Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday June 18, 09 -- Gloom and rain; Sore stripers; news stuff

Thursday, June 18, 2009: Waves: large, NE – as if you hadn’t guessed.

Do you believe this crap? It is purely lousy out there. If you’re not on the Island, there are serious squalls coming off the ocean -- to the tune of an inch of rain per squall. The wind is also honking, nor’east. Then it looks as if all is done and the clearing has begun when it darkens over the ocean and in an instant you can’t see across the street through the rain. Note: Winds switched to the SE midday – and are honking to 35 mph.

As is often obvious herein, I’m heavily into weather, both as an amateur and semi-officially, via my daily wave reports and rip current updates to the National Weather Service. I don’t keep perfect meteoro-records but I record enough to say, historically, this is now becoming a downright weird June. We’re getting storm systems way more common to winter and early spring. The oddest part: When it rains, it pours. Even the passing showers have been gully washers. What’s more, the south winds have been all but muscled out by northerlies and easterlies. What if anything does all this mean to the upcoming summer? Obviously, it’s a crapshoot predicting long-term skies but I noticed the long-range folks are now calling for a cooler and wetter summer. Oddly, I see indictors of just the opposite: steady heat building in by July, though I also see that high humidity and moisture angle.


It’s a good time to catch up on a couple emails:

Fished all over the island Monday. Started in HC after seeing a 46lber that was caught in the area. I found the bunker right away with big fish busting on them. Unfortunately they stayed out of snagging range. Moved up to LL to wait for the fish and they moved up but still stayed offshore. I left for the South Jetty around dark and I tossed some eels and plugs. Very slow for me and every one I talked to. I think there was too much boat traffic, so there wasn't much of a bite. I was talking with my brother who was in BH and not doing much. I moved to the BH/Holgate border around 11pm.

Got my first bunker chunk in the water at midnight. I didn't even have my second rod baited and I turned around to see my conventional about ready to get pulled off the beach. I fought a monster bluefish to the beach and he bit through my 50lb leader as he was getting rolled in the wash. I didn't get my hands on him to weigh him, but I would say over 15lbs+. I didn't get two rods in the water for an hour as I was getting bit off by bluefish left and right.

Sharks were present as well. The fun didn't get started untill I landed a beast of a smooth dogfish. He was over 50" and he was fat. I gotta check the world record because it was probably close. Anyway's, I pulled the shark up to my gear and I spiked my rod and bent down over the shark to start to remove the hook. Well the circle hook was perfectly in the corner of the mouth and it wasn't coming out by hand. I crouched even lower to grab a pair of pliers off my bucket and WHAM....I'm on my ass in the sand. Pain is rushing across my upper right jaw and orbital bone. My right eye is throbbing and full of wet sand. Turns out, I was dealing with a shark that was going to use "Dirty Saturday Night Wrestling Tactics"! As I leaned over, he swung his tail really hard and connected with my face.......perfectly. I was dazed and confused. I usually report that I release my fish unharmed. This guy was lucky I was in a fairly good mood or he would of ended up as Oriental Dogfish Salad. I tossed him back more unhurt then myself. I haven't been hit that hard since I took a Louisville slugger across the forehead in a pre-game baseball brawl when I was a youngster.
I was lucky in two ways, one, it wasn't a spiny dog...that could of been ugly. Two, I'm glad I was alone without any of my fishing buddies present....they would still be laughing.

