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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

There was a real decent bite on the west side of Beach Haven, i.e. bayside. It was a bass-on-herring scene. Night anglers were actively tapping into inbound stripers, chasing herring. I’m not sure what type herring. 

This burst of bass bodes well for night fishing. Those bass are surely bound for Manahawkin bay. Hearing how active the Beach Haven bass were biting, I’m not even winging it to guarantee some brisk Causeway bridge fishing -- for possibly weeks to come.

As for livelining for bridge bass, I’m note sure that’s necessary or practical. When currents are honking inward or outward, a live-lined offering would simply hang sideways on the surface. . As for live-lineable matter, herring are oft catch-able in the bay but when near the bridges bunker are way more available.  Slack tides would be the only practical time to try livelining. And slack does not last very long thereabouts.

For the most part, plastic artificials shine when angling the spans.

There has been some insider debate on whether the lights draw forage fish, then gamefish, to the bridges or if the structures themselves attract gamefish.

With (any remaining) weakfish, it sure seems to be the draw of the lights – and the spearing hanging within. However, the bass sure seem to covet the ambush potential offered by the bridge piles, not to mention the myriad of current-carried foodstuff.

Somewhat oddly, I’ve never once seen a bridge striper come up to nab one of the hundreds of blue crabs frantically swimming near the surface throughout the night. I have seen bass come up to suck down either grass shrimp or small spearing. I’ve even seen bass come up for one single grass shrimp. Hey, makes sense to me. I love shrimp. 

During my bloodworming days, I could afford to load a single hook with what would amount to $10 in worms. I tried worming that way off the Hochstrasser bridge at night, with frickin’ dozens of bass clearly hanging in the shadows. I couldn’t draw a striper glance. Yet dropping a Fin-S Fish, or even a plastic worm, would draw hits instantly. Indicates the fresh bait angle might not be the best bet.

I have to warn there are laws applied to fishing from atop the bridges. Though I’ve never been chased, I’ve heard that a load of folks fishing downward sometimes provokes a cop stop-by.

By the by, boats cannot tie up to any part of the bridge structure, nor can they anchor in the channel itself. I have seen Fish and Wildlife show up, even in the wee hours – when I was illegally fishing the climb-down areas under the bridges.

As for any spring weakfish, many folks, like myself, are fully against keeping even that one allowable 13-inch or larger fish.

 

I did a grass shrimp check and found backbay creeks becoming loaded with these prime forage fish. It could be a banner year. While that might not seem that important, as weakfishing is dead in the water, you can’t believe the eco-vital role shrimp play in keeping gamefish fat and healthy. What’s more, the shrimp are vital to young-of-year fish in the bay.

I also saw a modest showing of minnies. They were resident fish.

 

A very scraggly coyote was shadowing me near Mayetta, late afternoon. Tells me humans have likely fed it in the past. Had my camera but it was way too dark. 

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[Portland Press-Herald] By Jay Lindsay - April 2, 2012 -

The tiny fish is, at most, a foot long. The price per pound often won't even buy 12 minutes at a Boston parking meter. Some people eat it pickled, but herring is mainly caught to become bait for more popular seafood, such as lobster.

The herring, though, is deeply important to fishermen and environmentalists, who are fighting to put greater restrictions on trawlers that pull up hundreds of thousands of pounds of herring at a time.

They argue that the large trawlers are depleting a species that's a critical food for just about every prized commercial fish in the region, from cod to striped bass. The herring's influence even extends to ocean tours, which depend on abundant herring to attract whales and birds to the ocean surface to feed and be seen.

"For many people who don't work on the water, make their money on the water, I think it's easy to underestimate the importance of herring," said Tom Dempsey of the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association.

The New England Fishery Management Council is considering clamping down on midwater herring trawlers, named for the area of the water column they the pull their nets through. A series of eight public hearings around the Northeast wrapped up last Thursday in Cape May, N.J., and council action is expected in June.

The proposals include tighter requirements on how the trawlers weigh their catch, and bans on certain fishing areas.

A key proposal would force trawlers to carry independent observers on every trip, in part to stop suspected over-catching and dumping of protected species that the herring boats snare unintentionally, such as cod and haddock.

"It's time for a change in that fishery," said Bob St. Pierre, who fishes for tuna, striped bass and groundfish out of Chatham.

But the herring industry says there's scant evidence their trawlers are the menaces they're portrayed as.

Mary Beth Tooley, a longtime herring industry member and also a Maine representative on the regional management council, said the stock is robust, and there's no research yet to contradict that. There's also no data to show the midwater trawlers are catching and killing huge amounts of other fish species.

Opponents complain that scientists have simply been slow to collect the information. But Tooley said the herring industry is getting battered based on a faulty assumption that because the boats are big -- up to 165 feet long -- they're doing big damage.

"I think perception is everything," she said. "I don't think there's a lot we can do to overcome that perception."

Herring was the fifth-highest revenue fishery in New England in 2010, bringing in nearly $21 million on 140 million pounds of fish (15 cents per pound), according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. The bulk of the catch, about 80 percent, was bait for commercial and sport fishermen.

The trawlers often work in pairs, pulling a football field-sized net between them, then sucking the herring from the net into ships' holds. The trawlers, with crews of about six, dominate the local herring catch and work with remarkable efficiency.

The depletion of herring stocks could have numerous implications, fishermen and environmentalist say. Bait costs would rise for the region's lucrative lobster industry. Without herring to chase and eat, game and commercial fish could fade from inshore waters. Struggling species, such as cod, could fail to rebound without this key food.

"Herring are a vital food source for cod and many other species," said Jud Crawford of the Pew Environment Group. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to get the idea that if you're pulling out one of the major food sources (for cod) … you're at least decreasing the chances of recovery."

Regulators are now conducting a major assessment, expected to be completed this summer, which should answer key questions about herring's health.


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[Star Pulse] - April 2, 2012 -

Captains Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand (F/V Time Bandit), Captain Sig Hansen (F/V Northwestern), Captain Keith Colburn (F/V Wizard), Captain "Wild Bill" Wichrowski (F/V Kodiak) and returning newer skippers Captain Scott Campbell Jr. (F/V Seabrooke) and resident badboy, hot shot Captain Elliott Neese (F/V Ramblin' Rose) take to the icy Bering Sea searching for their own version of buried treasure - the highly prized Alaskan king crab.

This season "Deadliest Catch" crews have their fishing quota slashed by almost half bringing home a cold economic reality -- how will they make enough money to support their families and literally keep their businesses afloat?

With the change in quota, the captains are faced with choices in strategy and tactics - who will go for the more elusive blue crab? Which boat will risk changing pots and gear in order to reap higher profits?

And later in the season, fishing opilio or "snow crab," the fleet faces some of the harshest weather conditions any of them have ever experienced in more than a quarter century of fishing.

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