Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, January 19, 2021:Sorry to start on such a downer note but you really should read this.


Just got this cool pic of which I think are squid bites taken out of a type of scad. I know there will be a load of other theories amongst folks but I happened to have seen, first hand, the marks left by squids, much like these.

Seals bites don't resemble these at all. 

"Jill sent Today at 4:15 PM

"Sending you a pic of a fish with some fang marks!

"About a dozen beheaded on the beach in Loveladies
This one had just washed up."
(Note: If you can hit "Like" at the bottom of the page, or not, it helps me figure what is worth writing about. Thanx ... even for dislikes ... kinda. 
Tuesday, January 19, 2021: Sorry to start on such a downer note but you really should read down below info. 

Having lost three people I know to COVID in just 10 days -- having previously lost one over 10 months -- I'm offering this for the welfare of my blog family.

Read closely and then I'll blog a bit -- not ad nauseum, I promise:

At a virtual press conference held by the WHO, officials warned there is no guarantee that COVID-19 vaccines will prevent people from being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and transmitting it to other people.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reinforced the WHO’s admission that health officials do not know if COVID-19 vaccines prevent infection or if people can spread the virus to others after getting vaccinated.

According to U.S. and WHO health officials, vaccinated persons still need to mask and social distance because they could be able to spread the new coronavirus to others without knowing it.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization in December 2020 for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna to release their experimental mRNA vaccines for use in the U.S., the companies only provided evidence from clinical trials to demonstrate that, compared to unvaccinated trial participants, their vaccines prevented more mild to severe COVID-19 disease symptoms in vaccinated participants.

The companies did not investigate whether the vaccines prevent people from becoming asymptomatically infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and/or transmitting it to other people.

The above is absolutely not a denunciation of vaccinating. It is based far more on a right-to-know and also an empathic need-to-know. As one Malcolm X said, "Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today"

I had been advised about the arriving oft-hard-frozen vaccines being most useful as a means to POSSIBLY reduce the symptoms, keeping suffers out of ventilators. That alone is huge in  a tomorrow way!

Admittedly, such a concept amounts to living with COVID far more wiping it out, as was accomplished with vaccines against polio, smallpox, etc.  But, for now, we should be willing to take what we can get, i.e., fight the good antibody fight.

What we cannot ignore is the stark reality that current vaccines are not out to kill – or are they capable of killing -- the virus.

Though the notion of herd immunity has seemingly been done to death – admittedly a bad choice of word -- it looks more and more likely that is the long run cure – cure being the perfect word.

How long might mass immunity take to present within the bodies of one and all? In a perfect world, maybe a decade -- possibly quicker if the Spanish flu was any indication. However, adjusting for mutations, already rearing their ugly little heads, it could be many decades before all is thoroughly safe, as in mask-free.

I’ll now add a dose of my chronic deep-inside upbeatness by admitting I see a blinding-burst cure. A Eureka instant. Some scientist among scientists comes up with a novel cure, one as novel as the virus.

Defining Your Eureka Moment in Business - Mycorporation

Most of the greatest cures of all time have come via quantum leaps. A sudden COVID cure will lead to the world filling the streets in celebration, throwing off masks and kissing the nearest person, WWII-style. Maybe we'll harmonize to “Here Comes the Sun.” (Yep, George wrote it.) 

Category: Here Comes The Sun


FOLLOW ME HERE: I realize not everyone wants to follow my obsessed footsteps when it comes to tracking wildlife, but I like to occasionally share some of my more interesting reads, i.e. tracks.

This past Friday, I came across a chain of deep dog tracks, two miles in, bayside Holgate. They were, at once, an easy and confusing read.

Below is a photo of large fresh prints belonging to a sizeable, domesticated canine, a family pet of the highest well-fed order. However, there were absolutely no accompanying human footprints anywhere nearby – or a goodly distance away. This was clearly a dog off on its own, surely marking a time of panic for its owners.

