Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Sunday, November 08, 2015: As I had thought, the winds never really got honkin,

Here's the trouble with troughs. Trying to get closer to the fishes. 


Below: Don't give up you US post office service just yet: 

Sunday, November 08, 2015: As I had thought, the winds never really got honkin,’ which made for fine weekend angling. I’m actually going to back off reports regarding boat bassing except to say there have been moments when it’s like shooting dead ducks in a barrel. Yes, I’m getting the expected gripes from those claiming the taking of big bass is way too high. It’s the first fish we’ve had in months yet somehow we’re immediately abusing the biomass.

Further down you will read a legit commentary on highly improper, make that highly illegal interplay between whales and whale-watchers/chasers. It is no longer exclusively anglers rubbing shoulders with humpback whales. Captains are foregoing fishing to transport whaleaphiles out to get up as close and personal as humanely possible to the huge marine mammals; literally chasing them down – and risking making contact. Methinks the feds might get involved soon since it is illegal to harass marine mammals. And you don’t want to get cited for same since it entails a trip to federal court. Very inconvenient … and potentially costly.

Below: And this does happen ...

At the very same time, if you’re fishing and whales happen to saunter on-scene, enjoy the session. That’s a gift from nature – and fully legal.


 I plugged a lot and caught naught … or is it not. The odd part was I felt there were fish in the water, though that might be just knowing what the boats have been doing. I see a few more surf-caught bass and blues have come to the scales. Harold McMaster took a couple slammer on plugs. It gets no more fun than that. His biggest was 10/14, 33 inches.

We have also gone above what I consider the prestigious 600-entrant mark (629) in the LBI Surf Fishing Classic. The ting is there is plenty of time left in the event; almost a whole month of prime time fall angling. There is tons of money and prizes left.

Also have to share the skunk reports: 

Louis Fudali 

I just got back from LBI, I fished the Beach Haven surf. I put 8 hrs in/ fished bunker. Perfect weather, perfect water, perfect tides. I saw no bait,no birds no skates, no doggies, no nothing. Other than that I had a really great day. Thats what fishing is all about, it was really beautiful


The bite from this week went 100 to 0 really quick. Had to put in time today and after 9 hours with a quiet ocean and pouring rain the reel went screaming. Awesome surprise, just goes to show never ever give up.

Daniel DiPasquale's photo.
Daniel DiPasquale's photo.
Lisa Tiger with John Herman and Trip van Roden
Great morning for fishing for stripers on LBI. Got some keepers!!
Lisa Tiger's photo.

GOING GONZO WITH PLUG COLORS: There was a question on a tackle shop website asking why lure designers go so balls out painting plugs when, says one critic, “All the fish see are the white bottoms of the plugs.” Another whiner added, “Some of these plug colors are nothing like nature has.”

Sure, there’s tinges of truth mixed in there … at least on first blush.

Gamefish do, in fact, see primarily the belly whiteness of most surface-swimming plugs. But that’s also exactly what they see when eyeballing for-real forage fish up above. Therefore, the light underside on most artificials is spot-on. But when it comes to the colors above the belly, there are a ton of tones that come to light in the complex game of plug versus gamefish. It’s all how you – and the fish – look at it.  

First off, virtually no plug hides its sides. All of them tilt one way, then the other, when retrieved; many wildly so. Hell, even the idiot action of a needlefish plug offers enough side twists to flash some side color. Obviously, deep-diving and sinking plugs dramatically display the full color Monty when retrieved, which plug designers bank on.  

That brings up the question of the latest in plug coloring, which has now gone wonderfully ballistic throughout the emergent plug-building realm.

There is no question that the closer a plug’s coloring resembles what a gamefish is accustomed to seeing, the more convincing the artificial seemingly becomes. That adds mustard to the question about odd, fanciful and decidedly unnatural hues and shades applied by many a creative plugmaker. To be sure, those colors are pigments of their imagination. Even nature might wonder WTF!?

Jeremy Oberick

This is where science might add some light. Technically, there is the lack of a hue-on-hue equality between what mankind sees above water and what fishkind sees down below. Water is a masterful twister of hues.

