Thursday, November 27, 2008: Waves: 1-2 feet.
-Happy Thanks-for-everything Day. I got my striper but now need another since I have a second T-day event on Saturday.
The beaches will be heavily tested today so maybe someone will find the pockets of stripers out there. Many slow (to skunk) reports are working their way to my desk. However, the sharpies are still finding small bass by working one jetty then another. The use of metals is to the exclusion of other plugs, not the best thing when bass are being finicky. I think it’s time to also try slow swimming black Bombers. Late-day is often the best (only?) chance fort surfcasters. Boat angler reports are all over the board. Those into fish are talking significant action but there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground since those finding nothing can’t raise a touch. Not that the year hasn’t been odd enough already but the lack of widespread (all inclusive) schoolies by now is quite unlike recent falls. Still plenty of time – plus a goodly amount of action is taking place deep in the bay so maybe the schooling fall bass have yet to congeal.
Artificial note: Plastic eel look-alikes are working well, likely a fishing-from-the-hatch relationship to the massive sand eel showing this year. I notice Fisherman’s HDQ is seeing a high demand for Rigged Vision 6-inch Surf Eels. With the blues gone, I’ll bet rigged eels (on tin squids) would be fun -- in an old-fashioned way.
Togging is slow near the beachline, per a couple triers. I had some luck during a short late-day run, finding a couple larger takes using sandcrabs right as the sun went down. I fished from the beach (high tide), casting parallel to the rocks – almost on them. I had action when I switched from a hook on the tag end (bottom laying) to placing a one-ounce sinker on the tag end and hanging the 1/0 hook on a dropper loop about 18 inches up from the sinker, fishing up the water column a bit.
Thought I'd follow up to let you know that I couldn't locate the tog. Fished Holyoke and BL rocks on the incoming yesterday afternoon. Sure was a nice day to be out. Fortunately I got into some on a party boat out of Belmar on Monday... Jeff”
From the wires:
November 26, 2008 - WASHINGTON, The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration issued the following press release:
Despite a strong U.S. proposal to conserve bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas failed today to heed scientific advice and adopt measures that would end overfishing and put this species on the path to recovery.
However, the commission adopted a strong measure, championed by the United States, to rebuild the western Atlantic bluefin tuna stock, the stock harvested by U.S. fishermen. The catch level for the western Atlantic stock was reduced from 2,100 metric tons to 1,800 metric tons by the year 2010. This stock is also fished by Canada, Mexico, and Japan.
The much larger eastern and Mediterranean stock mixes with the western stock. Conservation of the species depends on science based management and effective compliance with the rules on both sides of the ocean.
The U.S. delegation to the meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, urged the international body of 45 nations and the European Commission to cut catch levels for the much larger eastern and Mediterranean bluefin tuna stock from about 29,000 metric tons to 15,000 metric tons to comply with what an international panel of scientists have recommended to end overfishing and allow the stock to recover.
'I am extremely disappointed with the results of this meeting,' said Dr. Rebecca Lent, the head of the U.S. Delegation and director of International Affairs at NOAA's Fisheries Service. 'While the Commission followed the recommendation to reduce catch levels for the western stock consistent with the science, it continues to put the species as a whole in jeopardy by authorizing excessive fishing levels on the eastern stock.'
Although the final measure for eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna fails to fully achieve U.S. objectives, the plan that was adopted by the Commission will reduce mortality and improve monitoring and control of the fishery through new reporting requirements, measures that seek to reduce overcapacity and rationalize the fishery, and establishment of an ICCAT regional observer program.
The United States met a major meeting objective to extend, for an additional year, strong management measures for North Atlantic swordfish. This will provide additional time to revitalize the swordfish stock and allow any new management measures to be based on the most recent stock assessment, which will be completed in 2009. In addition, a commitment was secured to analyze and implement fishing closures to protect juvenile bigeye tuna by 2010, pending scientific advice.
The Commission also took up several shark conservation proposals. With U.S. support, a measure was adopted that would require live release of bigeye thresher sharks, a species that is the most vulnerable of the top 10 species of concern that were evaluated by the international commission's science committee. U.S. fisheries are already subject to this requirement under domestic regulations.
November 26, 2008 - KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A maritime official says a ship sunk by the Indian navy last week near Somalia was a Thai fishing trawler, not a pirate boat as originally reported.
Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau says one Thai crew member died when the Indian ship fired on the boat in the Gulf of Aden on Nov. 18. He says 14 other crew members remain missing while a Cambodian sailor was rescued four days later by passing fishermen.
Choong said Wednesday that the IMB received a report on the apparent mistake late Tuesday from Bangkok-based Sirichai Fisheries, which owned the Ekawat Nava5 vessel.
India's navy last week said its frigate INS Tabar battled a pirate 'mother vessel' in the gulf, setting the ship ablaze.
The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, Norfolk, VA] - NovemberNov 26, 2008 -Newport News, After hearing arguments about the big nets, slated in an area popular with boaters, swimmers and tourists near the Lynnhaven Inlet and Cape Henry, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted unanimously to reject them.
'When you balance everything out, I don't think this is in the public interest,' said Rick Robins, a commission member from Suffolk.
Two other pound nets, each about 1,200 feet long, also are proposed for the vicinity by different fishermen.
But the structures - wood pilings with a series of mesh chambers strung between them - face similar opposition and seem headed for defeat when the commission considers them next month or in January, several staff members said.
The biggest concern about allowing more nets in the area - four exist there now - is their potential effect on bottle-nosed dolphins.
Mark Swingle, director of research and conservation at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, said at least 40 dolphins have died after entangling in existing pound nets along those beaches in the past 10 years.