Below: Notice the telling width of the print -- along with the obvious non-coyote weight of the track maker.

Dog Tracks vs Coyote Tracks | Coyote tracks, Predator hunting, Animal tracks

Hey, dogs do get out, as evidenced by the veritable mantra within homes, “Don’t let the dog out!” -- or, in Baha Men song form, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”  

In this case, the sudden free-roamer’s prints offered the makings of a tracking story, at least by my read: This family pet had snuck out for a defiant romp. There’s a decent chance it was doggone familiar with the Refuge’s delightful open spaces. Recollections were spurred with every door opening -- and the scent of undeveloped terrain. The draw of those wilds overcame the fear of admonishment upon returning home.

Getting even more forensic, I’m wondering if there might have been an even stronger primordial call wafting in the wind. It’s the time of year when lady coyotes hormonally call out to males, in a sinfully scentful manner. It’s well known that a coyote -- or a few -- are in the Holgate ‘hood.  

To be sure, a coyote gal seeks partners of a distinct coyote ilk. Her scents aren’t meant to draw in humanly domesticated lovers. But don’t try to tell that to an unfettered Mr. Boundaround. 

That said, there's a slim chance that the frolicking dog is a female, just out for the run of it. I’ll bet the garvey this was a male dog -- and on a direct-line mission, per his tracks. 

And what if the runaround hound becomes a lucky dog, locating a wild canine damsel in desire? Less than one might think. While there are many incidences of mixed coyote/dog offspring, called coydogs, they are rare.

Coydog | Coyote Dog Mix ~ Behavaiour, Info, Sound, Pictures

According to the Urban Coyote Research Project, “Genetic surveys of wild coyotes have rarely documented evidence of dogs in the genetic makeup of coyotes, despite domestic dogs and coyotes sharing the continent for the past 9,000 years.”

However, when human hands come into play, anything is coydogishly possible. According to a research report titled “Dog-wolf hybrid biotype reconstruction from the archaeological city of Teotihuacan in prehispanic central Mexico,” mixing wild and domesticated canine made for some serious guard dogs.

“Coydogs were deliberately bred in Pre-Columbian Mexico, where coyotes were held in high regard. In the city of Teotihuacan, it was common practice to crossbreed coyotes and Mexican wolves with dogs in order to breed resistant, loyal but temperamental, good guardians.”

A dog that lives on in clay – Creative Hands of Mexico

Returning to Holgate times, what if a coyote lady in waiting is highly adverse to an arriving overanxious homeboy? Firstly, she could surely outrun a less-than-conditioned house pet. Should the meetup become contentious, it appears the Holgate dog is plenty big enough to stand up for itself should the sought-after coyote missy try to go black widow on him. Of course, other large male coywolfs hotfooting in the refuge could send a lard-ass interloper hightailing it home.

As to how coyotes and dogs get along in an urban or suburban setting, they are not always archrivals, even becoming playmates. Only in the rarest of cases does a dog/coyote meetup prove fatal to either, though small dogs should always be distanced from large hungry ‘yotes. 

In a study published in digitalcommons.usu.edu, titled “Canid vs. Canid: Insights into Coyote-Dog Encounters from Social Media,” researchers reported that “both species were recorded directing play to the other species, which led to mutual play bouts.”

On the other paw, there were macho face-offs. “We observed a similar number of agonistic encounters, which included dogs biting coyotes and coyotes biting dogs. The main difference in agonistic behavior was that coyotes usually showed defensive aggression while dogs did not show defensive aggression.”

In coyotes, defensive aggression manifests as piloerection (hackle raising), warning growls, teeth barring, air snapping, or full-blown biting. This occurs when coyotes have no readily available escape, i.e. they’re cornered. Dogs seldom display this defensive aggressive response since they most often initiate face-offs – and have an exit strategy, based on bolting back home or to owners. 

