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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Wednesday Dec. 5, 07 -- Flakey and radical fishery management ...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007: Waves: Small. Winds: Dead in the a.m. but soon coming on strong. Water clarity: fair to good; prone to dips to poor with wind switches and gales.

It’s white on LBI as the sun goes down but the winds – and the weather – have switched. The flakes feel in almost calm air (afternoon) putting a thick dusting of snow on things. With the sun going down the westerlies winds – marking the end of serious snowfall – have moved in and will do so with authority by dawn, likely pushing 30 mph in gusts. A second bank of blustery winds will come early weekend. None of this good for boat folks still trying to get at the known-to-be-there bass in the ocean.

I got my regular club “Fishy News” from the BHM&TC. There are stories from around the world about overfishing and more overfishing. Europe seems to be making some serious moves on saving its depleted species. I have also gotten updates from U.S. fish conservation groups, including those blasting the near total lack of improvement of the New England fisheries. A study entitled "Taking Stock: The Cure for Chronic Overfishing," is a scathing assault on the do-nothingness of federal managers.

While it isn’t advisable to side with the groups that did this study – since they also have us in their crosshairs – the data in the 16-page study is compelling – and depressing. The concept of fishing heavily and still alleging targeted species will recover is indeed bogus, which is the accusation of the study. Hell, it’s not hard to agree. Same can be said in our own backyard of fishing.

Does that mean moratorium time?

No, just glaring honesty time. Let’s just drop the BS and admit that fishing at both the recreational and commercial levels is too valuable to destroy even in the name of conservation. Admit that the concept of full and rapid recovery of fisheries is too damaging and dangerous to humans. Admit that recovery plans must be adjusted for very long-term recovery (lets call it insidious recovery) and drop the crap that managed species are speedily getting better, even as we speak.

Let’s bite the bullet and admit that fishing is still whacking the bejeezus out of most important game species and, sure, it has to stop, eventually. But, like some deep and deadly addiction, overfishing should be stopped gradually or the patients will die. Forget the moronic guarantees that “In just five short years all will be right with the species.” Just fess up and say we cannot afford to go overly crazy with cutting back on fishing or livelihoods and beloved pastimes will be lost.

I’m serious as sin here. An insidious recovery of this fishery or that fishery by, say, 2020 or beyond is facing reality in a big way.

By the by, I hate the very concept I just offered – I’m a frickin’ moratorium type at heart -- but the bitterness and bogusness and end-arounding of what is now passing for fishery management is an insult to intelligence.

Here’s a very good response email. Emails get me through the long cold winter so please send me any communiqués that come to mind – assorted subject (especially about LBI) are very welcome.

Jay, I have to agree with your conjectures regarding the fall migration. The bass are moving later than past years, but there are plenty of them. Friends who boat fish report 100+ bass days out there. I'm just not into boat fishing. Practically every morning for the past month there are acres of birds working on the horizon at first light, frustrating to say the least, I suspect those fish are on bunker. I gave the bait thing a thorough chance during the tourney until the boredom became unbearable. A quick analysis of the last 4 weeks however shows the impact of the sandeel explosion. On 11/05 I did have 2 fish on clam, both just keepers, kept one, packed with sandeels. (The only two bait caught bass this year out of 744 total) Next 2 days were skunks on bait, so I put the bait rods away, stuffed the bag with sandeely stuff, and started hoofing it along the beaches, my favorite way to fish. Won't list each logged day separately, but I landed a total of 168 stripers since then. Eac h day you had to find the sandeel imitation they wanted (or that conditions permitted) ie: plastic, metal, teaser, thin plugs, but that rotation pays off with one of them. I've had 5 over keeper size on sandeel stuff in the last week, kept only one, and it was so stuffed with sandeels it looked like a hybrid. Saw a 30+ pounder landed the other day on a redgill teaser. Bait guys I talk to are still doing nothing. When the sandeels are here they just don't want anything else. They get keyed in on sandeels and that's it, lots of fish have been hanging in knee deep water right on the bars. No one spot has been consistent, you have to keep moving around. Think bars and white water, they aren't holding on the rocks like the winter schoolies. The street end guys aren't going to have much luck sitting in their favorite hole. By the way, these sandeels have been sticking around. I did a lot of bucktailiing for fluke this summer and they were spitting up sandeels all along. Started pick
ing up some herring on the teaser, so I'm going to add a few large silvery plugs into the rotation. Hope this blow hasn't pushed the fish away, the next few weeks could be very interesting. December has been my best month for the past few or more years, and most days I'm all alone out there. Park the buggy and walk! TJ from Barnegat.

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