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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday, September 09, 2019: It was a swell weekend, literally; traffic signals a-blink, Holgate happening ... photos aplenty

Kids will be kids. I'm not saying squat. 

 

Monday, September 09, 2019: It was a swell weekend, literally. Some classic surf made for amazing waveriding -- though the swells hindered surfcasting to some degree. There was still a goodly number of beach anglers cashing in on steady bluefishing, with mainly one-pounders coming to light.

There are some mullet schools doing test runs southward. They zip out of Barnegat Inlet for an Island-long sprint before careening back into the bay down Little Egg Inlet. Once inside the Holgate back cut, they hit the migratory brakes and resume bottom feeding, fattening up for the big run, covering as much as 1,000 miles in some cases.

Big schools of baby pompano also making their way toward Florida. These are the young-of-year that rode the Gulf Stream northward before being blown our bay way

LOCAL NOTE: Traffic signals are off from Surf City northward through Barnegat Light. To be technically exact, they’re on the blink, just not going through all the color motions, vis-à-vis summer cycling.  

The rest of let’s call it southward LBI must usually wait until after the Chowderfest to get flashy, though I think I recall Beach Haven maybe turning their signals off earlier.

Keep in close mind that the police know full-well that turning off the traffic lights can egg folks into picking up speed. Speeds are the same as summer, at least for now. I’ll keep an eye open for speed limit changes. For now, don’t get suckered into becoming heavy-footed in red-light-free stretches. Tickets costs/points are always in-season.

Important: It can be trickier seeing/stopping for pedestrians crossing the street when on a signal-less roll. Again, getting on such a roll can offer a false sense of clear road ahead. With this supremely gorgeous weather, many beachgoing folks are still cashing in on summer’s bushy-tailed end.

Add to that the problem of east-west drivers needing to access the roadway in blinking-signal zones. They/we now have to be a bit more daring than recent days when traffic signals allowed greenlight rights of way -- or created decent breaks in the traffic flow.

What I’m saying is blinking signals demand sharp driving awareness.

HOLGATE HAPPENINGS: The far south end of the Island is again happening. Both beachwalkers and buggies can access the entire 2.5-mile sandy stretch adjacent to the Forsythe Holgate Unit, part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

As to the allowably accessible beach zone adjacent to the refuge, things are looking highly hoofable -- and decently drivable.

The first couple miles of beachline are quite wide, though still highly dynamic, erosion-wise, -- with ocean/bay overwash points still obvious along the first mile or so. I am eyeing an upside in the overwash areas. There is a healthily significant return of grasses thereupon, including some points that had been denuded of plant life juts a couple years back. It’s too early to determine if the regrowth is a long-term vegetative rebound, i.e. taking root, or simply the result of a quiet storm stint – using the word “storm” in a kick-ass meteorological sense.

It’s easy to anecdotally suggest that heavy storm periods are cyclical on LBI. SS Sandy marked a high hit period, recalling a goodly number of other rambunctious blows (dating back to the 1990s) during her time slot.

There’s no denying – while knocking on driftwood – that we’re experiencing stormular down times. Sure, we’ve taken some flood hits in recent years but there’s not that ominous feel to the air when in times of terrible tempests. An old-timer used to call low-storm years “ breathers” – unless he was quietly clever enough to be saying “breezers.”

Back to Holgate, buggyists will find the same high-tide testiness in the beach zone about ¾ of the way to the end (see photo). Over this past hurricane surf weekend, that skinny zone spot was pretty much impassable at max high -- unless you didn’t mind thoroughly salt-soaking your buggy’s chassis by driving through wet sand and foam. Low tide was fully negotiable thereabouts.

As to fishing, the one-pound blues are the main biters, to the exclusion of what I had hoped would be a fluke showing prior to the season closing. Of course, there were only a few folks fishing so getting a read was tough. What’s more, an arriving surf calm down might allow reading the deeper troughs that often hold slews of fluke. In fact, those troughs are sometimes called slews for that reason. Do not listen to me.  

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Casting shoreward for one-pound blues in the swash.