Below: Coyotes are not all that brave when push comes to bite: 

Winter showdown: Photographer captures standoff between otter, coyote | Outdoors | billingsgazette.com

Getting back to the smaller dog matter, this is where things have gotten very sketchy in an ever-increasing coyote v. dog scenario. While many a small, domesticated dog has a load of fight, they’ve been out of the ring too long to know they’re no match for a nature-hardened wild canine.

I’ll go as far as suggesting folks in known coyote haunts should carry pepper spray or noise makers. Handheld boat airhorns will send too-close coyotes fleeing in terror.  

Air Horn Super LOUD Hand Held Gas Can Sport Boat Marine Warning Dog Coyote Scare | eBay

PICKUP: "Department of Wildlife also says to bring a noisemaker with you on your walks whether it be a whistle or even an air horn. ... Any type of loud noise should scare coyotes away." Also, try not to walk your dog between dusk and dawn if you can. And use retractable leashes while walking your dog in coyote zones; use a shorter leash where you can keep your dog close to you."

As to peppers spray, per https://www.uslawshield.com/:

"What non-lethal weapons can we carry for self-defense in New Jersey? The answer is very few. The only non-lethal weapon specifically authorized under New Jersey law is pepper spray; but only if it is under three quarters of an ounce. ..." 


This week’s SandPaper will carry stories on the just-sunk additions to the Little Egg Reef and also new updates to the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club’s “White Marlin Invitational.”

RUNDOWN: Glancing back at 2020 – since anything more than a glance could lead to the loss of an eye or two – I need to give a four-star rating to LBI surfside stripering. Surfcasting took a decided turn for the far better after a many-year decline. Island sudsers even managed a dang decent showing of trophy bass up to 50 pounds, all of them photographed and released.

Boat bassers and Island Beach State Park surfcasters had a five-star kick-ass bass bonanza all fall and into this year.

Photo evidence of major boat bass was off the charts -- and covered all nearby charts.  

Anglers are finding there is as much fame and fist bumping in photos as there are in bringing DOA fish back to the shop. I’m hoping photo recognition – and the unsavory taste of too-big bass – might allow an easing of bass regs, making keeping an option tempered by public disapproval and greater acceptance of pictures.

Bluefish have now officially bitten the sea dust, at least by my thinking. Some say they’re still around and kicking. To those, I can all but hear John Cleese saying, “‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.” OK, so maybe bluefish are just pining for the fjords. Swimming with Nessie. “Remarkable fish, the Norwegian Blue.”

A somewhat troubling 2020 five-star rating goes out to tog and black seabass. Catching was brisk and, troublingly, relentless. Like fluke, these are meat fish far more than fun-catching fish. I assure that we will very quickly be paying the regulatory piper, especially with black seabass. Both tog and seabass are great eating fish, so I’m doubly attuned to keeping the stocks healthy and accessible.

A quietly kickin’-it 2021 fishery is the white perch. When northwest winds are not ruinously honking down the Mullica, the take at places like Collins cove has been five-gallon bucketous.

While these amazingly tasty panfish aren’t everyone’s cup of angling tea, especially with most boats pulled for winter, the stocks seem quite sound, per those who annually target them. This might bode well for springtime perching up our way.

Fried White Perch

A hunter tells of sunrise duck shooting followed by a stop at a white perch hole on the way home. “Talk about some fine dining that night,” he remarked, nicely inviting me to stop by. I’d definitely go for some pan-fried perch. Duck? Uh, the kids can much on those.

Of note, this multigenerational outdoorsman said he’s worried about an overall decline in grass shrimp, even on healthy eelgrass beds. I’ve heard that about other areas of Barnegat Bay. History indicates that “grassies” can be quite cyclical. Here’s hoping that’s all it is. 

500 Live Mississippi Grass Shrimp (Palaemonetes kadiakensis) for pond stocking | eBay





NOAA Report: A Look at COVID-19’s Impact on Northeast Fisheries

January 19, 2021

NOAA Fisheries recently released a report which displayed the impact COVID-19 had on fisheries throughout the United States. Overall, the seafood sector in America faced broad declines and that was no different in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region.

