Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
I hate finding one of my writers like this on production night ...
Tuesday, March 08, 2016: The ultra-warmth I was so big on – all last week -- is starting to rev up.
I knew the 70s were a shoe-in for top-temps but I now see the chance of 80 out in the Pine Barrens. That will surely snap wildlife out of winter stupors, though it won’t be enough, time-wise, to spark a total de-hibernation.
Of course, my eyes are always on awakening reptiles and amphibians.
Wood frogs, by far one of the earliest awakeners, will be limbering up, jumping into vernal ponds (mainly in the form of puddles on dirt roadways) and issue a call or two. Wood frogs are astounding because they can freeze solid should the temps in their puddles go arctic – and then thaw out as if their bodies hadn’t just been hard as a rock.
Wonder what they sound like: Check it out here: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ensp/audio/wood_frog.wav
Spring peepers, famed for being the prime noisemakers come spring, will be the next frog to sound off for the season, though they tend to come forth in a very haphazard way, with just a few of the partyingest members calling out for gals when temps are still chilly. This frog is famed for the "X" on its back.
Here's what it sounds like, as if you hadn't heard it many a time. http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ensp/audio/spring_peeper.wav
Fence swift lizards will inch out with sleep still in their eyes but will scurry back for a nap when temps fall over the weekend.
Below: This female fence swift won't be thinking about the boys in scale suits until it gets way warmer.
To get my buddy Scott's Bait and Tackle Shop off to a great 2016 start, here's a report from http://www.scottsbt.com. Make sure to save that address. Scotty got me into blogging ... that's now way back. Eeks.
Saturday, March 5, 2016 /\/\/\ 4:30pm
Happy Spring to everyone! Good to be back open and seeing all the customers coming in to gear up for another great season! Now that we have been open for a couple days we have some feedback regarding some local fishing news. Off of graveling point since the start of the Striper fishing season, we know of a couple bass caught, the biggest being around 20", for anyone who would like to see it go on Instagram, and search keeneys_marina to view the fish. Also Absecon Bay Sportsman weighed in a 23lb Striper from the Mullica River. We did have confirmation of a few keeper sized Stripers mixed in with people perch fishing back up past the parkway bridge, those were on Bloodworms and grass shrimp. Those bass were only about 9lbs though, but still fun and good eating!
NOAA chart readings show that this day last year the water temp for our area was 33 degrees, today the water temp for our area is 41 degrees. Having a 8 degree difference in our favor will definitely help the spring Striper season, which will give us an earlier start compared to last year's April 13th first keeper Striper. Next week we are also expecting gorgeous weather with Monday in the 50's and getting warmer through the week. So having the week's worth of warm sun beating on the Mullica River will have the fishing off graveling point turn on very quickly.
As usual there is a $100 Gift Certificate for the first keeper Striper caught off graveling point (surf fishing).
April 2nd we are having a big show event here at the store, there is going to be a big tent in front of the shop with many of our different suppliers, including a couple new companies we got in over the winter. There is going to be prizes, specials, and giveaway's throughout the day, At 1pm sharp we are also doing a grand prize raffle for a $500, $300, & $200 gift certificates for some lucky customers. For more info call us or visit our Facebook page and view the event listing for the complete breakdown of specials we are having. Mark it on the calender's, and make sure to bring some friends!!!
REPLENISHMENT UPDATE – OR NOT: Beach replenishment is still heap-high when it comes to questions lighting upon my editor’s desk.
Even though an “update” meeting took place just this week between the Army Corps and Island mayors, it simply confirmed existing data, namely, the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company will have two of its so-called trailing suction hopper dredges -- the Padre Island and the Dodge Island – back in position by April 9. Sand will be flying onto Beach Haven’s beachfront by mid-month.
The sand for the Area 6 fix, from the Queen City through Holgate (non refuge area), will be coming from ye olden borrow sites, three miles off Harvey Cedars -- from whence the salvation sands have come since replenishment times began. Down below, I’ll offer a bit more on the possibility of special-needs sand going to Holgate via Little Egg Inlet.
Although the upcoming work will likely carry on until late-ish June, impinging on our unofficial summer season, the Corps assure, “Residents and visitors will not have to walk more than several blocks to access an open section of beach.”
Great Lakes’ crews will close no more than 1000 feet of beach area at a pop.
