Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday, August 14, 2014: The ocean is cleaning up amazingly

(Above: Banded rudderfish amberjack)

Thursday, August 14, 2014: The ocean is cleaning up amazingly well, going from a brown to a clear blue/green. That will surely open things up to serious surf fishing this weekend, which includes tomorrow for many folks.

I’m opting for some early a.m. jetty plugging in Surf City, where the jetties are just about fully exposed, despite the beach replenishments. Although the water in a low-bass 73 degrees, there should be some smaller bass flush to the rocks. Once my bass effort is exhausted, it’s a switchover to smaller jigs and bait strips (or GULP!) for the fluke lying nearer the beach. Then, the beach folks arrive, though I’m usually in demand elsewhere by then, dragged in (screaming) by an insatiable workaday workload. 

If anyone wants to try kingfishing or croakering, it’s time – both in the surf and from boats, with the south bay areas holding the better croakers.  

I’m anticipating this’ll be another big-ass angling weekend. Fluking and crabbing will consume 90 percent of the effort. Sure, I put crabbing in the angling realm. It’s often a tangent to a fun fishing day – or, even more often, the way dads get to fish by themselves early-on, promising the kids and the little lady, “When I get back, we’ll go crabbing.”

Not a thing has changed regarding the copious number of flatfish to be had. I’d be sorely suspicious if I was fluking and didn’t have flatties saluting. They’re everywhere, in spades.

There could be the slightest tough of urgency in this weekend’s fluke bite, egged on by this batch of cooler nights, now arriving. It is indeed early for lower 50s (at night) and such, but the fish go on what they’re feeling and could be fretting things cooling down quickly this year. I’m mainly talking bayside and inlet fluke. The only real feel that the fluke are more active are harder hits taken by drifted rigs, as opposed to that summer dead-weight feel of a fluke pickup.


 I’m not sure I mentioned the 12-inch scamp grouper (my ID guess, though it also looked like gag) that was taken in the bay. It was definitely a grouper. It was photo-ed and released. (JD, can you please resend that cellphone photo of your fish?)

I’ve taken tiny groupers (young-of-year) in my seine net when looking for “tropical” (mainly butterfly fish)  to sell to pet shops. This larger grouper was a surprise.

A similar surprise are yet more hookable rudderfish, also being taken on baits.

By the by, the banded rudderfish, Seriola zonata, is a small type of amberjack -- way smaller than the likes of the greater amberjack, which can top 40 pounds. These small jacks often travel near or beneath  objects, like flotsam or even sharks. That traveling behavior complicates ID’ing them. When young, rudderfish are clearly striped and look very much like unrelated pilot fish, Naucrates ducto – famed for sharking around.

It is uncertain if rudderfish are commensal, like pilot fish. Commensal means that a species benefits from hanging close to another, no harm coming to either -- most famously, sharks and pilot fish.

When two different species are lovin’ life when living close to each other, i.e. both benefit from their close relationship, it’s called mutualism. Cleaner wrasses get nutrition from eating parasites off the skin of a fish while the fish benefits by having the parasites removed.

When one organism benefits at the expanse of the other, without killing it (immediately), that’s good old parasitism.

Wow, all that from a grouper spotting.

Even weirder: Decorator seaweed crab ... Naxia tumida, the little seaweed crabdresser crab, or decorator crab,


SCORE: I was at an auction way over in Vincentown (Burl. County) and came across two, long, gorgeous, wonderfully-made, vintage surf fishing rods. Before I even looked at them closely, I admired the workmanship – and the famed fiberglass semi-transparency. Then I looked closer and couldn’t believe the small foil label said “Manahawkin.” I read even closer and got a tad dizzy when I read it was an original Tony Tonneson 12-foot surf rod in near-mint condition! I was in auction heaven. I was ready to bid the lights out for it. No need. $25 – for both!!!! Are you kidding me?!