To kick off the year, NOAA analysis found that calendar year 2020 revenues exceeded baseline numbers in January and February. However, those numbers quickly declined when COVID entered the fold.

From March to June, those numbers plummeted for a cumulative difference of -$126 million. The dip was largely credited to reduced revenue in lobster ($21 million) and sea scallops ($58 million) in April and May.

Prices were a key factor in the below-average baseline revenue numbers. There was a general trend that prices for many species were lower in 2020. Compared to baseline 2015-2019 prices, almost all species witnessed a drop in price even with lower landings and less product available.

“For example, lobster prices were initially 13% above baseline average prices in January but declined by 39.6% to $4.82 per pound in March, 2020 compared to an average of $7.99 per pound during March, 2015-2019. In June 2020 the average price per pound fell to $3.82 from a 2015-2019 June price of $5.29 per pound,” the report read.

NOAA also highlighted the drop in scallop revenue, sighting a 17% scallop quota reduction compared to 2019 which came into place on April 1, 2020. Landings were 3.7 million pounds lower in aggregate for April and May. Even when landings were up to par in June, prices still sat 13% below the baseline average for the month.

Notably, Surfclam and ocean quahog prices per bushel were some of the few species where 2020 prices stayed at a baseline level or rose above it.

“The general decline in landings and prices, hence revenues has affected the number of federally permitted vessels that have landed fish with a federally permitted dealer in the Northeast region,” NOAA wrote.

Part of the analysis included a survey with respondents ranging from fishermen to dealers and processors.

The survey found that 83% of commercial harvesters were affected by the pandemic. For the first half of 2020, when compared to the same period in 2019, 17% of harvesters said they reduced fishing trips, 14% found issues finding supplies and 60% experienced a lack of markets; low prices; limited access to marinas.

When it came to stoppages of trips, 78% of respondents said they had some period of time when they didn’t fish and on average harvesters noted they are operating on half the trips compared to June and July of 2019.

Per NOAA, the top three COVID-19 factors impacting commercial harvesters were instructions to not fish by dealers and processors, low prices for fish and lack of market/buyers.

A similar survey was conducted aimed at seafood dealers and processors and overall, 91% of respondents were impacted by the pandemic. Most commonly, dealers/processors reported reduced operations (35%) and reduced sales to restaurants, retail or grocery stores (35%).

When it came to labor, 37% of dealers reported a decrease in the number of on-site staff, although 10% did report a staffing boost during the pandemic. However, 85% noted reduced sales since January 2020 with revenues decreasing by an average of 44%.

The top three pandemic factors hitting this sector were dealer/processor listing low seafood prices (29%), loss of market/buyers (19%) and lack of employees (12%).

Photo Credit: AlbertPego/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Get Takeout. It's Your Civic Duty.

Copyright © 2021 The Boston Globe
By Devra First

January 19, 2021

Order takeout. If you can afford it, it's your civic duty.

Hear me out, because I'm being serious. We're being serious. Today The Boston Globe launches a campaign, Project Takeout, asking the public to do just that. Get takeout once a week if you can. Get takeout twice. Revisit a restaurant that's an old favorite, or try a new one. (For inspiration, check out our online map at globe.com/project-takeout and follow the Food section, where in coming weeks we are amping up our takeout coverage.) Here is why this matters so much right now:

The story is the same everywhere, even as the details differ. Independent restaurants are on the ropes. The owners, chefs, servers, line cooks, bartenders, and dishwashers who animate them are fighting hard to survive. The pandemic may have slashed seating capacity for customers willing to eat indoors. Winter may have howled down outdoor dining. But these businesses just need to make it a little longer — to the warmer weather, to the vaccine's full rollout. They just need to make it to the other side.

