Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Friday Aug. 29 2008 -- Lots of stuff to blog about (sorry about any typos -- on the move)

Friday, August 29, 2008: waves: 2 feet out of the east, larger sets during rising tides. Water clarity: Very good, a bit churned but that’s not a bad thing at all.

We’re holding onto these oddish east winds. They have ushered in very warm water, as expected. The process is called downwelling (brother to upwelling), whereby we’re the recipients of warm surface water being blown in. Water could reach upper 70s.

This morning I had a fairly bizarre report – in a summer loaded with strange fish-based observations. Just south of the Big Bridge – east end, toward the Clam Shack shallows – huge balls of bait were black on the surface. Birds and fish were on them.

I have to offer one of those “I’ve been here over 4 decades” things to note I’ve never seen such a major bait showing right in there.

Such an off-site bait ruckus is quite consistent with what seems to be some record-breaking bait showings -- recent records, since the spirits of Indians past are the only ones that know what came down way, way back.

I have had more observations of spearing in numbers beyond what old-timers have ever seen. They are seemingly mustering near the inlets (mainly Barnegat); Where there is usually that common stream of on-the-move spearing, there is now highway-wide flows of them. Weird.

I have already duly noted that odd way-too-early ocean running of baby bunker. However, I think those bait balls near the Causeway are the big move-out (toward the inlets) of the massive bunkie biomass in the backbay. Bunkies pull out very slowly – and take their time reaching the ocean – bouncing along the beachfront after the mullet are done.

Odd in its own right is the modest showing of mullet so far (my three bayside check points are fairly quiet on the mud mullet front). However, I have learned to never try to predict a mullet run based on bayside pre-migration observations. We might be having a quiet mullet summer ere while the Hudson could be loaded beyond belief. I can virtually guarantee that the first mullet to be netted are going to be huge. The mud mullet I’ve netted recently have been filet-able.

The fluking is nonstop, everywhere. I might be squinting but I think I’m seeing an upturn in the keeper rate. That’s based on quite a few reports from widely spread areas. I was surprised to hear of a couple large fluke way over in the west portions of the bay – I’m talking just about up the creeks.

I want to note the spot are still thick in the surf, mainly mid-Island south. I am now hearing that the spot are step-on-em thick all the way through Atlantic County and into Cape May. Margaret at Jingles told me the spot are also growing fast, to the edible size. I’m also getting the first serious gripes that the spot are obliterating the kingfish bite. That is a bad trade-off – even if the spot are edible. Nothing beats kingfish for the platter.

Bob S. was fishing on Garden State and saw that truly spooky looking bunker boat that has been hanging thereabouts. It’s the 200.3-foot Tidelands, built in 1965 by Atlantic Marine Inc. The 572-ton monster craft is eerily rigged – and a bit pirate ship-esque. Bob watched as the spotter plan circled overhead to direct the ship’s two net boats. He then watched the conveying up of the bunker followed by a very odd sight as the two very large net boats sidled up to both sides of the ship and were lifted up to the mother ship with all the fish gear and nets. The bunker taken by this ship goes to Omega Protein Inc., the world’s leader producer fish protein for the pet industry along with of fish oils for dietary supplements. (See story below on cat food devastating fish supplies around the world.)
This is not to say the presence of this craft was appreciated. With all that area out there the mega-ship just had to circle its catch right in the reef’s fishing zone. Could this be a commercial fishermen payback for the effort to remove traps from the reefs. Damn straight.

Email –
I fished high bar /Meyers hole ,and the inlet Fri. 1 weekie 13",small sea bass, 53 fluke 2 keepers to 18.75" But I got a show for free , the coast guard was drilling off of high bar . People in the water climbing in and out of a life raft, and a frogman being lower from a helicopter for water rescues. Jim ,Waretown.”

(That is a great show. I've gotten pics from the chopper. Shows how much training those guys put in.

The impact from the fluke season ending is going to be felt in the worst way when anglers won't be able to keep the things off the line as they switch over to other targets. Hell, fluke will steal bait meant for everything from spot to kingfish to weakfish to bluefish to stripers to you-name-it. They'll hit and jig or plug thrown -- even poppers. What's more, Sept./Oct is when fluke start getting really aggressive. J-mann)
Crab email:

“I wasn't surprised to see someone in your weekly column complaining about the lack of crabs. On the positive side, your crabber appears to have been out there during the time of the full moon, generally not productive, they're too busy going through a shed.

However, I was on the west side of Manahawkin Bay a week ago and was amazed at the number of commercial traps in the water that weren't there last year. Are the commercial crabbers putting in more traps because their catch is down? I sure hope not. That would surely be a really bad sign of things to come.

I still believe that we need to do something before we have the same problem that the Chesapeake does. They have been hard hit by a lack of crabs.

All we have to do is restrict the taking of any female. Hopefully, that would be enough to replenish the stocks considering that the average life expectancy is only 2-3 years and that a female will produce two million eggs.

The bad news is that I recall seeing an article recently which said that only TWO of the two million will survive to maturity. In that case, we are already screwed. I sure hope that those biologists were wrong. Ron K.”

Report from Fish Radio:

Cat owners who feed their pets with fish are contributing to overfishing and threatening fish stocks worldwide, say Australian researchers. Reports from Deakin University say the global cat food industry consumes nearly 5.5 billion pounds of forage fish that comprise a critical part of the food chain for larger fish, plus sea mammals and birds.

The fish include sardines, capelin, anchovy and herring. And pampered cats eat far more fish than people do. In Australia, each pet cat consumes an estimated 30 pounds of fish per year, well above the human per capita consumption of 24 pounds; seafood consumption in the U.S. is just over 16 pounds per person. The Australian study says the global pet food industry is increasingly marketing luxury fish products that contain a significant amount of fish that may be suitable for humans.

''The question that pops into my mind is what are the cats actually eating. If they are suggesting they are gong out to catch fish to feed the cats, or are the cats the byproduct that is left over after it's processed for human consumption. Then that would be full utilization of the resource.''

Brett Gibson is owner/operator of Anchorage-based Arctic Paws, which produces Yummy Chummy pet treats, oils and other products. By law, a ''95%'' rule applies to pet products made primarily of meat, poultry or fish, meaning at least 95% must be the named ingredient on pet food labels.

Arctic Paws uses over one million pounds of pink salmon each year from Valdez hatcheries. Gibson agrees that more pet owners are being more discriminating in their pet food purchases and wild salmon leads the pack. Arctic Paws products have expanded nationwide to Target, PetCo, WalMart, Winn Dixie and more. Check it out at www.yummychummies.com

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