Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Wednesday, June 29, 2016: Fine ocean for much of the day, though ...

Below: The nonchalance of the bystanders tells me this is known to be a tough parking lot. 

"Whadda ya mean you lost your receipt, lady!?"

Below: This guy has lost more than just his receipt.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016: Fine ocean for much of the day, though south wind syndrome has begun. Glassy a.m. conditions gave way to persistent SE winds late. Things will settle overnight and the process begins again tomorrow. This will go on into the weekend when we could get a stronger westerly flow, which will only add to what looks to be a fine do-everything holiday.

I had a day loaded with meetings. With only a few fading minutes of daylight I hit the Road-to-Nowhere, … which is also the Road to Ruin if you don’t have bug sprays, insect bombs and hermetically sealed windows in your vehicle. I say this with conviction: I don’t know of a worst biting bug spot anywhere … in the world!

Below: Late today. A fairly smooth ride.

That said, the drive along that mainly dirt roadway has taken a turn for the better … momentarily. Some entity with asphalt to spare recently went along and filled all the horrendous potholes along the entire length of the dead-end roadway. That relative smoothness will not last long so if you’ve thought about giving that highly-scenic area a look-see, do it now.

Birding along there Road-to-Nowhere can be exceptional … from inside your vehicle. Soon, it’ll have some fairly approachable kingfishers.

Oh, there are a goodly number of crabbers out at the road’s end but most of them are so saturated in insect repellents they’re semi-delirious.

The fluking is picking up. I’m guessing that has as much to due with better fishing conditions than the actual arrival of more flatties. H.S. reached his personal take-home limit of three “big” fish. “We caught plenty more,” he said, culling out from his very nice livewell. A good livewell is a wonderful thing, both for culling and also to keep take-homes alive and flapping right up to cleaning time. Hey, if you’re going to use the resource, use it as nature intended … fresh to the max.

Chatted with a gal who tried my fluke sashimi suggestion. Hey, I said from the get-go that it’s something of an acquired taste, which she apparently won’t be trying to acquire. I think she cut the slices too thick.

Below: This is how thin, Sue.

I got further word that there is a decent showing of smaller blues around Barnegat Inlet; boat-caught fish in the three-pound range.

My ears perk up upon hearing that highly-workable size, as does the attention level of other folks who smoke, dry or jerky eater-blues. I don’t know if those fish are making it over to the jetty rocks. I might do a drive-by tomorrow.

As you might have heard or seen, there are some beautiful weakfish being taken, mainly single fish, some to eight pounds. These sparklers seem to be spawners, still holding serious body weight. There really isn’t any targeting them … or any reason to, considering you can only keep one (13 inches or over) daily.

I’d be remiss not to mention the influx of also-swam species. Smooth dogs are everywhere with skates grabbing what they miss. Then, the big rays step up to plate. Hey, I’m still trying to get folks to dine on the rays -- so they can send me a decent way to cook those huge buggers.

I actually have very good luck cooking skate. They’re decently tasty, even when cooked fresh. The amount of meat is often so minimal on our average-sized skate so that I seldom go to the prescribed trouble of cutting off the wings, freezing them, thawing them, cleaning and cooking.

I chatted with some crabbers who gave me a barely so-so report. There were a few keepers scratching around in their bucket. The problem was there were seven folks in their group. It takes me half a dozen cooked up jumbo jimmies just to whet my appetite. I tried to persuade them from relying on chicken part baits but that was all they had. I was going to throw my net on some possible bunkies nearby but I had taken my basket out a week back, placing it in storage. A missed chance to prove a point. 

Can you imagine if crabs and lobster were to suddenly take over the world ... the methods of revenge they'd mete out on humans?


Striped Bass Poachers Banned for Life From Striper Fishing

Two Maryland fishermen who were found guilty of poaching and selling nearly $500,000 of striped bass have been banned for life from fishing for striped bass.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources imposed the lifetime bans on Michael Hayden Jr. and William Lednum, who have also been suspended from all commercial fishing for the next year. Hayden and Lednum remain responsible for $498,000 in court-ordered restitution to the state of Maryland.

The investigation of the two men began in February 2011, when the Maryland Natural Resources Police found tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass snagged in illegal, anchored nets before the season officially opened. The discovery led to a temporary shutdown of the commercial season by state officials.

Investigators from Natural Resources Police and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed evidence, which showed that beginning in 2007, Hayden and Lednum shipped and sold at least 10 tons of striped bass – worth $498,293 – to wholesalers in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. None of the fish were properly reported.