He described the waters under consideration at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay as hosting some of the densest populations of dolphins on the East Coast during summer months.
If more nets were allowed, Swingle said, federal regulators probably would intervene and impose new pound-netting limits to protect dolphins in all of Virginia waters.
The vote Tuesday ended a month of meetings and anxiety among several Bayfront communities. Residents said they found out about the nets from a small legal ad in the newspaper.
Under state rules, property owners who live within 500 yards of a proposed pound net must receive a public notice. But one net would have been 501 yards from shore, the other about 1,600 yards. So no notices were sent .
'If we had known earlier, I think your mail boxes would have been overflowing,' waterfront resident Lisa Bailey told the commission.
Bailey said the Shore Drive area has boomed with condominiums, businesses and recreational opportunities.
This new landscape, she said , is not the place for heavy commercial-fishing activity. City Councilman Jim Wood agreed, as did hotel operators, condo associations, civic groups and environmentalists.
Dirk Sanford, a commercial fisherman who also lives in the area , requested permits for the two nets.
He said 'lots of misinformation' about pound nets, their threats to marine life and his business intentions have been spread in recent days.
Sanford said he may install smaller nets that do not require public hearings. He said Virginia Beach would benefit from more fresh fish for sale, more jobs for struggling watermen and a continuation of a fishing practice that has existed for decades.
[Cape Ann Beacon] By Doreen Leggett/GateHouse News Service
Nov. 26, 2008 - Chatham - Giant tuna have been in short supply off Cape Cod in recent years. In early October there was a bit of a bite, and a number of locals and out-of-towners took advantage and then went home or put their boats away.
Then whammo! said Jimmy Fallon, a computer guru who is hooked on tuna fishing.
The weekend after the presidential election, giants galore appeared off Chatham: huge schools of bluefin tuna that, according to the fish stories, were virtually throwing themselves into boats.
Some guys were catching tuna that reached upward of 1,200 pounds, and at $10 to $17 a pound, depending on several criteria (size, shape, color, fat content and general appearance), that's a pretty tidy sum of money.
What was even better, said Fallon, is that those trolling the waters in the tuna rush were all local, and most were commercial fishermen who are looking at a long, hard winter ahead.
Guys are giddy, Fallon said. We haven't had this kind of bite this close to Chatham in a very long time.
What just happened is pretty much unheard of, agreed fish buyer Robert Fitzpatrick of Magura America Inc. It's a good shot in the arm.
His company, one of several on the Cape, has brokered 98 tuna from the so-called Chatham bite, sending the chilled headless, tailless, finless fish through Federal Express out of Logan Airport, or trucking them to New York's JFK airport to get a passenger flight to Japan. Either way they arrive at auctions overseas a few short days after they leave the water. Some remain in the United States for markets in Los Angeles, New York and Boston.
The excitement at the fish pier and docks at Stage Harbor was reminiscent of a decade ago when boats waited in line to unload their catch and crowds would descend to see the huge fish hoisted up to be measured and weighed. The tuna that arrived in the summer and stayed for a while were once a big part of the economy around the elbow of the Cape. Even small groceries and sub shops near the waterfront were able to thrive in the early fall because of the crowds and the cash.
The giants were dubbed Toyotas because fishermen were able to buy a foreign truck with the money they earned from the sale.
But the tuna bonanza began to drop off by 2000 and by 2003 it was difficult to find any of the giants around.
It's been horrific, said Fitzpatrick, who has been in the tuna buying business since 1991, but recently had to diversify because fishermen weren't catching enough of the fish.
This year things were looking up even before the recent bite, he said. His company had already sold about 250 fish, which is much better than in recent years. That number doesn't compare to the 1,000 or so it sold in the company's heyday. Some say the absence of tuna is due to the depletion of herring, a favorite food of the blue fin, by large factory trawlers that suck up legions of the fish. Others point to the growing number of dogfish, which are protected by regulations and compete for the bait. Still others say it is a combination of factors, but all agree big tuna has been in short supply here.
If you didn't look at Canada you'd say the fish have disappeared, said Molly Lutcavage, of the Large Pelagic Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.
She has been studying tuna for years and noticed that although the fish over the Hague Line in United States waters were small, those in Canada were getting larger.
So there may be a change in distribution, she said, adding that question is one of many about the fascinating fish that her team is trying to answer through pop-up tags and cooperation with fishermen.
Overfishing has also been a problem. Eastern nations, around the Mediterranean Sea, are decimating their tuna populations, which no doubt affects our fish, said Lutcuvage.
An International Convention of Atlantic Tuna, ICAT, meeting, which started this week, was expected to rein in fishing in the east. The west, including the United States and Canada, has had stringent controls in place for years.
Overfishing is not occurring in the west, she said, adding that fishermen have barely caught 20 percent of the quota in recent years.
Locally, the shift in population could be related to a change in food availability for the fish at the top of the food chain, and to buttress that theory local tuna fishermen point out that mid-water herring trawl pairs are banned in Canada.
This year it seemed that finding quality bait in the area was no problem for the tuna. A November bite is atypical said Lutcavage, but the season has been a little weird as well, adds Bob Prescott, director of Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
The water is still warm and there is a ton of bait, he said. I think it was a late season all around.
There's a lot of saury Ð a long, slender, silver fish Ð in the area as well as squid and a few other tuna tasties, Prescott explained, adding that butterfish, which can arrive on Cape as early as late July, didn't show until the last week in August.
Tuna don't have to be out of here, he said. If there is food to be had they'll stay.
It's just a feeding frenzy, he said.