Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
"What ya see, dude? Woodpeckers? I just love seein' woodpeckers."
Wednesday, July 01, 2015: There were lots of folks with chock-filled vehicles coming onto LBI today. Now that’s taking an extended weekend, though I’m bettin’ most folk aren’t ballsy enough to try to add a Monday to their prolonged hooky playing.
Late arriving anglers got a face full of wind. It was south most of the day then mysteriously went hard west before going back to south. The surf water is mucked up, gone a bit brown – a big shift from yesterday’s gorgeously clean ocean. The surf water is 65 degrees; just off the beach it’s in the mid-70s. It was a helluva sight hotter on the mainland, as I found out during a quick trip to window shop tools.
We have some testy north and east winds moving in (and out) for the weekend and clear into next week, with the chance of some gusty onshores mixed in. Stealing a weather saying, if you don’t like the winds just wait a few minutes; they’ll be all over the compass for the next seven days. I know that isn’t what boat anglers want to hear but I do see some periods of slightly calmer and fishable winds.
The 7th shark incident in as many days befell the Outer Bank (OBX), NC. (See below)
I keep seeing where "nearby fishermen" are thought of as part of the problem. That's grabbing for straws.
In fact, I’ve heard every excuse in the books as to why the sharks are grabbing folks. Fortunately, the majority are going the sensible excuse route: tons of people swimming amid tons of sharks. Put more demographically, never have so many people been in the same water with this many sharks. Something’s gotta give … and human skin is in no match for shark teeth.
I know some folks living damn near the epicenter of the bite zone and I was somewhat surprised to hear that they aren’t really seeing that many sharks or even shadows in the clar water. Yes, there have been some amazing pics of schools of sharks briefly showing in shallow water, while frenzy feeding, however, the beaches where the bites are occurring are appearing relatively safe – normal enough for folks to freely go in. That sure has the look and feel of rogue sharks, not packs. Rogues are loners -- and tasters ... they bite all sorts of things, just as a taste-test.
Are these NC reports effecting our bathers? I’ve seen no sign that bathers are backing off when visiting LBI. I know surfers aren’t backing off, as was seen with the last couple swells, when waves of waveriders scarfed up mighty fine peaks.
I will note that water temps do NOT play as large a shark role as many people think. Del, NJ, NY, RI and Mass currently have water temps well within the doable zone for all sharks. Oddly, I haven’t heard of much gray suit action in the Chesapeake, or in the lower Potomac. They should see sharks before us, especially bull sharks.
It could get shark-interesting hereabouts if the down-south forage moves this way. And there is positively something tasty in NC’s shallow waters right about now.
The Number One shark attractants for our waters are stingrays, hands down. I’ve only seen a couple rays so far (near Barnegat Inlet) but they really don’t get here (if they're even coming) until late July.
I should note, in a totally different shark vein, that there are plenty of brown sharks in our surf zone. You can’t legally fish for them – and especially not using heavy rods/reels, steel leader, larger circle hooks and big juicy baits, like bloody bunker or tied on shedder crabs.
Below: Lassoing a shark is also illegal. Just sayin'.
Brown sharks are always here in summer – and always have been. They’re spawners. Why are they so different when discussing dangers for gray suits? These fully passive – albeit well-dentured – sharks pose no threat to humans. They don’t even enter into the picture if when doing a predatory shark watch. If one chomps you when you're unhooking it -- after accidentally catching one -- that really doesn't qualify as a shark attack ... though you'll surely show off the scar as the time you were attacked by a shark and had to jam your hand in its mouth to loose yourself.
Below: Seeking a brown shark scar to brag about.
As to the many devout shark fishermen now taking sheer shark-delight in the attacks to our south, I can assure you those incidents are not soon going to lead to wholesale opening of all-species shark fishing, even though there is no doubt the conservation is leading to a greater threat of attacks.
I overheard some folks saying that the families of those kids attacked by the sharks in NC could have a legal case (versus state), alleging either conservation or failure to issue shark warnings are to blame for the wounds that were suffered. It’s a stretch, though I fully suspect some sort of legal repercussions/aftermath will come out of the two cases where limbs were lost. And maybe I don’t blame them for trying.
Email: “Jay, Will New Jersey see any shark attacks thus summer?”
Yes. But I’m just playing the law of averages. The shore will see close to 50 million people this year. That’s close to 100 million legs. Not everyone will wade into the ocean but even a mere 75 million legs must present themselves as a sight to behold for curious sharks. Hey, mistakes will be made -- by sharks. In fact, the latest attacks in NC seem to have been “Oops … sorry” bites.
Below: Lucky lad after a "Oops" bite in Surf City, NC. And, yes, that same-name has led to huge confusion with between Surf City, NC and Surf City, NJ.
Yet another shark attack occurred Wednesday afternoon in North Carolina's Outer Banks — the state's seventh this year — as beachgoers in the eastern U.S. confront a surprising surge of bites.
Just one or two shark attacks typically occur in North Carolina each year. Nationwide, the number is usually 30 to 40, according to data from the International Shark Attack File at theFlorida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.
Wednesday's attack on Ocracoke Island was the 24th this year in the U.S. The victim, a 68-year-old man, was pulled underwater by a 6- to 7-foot-long gray shark but was able to swim to shore despite bites on his rib cage, hip, lower leg and hands, according to a release from Hyde County, which is part of the Outer Banks.
