Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Friday, September 09, 2016: I can do without both the heat and the west winds.


Holgate tiger beetle can look back at me ... while still looking forward. It's a good thing these buggers aren't bloodsuckers. They have jaws even a shark would be impressed over. By the by, this particular species is one of the rarer tiger beetles, Cicindela puritana -- the Puritan tiger beetle. However, they are very common inside the Holgate Wilderness Area zone, mainly in areas where sand and vegetation meet, i.e. away from the human usage zone. They don't like the wrack line, nearer the water, like some other species of tiger beetle. While all tiger beetles are among the fastest running  creatures known, C. puritana is among the fastest of the genus. 

Cicindela puritana

Below: Now this is the rarest of the rarest. I haven't seen one in Holgate for over 20 years. Northeastern beach tiger beetle, Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis

Below" Taking one for the research team ... dumbass. 

Friday, September 09, 2016: I can do without both the heat and the west winds. I know that wind cleans up the ocean for waveriding and also adds to extra length casts but since I posted a piece on black flies (stable flies), I’ll bet I’ve gotten two dozen “Worst ever!” responses from folks who have fallen under their wings – and stings. Just about any insect can have years of massive hatches. That’s the stuff infestations and plagues are made of. If it makes you feel any better, it’s just a normal year for greenheads, which isn’t saying much since they’re ever-presentish. 

The ocean has cleaned up very nicely. It has gone from that riled up brownishness to a healthy light green/blue. It is also in to the low 70s. I have to think it’s going to be an exceptional surfcasting weekend, with some west-to-south-to-west-to-south wind swings.

Keep a sharp eye open for pop-up T-storms, with unstable, super-heated air in place for the next 48. 

There is some much cooler air moving in come Sunday.  And when mid-90s air runs into upper-70s air, things can really begin popping. I see the forecasts already warning of those storms but I’ll be the one going a bit worrywart this go’round. I’m already seeing people swarming onto the Island today, which means surfcasters, boat anglers, waveriders, beachgoers and Holgate hikers could be sitting ducks for any lightning bolts.

Below: www.washingtonpost.com

A man is treated by a paramedics after a lightning strike in the water

I’ve always feared lighting with a passion. I’ve seen its deadly dirty work, right here on LBI, having lost three surfing buddies to strikes – one less than 50 yards from where I was rushing off the beach. I was even near a surfer, I had recently met, getting struck walking out of the water in Florida. He survived but lost his sense of smell, which really affected him something awful.

I'm going bigger on lightning because the lack of lifeguards -- who clear beaches when there is even a hint of lighting -- aren't on. Why is that scary. Gospel truth: I was running out of surf in the face of sheer sky blackness and lighting in the west and saw an entire family -- husband, wife, three kids --  all standing in the wet sand, with suds lapping at their ankles. I screamed for them to get off the hell off beach but the old man was indignant, yelling, " "Lighting won't strike you if you stand on the ocean's edge." Talk about a deadly old wive's tale! There is a funny side to this story. I rushidly offered a harsh, "That's total bullshit! You guys are gonna get fried!" And I kept running ...  I looked back and barely 20 feet behind me were the three kids and, a bit further back, was mom. And they were motoring. I actually didn't even register where dad was at. My only attention was getting on the west downside of the dune walkway.  

Below: "Lightning strikes 14 people ..."

"Lifeguards helped the victim of a lightning strike that claimed the life of a 20-year-old man on Sunday afternoon along Venice Beach."

As to fishing, you tell me and we’ll both know. That five-day storm event knocked the mick out of fluking. Now we’re getting down to the final days of the season and where I thought I’d have a couple week to seek fluke in the Holgate surf, I haven’t even thrown out a jig. 