After being indicted in 2013 by a federal grand jury on 26 counts of conspiracy and violating the Lacey Act, Hayden and Lednum entered into plea agreements, where they admitted to using illegally weighted and/or anchored gill nets, leaving the nets in the water overnight, and setting the nets during times when the commercial striped bass gill-netting season was closed. Further, they admitted they falsified the permit allocation cards and daily catch records for their fishing trips to over-report the numbers of striped bass caught and under-report the weights. This allowed them to request additional state tags under false pretenses.

In February 2015, Hayden was sentenced to 18 months in prison followed by six months of home detention and three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay a fine of $40,000. Lednum received a prison sentence of one year and one day, six months of home detention and a fine of $40,000.

In a statement Monday, Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said “The department has acted to protect the species as well as the interests of those who rely on the striped bass fishery for their livelihood. We hope this sends a strong signal to poachers that the state is serious about protecting the fishery.”


I saw one of these on the beach. It was kinda cool ... until it took flight on a south wind. The portly owner was chasing it down the beach, while other beachgoers thought there was an airborne canoe flying at them and began running for cover. They're still kinda cool. 


Rays on rays for days.


(This is a humphead wrasse, aka Māori wrasse, Napoleon wrasse. No matter what you call it, it's a big-ass wrasse.) 


Matchin the hatch!

Jennifer Merchant


Karen Larson


7PM $12
530PM $10
(530PM cruise starts Friday, July 1)...

See More
Karen Larson's photo.

If Skate Wing is so Cheap and Plentiful and Popular, Why Aren't We Eating More of it?

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Washington Post] Bonnie S. Benwick - June 29, 2016

Skate is one perplexing fish. Pricey and pampered at the best restaurants in the country; cursed by recreational fishermen who get stuck by spiny spurs as they toss it back into the water. Cheap and plentiful year-round, yet eschewed by the bargain-friendly purveyors at the District’s Maine Avenue wharf.
And almost never cooked at home. The catalogue of reasons why could fill the negative side of a pros-and-cons list faster than butter melts in Iran City. But lack of spontaneous availability — as in, say, let’s pick up some skate for dinner tonight! — ranks near the top.
If it is too fresh, it can be tough, says chef-restaurateur Eric Ripert of New York’s Le Bernardin.
It goes bad quickly, says Dave Pasternack, longtime fisherman and chef-restaurateur of Esca in New York.
It’s labor-intensive, says John Rorapaugh, director of sustainability at District wholesaler Profish Ltd.
Experts agree: If it has even the faintest whiff of ammonia, don’t even think about bringing it home.
On the plus side, “It is wild, USA-caught, and more people should be eating it,” says Mike Roderick, director of purchasing and fresh seafood sales at the Town Dock in Point Judith, R.I. From where he’s sitting, demand for skate has increased the past four or five years, “in Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Atlanta and the E.U.,” he says. “A lot gets into Florida.” The fish we get on the East Coast gets a “good” rating on Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch list.
Pound for pound, you may find that skate wing fillets, which are the flesh attached to the two big fins, cost less than just about all the other fresh fish on ice and deliver a decent amount of practically nonfat protein. When you can get your hands on them.
Skate makes the best fish and chips, say the Scots and others in the U.K. It’s featured on the menu — when available — at Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper in Alexandria.
At the very least, skate seems to be the victim of misinformation, and there is disagreement even about which parts of the wings are the most choice.
In his pre-“BAM!” days, Emeril Lagasse introduced skate to a television audience as having sweet flesh, “kind of like a scallop.” He said that back in old New England, fishmongers tried to pass off skate wing as sea scallops. It’s a rumor-level comment that crops up on the Web.
Except that’s extremely unlikely, says fishmonger Roderick, who sees little similarity between the tight structure of true scallop meat and the looser, sometimes stringy skate wing fillet with its distinctive ridges. Each skate wing has a fairly thin layer of meat on the top and bottom, with cartilage in between. Fish caught commercially are typically 1 1/2 to 2 feet wide.
The skin is generally thought to be the culprit in skate’s tendency to turn bad so quickly. The cartilaginous, ray-shaped bottom dweller excretes waste through its skin, the theory goes, and that stays on the fish’s pearlescent flesh too long, it will permeate the meat.
Also not the case, counters Roderick. The fish store their nontoxic waste (urea) in their tissues, as do sharks. Whether the skate is a “targeted” catch or an accidental bycatch, the skin-on wings are quickly cut off, rinsed and stored onboard, on ice, at 40 degrees or less, he says. They may be held that way for three days or so: “We unload skin-on wings from the vessels, and they are fine.” Any ammonia smell is the result of inferior, improper handling, he suspects, such as when the skate has not been bled properly, because that draining blood will carry with it most of the urea. Some folks say soaking skate in buttermilk will get rid of an ammonia aroma and any off-taste, but experts do not recommend it.
On a more appetizing note, skate cooked in a pan can be strikingly beautiful and tender. Those ridges create a fan effect that hold a sauce, not unlike the ribbed, die-cast pastas of Italy. It is mild, yet Ripert finds it a “very refined, specific beautiful flavor that is distinctive” to the fish. In France, skate wing is widely available wherever lots of fish are sold and is featured on bistro menus, either pan-fried or poached. He grew up eating it with brown butter.
Skate has been on the menu at his Le Bernardin since the four-star restaurant opened in 1986. Its popularity today in the States is attributed to the Manhattan restaurant’s French-born chef, Gilbert Le Coze, who was Ripert’s predecessor and something of a skate wing champion.
Le Coze found the fish mishandled and underappreciated in New York fish markets at the time. Nobody was buying it, according to Ripert. So La Coze invited said fishmongers to the restaurant and cooked skate for them to help them understand its potential. It was mentioned in rave reviews in the New York Times and New York magazine, Ripert says, and that launched skate’s popularity in U.S. restaurants
These days, Le Bernardin presents its skate wing in a light broth with braised daikon radish and grilled scallion jam; the broth is spiked with a touch of kimchi juice just before serving. The chef instructs his filleting crew to use only the top, whiter part of the wing. “When you see a lot of pink in the flesh, that indicates blood,” he says, “which makes the fish taste more fishy.” Unlike many restaurants, Le Bernardin receives the wings skin-on with cartilage, from Maine waters, and does its own breakdown, naturally. “Out of four pounds of skate wing, we’ll get 1 portion of fish,” Ripert says, “so it’s dear.”
However, Esca’s Pasternack says the darker side yields the better skate wing fillet. He elects to get the fish hand-selected and whole, using the bones for soup, as the French often do for bouillabaisse. “I’ve been cutting skate forever,” he says. “I’ve been catching them my whole life. Ninety-nine percent of people throw them back.”
Pasternack likes to serve skate at his New York restaurant with acid and fat and something decadent: Of late, that translates to fresh fava beans and morels. He cooks it flat, in its crescent-moon shape, so that the edges frill and curl a bit. At DBGB in CityCenterDC, executive chef Ed Scarpone uses a practical approach home cooks can emulate: “Makes it less of a high-wire act,” he says. The chef turns the fish skinned side up, then folds in the thinner ends so they slightly overlap, creating a neat, evenly thick package that buys a little more time in a very hot pan. The presentation side gets wonderfully crisped ridges underneath — no coating of flour needed — while he spoon-bastes the rest of the fish just until it’s visibly opaque.
Skate wing doesn’t come cheap in such restaurants, and Washington has enough markets that sell skate at attractive prices — all of which might prompt the urge to cook it at home. At this time of year, most of the skate available here comes from Massachusetts or Cape May, N.J.