As we’ve seen, beaches being super-sized do not remain off-limits for very long --before the sand blitz moves onward. The replen express rolls along at between 100 and 300 feet per day. Also, the work goes on 24/7 – unless all sky-hell breaks loose.
Naturally, the beaches on the “done” side of the replen project are way larger than the “to-be done” side. Along those lines, I have fielded far too many calls from chronically unsatisfiable folks who instantly convert from rending clothing over small and eroded beaches to gnashing teeth over beaches suddenly far too large. Newsflash: Goldie Locks is dead. Sorry.
For truly chronic naysayers, saying the work is a waste of money, I try to point out that the current work is 100 percent funded under the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act (PL113-2), commonly known as the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill. Why in bloody hell would someone NOT want the beach-saving work to come our way – for the next 50 years, with re-dos scheduled for every seven years or so? I even see some waveriders, who at first absolutely hated the replen idea, now minutely admitting the work doesn’t spell ruins for surfing. As I told them, way back, our Island is just too dynamic not to immediately rearrange the beaches and sandbars as it sees fit – and in the same refractive form that has given us world-class waves since time immemorial.
But onward to what was reconfirmed at this week’s aforementioned meeting: That the timing might be right to have the Holgate portion of the Area 6 fix supplied with sand from shoals and channels in and around Little Egg Inlet (see treasure hunting segment this column.)
This column had noted the shrink-wrap tightness of the timeframe between the dredge project’s required 30-day “comment period” and the start of the BH/Holgate beach fix. Sure enough, that has also been on the minds of the corps, which is now officially hinting that such a Holgate/LEI match is still afloat.
I think the Holgate/LEI match is so close that it could come down to extending – ever so slightly – the required Area 6 finish date of June 23. A finish-date bump to July 1 could be so dang helpful – in so many ways.
To mariners: I think such a match would doubly ensure the dredging of LEI, otherwise, it’s back to the old bugaboo of finding where to acceptably place all that dredge material. Those searches never end well.
One final relatively-related item. The proposed federal budget for 2017 incudes – though doesn’t assure at this time – a two-year, $1.3 million commitment to the New Jersey Back Bays Study. The study will “identify, analyze and compare potential alternatives for improving coastal resiliency and reducing flood damage risk along the bay side of New Jersey’s barrier islands.”
I’ve been warning all along that one way to allay Island flooding is to get our shallowing bay in order. I fully realize it’s a dangerous row to hoe, environmentally speaking. But, I think we now have the smarts to save two birds with one stone. Fix the bay and fix the flooding … there’s gotta be a way.
Early tuna, mahi and wahoo and swordfish are expected in the canyon areas south of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts as a Gulf Stream eddy is now over the Hydrographer Canyon as observed in last week’s satellite imagery. Surface water temperatures are already 61°F in this eddy and new Gulf Stream water this week is expected to bring warmer water and new fish to this eddy. We anticipate that this eddy will drift westward over the next several weeks and continue to warm and gain fish with each Gulf Stream interaction. Stay tuned to ROFFS™ for your latest information. Bahamas seasonal forecast coming soon and then the northeast canyon seasonal forecast shortly after as time provides. We are already very busy providing daily, high resolution, comprehensive fishing forecasting analyses for clients who are fishing south of Virginia. Note the much larger eddy off Georges Bank at the top right hand corner of the image. Word to the wise, get your boats ready now!
The findings, to be published March 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that the current life-history model for western Atlantic bluefin, which assumes spawning occurs only in the Gulf of Mexico, overestimates age-at-maturity. For that reason, the authors conclude that western Atlantic bluefin may be less vulnerable to fishing and other stressors than previously thought.
Prior to this research, the only known spawning grounds for Atlantic bluefin tunawere in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea. The evidence for a new western Atlantic spawning ground came from a pair of Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) research cruises in the Slope Sea during the summer of 2013.
"We collected 67 larval bluefin tuna during these two cruises, and the catch rates were comparable to the number collected during the annual bluefin tuna larval survey in the Gulf of Mexico," said David Richardson of NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), lead author of this study. "Most of these larvae were small, less than 5 millimeters, and were estimated to be less than one week old. Drifting buoy data confirmed that these small larvae could not possibly have been transported into this area from the Gulf of Mexico spawning ground."
