Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Tuesday, February 01, 2011:
WEATHER WORD: While we’ve yet to shake the storm-after-storm syndrome plaguing us since Christmas, the subtle switchover to a maritime influence – bringing onshore winds and rain to the coast – is reducing our need for post-storm shoveling.
And are we over the frigid hump yet?
I kinda see it happening, as overall temperatures are moving back to normalish levels, i.e. highs near 40, lows in the low to mid 20s. However, I’ll join the multitude of meteorologically inclined folks to openly admit this winter has gotten downright freaky. I just read that all-time records for cold and snow have already been reached in many locales, both locally and nationally. We’re not even halfway through winter.
Despite the seeming changeover from coastal snow storms to rains storms, icy air indubitably follows a severe storm – as low pressure gets off New England and counter-clocks frigid Canadian air down our backs. This follow-up freeze means the road folks still have to spread tons of salt to keep driving surfaces from icing over. Into the sewers goes that slushy salty slurry, then onward into the ultra-vulnerable bay.
If ever a winter is going to leave the Barnegat Bay Estuary System over-spiced, it’s this one. If only there was a “Hold the salt” menu.
Oddly enough, it’s stormage to the rescue, spring stormage. It only takes one good nor’easter (non-frozen variety) to flush the bay, bringing its water chemistry back to normal.
There is also an upside to a long wet winter: vernal ponds. Those are the short-lived springtime ponds where much of the state’s growingly rare amphibian life reproduce. It is such a vital part of the ecosystem that losing those ponds (through buildout) could easily mark the end of all Pinelands wildlife as we know it.
To end on a more upbeat note, it might well be another very good year for the roses, frogs and salamanders.
PLUGGERS PLIGHT: Email: “Jay, I’ve heard you write about custom-made fishing plugs. I see them every now and then in tackle shops. I was wondering two things. First, is there a place that specializes in handmade custom plugs from local carvers and is there anywhere that gives classes on how to build plugs?”
That first question is sorta tough. I know of at least a dozen plugmakers who, as we speak, would simply love to market their stylized plugs – and half that many who are harder than hell to tap for even one of their many handmade masterpieces.
My advice is to ask around local tackle shops. Virtually every shop can lead you to some top carvers. It’s like collecting anything, there’s actually fun to be had in pursuing the prize.
There is an unasked question within your question: How much are custom plugs and are they worth it? Yes.
As for a location where such crafters gather in unison, I only know (purely via word of mouth) that a huge fishermen’s market held annually in Asbury Park highlights top carvers. Some are so popular that skirmishes break out as folks wait in-line for the opening of the doors to the market.
By the by, the next few SandPaper issues will have stories featuring a couple local plugmakers.
HOPKINS GONE BAD: Email: “Years back I read an article your wrote on the quality of newer Hopkins lures. Since then I’ve noticed my Hopkins really don’t hold up very well. I was given an old tackle box formerly owned by my father-in-law. It had older Hopkins still in the early packaging. The used ones were as shiny as could be despite being stored for 30 years.”
“I believe the newer Hopkins lures are still technically stainless steel. However, they aren’t the same as, well, you dad’s stainless steel. Yes, there are different kinds of stainless steel – some far less stainless than others.
Since the exact metallic make-up of a Hopkins is a trade secret, I have employed my powerful neodymium magnet to draw a timeline of the metallurgy flowing throughout Hopkins’ history.
It seems the original Hopkins were stainless steel made with a high chromium and nickel content. This is known in uppity metallurgic circles as austenitic stainless. Along with being highly corrosion resistant, it is also nonmagnetic, primarily due to the other elements added to the steel.
Whatever the exact formula, early Hopkins lures had an astounding metallic makeup, able to thwart saltwater corrosion in the worst circumstance. I saw this metal worthiness firsthand while metal detecting LBI beaches after big storms. Post-storm, I would often dig up a slew of Hopkins at a pop. Many had been buried long enough to rot the hooks clean off; some would be partially encrusted with calcium deposits. A couple taps with a hammer and off came the clinging crud and out pops a Hopkins as shiny as a new dime.