Anyhow, I did stay and fish a bit longer and caught a 29-30" striper. Then the bite went stone dead as fast as it turned on. I quit just before the torrential rains came in. I'm off to ice my eye and go to bed.
All for now,
Joe H

“Hi Jay
Had the rare occasion to steal a day and get some fishing in this spring. I guess I missed the big run and my boat (sigh) is still on land in the marina waiting for a part (uggh).
Anyway, fished my usual spots into high tide yesterday without losing a bait. Went to check on boat in holgate, and ended up fishing the jap hole area as the tide started moving out. Missed a good knockdown, then landed two plastic bags and two skates. Hung in there and finally beached a nice 32" bass -about 1 1/2hrs. after high. Fish was very strong and gave a good fight, but when beached I noticed his cheek was kind of eaten out...healed over, but missing all skin and scales in the cheek area on one side. Also the stripes on one side seemed fairly washed out towards the bottom. I caught a good bass last year from these traveling spring stocks ...that had a fairly large red bruise near the tail, have seen a few others like this over the years......have you seen many fish with problems? should we be concerned about eating these? I released mine....what are the "official " reports?...if any..

(Those might well be Chesapeake stock fish suffering from mycobacteriosis. If so, they are the survivors. Many anglers hereabout have caught badly infected bass. It ain’t a pretty sight.

It now seems that a great many of the fish that contract this disease eventually succumb to it, mainly when internal organs become overstressed. One spooky estimate indicates over half of all infected fishes die of the disease. It is an outbreak most likely created by too many fish in a small environmentally-degraded area, as is the case in some portions of the Chesapeake Bay and affiliated waterways.
It sounds as if your fish was healed over, meaning it should be perfectly good to eat. I have definite qualms about eating (mainly handling) bass with open sores, as is sometimes the case with actively diseased fish. I’m sure cooking kills the bacteria but any hand contact with any diseased anything is not a good thing.


Here’s an email from a site regular who always has pointed opinions. He’s responding to weekly blog.

(Reference; Upcoming Save the Reefs meeting)
“Interesting, wouldn't any meeting be better planned for Trenton during a time when our employees are supposed to be there? You could invite them to meet those of us who were stupid enough to think that they would help us. Maybe the Gov could come over and tell us how much it would cost to get rid of those nasty traps. Maybe we could promise to vote for all of them if they get it done pronto. They understand votes, its what feeds their enormous egos.

“No surprise that a white shark was submitted in a tournament. It just proves that too many people have no idea of what they have caught, what the legal limits are, the seasons for keeping certain varieties, or the difference between a female crab with a sac and a normal crab. Nor do they care. "I want mine, to hell with you." seems to be a common mantra these days. Kinda goes along with its easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I guess I'm just remembering the old days.

The boating safety certificate program is a joke. Lots of people don't even know they need to participate to run a boat. Many old-timers think they're exempt for a few more years. I'm more than mildly curious about that boating accident in the Manasquan two weeks ago as to whether the captains had both completed the course. And of course, the topper of all times, two weeks ago I saw a boat that had the red and green lights on the wrong side of the boat!

Speaking of the old days at amusement parks, there was a large funhouse at Rye Amusement Park. Around the edges were benches which had hidden pinching devices between the slats. A guy in a booth could cause you a pain in the butt whenever he wanted. Imagine the lawsuits today?
Ron K.


News releases:
June 18, 2009 -
The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, led by Del. Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU), will hold a legislative hearing this morning at 10 a.m. on H.R. 21 (Farr Bill), which would establish a national policy for our oceans, to strengthen the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to establish a national and regional ocean governance structure, and for other purposes.

Testifying on behalf of the recreational angling community in America is James Donofrio, Executive Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

The Legislative Hearing will be held in Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building in Washington DC, and will be webcast live on the Committee's Web site at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov.

Weird news: Tons of rock goes missing

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services] - June 18, 2009 -
Neal Novak's financial future lay on the ocean floor not far from Alligator Light: 150 tons of rock slowly transforming into a prized commodity -- Until 300,000 pounds of aquacultured live rock vanished.

'They stole my livelihood,' Novak, 51, of Miami said Tuesday. 'This is devastating to my whole family.'

Calculated at a wholesale price of $3 per pound for quality live rock, the loss could easily reach $1 million, he said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office this week asked to hear from anyone who may have seen a boat harvesting the material from the site near Islamorada, which Novak leases from the federal government.

