Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
This week's why uncles shouldn't be allowed to babysit ...
Photo for inside time capsule: The 21st Century Camping Man ...
2/29/2019: I hit the northlands today, as you’ll read below. Man was it cold. I forgot how exposed to the element Barnegat Light can be, especially when north winds are honking. Don’t let the sun in the photos golf ya. The ray were of no value as I walked to the end of the New South Jetty – though I guess it’s not so “New” any more.
2/28/19 Barnegat Inlet never hibernates. And it was bitter cold on the water. USCG doing towing drills/exercises, i.e. practicing. Smaller gov't vessel crossing from one jetty to the other monitoring inlet water depths and such. Tug boat tugging in some dang thing or another. Click.
BL READY FOR PIPING:
The new man-made “Shorebirds Only” digs, located southeast of Barnegat Light State Park, are massive – and ready for nesters. You could fit a couple football fields in the cleared area -- and still have room for snack bars. Nesting season should kick-off any day now.
The cleared expanse is meant to accommodate piping plover and other nesting shorebirds. To make nest-life perfect for plover, there is a section strategically loaded with broken shells, essential to plover nests/scrapes. Also, there are wide openings aimed at the nearby jetty. These allow the birds easy access to jetty-related tidal pools. Past nesting plover have taken a marked liking to those high-tide pools, which offer plenty of fast-food dining. Just look for the rock aches.
The new habitat also offers easy access to ocean-fronting wrack lines, though that feeding zone has not been quite as plover-popular for past nesters, possibly because previous nests sites have been a goodly distance from the ocean’s edge. The new handmade habitat is designed to coax plover (and skimmers) closer toward the sea – and further away from the heavily humanated lighthouse region.
I imagine some discreet fencing/posting will keep this perfect piece of just-exposed ideal beach, uh, restricted, as in off-limits except for birds wearing a highly-exclusive little Barnegat Light Plover Nesting Beach Badge. There will likely be a family badge in the case of nesters.
Just for fun – and keeping in mind I was one of the early proponents for creating such a habitat (Jim V. and talked about it a couple years back -- I was tabulating the real estate worth of the parcel of BL land set aside for the birds. It wouldn’t be worth tens of millions of dollars … but hundreds of millions. I estimate that each plover nest will easily be worth at least $25 million, all land-value things considered. Not many places in the world can boast “nests” of that worth. OK, so just maybe the Holgate sandy-washover plover area might be in the megamillion ballpark, though would cost ten times as much for flood insurance.
Here's a video of the new plover habitat:
FLOOD COUNT, PLEASE: I thought it was a simple assignment: How many times did our piece of the Jersey Shore flood?
If you think about it, that’s some data worth tracking ultra-closely. By tracking past flood event, we can get some reads on flood a la future.
Well, it turns out it’s not all that easy enumerating the number of floodings we have had on LBI, be it last year or years prior. As amazing as it sounds, nobody is keeping score. There is seemingly no record-keeping, per se. The Weather Service did note that flood events have tripled in the last 30 years, so maybe they have vicariously numbered the floods. However, they aren’t focalized on LBI and thereabouts. We need our own flood numbers. As to the gauges mounted on the Causeway bridge, they can surely indicate bayside flooding events. That leaves many a downpour flood uncounted – and they also seem to be increasing in frequencies. Fortunately, they never last more than six hours, tops.
Had I known no flood counting was being done, I could have been taking a tally of moderate-or-higher flood events based on nearby Central Avenue in Ship Bottom. That roadway is a living breathing flood gauge. In the most anecdotal terms, when I look north from 18th and Central, it’s moderate flooding when nothing but water is showing from roughly 16th street all the way to Wawa, as Ninth Street. This year, I’ll be taking just such a Central Avenue flood count.
Of note, we have had a fairly low-impact winter to date, flood-wise. Knock on driftwood. I can only recall one (maybe two) moderate flooding events to date.
Just in case anyone else wants to keep track of flooding based on indicators they can monitor, please make note that a single storm causing numerous days of flooding is still tallied as only one storm event. However, each related high-tide flooding needs to be numbered.
Make sure minor flooding, which can show frequently in those easily-flooded places, can’t be notched as a flood event, per se. The term “moderate” should be kept in mind. Moderate is when things get deep/serious, often marked by police forcing motorists to use Ocean Boulevard. Hey, anecdotal standards can be very telling … and accurate.
Of course, some clowns can't be helped ...
I've cleaned up this striped bass opinion to read easier/better:
ALL OVER AGAIN: There’s a ton of torrid talk about what has rather suddenly become a surfacing striped bass crisis. It is based on some admittedly piss-poor fishing for trophy bass, along with a sour showing within recent spawns.
Social and print media flapping with editorials about piss-poor angling for trophy stripers. Verbal assaults have been leveled at those folks seen as causal agents, pretty much other fishermen, most often elsewhere. Finger-pointing has taken a Pogo-esque tilt. “We have met the enemy and he is …” Among accusations of too many trophy bass being kept by the other guys, I’m also inclined to point to long-term biomass bothers, including poaching and aggressive mycobacteriosis outbreaks.