Then, I’m figuring sometimes in the late 1970s, I started digging up Hopkins lures that were not only drab on the surface but also carried tiny pits where the metal had been eaten out by the never-sleeping bugs of corrosion. These Hopkins were technically still stainless steel but now apparently had a lower chromium presence and high carbon component, making them martenistic – and highly magnetic.
Obviously, such a low-octane metal blend is cheaper to make. And it sure as hall doesn’t mean they’re not still one of the most versatile artificials ever invented -- and a shoe-in for the eventual Lure Hall of Fame. It simply means they need a lot more care when placing them back into the box for a protracted stay. Also, I no longer get top dollar when I dig one up and re-sell it. No need for sympathy. At last count, I own well over 200 dug “good” Hopkins. It’s my awesome retirement fund.
[The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.] By Chelyen Davis, -February 1, 2011 - RICHMOND, A state Senate committee rejected a bill that would have moved regulation of menhaden out of legislative hands.
The bill, from Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, would have moved menhaden management to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, which handles other fisheries in Virginia. Menhaden is the only saltwater fish regulated by the legislature.
Bills to move menhaden oversight away from the legislature come up every year in the General Assembly, and fail under opposition from lawmakers from the Northern Neck and lobbying from watermen and Omega Protein, which processes menhaden.
Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford County, and Del. Albert Pollard, D-Northumberland County, regularly argue that changing oversight of menhaden would lead to tougher caps or limits on the fishing of menhaden, which would hurt Northern Neck jobs.
'Would you like to see Omega Protein shut down?' Stuart asked one of the bill's supporters yesterday in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources committee.
Northam said his bill wasn't intended to hurt jobs.
Supporters of Northam's bill said it's unfair to leave one fish to the legislature while others are handled by the VMRC. They also said new data suggest that menhaden are overfished.
But those who fish for menhaden say that efforts to move oversight of menhaden are just efforts to kill jobs in the Northern Neck, where Omega Protein fishes for menhaden and employs about 300 people.
Menhaden are primarily processed into other products, like bait or fish oil supplements.
'The menhaden fishery has been under constant assault and battery for years,' said Margaret Ransone of Bevans Oyster Co., who also was representing the Virginia Bait Industry and Seafood Council. Ransone is running for the Republican nomination for the 99th House of Delegates seat.
Ransone said she and other opponents of moving menhaden management don't understand the purpose of changing a process that she said is working just fine.
The committee voted down the bill 14-1. Northam was the only vote in favor of it. A similar bill has already failed in the House.
The House had several bills to regulate or limit fishing of menhaden in other ways, but four of them were pulled by their sponsors after Stuart -- who has been appointed to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission -- promised to request a new study of the health of the menhaden fishery.
[seafoodnews.com] - February 1, 2011 - The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released yesterday, named seafood among the handful of foods Americans should eat more of because of its heart and brain benefits.
At a time when people are told to limit many foods because they contribute to the obesity epidemic and other widespread medical conditions like heart disease, a thorough review of dozens of seafood studies shows Americans should increase the amount of seafood they eat to at least 8 to 12 ounces (two to three servings) each week.
The Dietary Guidelines specifically clear up persistent consumer confusion by saying pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat at least 8 and up to 12 ounces (two to three servings) of seafood each week to boost babies' brain and eye development. Pregnant and breastfeeding women currently eat less than two ounces of seafood per week.
'Seafood is nutrient-rich, meaning it packs healthy nutrients including omega-3s into less than a couple hundred calories per 4-ounce serving,' said Dr. Louis Aronne, Internist and Director of Comprehensive Weight Control Program at Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Cornell University. 'Omega-3 deficiency is a leading dietary contributor to preventable deaths, mostly from heart disease, in America. So it's about time that the benefits of seafood are more clearly recognized in the Dietary Guidelines.'
According to the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), key takeaways about seafood from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, upon which Federal food and nutrition education programs like the iconic food diagram are based, include the following:
* 'Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.' Pg. 34
* 'An intake of 8 or more ounces per week (less for young children), about 20% of total recommended intake of protein foods of a variety of seafood is recommended.' Pg. 39
* Eat 'at least 8 and up to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood each week' during pregnancy and breastfeeding to improve eye and brain development in babies. Pg. 39
* 'Moderate evidence shows that consumption of about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA, is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease.' Pg. 39
Current Seafood Consumption Insufficient to Realize Health Benefits
According to NOAA data, the average American eats about one serving of seafood a week. And, the FDA estimates pregnant women eat less than half a serving. Additionally, consumer survey data from SeaPak shows 91 percent of parents with children 12 years and younger say their children eat seafood less than twice a week. Misinterpretation of FDA advice may contribute to these low consumption numbers. The new Dietary Guidelines provide further support for a call to update FDA advice, which experts say 'may be inadvertently causing harm.'