'For the whole site to disappear in a year's time, that's beyond my ability to fathom,' Novak said.

'It cost me almost $150,000 to put the rock down and start the business. I spent my life savings to make this work.'

Live rock is highly desired by owners of saltwater aquariums. Its base is dead coral rock or quarried rock that is burnished by a living layer of marine growth, particularly colorful coraline algae.

Live rock enhances the natural appearance of a marine aquarium and helps stabilize the tank's aquatic environment.

After Florida halted the commercial harvest of 'wild' live rock in the mid-1990s, the state and federal governments agreed to lease barren sea-bottom sites to marine-life specialists who would place rocks for eventual collection, perhaps after three to five years under water.

After getting federal approval to create a live-rock aquaculture site on his quarter-acre site inshore of Alligator Reef in about 20 feet of water, Novak worked for more than two years to place rock trucked in from quarries in south Miami-Dade County.

The rock was transferred to his 24-foot aluminum workboat to be ferried four miles to the site. 'We'd make three trips a day from LaSiesta Marina, carrying 2,500 pounds per trip,' Novak said.

Novak said he built two piles, each with a footprint 'about the size of a house' rising two to three feet off the bottom.

The first pile, started three years ago, was nearing maturity for collection.

Novak finished building the second pile in 2007, then turned to setting up large on-shore aquariums to hold the live rock for direct sale. That took about a year -- and didn't leave him time to visit his underwater farm.

He returned to his site -- designated by GPS coordinates -- to begin harvesting May 5.

'When we couldn't find it, I thought something was wrong with the GPS,' Novak said. 'It took me a day to absorb what happened. It's like a bad dream.'

With no hurricanes affecting the area since 2005, he said, 'The rock should still be there.'

The thieves also mostly targeted the mature pile, leaving more of the newer rocks, he said.

FWC Investigator David Roudebush took the initial report.

'They said this is unheard of on this scale,' Novak said. 'Nobody knows what happened. Why I was targeted, I don't know. Maybe it was the high quality of [base] rock.'

Novak said when he tried to videotape the looted site, he stayed underwater only a few minutes. 'It made my physically sick to think about the financial loss,' he said. 'We could be looking at bankruptcy.'


Swordfish rebuild:

[Gloucester Daily Times] by Dr. Jim Balsiger, Acting Administrator, NMFS- June 18, 2009

Dr. Jim Balsiger has an occasional column in the Gloucester Times where he puts forward ideas of interest to the industry in New England. Today's column deals with the issue of what do you do with success - as the swordfish stocks are rebuilt, but the fishery is not.

Unlike some fish stocks making headlines these days, the Atlantic swordfish is a great success story in rebuilding. Yet the U.S. fleet that fishes for swordfish faces the unique problem of not being able, due to a variety of reasons, to catch its U.S. quota. It is catching only half the base quota.

We're looking for a way to help the swordfishing fleet while continuing to sustain a healthy fish stock and marine ecosystem. The best solutions come from lots of different sources fishermen, managers, scientists and the general public who want healthy marine ecosystems, fresh locally caught seafood and prosperous fishing communities.

Back in the 1970s and into the 1980s, a growing fleet of U.S. longline fishermen were catching increasing numbers of Atlantic swordfish. As the fleet grew, so too did foreign swordfishing around the Atlantic.

Recreational anglers also fish for swordfish, a favorite of both white tablecloth restaurants and family barbecues.

Unsustainable fishing took a toll and the stock plummeted in size in the late 1980s and 1990s. This led the U.S. to work with other fishing nations to bring back the mighty swordfish with a number of measures, including closing areas where young swordfish are abundant and lowering quotas.

U.S. fishermen, many who worked out of New England ports, teamed up with NOAA to develop and test new gear and methods that would dramatically lower the deadly catch of sea turtles in swordfish longlines and help better protect the marine ecosystem.

