Tuesday, March 10, 2020: WILEY STILL RUNNING WILD: Onward to Mr. Wiley, the free-wheelin’ BL coyote, possibly having been joined by a fellow coyote, though that hookup is up for conjecture.
Below, you’ll see living poop, make that living proof of a yote presence.
My scat write-up on that scat: “As the saga of LBI’s coyote/coywolf presence many of us pass winter time, I got more – and pretty much all I need -- proof of its existence. It came via a scat sample from Barnegat Light. It is the consummate wild canine crap, replete with loads of hair from either a rabbit or -- cover your eyes, Sophie -- a feral cat.
“I had a chat to the dog-walking fellow who came a across the, uh, fecal specimen. I’m not revealing the exact locale and where he came across the scat while walking his dogs.
“I will note again, with extreme confidence, that the likes of piping plover nests – or the nests of any shore nesting birds – are such small potatoes for a coywolf that it is far more likely to allow a nest to draw in the prime enemies of eggs and chicks, the most common being cats.
“One of my trail cams will soon become available so I’m going to set it up where the sandy scat sample was found. Smile, Wiley.”
Tomorrow, BL will have its regular council meeting. Mr. Wiley is sure to surface, topic-wise. I’m hoping things don’t turn contentious twixt feral cat appreciators and a rapidly growing cadre of hometown coyote fans. I’ll skirt the issue that a slew of folks will be enraged if the coyote is harmed, only to say the best end for it would be a private citizen trapping it within a Havahart trap and personally relocating it over on the mainland. If a licensed trapper gets involved, no such humane release is in store.
Mightn’t a relocated coyote rush back to its adopted LBI, by swimming or crossing over the bridge? Absolutely. Talk about further endearing itself to its growing fan base! Such a second coming would make Mr. Wiley a man about town – though, come to think of it, scat doesn’t exclude it from being a Mrs. Wiley.
There is no longer hiding from folks who feel the Wild Canine of Barnegat Light might have been purposely brought onto the Island in a highly covert effort to control a growingly dangerous irruption of feral cats. That’s a stretch, Roadrunner.
As to de-catting any town, there is little doubt that feral cats – somehow not to be confused with “stray cats” – create some ecological and health threats, though health threats are seemingly minimal, at least within studied feral cat colonies. Still, ScienceDaily reports, “Cats shed toxoplasma gondii in their feces, where it can easily spread to other animals by contaminating water and soil. Animals, including racoons, squirrels, mice and rabbits who pick up this parasite could experience neurological problems and even death.”
Overall, ferals are most infamous for killing wildlife, though stray and nightly let-out cats are anything but innocent when it comes to indiscriminate killing. Of note: Domestic cats found to be guilty of killing threatened or endangered wildlife species can cost owners dearly, should authorities ferret out said owners. Feral cats will pay with their lives. Still, I’m compelled to run with those folks who know cats are amazing indoor pets. If I have favorite cats, it’s those who won’t step outside for any reason – not wanting to risk the dog’s life they have inside with its family.
I will be checking on what might be compelling paw print evidence that a large canine has been trekking the Holgate refuge area. I know that zone is jam-packed with wildlife, though I haven’t been there much, short of hurrying in and out of clamming ground off the Clam Trail. Even those quick ins-and-outs have offered looks at tracks for otters, mink, fox, vole and rabbit – with a load of prehistoric looking great blue heron track mixed in. With only a few more weeks before the bird closure sets in, I’d like to get a final read on the wildlife showing there – some forms to be removed prior to the arrival of piping plover.
From this week’s SandPaper column:
I’d like to put out very early word on the 2020 Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic, while also hyping the rapidly approaching spring Simply Bassin’ contest.
First and foremost: May the fish be with us … including all ya’ll, along with your family, friends and any fishing folks you happen to come across. It might just be me, but I get this sense that events like Simply Bassin’ and the LBI Surf Fishing Classic go better if actual fish catching is involved.
MOST CLASSIC EVER: This year’s Classic has again been lengthened. It’s set to run from Oct. 10 through Dec. 13. Now that’s a tourney! The prizes will flow freely throughout the entire two-month event. The special prize count is through the ceiling. The Classic committee is even working on assigning days when a fish closest to a specific size can win big. I think it would be cool if that winning size is unknown; you just weigh a fish in and see, a bit door prize-like.
As to competing under the influence of the new regs, which now limit an angler to one daily fish between 28 and less than 38 inches, that new slot fish theme aligns perfectly with the intent of the original derby, i.e. getting folks here for the fall and allowing anyone who casts a line to win. In fact, the 2020 Classic might fulfil the fundamental intent of the tourney better than it had ever done in the past. It is now tuned to all classes of surfcasters, right down to those chucking sinkers for the first time.
Hell, even my grandmother, bless her non-angling soul, could win any striped bass contests that come along this year. Gone is the persistent and long-lived grumble that the annual event favors the more experienced anglers, though that was relatively true, clear through the 1980s. That’s my queue to mention the early Striped Bass Derbies prohibited locals from winning grander prizes, in recognition of a local homefield advantage. Well, perish and banish that thought. The new regs have evened out the tourney playing field, especially for the fall LBI Surf Fishing Classic and the arriving Simply Bassin’ contest.
Here's a raw look at what stripers over the average weights of bass over 24 inches (bonus bass NJ) and under 38 inches.
CULLING BY ANY OTHER NAME: Now to a bassing bone of contention: keeping fish. Firstly, I respect anglers who prefer that every caught striped bass simply be kissed and released, unharmed. Now, I’ll throw in an eco-angle you’ll seldom hear, namely, keeping bass is a form of culling, much like the reducing of the white-tail deer population, lest it run roughshod over the ecosystem.
