Tuesday, July 15, 2008: Waves: Dropping, down to residual 3- to 4-foot easterly medium- period hurricane swells. Water temps: All over the board; some beaches had water mid 60s while other mid-50s. Note: Arriving south winds this week will surely stir in cold water; ocean bottom temps off LE Inlet are 45 degrees (!).
RUN-DOWN: That stretch of low-wind weather had many folks zipping to the canyon, mainly the Toms. It paid off in spades for the likes of Captain Billy Dubois. He wrote, “Hi Jay. The charter boat Reel Trouble taught 11 yellowfin tuna on
Saturday in the Toms Canyon. The fish were 50-60 pounds. We also had
a 400-# blue marlin hooked up for 15 minutes before we jumped him off.”
(Great day, Cap. I like that “we jumped him off.” One of those calculated early releases, eh?)
While we’re talking out-there, the most significant showing of skipjack tuna in many years is taking place. They are often in close enough for the little-guy boats to reach them. Despite some egregious rumors to the contrary, this fierce-fighting little tuna is fine foodstuff. In Japan, it is called katsuo, a prime ingredient in famed Asian fish stocks.
Being a near-always upbeat writer on fishing, it is taking me some serious look-around time to come up with anything good to say about bassing – and this after a very fine spring striper session. Between the cold water and the south wind turbidity, it is a tough go to catch bass with any regularity. Per usual, the boys of Barnegat Inlet are finding flashes of bassage by live-lining near the rocks – or inside, near the sod banks. But, everyday folks hoping for that beachfront take-home striper are getting skunked.
Bluefishing is a bit odd. The cocktail blues have made some savage insurgencies into the inlet areas, primarily Barnegat. Depending on how you look at these attacking bluefish, they either interfered with fluking or allowed something to be put in the cooler.
What ca you say about fluking short of it being sizzling – and frigid. The total take of summer flatties is simply off the charts. From my vantage, getting reports from all sectors backbay to offshore, I can confidently say I can’t remember ever seeing such a wide-ranging showing of packed in fluke. Brisk fluking is being reported from over 42/BB/BI, all along the creek channels (Oyster, Double), west Middle Ground (BH) over to the east side and Mordecai area, along LBI and IBSP sod banks, within the inlets and the bayside channels leading to same, just outside inlets and extending oceanward to the reefs.
I have to admit that I was at least entertaining the notion that the fishery was being helped along by strict conservation, but how can scientists explain this astounding summer flounder presence? We are damn near time to drastically lower the size and open the season full bore. I AM for sensible bag limits since fluke, being a 100 percent meat fish (no one fishes them for fun), can quickly be sucked up by the flotillas willing to fish them to the max daily.
The kingfish are showing in small spurts. GULP! is out catching naturals. A perfect segue to …
THE GUTS OF GULP!: I want to make a notation about GULP!, the manmade bait of the century -- and beyond.
I have been studying this synthetic bait-stuff both on-line and (even more so) via often astounding reports of GULP!’s successes.
I am coming to the realization that fish may not be eating GULP! but attacking it.
I’m serious as sin. How else does one explain these nonstop stories of anglers using GULP! and catching fish when other nearby boats – or even other anglers on the same boat – catching zip when using other baits, even fresh and fully natural baits?
The tale that put me onto this “attack” likelihood had to do with the humble kingfish. These are regularly aggressive feeders but go into something of a feeding funk at times. I have snorkeled above them as they lie on the bottom, often in large schools, not eating. All fish do that. Well, this summer I have three reports of anglers targeting kingfish and not getting so much as a nimble on fresh bloodworms, clams or squid – kingfish favorites. However, those same kingfish were attacking GULP!.
It sure seems that the bait’s magical ingredients, be they hormonal stimulants or simply olfactory exciters, evoke a bite response, above and beyond natural feeding behavior.
Hey, I agree that the name of the game is getting a fish to bite – for whatever reason. No problem. I’m simply one of those folks who can let something like the GULP! phenomenon slide by, simply thinking, “Hey, if it works …”
By the by, I had an email from a gal who sure seemed to know a lot about the making of GULP!. She said, with no malice toward Berkley, that the formula has been greatly enhanced in just the past year. That aligns with a number of anglers who have said stuff like, “I sure don’t remember GULP! being this good.”
Where to from here? Time and chemistry will tell.
Here are some interesting off-the-wire stories. These first two, from Long Island (NY), are super scary considering the proximity factor.
Long Island Sound trawlers are reeling as lobster populations plummet and costs rise, and some fear the fishery's days are numbered.
The blistering summer of 1999 -- during which an estimated 80 percent of the population perished -- may have dealt the death blow. Heat makes lobsters more susceptible to disease and led to the catastrophic die-off.
Before that summer, the annual catch was roughly 12 million pounds. In recent years it has dwindled to between 2 million and 3 million. For the trawlers, that is a drop from $42 million in total annual earnings to about $8 million.
Some blame climate change for the lobster's decline, but others say pesticides used to combat the West Nile Virus are the culprit.
Either way, the whole fishery is hurting. Fuel, rent and insurance costs have skyrocketed, removing all profit from the industry, according to trawler Nick Crismale. 'I don't think we'll be here in five years,' he said.
Clam harvests in the Great South Bay were in steep decline by the time brown tide arrived on Long Island in 1985, but this year's historically most widespread algae bloom has generated renewed concern and an unprecedented attempt to involve the federal government.
Speaking yesterday at a Patchogue dock against a backdrop of water darkened by brown tide, Sen. Charles Schumer and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Brian Foley called on the federal Commerce Department to provide disaster relief for the Great South Bay.
Declaration of a commercial fishery failure could provide greater access to federal money for research and restoration of a bay that has still not recovered from the collapse of the hard clam population.
Back in its 1970s heyday, the Great South Bay was second only to the Chesapeake Bay for harvesting clams, eels and crabs, said clammer Florence Sharkey of Patchogue.
[Knight Ridder Washington Bureau] - July 15, 2008 - WASHINGTON, President Bush on Monday lifted the 18-year-old White House ban on offshore drilling, but his action is likely to have no impact on prices or supplies anytime soon, if ever.
Bush talked tough Monday, appearing in the Rose Garden and explaining that 'With this action, the executive branch's restrictions on this exploration have been cleared away.
'This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress.'
There are two bars to offshore drilling, one first imposed by Congress in 1981 and another signed by Bush's father in 1990 and renewed in 1998 by President Clinton. The government bans exploration and drilling on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and most of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, to protect U.S. beaches and fisheries from pollution.
There have been some signs recently that the political climate is changing, and Democratic leaders in Congress who oppose further drilling could face a tougher fight to keep the congressional moratorium in place.
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said last week that he was open to some drilling. A June 26-29 CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll found that 73 percent of people surveyed favored more drilling.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has made drilling a major part of his energy plan. Democratic rival Barack Obama remains opposed; spokesman Bill Burton said Monday that drilling 'would merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for 30 years.'
Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives strongly oppose more drilling and called instead for releasing part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and expanding cleaner energy alternatives and greater efficiency. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., branded Bush's plan a 'hoax,' while House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., labeled it 'a political stunt.'