My new/old Tonneson rod will now partner with my other Tonneson rod, custom made for me by Andy Tonneson a number of years back.

The second auction rod was also beautiful and might also be a Tony Tonneson but with no little label on it – nor is it ink signed under the final clear coat, which was common back in the day.

There is no cooler name in local outdoorsing than the Tonnesons. I love auctions. 


Bob LaRue One of the many we caught in the Bay this summer. A pair of 22" one 5.5 lbs. the other 5.0 lbs.

Bob LaRue's photo.


After tennis, 
 and I decided to visit our park's new mascot. The township guys were out mowing the lawn and the hawk was right behind them eating frogs and toads. Here's another shot with my iPhone.
After tennis, Julia and I decided to visit our park's new mascot. The township guys were out mowing the lawn and the hawk was right behind them eating frogs and toads. Here's another shot with my iPhone.
1 hr · 

DIY Rock Cactus Garden- this if for those self declared Brown-Thumbs out there! We saw this & thought they were cute! This would be a fun project to do with the...


Shark Week Is Lying To People Again

August 13, 2014 | by Justine Alford

www.iflscience.com/files/styles/ifls_large/public/blog/%5Bnid%5D/41..." width="640" height="425" alt="" />
photo credit: Justine Alford


Almost 40 years on, scientists and conservationists are still picking up the pieces from the iconic movie “Jaws” that led the world to believe that sharks are ferocious man eaters. Sparked by fear and the idea that shark catching is “sexy,” numerous species experienced a worrying decline as man started to belligerently hunt and kill them. So why is it that, once again, the Discovery Channel is helping to perpetuate the ridiculous idea that sharks are savage, cold-blooded killers with scaremongering "mockumentaries" during their famous Shark Week? Shouldn't this week be about dispelling myths about sharks, not creating new ones?

Last year, Shark Week featured a program called Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives which suggested that a massive, evil, 35-foot shark had terrorized a coast off of South Africa. To the untrained eye, the program could have seemed legitimate. After all, it featured “real scientists” (at least some of them turned out to be actors) and footage (that was doctored). A disclaimer was also flashed at the bottom stating that the program was fictional, but no one seemed to notice. While it’s difficult to prove something doesn’t exist, a vast amount of evidence suggests that Megalodons are extinct. We personally at IFLS received thousands of emails and comments from people who believed this mockumentary was factual.

This year, obviously out of ideas and scraping the barrel, Discovery Channel decided to recycle the same story into a new documentary (mockumentary) called Darkness: Wrath of Submarine. Once again, it featured a vicious 35-foot great white shark (called submarine) that had attacked along the same coast as the shark in the aforementioned documentary. There was a disclaimer stating its existence is "controversial" (meaning, nonexistent), but not everyone notices these.

The program involved fake institutions and actors as before, one of whom described the shark as a “cunning” beast with an “insatiable appetite for human blood.” This is utterly ridiculous. Great white sharks actually rarely attack humans and, contrary to popular belief, they don’t like the taste of human flesh. It is irresponsible to paint this image of great whites; they’re sophisticated apex predators, not mindless man eaters, and it could once again damage this already fragile species.

It doesn’t end there. Some of the ridiculous documentaries in Shark Week actually feature real shark scientists, but it turns out the Discovery Channel has been misleading them and heavily editing what they say to suit the content of the program.

For example, this year a documentary called Monster Hammerhead apparently set out to explore a legendary hammerhead that has been patrolling Florida for 60 years. For starters, hammerheads live a maximum of 44 years. Second, according to io9, the Postdoc that featured in the program, Kristine Stump, was led to believe the program was about something else.

This isn’t the first time Discovery Channel has done this. Last year they played the same trick on scientist Jonathan Davis. Davis was led to believe that the producers were interested in his bull shark research, but he ended up in a documentary called Voodoo Shark which was about a mythical monster shark called “Rooken.” Davis answered questions about unrelated things and the crew cleverly edited what he said to make it look like he was discussing and actively seeking the voodoo shark. Of course, editing is standard practice, but if you’re worried that real scientists won’t appear in the documentary because of its ridiculous nature, then maybe you should have a re-think.

