Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
If you're going to be the heroic boyfriend, uh, maybe practice first.
BELOW: In case you somehow missed the famed sea lion abuses child video, taken on a cellphone by Michael Fujiwara. The poor girl was barely nipped -- broken skin on one finger -- but she had to get an antibiotic regimen to fight, appropriately, something called "seal finger," an unfunny infection that comes from bacteria in the mouth of marine mammals. Our buddy Bob Schoelkopf, founder of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, had a life-threatening infection after being bitten by, I believe, a seal. The bacteria at the root of "seal finger" is becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics, possibly due to pharmaceutical antibiotics leaching into marine waters, leading to the bacteria building a resistance to the antibiotics.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017: Despite the well-attended holiday weekend on LBI, I didn’t get a slew of striper landing reports from the suds; only two keepers, per emails.
One bass angler rather typically described a bluefish bite as “getting in the way,” though I’m not sure how or why he lost an “expensive Atom’s popper.” Not for nothin’ but this time of year the odds greatly favor blues responding to those surface splashers. Might we have a closet bluefish seeker among the striper ranks? Just kidding, J.T. … but a popper?!
Below: On The Water
Slews of calls about yesterday’s whale showing off Brant Beach. They were in the feeding mode and, per one knowledgeable sort, they were on “midsized bunker.” Brisk onshore winds made it possible for beachline whale-watchers to easily smell the bunker carnage, though I would have expected some KIA bunker to wash up on the beach. Tells me the bluefish were in the whale mix. I don’t know if whales eat blues, though there is no doubt that dolphin do.
There are some major stingrays in the bay, as far in as Manahawkin Bay. They’re actually making things tough for bayside anglers. Bringing one in on light to medium gear is an hour-long – or line-cutting – matter. I imagine these winged gluttons are bayside looking to feed on mollusks and shellfish – sometimes at the expense of aquaculture.
While rays are seldom murder on larger clams – and haven’t got a prayer of crushing grown oysters – they can annihilate beds of seed clams and oysters. Some local bay farmers have been financially mauled by rays plundering their clam-growing acreage.
Here’s a section of a longer pro-stingray read (included below, out of fairness) regarding rays in bays.
“Ever since 2003,” (Janet) Krenn continued, “when a group of rays was seen descending on an oyster bed and eating all but a few of the newly planted oysters, industry and oyster restoration groups alike have been trying to find ways to keep rays out. According to reports, in a couple of hours those rays ate more than one million seed oysters, which were about the size of a fingernail. Fisher’s study, looking at the ray’s ability to crush oysters of various sizes, came as a response to shellfish growers’ concerns.”
Again, this is taken out of context. If interested in the stingray subject, the story “The Battle of the Rays” by Merritt Clifton is below, in its entirety.
Cownose rays ... clearly.
TREASURE ATTRACTION: I just got into a new form of fishing. It’s called magnet fishing – and it can be slower than regular fishing … with a metallic blitz or two thrown in.
As the name says, it’s based on casting a magnet, attached to a strong rope, and slowly pulling it in. Magnet fishing offer a feel very much like that of fluking; waiting for something like a dead-weight to clamp on.
Here’s one of many YouTube videos on the subject. It shows a fine cross section of typical treasures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjwqdo1psPU&t=880s.
However, to see some insane finds, check out the likes of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhJnJKHpfok ... and Medieval artifacts.
I use the same quite-small type magnet seen in these vids, except mine has a killer 500-pound lift power, meaning it also possesses a finger-ruining crush power. As magnet fishing popularizes, unassuming looking three-inch round magnets are being developed to lift more and more. A goodly number of ruined-finger accidents have arisen, many in Europe, where the semi-sport is on fire. A finger caught between a 500-pound-lift magnet and, say, a larger anchor can literally have amputation ramifications.
Below: Round Neodymium Fishing Magnet with Countersunk Hole and Eyebolt, 500 LBS pull
Better magnets are commonly rated by how heavy an object they can lift into the air. Obviously, when used underwater, many other lifting variables enter in, greatly reducing the pull. However, once metal meets magnet, it's usually a seriously solid hookup ... as is proven when trying to free larger objects.
To be sure, my 500 could easily lift most steel anchors or boat motors. Now, whether I can then lift them out all the way out of the water?
Olden steel anchors are a highly cool and sometimes highly historic finds, and often quite restorable, especially if found in brackish river water, like the upper Mullica River -- where Revolutionary War munition production took place.