Below: Nope. Not buggy tire tracks. Instead, these Holgate tracks were left by the oldest surviving creatures on the planet. Apparently, a bunch of horseshoe crabs moved in to dine on the muck within sudden ponds -- now dried -- after the King Tide and Dorian swells washed over the far south end beaches. I guess the crabs just crawled over dry land to escape the drying ponds, working their ways back into the bay. Hey, you don't get to live past a billion years old without knowing some survival skills. 

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Below: No, not a greenhead by any stretch. This non-biting bugger is minuscule. Check the sand grains. I've gotten into focusing on oft overlooked ultra-mini wildlife in Holgate. I've  never seen these elsewhere on LBI. 

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Getting in the last casual bayside fishing days. Fall will put some serious offshore wind gusts into the system. 

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Doesn't take much detective work to ferret out what led to this rod and reel's demise:  

Photo one: The victimized outfit. 

Photo 2 Hmmmm. What does this part of the rod tell me? 

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Global Ocean Acidification Research Starts at Local Level All Around the World

September 9, 2019

Ocean acidification (OA) is a shift in the world’s oceans from neutral to more acidic water from the update of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs about 30% of the carbon in the air, resulting in increasing levels of carbonic acid in the sea. 

Researchers in Alaska, the South Pacific, New England, and further afield are studying the effects of increasing OA on their waters. In Alaska, research is focused on fisheries -- from the billion-dollar groundfish resource in the Bering Sea to life-saving subsistence food along coastline; in New England, Martha’s Vinyard oyster ponds are being protected locally as OA increases, and in the South Pacific, a recent gathering of environmental ministers announced new alliances on research for OA, including a brand new Pacific Climate Change Centre (PCCC) to address OA among other climate change impacts, research, and innovation in creating resiliancies among Pacific Nations.

Alaska ranks as the fastest-warming U.S. state, and because it is surrounded by cold oceans, it is experiencing the fastest rise in OA.

The Alaska Ocean Acidification Center connects scientists with stakeholders who want to know everything they can about how OA may affect the state’s valuable fisheries resources. Established in 2016, the Center tracks the latest carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere (as of March 30, at 412.48 ppm, the highest recorded ever) and conducts experiments that inform what higher OA will do to pollock, cod, and crab species. 

Robert Foy, Science and Research Director for NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, says the direct effects of OA may be to reduce growth rates of juvenile fish, decreasing survival. OA can also interfere with sensory signals in the brain causing the fish to not recognize predators or prey. Indirect effects on the food web may reduce abundance of prey for fish, such as pteropods, the main food for juvenile fish. Cumulative effects may be a reduction in the overall productivity of fish resulting in less to catch commercially or gather for subsistence.

The Alaska Marine Advisory Sea Grant program supports the research of University of Alaska Fairbanks assistant professor Amanda Kelley, a top researcher on ocean acidification’s effects in Alaska. Alaska Sea Grant has funded Kelley’s research studying how shellfish react to different levels of OA. Sea Grant recently produced a video of work Kelley is doing in Seward and in Kachemak Bay to better understand OA and how tribal members and citizen scientists are getting involved in monitoring it.

After Alaska, Rhode Island ranks as the fastest-warming state, following by New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts. The oyster industry in Martha’s Vinyard has been monitoring OA for years and may have an innovative approach to mitigating it.

The Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group launched a shell recycle program, where they collect shells, let them age until they’re clean, and release them back into Great Ponds for restoration. “Adding shells helps buffer the water in small scales,” Emma Green-Beach, lead scientist of the Group said. “It provides hard calcium for baby oysters.” 

Oysters are a “keystone species” on Martha’s Vineyard, as their existence provides a habitat for other organisms. “When you have clusters of oysters, they make huge reefs where fish, urchins, crabs, and all sorts of plants and animals can live,” Green-Beach said. “Little fish can hide there. Big fish can hunt there. Oysters create a hard and complex structure on an otherwise muddy, flat bottom.” Oysters also filter water, and adults can filter up to 50 gallons a day, according to Green-Beach. 

The work that is being carried out in the Pacific to address this issue was highlighted at a side event during the second day of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)’s 29th Meeting of Officials taking place in Apia, Samoa last week.