The Discovery Channel claims that it is increasing public interest in sharks, which is a good thing. While that may be true- there's so much factual, fascinating information outt here about sharks that there's no need to sensationalize in order to interest people. Sharks are fucking awesome, so stop lying about them.

Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/shark-week-lying-peopl...

Where We are With Striped Bass

ASMFC moves ahead with an addendum to reduce fishing mortality, but getting the cuts we need will not be easy.

Photo by Capt. John McMurray

This is, I dunno, part 10 or something in my disjointed series on the decline of the striped bass resource and what the Atlantic States Fisheries Management Commission (ASFMC, or the consortium of states that manages striped bass) is going to do about it.

Yes, I write about striped bass a lot, and I do hope readers aren’t rolling their eyes right now. But, I can see which blogs drive traffic. And if I so much as mention striped bass in the title, the number of readers goes through the roof. So I really don’t think so. The point is, striped bass “is” (or crap, maybe I should start saying, “used to be”) really, really important to me… to just about all of us that fish in this region really. I’m not gonna get into why, because I’ve already waxed a few times about how that stupid fish has actually driven my life up to this point. How my business depends upon it, etc. So I’ll spare you that part this time. What I’d like to do this week is to bring readers up to speed on the good, the bad and the ugly on where we are as of last week’s ASMFC meeting.

Yes, the ASMFC Striped Bass Board did meet last Tuesday to discuss (read: add and remove options) to an Addendum to the management plan which is intended to reduce fishing mortality on striped bass. If you haven’t been reading my other blogs, the really short version is that striped bass numbers have declined precipitously over the last eight or so years. Of course if you fish, you already know that. But it’s a fact that we’ve currently exceeded some of the management “targets” that are supposed to require prompt action. Yes, it’s taken a long time to get to the point where we are beginning to see any glimmer of light, but Addendum IV is indeed a “light” of some sort. Even the most precautionary option may not be, and probably isn’t enough (I’ll get to that later) but there will most likely be some action in 2015.

So, last week, after some debate, ASMFC voted out a Draft Addendum IV to Amendment 6 of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass for Public Comment. It includes a bunch of options to reduce harvest along the coast and in the Chesapeake Bay. Some are good, others, not so good.

But before I get to that, let’s talk about Maryland and Virginia because they are really beginning to annoy me. Those two states have been working really hard to water down/chip away at the Addendum, and to some extent they’ve been successful. Through various letters and of course the public record, it’s become very clear that they don’t appear to want any sort of reduction at all, despite all the anecdotal warning signs, the pleas from the public to do something, and, well, the science.

Lou releases a nice one...photo by Capt. John McMurray

I do understand why. They have a very vocal and influential commercial fishing community. And, not surprisingly, there are a handful of really loud charter boat captains that apparently don’t want to have to stop killing lots of fish. I get it… Watermen are suffering down there. Crabs have crashed, although certainly that’s not the fault of “too many” striped bass, as commercials and even some managers may argue. (Note: there is absolutely no science to back up such a contention, and it should be pretty well known by now that those two species have existed together in abundant numbers since, well, since they both first existed.) But hard lessons learned quite recently with cod in New England should show us pretty clearly what happens when you focus on keeping the commercial fishery fishing on a depleted stock.

In short, neither Maryland nor Virginia appears to give a crap about the hundreds of thousands of anglers in their states who depend on abundant striped bass stocks to be successful, not to mention all the businesses that depend on those anglers. Instead, it’s all about the short term economic gain the Baymen and charter-boats can reap before the stock completely collapses. And I know there are still people who keep saying that the sky isn’t falling. But these are not the people who spend any real amount of time on the water. Listen… The sky is f’n falling.