The beginning of April: “That's our projection,” says Andy Husbands, pitmaster and owner of the Smoke Shop, a barbecue joint with branches in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. “Hopefully we're rounding the bend on this. When you go through struggles, you've got to look forward.”

The beginning of April. That's a fried chicken sandwich, saag paneer, handmade tagliatelle Bolognese, a juicy burger with fries, vegan pad thai, pulled pork with mac and cheese and greens, a bean burrito, jollof rice, mapo tofu, an Italian sub, and a steaming bowl of pho to you, if you order once a week. Plus to-go cocktails should you want them. For this enjoyable contribution, you receive the continued existence of your favorite restaurants. If it seems this kind of small action wouldn't make a difference, think back to the Victory Garden movement of World War I and II, when at one point an estimated 40 percent of the country's vegetables were being grown in home plots. “Will you have a part in victory?,” as a pro-garden poster of the time asked.

Order takeout to support Taberna de Haro, the Spanish restaurant chef Deborah Hansen opened in Brookline in 1998. It's the kind of place everyone loves: unpretentious, reliable, a cornerstone of the neighborhood that happens to have an award-winning wine list. It's also temporarily closed; Hansen plans to reopen Jan. 26. Like so many others, the restaurant has been hemorrhaging cash this winter. “I have to regroup and figure out how I break even and stay alive until April or May, when I can serve on the patio again,” Hansen says. “Order takeout. Order gift certificates. That's how people can help.”

Order takeout to support Artú. General manager Gianni Frattaroli's family opened the North End trattoria two weeks before he was born. Now 28, he grew up there, working his way from dishwasher to barback to his current position. On Saturday nights, Artú used to serve about 220 people. “Now it's down to maybe 20 in the dining room,” he says. Other nearby restaurants are closing or limiting hours, and the streets of the North End are often empty these days, Frattaroli says. “We're doing our best to make sure we're open to provide the neighborhood with food.”

Order takeout to support Soleil. Chef Cheryl Straughter serves generous breakfasts, Southern specialties, and delicious wood-planked salmon at Soleil, which she opened two years ago in Nubian Square. “Takeout becomes important as one of the main revenue streams we have,” she says. “I err on the side of being encouraged and hopeful. That's how I walk in faith. Of course there are times we are stressed if we have a slow day, but we always come in the door the following day hoping for more numbers.”

Order takeout for yourself, of course, too, because you just couldn't bear to see the doors close at your favorite little bistro, your neighborhood Chinese restaurant, that friendly pub where they really do know your name, that special spot for celebrating life's milestones. You just couldn't bear to say goodbye to the restaurants that give us all a place to gather, which we will do again soon. We just need to make it to the other side.

(If you can, order directly from the restaurant rather than through a third-party delivery service such as DoorDash or Uber Eats. Although a pending economic development bill may ultimately cap their fees, for now these can be as high as 30 percent.)

But ordering takeout is about much more than investing in the future of your favorite places. Each restaurant is the center of an ecosystem, its impact radiating outward.

Before the pandemic, the restaurant industry accounted for 1 out of every 10 jobs in Massachusetts. Over 2020, the state lost 132,800, or about 35 percent, of its leisure and hospitality jobs; according to a December survey from the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, 39 percent, or 99,450, of the 255,000 restaurant workers furloughed in March have never been recalled. Under current COVID restrictions, seating capacity is capped at 25 percent statewide until at least Jan. 24. It is impossible for many restaurants to staff at their usual levels. It is impossible for many restaurants to make a profit. Profit is simply not why they are open at this point. Every single operator I've spoken with stresses this: They are open to keep people employed.

With all of the current restrictions, is it still worth it to seat customers indoors? “I have people who need to feed themselves, who have families, who need to pay rent,” says Husbands. “This isn't about me and my bottom line anymore. This is about getting our teams to survive through the winter. Is it worth it? Yes. As a business, it wouldn't be any model that I'd want to follow.”