Via something called attenuation, colors in the water literally mutate due to refraction and also suspended particulates that impact visibility. No doubt, what we see is not what the fish get. For instance, a bright shade of, say, top-water yellow can be muted into little more than a weak tan color in a down-below environment.  

Slacktide Tackle Company

This is not to say color doesn’t matter. It simply means it almost always has a different look from a fisheye view. In fact, a plug can literally change color before a gamefish’s eyes, as it dives deeper, passes through more turbid water, or, mixes in with suds from breaking waves. That last factor is huge for pluggers who work the surf. Suds can actually work wonders by changing a plug’s shading, until it hits a hue that strikes a gamefish’s fancy.

It’s when factoring in all the color conversions that can take place in varying water conditions that a plugmaker’s coloring creativity might be just what the fish doctor ordered.

Be it through the luck of imaginative guessing or an effort to scientifically second guess what subsurface colorations might look like, seemingly wild and woolly plug colors -- including the craziest tints from who-knows-where – just might come across in a delectable-looking tone for a hungry gamefish.

To be sure, mimicking the color and patterns of famed forage fish is still the surest  way to match the hatch; coloring a plug to match what’s swimming around out there. But designing a plug with colors totally out of the blue could just as effectively translate into subsurface hues that remind a trophy gamefish of something colorfully tasty it once ate.  

I realize this entire concept of what color works is absolutely nothing new to anglers. It’s been constantly proven that certain colors work better on certain day.  The fun part has become experimenting with fanciful hues that just might hit home when every other shade is coming up gray.  


Here's an Op-Ed piece from a top photographer and dedicated naturalist. 



There’ll be no photos with this post tonight. And that’s a sad, sad thing because today I shot three of the most epic, most perfect, most amazing photos of humans interacting with creatures on LBI probably ever taken. Gorily detailed captures of light fishing vessels recklessly joy riding right up on top blowing Humpback Whales, right off LBI’s Beaches, Captains all smiles while the passengers point, snap pics, and squeal with delight. I got about 75 of these today, and two hours of epic video, all of which has gone in the trash.

As perfect as these photos are, and as much as they capture all the joy, the pain, the conflict, the good, the bad, the ugly, the everything about humans and creatures sharing the Shore, there is no way I would ever show these to anyone. Even though the sad predicament of the animal and the ghoulish glee of the people juxtaposed is just stunning, stunning stuff, every detail of the scene is on display including boat names, VIN numbers… even the Captain and crew are identifiable. But I’m not a narc. People far more knowledgeable than me get paid to enforce the law. Second, what is perhaps most sad, is that if the Captains of these vessels saw these images, they would probably proudly post them to Facebook right away because they are so perfect.

But then, the first comments would roll in…. “Isn’t that dangerous???”….. “Oh, that poor Whale!”…. “That’s awful!” Before anyone knew what happened, these regular folks would wind up like that Dentist who shot that Lion. And the great Internet would cast its Judgement with great vengeance and furious anger. I think it would hard for the subjects to see just how awful they look to the outside world. It is actually embarrassing.

And perhaps most distressing to me, is that the best part of the whole scene would get overlooked in the mayhem of the ethical debates that would ensue. It was the thing that kept me shooting and watching the scene all afternoon. That thing was the fact that these folks were being made complete fools of by the Whales. The Humpbacks were desperately trying to get back in the action and back to their dramatic lunge feeding, and would have given these boats the most epic experiences of their lives, but the boats kept chasing them away and getting out maneuvered by the Humpbacks. Then the Captain would give up, the Whale would get back to feeding, and the next boat would come along and start the whole cycle again. It was truly comical.

I’m no Immanuel Kant. I do spend a lot of time hanging around wild animals. It is hard not to start caring about their welfare after you start seeing first hand the tiny details and dramas of their hidden lives. But I do think that much of the debate about human/wildlife ethics that takes place out there, especially in the Internet’s thin one-liner comment sections, is grotesquely over simplified at best, and extremely dangerous at worst, and almost certainly counterproductive. Like most complicated abstractions in the modern world (think Politics or Religion) the debate has become too polarized. Those people are bad, and we are good. And of course, “we” are always on the good side.