I could go into more detail here about Maryland and Virginia, but fellow blogger Charlie Witek has already done that quite well here: Maryland Seeks to Slow Striped Bass RecoveryBefore moving on,I would also quickly note that Maryland and Virginia’s biggest allies are commissioners from (you guessed it) New Jersey, (surprisingly) Rhode Island, and (to some extent, though I hate to admit it) New York, as well.

Fortunately, despite all of their efforts, Maryland and Virginia were largely unsuccessful in adding separate reference points for the Chesapeake Bay, which would have allowed them to harvest a significant portion of the 2011 year class–the only good year class we’ve seen since 2003. They also tried to base commercial reduction on quota instead of actual harvest, which in many cases would have resulted in no real reduction at all. Fortunately that effort failed as well.

There are only a few options in Addendum IV that we should focus on going forward… So if I’ve still got you, let’s get to them.

“Option A” is of course, status quo. Believe it or not, there are commissioners who have supported this option, and who will argue for it as we move forward, even though it will have less than a one-percent chance of keeping fishing mortality below the target in one or three years. Obviously we do not want Option A!

“Option B” would reduce fishing mortality to a level that is at or below the target within ONE YEAR. This represents a 25-percent reduction from 2013 total harvest. The reduction would of course be shared by both commercial and recreation fishermen.

Option B is the best of the choices available, but it’s a long way from perfect. If you read some of my other stuff you will recall that the what the Technical Committee was initially recommending was a 31 to 34-percent reduction, but it later revisited the commercial discard numbers (those fish they throw back dead,) which ended up being lower than initially projected (Note: the Technical Committee admits that they don’t have a firm grasp on that number.) Really, it’s hard not to think that the change was political, in some way influenced by the wailing and gnashing of teeth. But I don’t really know.

Photo by Capt. John McMurray

Getting back to the options, “Option C” would reduce fishing to a level that is at or below the target within THREEYEARS. This represents a 17-percent reduction from 2013 total harvest starting in the 2015 fishing year. There are no additional reductions in subsequent years; the 17-percent reduction would be taken all in the first year. Yes, I had to read this a few times also before I understood it. So we’re taking a 17-percent reduction in one year. And theoretically, by doing so it would reduce fishing mortality to at or below the target mortality level by the end of the third year, 2017.

Now, “Option D” would reduce fishing mortality to a level that is at or below the target withinTHREE YEARS also. But instead of doing the reduction in the first year, it would meter it out at seven-percent a year. This is by far the least precautionary option. In fact, a seven-percent reduction over three years is almost as bad as just doing nothing at all.

What I don’t really understand here is how the three year options (C and D) are even compliant! Amendment 6 is pretty clear that if the fishing mortality target is exceeded in two consecutive years and the spawning stock biomass (SBB) falls below the target within either of those years (the fishing mortality target was exceeded in 2011 and 2012, and SSB has been below target since 2006) the Management Board must adjust the striped bass management program to reduce the fishing mortality rate to a level that is at or below the target WITHIN ONE YEAR. WTF man!?

If ASMFC can change its mind any time a management plan becomes inconvenient rather than living up to its promise to the public to take action when a trigger is tripped, then it is telling the public that those management plans aren’t worth the paper that they’re written on. They are saying management plans can be altered at the whim of the management board, regardless of the impact of such change on the health of a public resource. ASMFC has a serious credibility problem if it adopts the three-year phase-in.

But really, who am I kidding. Pretty sure they don’t care.

The point is that Options C and D, which drag things out for three years, are unacceptable. Option B, the 25-percent reduction in one year, is really the best option at this point, and I guess the one we should be advocating for moving forward. But even that isn’t great.