Among those highlighted was work of the New Zealand-Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification (NZPPOA) project in Fiji and Tokelau, Samoa’s joint initiative on OA monitoring with the Republic of Korea, and the recently published “Mainstreaming Ocean Acidification into National Policies” handbook on OA for the Pacific.

The NZPPOA project is a collaborative effort between the University of the South Pacific, the Pacific Community and SPREP, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand and the Government of the Principality of Monaco. It aims to build the resilience of Pacific island communities to OA and was developed in response to needs identified during the Third United Nations Small Islands States Conference in Apia in 2014.

Its focus is on research and monitoring, capacity and awareness building, and practical adaptation actions. The pilot sites for the practical adaptation actions were Fiji, Kiribati, and Tokelau, two of which were present at the side event this afternoon and presented on the progress of the work being done in their countries.  

OA monitoring buoys have been set up and deployed successfully in Palau, and will soon be set up in Samoa, and staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Samoa will have the responsibility to operate and maintain these buoy systems.

Photo Credit: Alaska Sea Grant

Peggy Parker

Gill-to-fin Eating: Why we Need to Widen the Net and Eat More Challenging Fish Cuts

Copyright © 2019 Independent Digital News and Media
By Sue Quinn
September 9, 2019

We only eat about 40 per cent of a fish. But there’s much more to it than that, from the head to the bones to the eyes. Sue Quinn finds how to waste less and enjoy more

The winds of sustainable eating have turned seaward. The nose-to-tail philosophy, coined by chef Fergus Henderson to celebrate cooking all parts of land animals, has become widely accepted.

Now, innovative eco-conscious chefs are diving into the next phase, "gills-to-fin" cooking, using every morsel of the sea’s bounty, not just the prime cuts.

They’re turning bones, heads, offal and other fishy bits that many of us don’t realise are edible into dazzling dishes often more delicious than plates using familiar cuts like fillets.

Crucially, gills-to-fin cooking also reduces waste and stretches precious sea life further, an approach that’s now imperative.

The WWF reports a 39 per cent decline in recorded marine species over the past 40 years, and almost 30 per cent of commercial fish stocks are over-fished. To compound this, so much of what is caught is wasted.

For example, Seafish UK says the fillets on cod and haddock make up just 50 per cent of their weight – the rest is often discarded by processors and used for fishmeal (to feed farmed fish).

“If we want to continue to enjoy these amazing gifts from nature, we’re going to have to try a bit harder and use all of it,” says Jan Ostle, chef proprietor of acclaimed Bristol restaurant, Wilsons.

Ostle uses all parts of fish and shellfish on his menu and is especially passionate about flavourful but pricey turbot.

“Only 40 per cent of the whole fish will end up on the plate once you’ve taken the fillet off, skinned it and removed the bones,” he says.

Grilled mackerel, oyster and smoked bone broth at Wilsons restaurant (Issy Crocker)

“Purely from a business point of view, that’s bloody disastrous. But you can make a five course meal out of a turbot if you want to.”

Ostle’s menu is swimming with dishes that utilise undervalued seafood parts.

Turbot served with malted sourdough is made from the heads, for example.

He cooks them gently, then picks out the flesh and presses it into a terrine.

“It’s where the real joy is, the head,” he says. “It’s like the pork belly of the fish – the alchemy of fat and flesh blending together is the really delicious part.”

Fish bones are also smoked over hay to make an astonishingly rich broth, he also dehydrates and deep fries fish skin for a piscatory crackling, and much more.

The Perception Question: Red Mullet

A good example of skewed customer perception towards a fish is red mullet. Already in a consumer’s eyes without talking to someone, a conclusion is drawn that it’s mullet and must taste like the earthy, muddy and often "fishy" fish that they may have grown up eating.

Contrary to this, knowing that the diet of red mullet is rich in crustaceans will give us the knowledge that the fish also has a flavour profile reminiscent of lobster, crab or prawn (shrimp). A conversation when purchasing fish with the individuals handling or selling it will help guide you in the right direction. (Extracted from 'The Whole Fish Cookbook')

The deliciousness of these cuts usually regarded as scraps underscores just how much good eating and flavour can end up in the bin.

The thing is, the British have a tricky relationship with seafood.