Cannonballs are great magnet targets, even able to rise up from a few inches of mud covering. However, it doesn’t take much of a sediment covering to thwart the pull of even my 500-lb magnet.
Some of South Jersey’s cedar-water creeks, with constantly shifting pebbly bottoms, can free iron artifacts after storms, so prime historic locations can take many a magnet throw, time after time. And, no, you won't be the first person to think in terms of dragging a magnet behind boat, kayak or paddleboard.
Throwing a fishing magnet is both easy and a total pain. If you’ve ever thrown an anchor, you know the hazard of rapidly outgoing line. Just the other day in Ship Bottom, I went to really fling my magnet ... and had the rope grab my leg. It ripped the flung magnet back at me and got me one good on the head. What a lump. Hey, I’m learning ... if I survive.
That brings me to my first decent finds: two shiny Hopkins lures. They must have been dropped in the water from a docked boat since I was tossing into an open bayside boat berth at the time. I should also mention I threw for a solid hour at a popular fishing pier and got squat, shockingly. Either dropped objects there became sand/mud covered (likely), or, just maybe, someone had already magnet-fished the area.
A local backbay magnet-tossing site:
I called another magnet treasure hunter I met on-line and I’m going to stop by his place (way inland) to see what he has found in freshwater lakes and creeks. He told of hitting a tiny pond near a blacksmith shop and finding dozens of failed horseshoes, dating back to the mid-1800s and way earlier. And enough horseshoe nails to fill a bucket.
He also found what he believes is a primitive “bog iron” knife. It's currently with an expert. That find is way exciting since early raw iron items, like those made at places like Batsto, rust very little. Not that I would hunt Batsto waters, mind you. However, there are many other huntable one-time forge ponds. In fact, just about every village had an "old mill run." What’s more, Native Americans, during the “contact period,” began to shape the iron left by blacksmiths. How cool would a bog iron arrowhead be?
Can you tell I’m a indefatigable treasure seeker?
By the by, I already have two folks with important boating objects lost off their docks who would like my services – and to learn how to magnet fish. I'm on it.
This line of "cojoined" lure strikes me as deadly ... once improved with saltwater hooks in silver.
I spoke with a Trooper at Atlantic City Station that stated the Federal/ICW buoys and markers are all in and good. Little Egg Harbor Inlet is officially closed until they can complete the dredging operations. (Time frame unknown) . No action from NJ as to Stick channels and buoys including Slow Speed Buoys. That is probably due to budget cuts and a small number of personnel working for Aids to Navigation. Look for more updates on LBI Boating on FB. Keith Gunsten
I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend! It was a hectic weekend with my son playing 5 baseball games in 2 days. But with his travel season finally winding down, I’m in full swing for charters. The inlet and surrounding waters had a decent bite on Bluefish & Striped Bass, and Fluke are cooperative on the tides if you find clean water. The bigger Bass are still being caught mostly on the troll, but the snag-n-drop has started to get better. Regarding fluking, you can definitely see the effects of the rain runoff from fertilizers as the bay has a ton of algal slime right now. Just a reminder: I have weekends and weekday afternoons available through June 18th, and starting JUNE 19th will run 7 DAYS A WEEK UNTIL SEPTEMBER.
I did manage to get out and had Emil Slane, James D, and Xavier S. of New York, NY on a 4hr Bay/Inlet charter for a variety of species. The crew tried fishing the inlet for Striped Bass, but it was covered up by feisty Blackfish with the slow current. The guys boated Blackfish to 5 pounds as it was hard to get the bait to the Bass. All the Blackfish were promptly released as they are out of season. We spent the remainder of the trip fishing the backwaters, but the crew could only muster short fluke with the biggest being 17 inches. All in all, the guys didn’t do too bad for their first time fishing the salt.
With a quick window in the morning, I took my wife and son on a brief Fluke trip to check a different part of the tide. Jen struck first with a solid 19.5 inch Fluke on the first drift, followed by Luke’s first Striper on the bucktail. This one he caught all by himself. After several drifts of short Fluke, Luke jigged an 18-incher that made it into the box. With two Fluke in the box and enough for dinner, we headed home and left them biting. We released about 15 Fluke and 1 Striped Bass in about 2 hours, keeping 2 Fluke for the table. It was definitely a better bite on the tide.