In many cases, staffers are like family, with bonds that stretch over decades. Three of Taberna de Haro's employees have worked there for more than 20 years. “How do I just leave them for dead? I can't. I can't,” says Hansen, who gave the trio three weeks' paid vacation during the restaurant's closure. One line cook has worked at Artú for 27 years. Frattaroli has known him his entire life.

At Soleil, Straughter employs nine people. “I have amongst my staff single people, I have single moms with children, I have a young gentleman just trying to make his way in the world. My staff is diverse, both in culture and ethnicity,” she says. “I'm carrying that and happy to do so, but it becomes challenging if we have a slow week.”

There are also the livelihoods based outside the four walls of a restaurant that nonetheless depend on what happens within: farmers, fishermen, bread companies, food distributors, linen services, graphic artists, interior designers. “We don't stand on an island alone,” Straughter says. “There are all these tentacles that support the restaurant industry. It's Cheryl's Nine plus. It's Cheryl's Nine times. When you think about ordering with a local restaurant, you're supporting so many people.”

Key to the restaurant workforce are undocumented immigrants, an estimated 250,000 of whom live in Massachusetts, per 2016 Pew Research Center data. Ineligible for unemployment and other federal assistance, these vulnerable staff members are many restaurant owners' biggest concern. According to a survey of more than 400 immigrant households conducted by Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, about 84 percent of those with undocumented members had experienced a job loss in July, when state unemployment was at its peak.

Yessenia Prodero is an immigrant rights organizer for Massachusetts Jobs With Justice. She manages the MassUndocuFund, set up to assist the undocumented during the pandemic. Thus far, it has given out almost 3,000 onetime payments of $300 each in 14 counties around the state, she says. Thirty-one percent of those payments went to people employed within the food industry, whether directly in restaurants or at packaging plants, making deliveries, and so on. Most are women heading households with at least one or two dependents, often more. “With COVID, people haven't been able to send money back home, and they also have dependents there,” Prodero says. “They may have spouses or children or elderly parents [in their home countries] that depend on their income they make here. People have come from 49 different countries. The immigrants we speak to are very representative of our world.”

Restaurants have reach. They are also deeply, vitally local. They give our neighborhoods flavor. They shape where we want to live, where other businesses want to open, where tourists want to bring their dollars. They make our neighborhoods safer; they lift our property values. (The local and state meals tax they generate doesn't hurt, either, funding everything from road repairs to marketing campaigns.)

“Restaurants are so key to the vibrancy of cities, particularly small and medium-size cities,” says Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, whose city of 8 square miles contains 158 restaurants. “I think they tell a story. If you've got thriving restaurants, it typically means you've got a thriving local economy. We have a lot of tourists and visitors, and it's all part of this healthy ecosystem. Whether it's cultural activities like theaters and movies and other aspects of entertainment, they tend to revolve around food and restaurants.”

And when business dries up, neighborhoods suffer. “In our community, folks are setting aside part of their weekly spending money to go out to eat, buy takeout, maybe even more so than they did in the past,” Driscoll says. “It's part of the community mission. You're not only getting dinner for yourself and your family, you're also helping support the comeback of places we want to make sure are here when we reopen. It's not about helping anonymous restaurants. These are our neighbors and friends. They're not numbers. They're real people.”

It makes me think of Boston's historic Chinatown, which has been particularly hard hit since the earliest days of the pandemic. We've already seen landmarks like Ho Yuen, the neighborhood's oldest bakery, and Peking duck specialist China King shutter for good. Peter Wang, chef-owner of some of Chinatown's most popular restaurants — Dumpling Cafe, Gourmet Dumpling House, and Taiwan Cafe (along with Dumpling Palace near the Symphony) — says business has dropped about 60 percent. “The people who come into the restaurant are very, very few,” he says through an interpreter. “We really rely on takeout to survive a little. I hope that the reader understands this and patronizes us more to help us out. That's what I hope.”

That's what the Globe hopes, too. Order takeout. If you can afford it, it's your civic duty.

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