Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday, September 30, 2010: An odd weather phenomenon called training, sometimes streaming, has (temporarily) saved us from a total washout for today. Areas of Pennsylvania are being absolutely ove…

Thursday, September 30, 2010: An odd weather phenomenon called training, sometimes streaming, has (temporarily) saved us from a total washout for today. Areas of Pennsylvania are being absolutely overwashed by rain to the tune of an inch. The circulation around the massive tropicalish storm system moving up the coastline is offing so much moisture over the mainland that a dry line passed us last night, after a shower or two. A dry line is when a storm blows its moisture wad and has nothing left to complete what is usually complete circle of moisture circulating around a low. Of course, there’s more to come as of this typing (9 a.m.) so I’ll watch things closely. I should also note that there is sun showing right now.

The winds are pushing 20 mph but are not yet a major actor. I remain worried about the fact the winds will be from the southeast, the worst direction for erosion. Holgate is obviously on it last leg and we’ve had a great fall buggying the fatter than usual township beaches. A single storm can take them back to lean and mean.

As in year’s past, this website will keep off-islanders informed on the impacts of fall/winter/spring storms. I’d truthfully love this to be a low-storm winter. I’m still recovering from last year’s 65 inches of snow. As noted in here, La Nina should mean rain over snow. Of course, La Nina is also inclined to offer big spring storms for the Eastern Seaboard.

Post storm, a batch of cooler air I thought might move in has modified. It’ll be fallish by the weekend but far from chilled. The Chowderfest should see near ideal eatin’ weather.

The mullet run continues to be abysmal, so much so that jockeying for better zones has gotten downright completive among net throwers. Despite that, there’s something of a network (pun) of throwers letting the others know what areas are working and which aren’t. Obviously there aren’t many working areas whatsoever.

Yesterday, I did notice the first river of migrating hardheads (all kinda small in size) snaking in a nonspot parade in very shallow waters. These are actually a prime indictor species, marking the general emptying of the bay. They’re about three weeks later than usual.

By the by, I was among those who long believed that hardhead minnows (s***head minnows to some folks) are utterly useless as bait. Utter nonsense. A couple years back, I netted a few of the larger ones – and they are by far our largest minnow, some growing to over three inches – and fished the back rip at Holgate. I instantly had weakfish and fluke sucking up the hooked hardheads. Then the blues moved in and I couldn’t keep a bait in the water long enough to get anything else. Finally, I went around to Stu’s Point and went after fluke with a very large hardhead and had a 28-inch striper within ten minutes. I even tested the old tale that even gulls won’t eat hardhead minnows. Fat chance. I was only willing to waste a couple minnows of lowly gulls but they slurped them down and offered one of those “Got another?” looks. And a simply throw of logic will tell you these are highly desirable forage fish. They not only run in dangerously shallow water when migrating but watch their reaction to the slightest splash. That comes from being steadily stalked.

Somewhat oddly, my pompano have seemingly flown the coop and have been replaced by more spot than you can throw a net at. Again, you don’t throw on them by sight but simply pick holes and jetty area right next to beach and blind throw. They’re everywhere.

I had an email asking if spot are good as fresh dead “chunk” bait. Talking with Basil at B.L. Bait and Tackle, which is one of the only area shops that handle live spot by the thousands, he’s never had luck but he heard that down south they use them just like we use chunk bunker. So, I gave a call down to some bait and tackle folks I know on the Outer Banks. Oddly, they don’t even use spot as live bait. “We mainly catch ‘em here,” a gal named Elizabeth told me.

That said, we know the magic of live spot as bait but I’ll bet anything a whole dead spot is also a taste tempter. What isn’t the best bet is trying to cut those buggers unless you have samurai sharp blade. Croakers work much better as a chunk bait.

Technical note: You’ll hear many people say they prefer spot over croaker, be it for eating or as a bait. Well, spot is a croaker. In fact, you see it listed in ichthyology terms as a “spot croaker.” You and I understand the difference but it’s good to know the family relationship between the two. Of course, one is reminded of the bizarre kissing cousin relationship between striper bass (Morone saxatilis) and white perch (Morone Americana), so even DNA-close fish can be a world apart in looks – though there is, in fact, a marked similarity between the taste of striper and white perch.