'Seafood has gotten lost in the American diet and as a result, we are missing out on the meaningful health benefits that the omega-3s in seafood provide,' said Jennifer McGuire, MS, RD, manager of nutrition communication for the National Fisheries Institute. 'The new Dietary Guidelines provide the scientific rationale for the health benefits and now we need to focus on making fish and shellfish a more regular part of our meals.'
[Vancouver Sun] By Gordon Hamilton - February 1, 2011 -
VANCOUVER, The movement toward ocean-friendly seafood is moving 'at lightning speed' driven to a large degree by consumers who want to know what's on their plate, the president of ocean conservation group SeaWeb said Monday at the opening of an international seafood conference in Vancouver.
And that has pushed sustainability to key importance in the seafood industry, SeaWeb president Dawn Martin said at a news briefing on the first day of the three-day conference on sustainable ocean harvesting.
The corporate presence, and corporate concerns over conservation issues that as recently as a few years ago drew only non-governmental organizations, were evident at the conference, dubbed Seafood Summit. The prime sponsor for the three-day event is Canadian seafood giant High Liner Foods, sharing the podium with NGOs like the David Suzuki Foundation and the Fairtrade Foundation.
'It's really lightning speed in the sense of how social movements evolve over time,' Martin said. 'Some scientists who are beginning to look at this say it is probably the fastest growing movement in history. It certainly has it's challenges because it's a global movement, not just a local, one country movement.'
She said the key to making the world's marine life a public issue was to make the link from to the dinner plate. By making that link, the movement toward sustainable oceans has grown out of its conservation roots into a global initiative engaging major seafood producers, non-governmental organizations and scientists.
Chefs have had a huge influence in steering seafood preferences towards sustainably harvested protein, she said.
SeaWeb is sponsoring a three-day conference that has attracted 700 delegates from 30 countries to examine how the world's fisheries can be harvested without being depleted. The global seafood industry takes 90 million tonnes of marine life each year from the oceans yet there is no clear picture of how all the world's fisheries are being managed.
'The world is going dramatically backwards when it comes to collection of data,' said conference speaker Jim Cannon, of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.
He said some countries do not release data, others don't collect it accurately. And the fact that the largest catch category in United Nations data are now 'mixed species' points to the need for better data, he told delegates.
Ensuring fish are sustainably harvested is a developing expertise, High Liner president Henry Demone said in an interview.
'Sustainability of seafood supply is a critical issue for High Liner Foods,' he said, noting that High Liner has recently introduced new tracking systems.
'We can go back to the vessel (that caught the fish) in almost every case.'
High Liner has committed to source only from certified suppliers by the end of 2013.
'We really need to make sure that we have seafood that Canadians want to buy that comes from healthy sustainable resources. We are using our buying power around the world to force our suppliers to act more sustainably.'
The power of large corporations opting for sustainably-produced food was underlined by keynote speaker Yvon Chouinard, co-founder of the Patagonia line of clothing. He said Walmart, for example, can have a huge influence when it decides to change its buying patterns.
'I always thought the revolution would be started from the bottom but it's at the top,' he said.
But the term sustainable has many definitions, an issue raised at one of the sessions, where questioners pointed out that fisheries sustainability does not necessarily mean environmental sustainability.
Broadening the sustainability issue beyond NGOs to include the companies that are doing the fishing is critical to developing sustainable oceans and fisheries, said Tim Fitzgerald, senior policy specialist with the Environmental Defense Fund.
'In order for us to be really successful, all the stuff that we have been talking about for years, has to filter into every other sector, whether it's the suppliers, the wholesalers or the fishermen themselves.
'Once they start to take ownership of the sustainable seafood issue, that's where we get to the other seventy. eighty or ninety per cent of the fisheries that we, as an environmental community, just don't have the capacity to work on,' he said.