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch. More studies show sunscreens are killing coral reefs. 

All that sun block being slathered on by beach-goers around the world is causing major damage to ocean corals. A new study by the University of Central Florida reveals that the mix of 20 chemicals in even one drop of sunscreen can severely damage fragile coral reef systems.

The study was done in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii and Israel and confirms research done a few years ago by Italian scientists in waters of Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand and Egypt.

The World Trade Organization reports that 10 per cent of world tourism takes place in tropical areas, with nearly 80 million people visiting coral reefs each year.

The most widely used sunscreen ingredient -oxybenzone - leaches coral of its nutrients and the tiny algae that live within coral colonies and provide its colors. The studies showed that complete bleaching of coral occurred within 96 hours. It can also disrupt the development of fish and other wildlife.

Some 14,000 tons of sun blocking lotions wind up in coral reefs around the world each year. The studies estimate that up to 10 per cent of the world's coral reefs are at risk of ‘death by sunscreen.’

But damaging sunscreen from beachgoers is just part of the concern. Anytime people wear the lotions, it ends up in the waterways when they step into the shower to wash it off, just like harmful chemicals in household cleaning products that are washed down drains and into the sewage systems.

As a result, some local businesses have started to ban the use of harmful sunscreen in their waters. In some areas of Mexico known for its reefs and sea turtles, visitors are warned against wearing sunscreen and are restricted to certain areas to prevent too much disruption of reef life.

The U.S. National Park Service for South Florida, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa recommend using "reef friendly" sunscreen made with titanium oxide or zinc oxide, which are natural mineral ingredients.

Alaska’s deep sea corals are safe from sun screens, but they do face threats from ocean acidification. Alaska’s corals don’t need light or algae to grow and acquire nutrients directly from the water column. And unlike tropical varieties, Alaska corals don’t form reefs – they grow into dense gardens and can live for hundreds of years. The waters surrounding the Aleutian Islands are believed to be home to the most abundant and diverse coldwater corals in the world. Find the sunscreen and corals study in the U.S. Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives.

And find links at our website – www.alaskafishradio.com

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com

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