Larvae collected during the cruises were identified as bluefin tuna through visual examination and genetic sequencing. To confirm the identification, larvae were sent to the Alaska Fisheries Science Center laboratory in Juneau, where DNA sequences verified that the larvae were Atlantic bluefin tuna.
A single bluefin tuna can spawn millions of eggs, each of which is just over a millimeter in diameter, or the size of a poppy seed. Within a couple of days these eggs hatch into larvae that are poorly developed and bear little resemblance to the adults. Larval bluefin tuna can be collected in plankton nets and identified based on their shape, pigment patterns and body structures.
Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is a high value species with a unique physiology that allows it to range from the tropics to the sub-arctic, in coastal to international waters. As a highly migratory species, Atlantic bluefin tuna is assessed by the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) as distinct eastern and western stocks separated by the 45 degree west meridian (or 45 w longitude). The U.S. fishery harvest from the western Atlantic stock is managed through NOAA Fisheries' Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan.
For many years, global overfishing on this species was prevalent, resulting in substantial population declines. However, recent international cooperation in managing catches has contributed to increasing trends in the abundance of both the eastern and western management stocks. The western stock, targeted by U.S. fishermen, is harvested at levels within the range of the SCRS' scientific advice.
This research may help to resolve a longstanding debate in Atlantic bluefin tuna science. It had long been assumed that bluefin tuna start spawning at age 4 in the Mediterranean Sea and age 9 in the Gulf of Mexico. Electronic tagging studies begun in the late 1990s revealed that many bluefin tuna, assumed to be of mature size, did not visit either spawning ground during the spawning season as expected. This led some to propose that these larger fish were not spawning, and instead the age-at-maturity for western Atlantic bluefin tuna was 12-16 years, rather than 9 years, as was assumed in the stock assessment.
Molly Lutcavage at the Large Pelagics Research Center of the University of Massachusetts Boston, a co-author on the study, was a consistent supporter of an alternate hypothesis—fish that did not visit the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean Sea were spawning elsewhere. The research team used electronic tagging data from the Lutcavage lab to present an alternate model of western Atlantic bluefin tuna spawning migrations.
Only the largest bluefin tuna, those over about 500 pounds, migrate to the Gulf of Mexico spawning area. After these fish exit the Gulf of Mexico, they swim through the Slope Sea rapidly, on their way to northern feeding grounds. On the other hand, smaller fish, ranging in size from 80 to 500 pounds, generally spend more than 20 days in the Slope Sea during the spawning season, a duration consistent with spawning.
"Last year, we demonstrated using endocrine measurements that bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic mature at around 5 years of age. That study, and ones before it, predicted that these smaller fish would spawn in a more northerly area closer to the summertime foraging grounds in the Gulf of Maine and Canadian waters," Lutcavage said. "The evidence of spawning in the Slope Sea, and the analysis of the tagging data, suggests that western Atlantic bluefin tuna are partitioning spawning areas by size, and that a younger age at maturity should be used in the stock assessment."
Researchers also found that individual tuna occupy both the Slope Sea and Mediterranean Sea in separate years, contrary to the prevailing view that individuals exhibit complete fidelity to a spawning site. Reproductive mixing between the eastern and western stocks may occur in the Slope Sea and the authors contend that population structure of bluefin tuna may be more complex than is currently thought.
"Past analyses of Atlantic bluefin tuna population structure and mixing between the western and eastern Atlantic stocks may need to be revisited because they do not account for the full spatial extent of western Atlantic spawning," Richardson said. "So much of the science and sampling for Atlantic bluefin tuna has been built around the assumption that the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean Sea are the only spawning grounds. This new research underscores the complexity of stock structure for this species and identifies important areas for future research."
The authors expect these findings could potentially lead to a lower estimated age-at-maturity, a critical component of the stock assessment, and could reopen consideration of the nature and level of mixing between the western and eastern Atlantic populations. This new information will be considered along with other pertinent research as part of the regular ICCAT SCRS stock assessment process.
The scientific team for this study comprises researchers from NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC), the Large Pelagics Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the School of Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and NOAA's Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO). The sampling for this study was supported by NOAA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the US Navy through interagency agreements for the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS).
More information: Discovery of a spawning ground reveals diverse migration strategies in Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ,www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1525636113