These efforts continue today. They include training programs for U.S fishermen on how to use circle hooks, which do not damage turtles like J-shaped hooks, and how to release turtles that are accidentally caught on the line.

Swordfishermen also use different types of bait to help prevent catching turtles.

By 2002, our scientists began to see swordfish stocks were rebounding. Today, while we wait for the next scientific stock assessment, we believe it will show a rebuilt stock and a great success story.

But there are still some significant challenges. As U.S. fishermen have become leaders in sustainably fishing for swordfish, many foreign fishermen have not adopted the same fishing gear and techniques and do not work to reduce the amount of turtles or other species accidentally killed in their fishing operations. Some foreign fleets also receive subsidies from their government and have lower labor costs than U.S. fleets. They spend less catching more swordfish without protecting the marine ecosystem and then are able to undersell the swordfish caught by our fishermen in the marketplace.

Our conservation standards and the economics of swordfishing for the U.S. fleet have contributed to a reduction in the size of the U.S. fleet from 400 vessels in the 1980s to roughly 100 today.

Those in the swordfishing fleet, including Gail Johnson of Harpswell, Maine and Jim Budi who co-owns a swordfish vessel that lands fish in Fairhaven, Mass., have told NOAA that we need to get those who export to the U.S. to follow the same conservation rules that our fishermen have pioneered.

We know there's a market for swordfish in the U.S. because we import about 20 million pounds a year, valued at close to $77 million last year. U.S. fishermen landed 3.5 million pounds of our 6.5 million pound quota last year.

We should be supplying a greater share of the market. Consumers can help by looking for, asking for and buying U.S. caught swordfish at their local store or fish counter.

NOAA wants to find more ways to help our fleet catch more of the U.S. quota. This summer, we are holding a series of public meetings to listen to suggestions from fishermen and the general public about how to better manage swordfish as well as bluefin tuna, another valuable species managed internationally. I plan to write about bluefin tuna in an upcoming column.

To learn more about the public meetings which will be held from June 23 to July 28, from Massachusetts to Louisiana, go to our Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms.

The public meeting in Massachusetts is June 29 at the Radisson Hotel in Plymouth from 5 to 9 p.m. I welcome your comments on swordfish or other issues.

Please send them to me at public.concerns.groundfish@noaa.gov. Jim Balsiger is acting assistant administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service, based in Silver Spring, Md.

To see more of the Gloucester Daily Times or to subscribe, go to http://www.gloucestertimes.com/.


World’s deadliest job claims another:

[ The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA)] June 17, 2009 - PLYMOUTH - A veteran commercial fisherman was killed when a piece of equipment broke on his boat off Plymouth's Gurnet Point.

Paul Pinto, 55, died at 4:41 p.m. last Friday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, spokesman Arch MacInnes said.

At 3:05 p.m. Thursday, the Plymouth harbormaster received a distress call in which a crew member on the boat said the captain had suffered a severe head injury. Pinto had been struck in the head when a pulley mechanism for the fishing boat's dredge broke.

Friends at Plymouth's Town Wharf said another Plymouth fisherman was severely injured in a similar accident about 20 years ago.

The Coast Guard dispatched a 25-foot response boat from Scituate and diverted two helicopters that were on a training exercise off Gloucester and Newburyport, Coast Guard Lt. Kate Higgins-Bloom said. The boat was the first to arrive at the scene, followed by the helicopters, she said. One of the helicopters lowered a litter to pick up the injured fisherman.

'Due to the layout of the vessel, they had to drop the litter into the water,' Higgins-Bloom said. Two rescue swimmers from the helicopter and crew members from the boat helped bring the litter onto the boat.

Pinto was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital at about 4 p.m., Higgins-Bloom said.

Coast Guard members remained with the fishing boat to help calm the distraught crew member and to assist the Plymouth harbormaster in escorting the vessel back to port, she said.


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