Amazingly, more than 150 species of fish are caught in waters surrounding the UK, according to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

And yet we’re wedded to cod, haddock, salmon, prawns and tuna, which make up about 60-75 per cent of the seafood we eat.

If we’re not prepared to widen the net of fish we eat, will we tuck into the challenging cuts?

Turbot head with smoked tomato butter (Prawn on the Lawn)

Certainly, adventurous food lovers are enraptured by the trend: just peer into Instagram.

Diners at Flor, James Lowe’s new Borough Market spin-off of his Shoreditch restaurant, Lyle’s, adore the scarlet prawns. And the heads are the extraordinary part.

Just as they do in Spain, Lowe grills them, leaving just enough meat in the neck to stop the juices escaping. The result? A flood of flavour when you bite in, which Lowe aptly describes as a cross between foie gras and bisque.

He serves the heads separately to the raw tails, on their own little plate. “It’s a way to celebrate them,” he says. “We want customers to know how special they are.” Meanwhile, over at London restaurant Brat, hake throat is now one of chef Tomos Parry’s signature dishes.

Dry Handling

If you purchase your fish whole, ask the assistant to scale and gut it without the use of water.

If this is declined then it is best to scale and gut the fish yourself at home.

It is a common assumption that gutting and scaling a fish at home will cause it to stink for weeks, but if handled correctly, the fish will smell less than one that has already been washed with tap water and wrapped in plastic for the car trip home. (Extracted from 'The Whole Fish Cookbook')

Rich Adams, founder of Forgotten Fish, a gills-to-fin fish supplier, says British restaurants can’t get enough of unused, unknown and underrated cuts at the moment.

“It’s gone crazy,” he says. “I can’t keep up with the requests.” The problem is, most fish processors are set up to treat these cuts as waste, not for human consumption, and he hopes this will change.

Prawn on the Lawn, the seafood restaurant and fishmonger with branches in Islington and Padstow, started serving “weird and more adventurous cuts” a couple of years ago.

Restaurant owners Katie and Rick have two sites, one in north London's Islington and one in Padstow, north Cornwall (Prawn on the Lawn)

“I didn’t do it in an obvious way to start with,” says chef and co-founder Rick Toogood. “A ray wing salad, the cheeks and some meat from the tail poached and shredded.”

But the global conversation about sustainable food has since grown louder and more restaurants are serving unusual cuts. “That’s meant we can push people a little but further into things like collars and heads,” Toogood says.

After eating dishes using both these cuts at Prawn on the Lawn recently I would order them over fillets any day.

The collar (described on the menu as wing because some customers are a bit put off by the term), is cooked on the bone and intensely flavourful and meaty – not fishy at all.

Skate wing is a popular dish at the restaurant (Prawn on the Lawn)

The brill head was also a rich, sticky and delicious feast: grilled on the plancha, then roasted and served with a soy and mirin butter it was a bit like eating a fine piece of pork belly.

Customers often need advice on how to tackle the head.

“We tell them, just go for it, use your hands. Any of the soft bits are good for eating,” Toogood says. Others are a bit squeamish

“People have lost touch with where their food comes from.

If you buy your fish at the supermarket wrapped in plastic, it’s not surprising it’s a bit of a leap to eat the head.”

But he urges home cooks to overcome this and try serving unloved cuts at home.

“The amount of meat you get on a whole cod’s head is probably similar to a whole roast chicken,” he says. “You could serve it as a centrepiece where everyone tucks in.”

If that sounds a bit outré, it’s actually quite tame by the standards of Josh Niland, chef proprietor of Saint Peter restaurant and The Fish Butcheryin Sydney, who’s credited with starting the gills-to-fin trend, including ageing, curing and smoking fish for seafood charcuterie.

Niland’s won a brace of awards and a crowd of celebrity acolytes including Rick Stein, Heston Blumenthal and Nigella Lawson.

Every chef I spoke to about gills-to-fin cooking can’t wait to get their hands on Niland’s cook book, The Whole Fish(Hardie Grant, 12 September, £25), in which he explores ways to unlock “the untapped potential” of fish.

Think crispy crunchy deep fried fish eyes and scales, sausages made from fish throat and tongue, and black pudding made with fish blood.

Take a deep breath and inhale the sea air, because this is the future.

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