He was swimming about 25 to 30 feet offshore in waist-deep water with his adult son when the attack occurred, WCNC-TV reported. It was the third attack along the Carolina coast in the past week.
The uptick in attacks — slightly above average for the year — is raising concerns about the Fourth of July holiday weekend. "I can almost guarantee there'll be a bite or two this weekend," said George Burgess, the director of the Shark Attack File.
Hyde County said it will have two ambulances with paramedic level service available with a third on call for the Fourth of July weekend.
Many of the attacks this year have occurred farther north than usual, Burgess said. South Carolina has also seen its share of attacks — three so far, he added.
In Florida, where shark attacks are more common, the 11 cases so far this year have received little attention. However, publicity about the attacks might cause swimmers to think twice this weekend.
"I bet fewer and fewer people are swimming these days, so opportunities for interactions may be diminished for a while," said Daniel Abel, a marine scientist atCoastal Carolina University.
Only one of the 24 attacks — in Hawaii — has been fatal. On average, zero to one of the shark attacks reported each year is fatal, according to the Shark Attack File.
The proximity of fisherman and swimmers was of particular concern in last weekend's attacks, Burgess told LiveScience. "Fishing off a beach where there are swimmers and surfers makes for a really bad mix," he said.
Drought conditions in the Carolinas have led to decreased fresh water runoff and thus to saltier sea water, which sharks prefer, Burgess added. According to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor, about 65% of North Carolina and 52% of South Carolina were either abnormally dry or in drought conditions.
Baby sea turtles and menhaden fish have been more plentiful than usual, providing more attraction for the sharks, Burgess said.
The "ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the opportunities for interaction between the two affected parties" could be one reason for the slight uptick in attacks, the Shark Attack File reported.
In addition, 24/7 news and social media coverage tends to exaggerate the danger. Bees, wasps and snakes are each responsible for far more deaths annually in the U.S. than sharks, the Shark Attack File said.
"The chances of dying ... are markedly higher from many other causes (such as drowning and cardiac arrest) than from shark attack," according to the Shark Attack File.
The wildlife of New Jersey needs our help now! The New Jersey Fish and Game Council (NJFGC) just decided to allow the use of inhumane leghold traps, even though they were already banned in 1984! Gov. Christie and the NJ Legislature have the power to ban them again, so we need to speak up and call on them to veto the use of leghold traps as fast as possible, since many of these animals are being trapped inhumanely for their fur right now.
The traps are designed to clamp onto an animal’s leg when it reaches in for food. Once snared, the animal suffers terrible agony until it dies from blood loss or infection, or is killed by the trapper days later. Proponents say the new leghold design is “humane” because, unlike older traps which snare birds, deer, and other animals, these ones require some degree of dexterity, so they’re limited to raccoons and opossums. Just because the traps snare fewer animals, does not mean these animals suffer less. It’s the wrong use of the word “humane.”
Since the 1984 ban, trappers have used box traps, which don’t harm the animal. But trappers argue that box traps are too cumbersome and uncomfortable. Imagine how uncomfortable it is to be ensnared in steel jaws for days on end. Leghold traps have the clamping force to break bones and, historically, animals have been known to chew off their limbs to attempt escape.
The Humane Society spent nearly 20 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars convincing the NJ Legislature to ban the cruel traps in 1984. State officials acknowledged then that they were inhumane, but they now seem to have forgotten.
These traps are just as barbaric as they were three decades ago. The NJFGC’s decision spits in the face of progress, and if we don't make some noise, they will get away with it. Please join me in asking Gov. Christie and the NJ Legislature to overrule NJFGC’s wrongheaded decision and protect NJ’s wildlife from needless suffering.
Awesome day of Seabass fishing with the family!
Tuna Fishermen and Boaters Advised to Watch Out for Whales
Stay safe, stay alert, and keep your distance
NOAA Fisheries reminds all fishermen and boaters to keep a safe distance from whales. Whales can get hooked in tuna rigs or tangled in monofilament line. We recommend boaters keep a distance of at least 100 feet from all whales (and at least 500 yards from endangered North Atlantic right whales, as required by federal law).
In recent years, we have received increasing numbers of reports of tuna fishermen trolling their gear too close to humpback whales. This can result in injuries to both the whales and the people.
Humpbacks create bubble clouds to corral their prey, and then lunge through the center to swallow the small fish. Fishermen or boaters in these bubble patches run the risk of colliding with a massive 79,000-pound humpback whale as it rapidly approaches the surface. When a whale collides with a vessel, it can be gravely injured and die from its injuries. Collisions with whales have also thrown boaters from vessels, causing injuries and even death.
In addition to the potential risk of a collision, the close proximity of a boat may cause a whale to stop feeding. All whales in U.S. waters are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes it illegal for people to harm, injure, kill, chase, or harass whales or any other marine mammal. Harassment includes any activity that results in changes to the whales' natural behaviors, such as feeding. Penalties for Marine Mammal Protection Act violations are fines of up to $20,000 and up to one year in prison. In addition, some whales are protected under the Endangered Species Act, such as North Atlantic right whales, humpback whales, and fin whales.
Get more information on safe boating near whales.
'Twas a good morning...
Clams from tonight's harvest off Beach Haven, NJ. Literally. The. Freshest. Clams. On. LBI.