Off the wires:

[Hollywood Reporter] by Natalie Finn - Sept. 29, 2010 -

Jonathan and Andy Hillstrand have bigger fish to fry now.

The Deadliest Catch stars and captains of the deep-sea trawler Time Bandit, announced Tuesday that they're leaving the hit series after being sued for breach-of-contract by the Discovery Channel.

And they're taking fan favorite Sig Hansen, captain of the Northwestern, along with them.

'We have been through a lot over the past year and unfortunately given the current situation with Discovery we are unable to continue participating in Deadliest Catch,' the three crab fishermen said in a joint written statement, first obtained by the Hollywood Reporter.

'It has been a fantastic ride, and we wish the best to all of the amazing and supportive Catch fans we have met over the years.'

In response to the lawsuit, Hansen said, 'I want people to know the captains stand together, and me and my brothers support them 100 percent.'

Discovery says, meanwhile, that its announcement on the status of all three captains is forthcoming.

The network sued the Hillstrand brothers for $3 million, claiming they failed to come through on their promise to shoot a spin-off special, Hillstranded. Cameras rolled during business hours, but Discovery says the crab catchers didn't make time to record voiceovers and otherwise take part in what was needed to round out the production.

Production on season seven of Deadliest Catch is scheduled to start early next month, the beginning of crab season.

While there was obviously a red sky at morning situation as far as the Hillstrands were concerned, Hansen's departure is more of a surprise, despite his statement of solidarity.

The show's sixth season was memorably rocked by the death of Cornelia Marie Capt. Phil Harris.


[Southeast Missourian] By Tom Harte - September 30, 2010 -

Ben Wenberg was a wealthy sea captain who sailed between Cuba and New York in the late 19th century, taking part in the fruit trade. A gastronome, when ashore he often dined at New York's Delmonico's Restaurant.

One evening in 1876 he walked into the restaurant and announced he had learned a new way to cook lobster. Summoning a chafing dish to his table he proceeded to concoct an extravagant preparation of lobster chunks, cream, eggs, butter, sherry and a little cayenne pepper.

When the dish was ready, Wenburg called over the restaurant manager, his good friend Charles Delmonico, to have a taste. He pronounced it delicious and promptly put it on the menu as Lobster a la Wenberg.

Several months later Ben and Charles got into an argument and quit speaking to each other. Wenberg was banished from the restaurant and his eponymous dish was removed from the menu. But diners kept requesting it, so Charles simply altered a few letters in the name and put it back on the menu as Lobster Newburg, to this day an immortal Delmonico's classic.

This was not the only timeless dish Delmonico's would contribute to the culinary canon. For example, Eggs Benedict is said to have been created at Delmonico's at the suggestion of Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, a loyal patron who had become bored with the regular breakfast fare.


Delmonico's Restaurant building in New York City, at 2 South William Street/56 Beaver Street, in February 2006.

(Photo by Chris Ruvolo/Wikipedia)

[Click to enlarge]

Then there's Chicken a la King. It was inspired by another restaurant patron, Foxhall P. Keene, and was originally called Chicken a la Keene.

Though some might dispute these claims, no one disagrees that the famous Delmonico Steak and the equally famous Delmonico Potatoes were invented at their namesake eatery.

Even when Delmonico's was not directly involved in the creation of a dish, it often took a pivotal role in popularizing it. Thus, when the restaurant christened the classic French Omelette Norvegienne as Baked Alaska it became a classic.

But Delmonico's many firsts were not confined to the kitchen. It was the first American restaurant to have a printed menu, the first to offer a separate wine list, the first to have tablecloths, the first to offer a private dining room, the first to provide an orchestra for background music and the first to claim a star chef, Charles Ranhofer. It also garnered the first restaurant review ever printed in the New York Times.