I might now be forced into using my poor-man’s fluking bait rig. I tie on a couple/few feet of leader, tie a dropper loop near the top of the leader, put a one-ounce cushion sinker (no metal swivels) on the dropper loop, direct-tie a hook (I’m not huge of traditional curved hooks) to the leader tag end -- I’m ready to rock the flatties. Oh, crap. I forgot the bait again. “Hey, Mark, you got some bait I can borrow?” If I’m even more under equiped (per usual), I’ll even do the above rapid tie-on right on the existing line; no leader. Hey, it’s not like I’m gonna hook a ten-pound fluke … that I can assure. 

No major signs of bait movement. As I mentioned before, this heat will knock any migrating baitfish back into the bay to feed – awaiting some coolness. The days are still long enough that the baitfish aren’t overly antsy about heading south.

I’m thankful Hermine came so early. Any baitman will tell you that a storm like her, coming at the start, or during, the run will ruin things for the whole migration. I’ve seen storms take epic mullet runs down to absolutely nothing in under 48 hours. Ask around if you don’t believe me. 


Met up with some old friends in Holgate yesterday. Skimmers. One of my favorites. They look cool -- and they act kinda goofy. 1: Checkin' on the kids. 2: "I saw some mullet right over there, Jay." 3: Coordinated flying. Click on pics for better look. 4: Awaiting marching orders.

Blaine Anderson
Game on!


I just wanna say, you know, football is startin up and all but....

The Stockton oyster project has show some impressive progress today, some oysters over an inch. With hardly any noticeable mortality I feel fairly confident we made the right dictions.


Below: Bycatch is always ruinous to conservation and fishery management. 

Squid trawlers leave a wake of death south of Martha’s Vineyard

Trawlers from across the Eastern Seaboard leave behind miles of dead and dying by-catch in one of New England’s richest squid-breeding grounds.

Commercial fisherman Donny Benefit piloted his 36-foot boat Payback out of Edgartown Harbor as the sun came up on one of the last days of August. Once clear of the harbor, he opened the throttle on the diesel engine, turned up the country music, and fired up a Marlboro Light — the picture of contentment.

From April until the end of November, Mr. Benefit sets out on the Payback to haul in his conch pots. He’s a third-generation Islander; his grandfather came to the Island via Fall River, after stepping off a whaling boat from the Azores. Mr. Benefit has fished for a living since he graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1976, and he’s one of the few Islanders who still make a living at it today.

In August he takes a self-imposed sabbatical from conch fishing, “so they can have their babies,” he said.

During that time, he likes to fish, and he likes to take people fishing. He often takes his 13-year-old daughter Mikela, who won her class in the annual Bass and Bluefish Derby a few years ago with a false albacore.

This day he was taking Ann Frederick and her daughter Charlotte Bloom, from New Paltz, N.Y., who came to the Vineyard with a singular goal — to fish as much as possible.

“We started talking to Donny at Coop’s one day,” Ms. Frederick said. “He was this funny, outgoing guy, and when he saw how much we like to fish, he just offered to take us out on his boat.”

“It’s a good day to make some memories,” Mr. Benefit said to his guests as he set up the tackle.

Today would be their second trip with Mr. Benefit. Their first trip, a few days earlier, was marred by the memory of hundreds of dead and dying sea bass, left in the wake of a squid trawler. The fish were too big to escape the 1⅞-inch diamond-mesh squid nets, and since the nets were outfitted with a “strengthener” net, hundreds, perhaps thousands of pounds of the savory fish were caught, Mr. Benefit estimated.

Commercial fishermen operate within a complex maze of regulations that include open and closed fishing days, set quotas, and specialized permits. By-catch — in which fish not the intended targets are caught — is also strictly limited. The bass were most likely thrown back due to regulations set by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council that, paradoxically, are intended to protect fish stocks, according to Dan McKiernan, deputy director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

The boat might have already caught its sea bass allocation for the day. The boat might not have been permitted to catch sea bass.

“When I think of all those dead sea bass, I get shaking I get so mad,” Mr. Benefit said. “They should at least be allowed to sell them. It’s just a total waste of life.”