Capt. Alex (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On the nature side of things: This month’s full and new moons usually mean horseshoe crabs will be mating and laying eggs. Considered living fossils they are not crabs, although their name suggests that. They are closely related to arachnid (spiders). Because they carry a copper substance in their blood it is blue. Their blood contains amebocytes, which is a cell that coagulates around pathogens. Because of that, about a half million are harvest every year for the medical industry. The blood is taken out and the crab is then released back to Delaware Bay. Some survive this process, some don’t. The time at which horseshoe crab lay their eggs along the Delaware Bay shore is inherently known by several species of shorebirds. One of those species, the Red Knot, has is timed so perfectly that they migrate to the Delaware Bay shore from their wintering grounds in Argentina to feast on the eggs. Often flying for seven to eight days straight, the red knots will put their lost weight back on, doubling it in 2-3 weeks of feeding on the eggs. These birds will then complete the rest of their journey flying to the arctic tundra to reproduce only to fly south to the other end of the hemisphere a few weeks later. Isn’t Mother Nature amazing?
Barnegat Bay, NJ
I found it fitting that it was caught on Memorial Day with a Lew's American Hero spinning reel! Thank you to all our veterans that have served. Past/Present/Future!
Species: Freshwater American Eel
Rod : Tsunami Lures Airwave Coastal 721MF
Reel: Lew's American Hero 6.2:1
Hook: Trapper Tackle 1/0 Drop Shot/Live Bait
Time: Monday May 29th, 1:00am
Bait: Canadian Nightcrawler
Air Temperature: 50 Degrees
SHARK & Fish Feel fight “The Battle of the Rays”
BY MERRITT CLIFTON
"Battle of the Rays" participants shot cownose rays with arrows from practically right on top of them.
“Battle of the Rays” participants shot cownose rays with arrows from practically right on top of them.
PATUXENT, OAK ISLAND, WASHINGTON D.C.––On Saturday, June 13, 2015, dozens of men pointlessly killed perhaps hundreds of harmless cownose rays––among the smallest and most innocuous members of the shark family––near the mouth of the Patuxent River on Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
Hosted by Fred’s Sports, self-described as “Southern Maryland’s largest hunting, fishing, & gun store, the so-called “Battle of the Rays” was not really a battle at all; ray guns are strictly a device of science fiction.
Shot from boats with compound bows, gaffed, and bludgeoned, the rays had no weapons with which to fight back.
Not even killed for fins
Blogged Humane Society of the U.S. president Wayne Pacelle nine days earlier, “It is estimated that fishermen kill between 26 and 73 million sharks every year for their fins, which are the central ingredient in shark fin soup. This staggeringly large toll has been amassed, for the most part, in regions of the world where shark finning is unregulated and the trade in fins largely unrestricted.”
But killing sharks just for their fins is illegal in U.S. waters, and is further prohibited by nine coastal states. The victims of the “Battle of the Rays” and many similar ray-killing contests held in the Chesapeake Bay region are not finned––just weighed, with prizes going to whoever lands the three rays with the greatest cumulative weight, never mind how many other rays are killed before each killing team is satisfied that it has a contending trio.
While HSUS and the HSUS global arm Humane Society International have lobbied hard against shark finning, both in the U.S. and abroad, neither HSUS nor any other major animal welfare or conservation charity monitors ray-killing contests.
Fish Feel & SHARK
The “Battle of the Rays” was monitored, documented, and exposed only by Fish Feel, a barely one-year-old organization founded by longtime Washington D.C. area animal rights advocate Mary Finelli, and SHARK, founded in 1992 by former shark hunter Steve Hindi, whose 1996 essay “I was a fish killer” remains perhaps the strongest statement on record in opposition to sport fishing.
Fat guys with raySaid Hindi, scheduling a June 22, 2015 press conference at the Maryland state capital to present his findings, “Graphic undercover video documents a horrific slaughter of cownose rays, who were shot by arrows at point-blank range. The rays were then gaffed and repeatedly clubbed with bats before slowly suffocating to death.
“Hundreds of cownose rays––many of them pregnant––were mutilated, killed, and then dumped as garbage into the river,” Hindi continued. “Over a hundred bowfishers participated.”
Finelli observed the “Battle of the Rays” with fellow Fish Feel board members Howard Edelstein and Michael Gurwitz.
“We’re planning to return for the two that are scheduled for the last weekend in June, to be held in Maryland and Virginia,” Finelli told ANIMALS 24-7.
“Raptors of the ocean”
“Cownose rays, a type of eagle ray, are like the raptors of the ocean,” Finelli said, “gliding through and occasionally leaping above it with their large wing-like fins. They are gentle creatures whom many people have had the pleasure of peacefully interacting with in the wild,” sometimes also featured in petting exhibits at aquariums.