I know I over-harp on this but allowing stripers to reign overly supreme spells doom for other equally eco-essential species. I repeatedly reference suffering species like tog, black seabass, red drum, weakfish, and winter flounder – the latter being ravaged by bayside bass, even as we speak. Simply and controversially put: Keeping our allotted striped bass poundage is essential to what remains of the marine ecosystem.
Did you know that the federally accepted baseline for a healthy striped bass biomass, used to create modern regs, was drawn from a time when stripers had already begun to unhealthfully dominate the nearshore gamefish ecosystem? For thousands of years, our marine biosystem was dominated by red drumfish, what we called channel bass. Their balanced presence allowed other gamefish species to comfortably co-exist. At some mid-Twentieth-Century point, rumor arose that the red drum might be ruinously eating bayside bivalves, depriving baymen of their clam and oyster bounty. Despite the absurdity of that perception, the channel bass was labeled a destructive trash fish. It was ignobly annihilated, possible like no other American gamefish species before. The oddest angle was how it was thought to offer no gamefish value whatsoever. Just ask modern day anglers in places like the Outer Banks if red drum are worthy angling adversaries. They readily put them up there with our beloved hard-fighting stripers.
Below: New Inlet is Beach Haven Inlet before it moved south in Holgate.
Below: There is talk of NJ red drum to well over 00 pounds caught back in the by netters. Those must have been amazing fish ... seen as so much junk.
By catering to stripers -- in essence, an opportunistic species -- we’re likely delaying/dooming any chance of the channel bass returning, while putting an almost unsurvivable pressure on many other gamefish species that bass feed upon, far more aggressively than the channel bass ever did. At the same time, many of those fading gamefish species might already be too far gone to make a comeback, bass or no.
Despite my critical read on striped bass, I tip my Classic cap to the way they’ve nobly filled an angling vacuum -- and daily need. While anglers in the south will continue to rate their drumfish as being superior to our stripers, I give the fighting edge to the bass, which is saying a lot since big drum are brutes.
This is all meant to forward my original belief that many a striper can and should be kept. With trophy fish over 38 inches now off limits, and the allowable take-home tally down to one fish, we’re adequately showing a respect for striper sustainability. What’s more, the striped bass propensity to repopulate until the cows come home (bass pun) should quickly lead to an equally rapid return to heavier harvesting – for the good of all.
I have to steal from my buddies at Fisherman magazine -- please subscribe at http://www.thefisherman.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=11
These are species scarfed up by stripers:
FISH FOUND IN STRIPER STOMACHS:
- Bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli)
- Striped anchovy (Anchoa hepsetus)
- Feather blenny (Hypsoblennius hentz)
- Striped blenny (Chasmodes bosquianus)
- Bluefish (Pomatomis saltatrix)
- Butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus)
- Atlantic tomcod (Microgadus tomcod)
- Pollock (Pollachius virens)
- Conger eel (Conger oceanicus)
- Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus)
- Silver Perch (Bairdiella chrysoura)
- Spot (Leiostomus xanthurus)
- Weakfish (Cynoscion regalis)
- Ocean pout (Zoarces americanus)
- American eel (Anguilla rostrata)
- Hogchoker (Trenectes maculatus)
- Smallmouth flounder (Etropus microstomus)
- Summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus)
- Windowpane (Scophthalmus aquosus)
- Winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus)
- Naked goby (Gobiosoma bosc)
- Rock gunnel (Pholis gunnellus)
- Atlantic hagfish (Myxine glutinosa)
- Red hake (Urophysis chus)
- Spotted hake (Urophysis regia)
- Silver hake (Merluccius bilinnearis)
- White hake (Urophycis ten)
- Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus)
- Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus)
- Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)
- Blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis)
- American shad (Alosa sapidissima)
- Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)
- Threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense)
- Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)
- Inshore lizardfish (Synodus foetens)
- Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus)
- Banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanous)
- Mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus)
- Striped killifish (Fundulus majalis)
- Spotfin mojarra (Eucinostomus argenteus)
- White mullet (Mugil curema)
- Atlantic needlefish (Strongylura marina)
- Yellow perch (Perca flavescens)
- Northern pipefish (Syngnathus fuscus)
- Scup (Stenotomus chrysops)
- Northern puffer (Sphoeroides maculatus)
- Sand eel (Ammodytes spp.)
- Grubby (Myoxocephalus aenaeus)
- Sea Raven (Hemitripterus americanus)
- Northern searobin (Prionotus carolinus)
- Striped searobin (Prionotus evolans)
- Golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas)
- Spottail shiner (Notropis hudsonius)
- Rough silverside (Membras martinica)
- Atlantic silverside/spearing (Menidia menidia)
- Rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax)
- Stickleback (Family Gasterosteidae)
- Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
- White perch (Morone americana)
- Striped bass (Morone saxatilis)
- Oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau)
- Blackcheek tonguefish (Symphurus plagiusa)
- Blackfish (Tautoga onitis)
- Cunner (Tautogolabrus adsperus)
Here's a more in-depth length/weight/age striper chart.
Yesterday was interesting day started off with a surf in the morning followed by a boat ride that turned into my first encounter with a mayday call on the radio, upon reaching the vessel in distress I could tell that the guy was in a panic as his boat was taking on some water I stood by and talked to him on the radio and made sure that he was ok and escorted him to the Coast Guard station in Barnegat Light. I was just getting underway when the situation happened, just goes to show that anything can happen in an instant and this could’ve gone real bad quick, glad that I was there and able to lend any assistance to this unfortunate boater. This time of year while the water is still cold and you’re putting your boats in for the first time for the season is when most accidents can happen a safety plan can save your life and a working radio is crucial. I’d like to know how the guy made out. Be safe to all my fellow boaters this year!