“We also saw them shoveling fluke off the deck,” Ms. Frederick said. “We couldn’t believe how many.”

“You don’t know how much fluke they throw back, because fluke don’t have an air bladder, they sink right away,” Mr. Benefit said. “When you haul up sea bass from 60 feet, their swim bladders rupture, and then they can’t go underwater. A lot of them get crushed when they haul in the net.”

Mr. Benefit has fished commercially for 40 years. He remembers swordfishing with a harpoon with Skip Mayhew. He remembers when cod were plentiful. He’s fished for pretty much everything that can be fished for out of Martha’s Vineyard, and he’s seen every one of those species decline.

He said he had a revelatory day last summer. “August 12, I’ll never forget it,” he said. “At first it looked like a white carpet on the water. It turned out to be a carpet of dead striped bass; it went for a mile and a half. And they say they don’t catch them.”

Mr. Benefit said a big part of the problem is that squid boats are allowed to use the squid net as a liner to a four- or five-inch mesh net, also called a strengthener, which squeezes the squid-net mesh tighter, and also allows the net to haul up much more. “It’s like putting a nylon sock in a net,” he said. “Nothing gets out.”

Equally concerning is the pressure these trawlers are putting on the squid population. According to Lisa Hendrickson, research fisheries biologist at the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Nantucket Sound, Vineyard Sound, Buzzards Bay, and the areas south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket (in waters as deep as 50 meters) serve as one of the most important longfin squid-spawning habitats in New England.

As the morning went on, Mr. Benefit made good on his promise to get mother and daughter into some fish. An hour of trolling yielded several beefy bluefish. Ms. Frederick also hooked into a mighty 10-pound-plus bonito, “a Derby winner,” in Mr. Benefit’s estimation. It escaped just before he could gaff it, a moment he would replay several times over the course of the morning.

While Mr. Benefit had succeeded in getting his guests into fish, so far, his own quarry — a squid trawler — had eluded him. This morning he was on a mission to get photographic evidence of the carnage they leave behind, so he could show the public, and officials from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the regulatory body for waters beyond the three-mile state limit, the severity of the by-catch problem.

A little after 10 am, Mr. Benefit saw a tiny speck on the horizon that he somehow could tell was a squid trawler. He put the Payback into high gear. “Look for the puff of black smoke,” he said. “That means they’re hauling in their nets.”

Well before Payback was close enough for us to see that the lettering on 70-foot trawler read Shelby Ann, out of Point Judith, R.I., the water was strewn with dead and dying fish, mostly scup, between two and six inches long. Some were already dead, others were close to it, their burst swim bladders leaving them swimming in circles at the surface, like they were trying to get a breath of air, when they were actually trying to do the opposite.

Hake, butterfish, and whiting, some as big as a foot, were also in the macabre flotilla.

Squid, some over a foot long, crushed from the weight of the catch, bobbed in the water like empty bottles.

Mr. Benefit checked his coordinates so he could measure the distance the carnage would cover.

“There’s so much of it, even the seagulls are picky,” he said, watching a pair of seagulls make a casual flyby.

“These guys got to make a living, I get that,” he said. “But these [out-of-state] boats have to go out farther; three miles is not enough.”

The state of Massachusetts controls the waters three miles from its shoreline. Only boats with coastal access permits can fish inshore waters. After three miles, large squid trawlers like the Shelby Ann are subject to federal regulations under which they can drop their nets, which can be as big as a football field, and drag for longfin squid, and in the process, haul in enormous amounts of fish that feed on the squid. It’s hard to find a fish that doesn’t like to eat squid. Even squid eat squid.

“They need to be further offshore, I’d say 12 miles. They can still get squid, but they won’t be wiping out so many fish,” he said. “This is next year’s scup. Gone. This is just one boat, one drag; can you imagine what 15 or 16 of them can do?”