“Since time immemorial they have visited the Chesapeake Bay to mate and give birth to their pups,” Finelli continued. “They take about seven years to mature, and females only have one pup a year.
Clubbing ray #2“Gliding along the water’s surface,” Finelli said, “the rays are easy pickings for bowfishers. After being shot, the rays are mercilessly bludgeoned.”
At the “Battle of the Rays,” Finelli saw, “Some killers incompetently used clubs; others clumsily wielded a hammer. It was sickening to watch and to hear the rays being whacked again and again and again, their frantic wing movements slowly dying down. They were then thrown back into the water dead or dying, or piled on top of each other to suffocate.
“Back on shore there was a party atmosphere,” Finelli described, “with drinking and bravado while country music blared. Bloody rays were hoisted on stage, where little girls helped draw raffle tickets. Others were piled in plastic containers, garbage dropped on top of them.
Ray with arrow“The wanton killing of these benign beings is disapproved by both scientists and government. It’s a gutless act by those with contempt of nonhuman animals and gross disrespect and ignorance of the natural world,” Finelli charged.
The pretext for ray-killing contests is the widespread but inaccurate belief that rays contribute to depleting the heavily over-collected Chesapeake Bay oyster population, which is also beleaguered by water pollution from upstream factory pig and poultry farms.
Says Virginia Institute of Marine Science fisheries specialist Robert Fisher, “They are definitely a misunderstood species, and unfortunately they have been labeled a villain, as far as the shellfish growers are concerned.”
Gaffed rayFisher found in a November 2010 report for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that oysters do not actually “make up a significant portion of the diet of cownose rays.”
Instead, Fisher’s study, summarized Janet Krenn in May 2011 for Virginia Sea Grant, “indicates that cownose rays’ mouths aren’t strong enough to crush and eat larger oysters, but this physical limitation doesn’t stop rays from trying. The result? Cownose rays pick up and swim away with large oysters, but eventually drop them after failing to crack the shells open. This behavior could help disperse large, reproductively mature oysters throughout the Bay.
Rays eat unprotected seed oysters
“Ever since 2003,” Krenn continued, “when a group of rays was seen descending on an oyster bed and eating all but a few of the newly planted oysters, industry and oyster restoration groups alike have been trying to find ways to keep rays out. According to reports, in a couple of hours those rays ate more than one million seed oysters, which were about the size of a fingernail. Fisher’s study, looking at the ray’s ability to crush oysters of various sizes, came as a response to shellfish growers’ concerns.
Clubbing ray“If you put out unprotected seed, and rays come by,” Fisher found, “they’re going to get eaten,” but if the seed oysters are not made accessible until their shells thicken, they will not be harmed by rays.
Wrote Tom Pelton for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation later in 2011, “When California’s oyster growers launched a program to eradicate oyster-eating bat rays, the campaign appeared to backfire and cause more oyster mortality, according to ray researchers and Sonja Fordham, president of Shark Advocates International. As it turned out, the California rays were not eating many oysters, but they were eating oyster predators, such as crabs, which became more numerous.”
Elaborated Fordham, to Audubon writer Ted Williams in 2012, “The fishery is completely unregulated. This animal has one pup a year, if that. I talk to people at the seafood shows who claim cownose rays are being fished sustainably. When I ask them for evidence they say they’re a ‘nuisance.’ Well, that doesn’t make them sustainable. That’s how the coastal shark fishery got started. People saw declining swordfish and lots of sharks. So with no thought about biology, they promoted coastal shark fishing. That’s why we have species like duskies that won’t recover for a hundred years.”
Shark attacks at Oak Island
On Sunday, June 14, 2015, while Steve Hindi and Mary Finelli were triaging their videotapes and photographs of the “Battle of the Rays,” an unidentified shark or sharks made international newscasts by inflicting bites that caused two teenagers to lose limbs at Oak Island, North Carolina, about 400 miles south of Patuxent.
A 12-year-old girl from Asheboro lost part of her left arm and suffered a leg injury, while a 16-year-old boy from Colorado lost his left arm below the shoulder about an hour later, two miles away.
Horrific as the incidents were, they were extraordinarily rare. “From 1953 to 2011 there were only 103 verified great white shark attacks in California, with 12 fatalities,” according to George Burgess, head ichthyologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville––in other words, over 54 years about half as many total attacks and the same number of fatalities as pit bulls inflicted just in the first six months of 2015.
Burgess estimates that worldwide, humans kill about 14 million sharks for every human whom sharks kill.
Cownose rays have yet to kill or disfigure anyone.