But the reality is that wildlife ethics is less about rules and absolutes, and more about experience and judgement. For each individual, it is a learning thing. For every real-world, applicable experience, there is variance and subtlety. It’s dynamic, and evolutional. An artist will often look at work he or she did even a year ago and think “Ugggh. What was I thinking. That’s awful!” Behaving like good people around wild animals is the same kind of thing. In wildlife photography, there are not really, innately “good photographers” and “bad photographers”… just generally good people with differing levels of experience and understanding. Those on a good path will know it when each year their judgement gets better and they grow. If you look back on whatever you did last year and think, “Jeez, I was a jerk,” then you are probably on a good path. If you catch yourself thinking “Look at those people. If only they acted like me everything would be fine!” then you probably have a tremendous blind spot and someone, somewhere, is leaving an Internet comment about the “bad guys” and picturing your face as they type.

I refuse to throw the 7 different Captains I watched grossly violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act today under the bus because I am pretty sure they are not horrible people. In fact, they are probably awesome people. Even more so, they probably love animals, and they probably tried to get closer because they were as enthusiastic and giddy as some of us are. They certainly used poor judgement in relation to the Law, and also in relation to Common Sense in terms of the animal’s welfare (and in a couple instances, the welfare of their craft!)

But what caught my attention the most was what poor judgement they used in regards to their own self-interest. That is what was so remarkable about the whole scene. If they had just stayed put on the Bunker, thus obeying the Law and Common Sense, they would have gotten exactly what they were seeking: an incredible view and incredible pictures of the Humpback Whales. Instead, they chased off perfectly good opportunities and got nothing but a few cheap blow shots from fleeing animals that found them annoying.

I’m particularly sympathetic to this, because this applies to photography as well. People make the same mistake at Holgate with the Snow Owls, all the time. I’ve done one million similar stupid things myself. While wildlife photographers have an enormous responsibility to continually develop good judgement regarding the welfare of their subjects, the truth is, many ethical dilemmas are easily overcome when photographers just focus on their own self interest. I’ve botched more of my own best shots by using bad judgement in the field, mostly in trying to get too close at the wrong time.

I’m also sympathetic to Anglers, because in the end, Beach Wildlife Photography & Fishing are basically the exact same hobby, just different gear and different subjects. We’re both out there every free chance we get, spending hours of dead time waiting for those few magic moments of sudden surprise in the wild that make it all worthwhile.

But trashing these photos tonight was painful, and has tested the limits of my sympathy & generosity. I’m not sure if I will be able to do this again. Still I’d  bet these Captains are good people and not deserving of the shame, the fines, and all the hype that would be heaped upon them when these photos went viral, all because they got a little too excited when a Humpback murderballed them on a Sunday afternoon.

Beyond the legal and ethical issues, I encourage all boat Captains to simply think about their own self interest. The lessons I’ve learned from taking pictures of the surprising wild things that pop up around the Island are to be patient, to set yourself up as well as you can, don’t chase too much, and realize the best experiences are brief so know to say enough is enough even when it feels like you still want more. If you chased a Whale by boat today and happen to be reading this, your VIN is safe, my photos are deleted. But do reflect on how you looked to the folks on the Beach. You looked a little like a child throwing rocks at a dog to get it to pay attention to him. It’s both cruel, and embarrassing. But I tell you, it was funny, like Charile Chaplin Movie kind-of funny, to watch the Whales totally outsmarting boats full of people.

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Comment by skunked on November 9, 2015 at 10:50am


I suggest you publish this "Op-Ed piece" in the Sand Paper.

It deserves to be picked up by the news agencies and big city papers.

How about identifying; i.e. giving credit to, the author-photographer.

Comment by Dave Nederostek on November 10, 2015 at 6:12pm

Readings From the North side. Knowing how the author cares for his subjects, what he saw must have been pretty bad.


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