The number of squid boats working south of the Vineyard used to be in the low single digits. But with fishermen increasingly squeezed to make a profit, and with squid priced at an all-time high, a lot more boats are pounding the water south of South Beach. Mr. Benefit said he’s counted as many as 28 boats trawling for squid.

After marking mile one, Mr. Benefit grabbed a net, and asked his fishing team to began scooping up by-catch. Squid would be dinner or bait. Hake and whiting would end up in a cream sauce on mashed potatoes.

The haul quickly mounted. “You could make a living doing this,” he said, picking a foot-long squid out of the net. “Look at him change colors, he’s still alive.”

By mile two, the dead and dying were too numerous to count, and showed no signs of abating. “It makes me sick to my stomach,” Mr. Benefit said. “Ninety-five percent of these fish are babies.”

Just before mile three, the Shelby Ann hauled in her net, and soon after, the by-catch got even thicker.

“They keep the biggest squid, which are the breeding females,” he said. “Squid only live for a year. They’re going to fish this place out.”

At mile four, the dead and dying were still thick in the water. Mr. Benefit was satisfied he had enough documentation.

“I can’t take much more of this,” he said.

He pointed the Payback north, and headed for home.


UBC Study Calls for Closing High Seas Fishing Areas As a Way to Conserve Stocks


SEAFOODNEWS.COM [CORDOVA Times] by Margaret Bauman - September 9, 2016

A new University of British Columbia study concludes that closing high seas to fishing could boost catches in coastal waters by 10 percent, helping people cope with anticipated losses of fish due to climate change.

The study found that climate change is projected to alter the sharing of potential catches of straddling fish stocks between countries, with tropical countries losing out over the next few decades.

Large-scale transformation of international fisheries governance, through cooperatively managing the resources or closing the high seas, would help partially compensate for losses expected from climate change impacts on countries’ seafood production, according to the study, “Transform high seas management to build climate resilience in marine seafood supply,” which was published online in Fish and Fisheries, at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/faf.12177/full

High seas closures, the study said, are also effective in improving equitable sharing of straddling fisheries resources and enhance fish stock resilience.

Straddling stocks are fish stocks that migrate through, or occur in, more than one exclusive economic zone. The 30 stocks included in the study, and the percentage of each caught on the high seas, included skipjack tuna, 64 percent; chub mackerel, 16 percent; Chilean jack mackerel, 52 percent; Blue whiting, 17 percent; swordfish, 68 percent;

As fishing level reduces, abundance of high seas fish stocks increases, leading to density-dependent emigration into the exclusive economic zones, indirectly increasing fisheries productivity of the stocks, the study said. The result suggests that improving high seas management may create opportunities to reduce regional differences in climate change impacts. While global level impacts of climate change in these EEZs could be fully compensated for by effective management of high seas fisheries and mitigation of emissions, large impacts will remain in regions that are more sensitive to climate change, such as the tropics.

Closing the high seas to fishing or sustainably managing its fisheries under cooperative management would strengthen fish stock resilience that compensates for the impacts from higher emissions, the study said.

The document acknowledged that challenges facing the pursuit of effective high seas management include attaining cooperation for all countries involved in fishing activities.

The issue is particularly difficult to address for vessels that are registered under foreign flags, also known as “flags of convenience.” In such instances, little or no ties exist between the owner of the vessel and the vessel’s “flag state,” the country that holds jurisdiction and control over the vessel when it is operating in the high seas.

The absence of flag state responsibility has been linked to the facilitation of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, a major problem facing fisheries worldwide.

Insufficient flag state monitoring and control of distant-water fleets would perpetuate the emergence of IUU fishing without drastic measures such as a closure, the study said.

While the study focused on the impact of climate change on potential catches under different fishing and climate change scenarios, the effects of revenues, costs of fishing and profits were not explored, as they were considered to be outside the scope of the study, researchers said.

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