and total disregard for the one-time quaintness of the bayside community known as Manahawkin. It’s unknown what disruptions might arise as the new poles are first married to the existing poles, before the old ones are uprooted and removed. The contractors have that pole switchover thing down to a science so I imagine nothing like blackouts will occur. Maybe a bit optimistic.


JOHN OSWALD -ÊMarch 18, 2011

The Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund has every reason to feel good about what its done to improve summer flounder quotas.

According to the SSFFF, since 2009, when anglers were faced with the almost certain prospect of going without a recreational fishery, anglers have enjoyed an 87 percent increase in quotas as a direct result of research funded by the organization.

'Increases in the summer flounder quota for the third consecutive year are finally leading to coastwide improvements in regulations. The key to the recent quota increases has been comprehensive stock assessment information derived from independent scientific studies commissioned and fully funded by the SSFFF,' Greg Hueth a member of the SSFFF Board of Directors and president of the Shark River Surf Anglers said.

The fruits of SSFFF's labor should be even more fully realized this year as liberalized regulations for summer flounder are expected to be announced next month. The meeting to set the season, size and bag limits will be April 7 in Galloway Township. Among the options being considered is a season from May 2 to Sept. 30 with six fish at 18 inches. Such an extended season would be welcomed by shore anglers fishing for fluke.

Hueth points to the hiring of internationally renowned fisheries biologist, Dr. Mark Maunder, a recognized specialist in stock assessments and computer modeling as the key factor in the fight to save the fishery.

Dr. Maunder's comprehensive study investigated natural mortality and the impact of the stock's gender composition on summer flounder recruitment.

His work was subsequently peer-reviewed and accepted by NMFS as the best and most updated available science on the summer flounder stock.
This was the first time that a scientific research initiative - one wholly funded by recreational anglers — has been accepted and incorporated into the regulatory process, and is a direct result of SSFFF intervention and the generosity of the sport fishing community. Summer flounder stocks are currently estimated to be the largest ever recorded since such measurements began some 40 years ago.

'Instead of facing a complete closure of the recreational fishery, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's (MAFMC) 30 percent increase in quota for 2011 is a continued sign of the benefit of having accurate scientific information. This quota increase yielded a net 87 percent increase in quota since 2009.' Capt. Tony Bogan, one of the founders of SSFFF and a member of United Boatmen, said.

Going forward, the SSFFF will work to revamp the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey and bring changes to the Sustainable Fisheries Act that will allow more flexibility.

'There is no simple solution to these problems, but rather the combined efforts of all must continue to be focused on multiple fronts. The recreational fishing industry and all saltwater anglers must continue to lobby their legislators for better science, more accurate MRFSS data, and most importantly, more equitable laws that manage our fisheries,' Dave Arbeitman, of the SSFFF added.

In recognition of a difficult economy, SSFFF has decided to forgo a 2011 fundraising dinner, Hueth said.

'There is currently enough funding in the treasury to complete the studies that have been commissioned and with that in mind, we will not seek additional funding at this time. In the future, we will reach out to our supporters as needed. '

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