Indeed, Delmonico's, which started in New York more than 185 years ago, is America's oldest restaurant, the first to be called by that French term. Previous public eating places simply offered a daily fixed menu at a fixed price and at a fixed time. You didn't even sit at your own table. Delmonico's changed all that by adopting the customs of Parisian establishments and did so with such unbridled opulence that it virtually defined haute cuisine in this country, making it also the first American restaurant with a worldwide reputation.

After passing through several owners, it's still open at its original location, and its name, still synonymous with fine dining, has been expropriated by unrelated restaurants across the country in places like San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, Phoenix and even Jackson.

Lobster Newburg is currently $49 on the Delmonico's menu.


September 29, 2010

Fishermen harvesting Pacific cod in the Bering Sea saw a rare sight over the past month: two short-tailed albatrosses, spotted on different days in different places.

The bad news: the critically endangered birds were dead, entangled in fishing gear and drowned. They had fallen victim to what is a fatal attraction for some seabirds -- the lure of tasty bait on a fast-descending industrial fishing line.

The good news: the loss of two birds is not the blow it would have been a decade ago, when the population was only in the hundreds and the loss of four in two consecutive seasons could have triggered fishery shutdowns under the Endangered Species Act.

Recent data suggests the population, now estimated at 3,000, has been increasing at a rate of 7.5 percent a year, said Kim Rivera, seabird coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska.

River said it was her sense that the deaths of the two birds did not represent an impact on the population.

Still, the bird deaths, reported on Aug. 27 and Sept. 14, were a setback after 12 years in which no short-tailed albatrosses had reportedly been killed in Alaska fisheries, she said.

Almost all the world's short-tailed albatrosses nest on a rocky Japanese island called Torishima. There, a simmering volcano could wipe out their slope-side breeding grounds.

But an international program spanning the Pacific has helped boost numbers from the remnant population of a couple dozen at Torishima in the 1950s.

On that island, Japanese and U.S. scientists have embarked on a laborious project using decoys, recorded cow-like albatross calls and field kitchens to move small numbers of newborn chicks each spring to safer ground.

In the first years of the program, scientists moved the chicks to a different site on the island. More recently, they have brought them to a separate island, Mukojima.

The relocated chicks, hand-fed by scientists, have grown to fly over the North Pacific and Bering Sea; the hope is that they will return to Mukojima to maintain the new colony.

A separate program is in place in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska -- 3,000 miles to the east -- where adult and juvenile albatrosses spend years soaring, swimming and foraging for food before returning to Torishima to raise new hatchlings.


In Alaska, fishermen are must follow certain procdedures to prevent bird entanglements. Central to the protections is the mandated use of bright plastic streamer lines that shoo birds away from bait-laden fishing lines. The devices have proved highly successful.

Until the birds were snared last month, there had been no short-tailed albatross deaths in Alaska fisheries since 1998.

Other birds benefit as well. Total seabird deaths from mishaps with all commercial fishing gear averaged more than 13,000 a year from 1993 to 2004 in Alaska waters. It declined by nearly 70 percent once the bird-avoidance devices were required starting in 2004, according to NMFS.

Environmentalists are working to expand the fisheries protections. In the Russian Far East, the World Wildlife Fund helped set up local manufacturing of streamer lines and has posted scientists as seabird observers on fishing vessels.

The albatross, with its wingspan and long-distance flights, holds special significance to many. And the short-tailed species claims legendary status for its survival saga.

The birds are estimated to have numbered 5 million in the late 19th century. Then hunters converged on Torishima and mowed them down assembly line-style for their feathers.

By the mid-20th century, the short-tailed albatross was thought to have been eliminated entirely. But a tiny remnant did survive once commercial hunts were banned.

Short-tailed albatrosses were making their way back from the brink in 1990, when naturalist and wildlife guide Peter Harrison made what he calls the 'pilgrimage' to Torishima.

He was one of the first non-Japanese observers to see a short-tailed albatross in the past 50 years, an experience he considers a life-changing experience.

'Fifteen years ago, if you saw one, birdwatchers would hug each other and some people would burst into tears,' said Harrison, who is based in Port Townsend, Washington.


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