While I can make a strong case that this hubbub is coming on a tad too fast, that won’t slow the toxic flow. What’s more, the pissing and moaning has caught the ear of fishery management, which isn’t always the ear you want to catch.
BAD ON THE ONE HAND: There is a shaky agreement that overall stocks of striped bass, meaning fish of all sizes, are not in big trouble. However, big-time bass fishing has always been based on bigness. Trophy-bass fishing soars far above fun fishing for schoolies or even medium-sized stripers. Of course, that biggest-is-best syndrome applies to virtually all gamefish species.
Looking not all that far back, past cures for legitimate shortages of bass stocks have proven amazingly effective. The moratorium of the 1980s was a resounding and applauded success. Maybe too much so. Bass came back so fast and furious that other gamefish species – already strained when they became targeted during the striper shutdown – were consumed by the striper population explosion.
Since the moratorium-related recovery, well-managed fishing for stripers has worked … until now, per many. The current dearth of big-ass bass has sparked a demand to protect trophy stripers, possibly via a true slot, i.e. a moratorium on keeping bass over, say, 42 inches and up. The thinking: Saving the biggest of bass will lead to more biggest of bass being spawned. I won’t make friends saying this, but that thinking is flawed, genetically speaking.
ALL BASS ARE EQUAL: Preserving the largest of bass stocks is not all it’s knocked up to be. Huge bass do not produce more trophy-bass genes than other spawning bass of smaller sizes, per science – and nature.
Admittedly, jumbo cow stripers pitch in quite heavily when it comes to adding copious numbers of eggs to spawn mix, but it’s a misconception that they’ll also be contributing gifted DNA for making a slew of larger bass, like themselves. Lower life forms don’t abide by such mammalian concepts, i.e. breeding prize bulls and prize heifers for blue ribbon results.
With fish, it's exclusively what nature dictates, not mankind. Simply, any bass of any size that spawns has an equal chance of producing genomes destined to become trophy-sized fish. It involves the complex genetics of survival, which demands offspring of not only both sexes but all body types. Nature does not abide by the human precept that hefty and heavy fish are foremost.
We’ve all seen bulky, heavy bass being caught in association with lean and relatively lightweight fish. That has nothing to do with one bass out-eating another, i.e. being a better predator. Nor does it mean, as I’ve heard, that thin fish have just traveled a long distance and are thusly skinny, vis-à-vis bluefish. Those divergent shapes within fish of equal length represent a well-planned and natural genetic distribution.
Nature designates certain bass to get bulky. Females lead the bulky segment, for egg-carrying reasons. However, nature just as enthusiastically assigns other bass to remain lean, even among some female fish. A balanced genetic distribution is absolutely imperative for the survival of the species. During spawns, when waters carry eggs and sperm from all spawn-age stripers, nature doles out body-type zygotes with no favoritism or prejudices. Both fat-ass and lean-cuisine bass add genetic input as nature demand, not as mankind would prefer.
During fat forage times, bass bearing bulk-up genes go for the gusto. Enter world-worthy weigh-in bass. However, nature knows that good times come and go. For sure-to-come lean times, a sector of the bass population has been genetically assigned to stay lean, either through reduced metabolism or, more likely, a propensity to feel satiated before growing portly. That looms large during tougher existence times. Most of the biomass are somewhere in the middle, which makes sense in a long-run survival way.
Worth repeating: Fat bass do not produce trophy bass genes any more -- or less --than smaller or leaner bass. This is actually great genome news for anglers and conservationists. Any and all striped bass large enough to spawn offer the DNA needed for trophy bass of the future.
BIG BASS HAVE PROBLEMS: A strong biological case can be made that bigger bass produce more eggs and sperm. Very true. However, it then comes down to the highly complex and much-debated issue of fecundity - the fertility of the eggs and sperm cells.
In an unfished and chemical free world, the eggs of the larger bass would be a huge and prolific asset to any spawn, in a numbers sense. However, in our all-too-real world, it’s well known that a deleterious chemical load accrues as a fish gets older. This is positively doing harm. Along with PCBs, other more modern chemicals, along with human steroids flushed into the marine environment, are attacking bass, internally. Reproductive organs are seemingly hit the hardest. As impressive as the egg output of large and jumbo bass might be, the fertility of those genomes must now comes into serious question.
That worry voiced, even with an old-fashioned 100-percent fecundity rating, the output of sperm and eggs from one trophy bass can be matched by the contributions of only two medium-sized spawning bass. What’s more, science dictates that bass in the prime of life – not at the height/weight of their growth – are most virile and fertile.
Without supporting or opposing any upcoming bass regulation, I’m pointing out that the best way to a bass recovery in the semi-long run is protecting the healthiest spawners, those fish between, say, 32 and 40 inches. Exclusively protecting bass above 40 inches -- and how many of those are there? -- is a highly dubious way to preserve the biomass into the future. It also flies in the face of genetic science.
Deep diving Troller.
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