I should note here that all these options, including Option B, have only a 50-percent probability of achieving their goal. In other words, a coin toss. I’m not gonna get into how wrong this is and how given the history of fisheries management we should know better… and how it’s really foolish to not have options that have a greater chance of success because I’ve covered that in other blogs (e.g On Downplaying the Plight of Striped Bass.) And believe me, I voiced that concern at the Striped Bass Advisory Panel meeting. So yeah, I think Option B sucks, but it may be the best we have at this point.

Well, that’s not entirely true. During last week’s ASMFC meeting Massachusetts Commissioner Paul Diodati moved to include an option in the draft addendum for a 30-percent reduction in one year. That makes sense given that the great majority of the public seems to want more significant cuts. But I doubt it will get much support from commissioners. Nonetheless, if that option gets fleshed out and included in the Draft Addendum, we should support it.

Of course there are other more specific options in the document, including bag, size, slot and trophy size limits for the recreational fishery and quota reductions/quota trading for the commercial fishery. But for right now, the goal should be to just get the largest reduction in fishing mortality we can. Because despite what a shrinking number of naysayers are spouting, striped bass are in big trouble.

Having listened to ASMFC discuss the striped bass decline during the last two years, it’s pretty darn apparent that the emphasis is all on money, and whatever economic benefit Commissioners can squeeze out of these fish. But what no one—except for Deodati—seems to be talking about is the loss of income to guys like me. Guys who focus on striped bass charters, guys who depend on abundance. And what about all the surfcasters who are losing access to this fishery very quickly? And all the gear they or any recreational striped bass fishermen buys, the hotels they stay in, the restaurants they eat at? The far-reaching loss of income due to the decline is, I’m sure, extraordinary.

But, of course, it’s the poor commercial fisherman, or the apparently struggling party/charter captains (who can fall back on abundant summer flounder, black seabass and scup stocks) that they listen to, because, well, because they are just louder.

So listen, man. If striped bass are important to you, it’s time to be loud. Really F’n loud! I’m tired of the bullshit. This pro-harvest/F the public mentality has got to go. The Draft Addendum may not be perfect, but we have let ASMFC know that we really want the most risk adverse/precautionary option. Right now that looks like Option B, but before writing, let’s see what they do with the Diodati motion.

The Draft Addendum will be available on the Commission website (www.asmfc.org) underPublic Input the week of August 11th. In the near future there will be public hearings in just about every striped bass state. I’ll be sure to let you know when and where these will happen. If you can’t make the hearing or just find those things as unpleasant as I do (although you can bet your ass I’ll be at the New York one,) written comment will be accepted until the end of September.

That’s all for now. Stand by and I will update you on the public comment situation.


Amazon's biggest fish faces threat of extinction

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Fox News LiveScience]  By Elizabeth Palermo August 14, 2014

Measuring 10 feet long and weighing in at more than 400 pounds, it's hard to imagine that the arapaima, the largest fish in the Amazon River basin, could ever go missing. But these huge fish are quickly disappearing from Brazilian waterways, according to a new study.
A recent survey of fishing communities in the state of Amazonas, Brazil, found that the arapaima is already extinct in some parts of the Amazon basin. In other parts of the Amazon, its numbers are rapidly dwindling.
However, the researchers also uncovered some good news: In communities where arapaima fishing is regulated, the species is actually thriving, giving the researchers hope that conservation of the species is still possible. [Photos of the Largest Fish on Earth]
Commonly known as pirarucu, arapaima (Arapaima gigas) are the largest freshwater fish in South America. They're unique among fishes for their ability to breathe air a feat made possible by a primitive lung, which they possess in conjunction with a gill system that allows them to breathe underwater. The fish developed this function because they typically live in oxygen-poor waterways, according to the Tennessee Aquarium, which is home to several arapaima.
But while this supplemental breathing technique helps the fish survive in its native habitat, it also makes the arapaima much easier to catch, according to the researchers.
"Arapaima spawn on the edges of floodplain forests and come to the surface to breathe every 5 to 15 minutes, when they are easily located and harpooned by fishers using homemade canoes," said Caroline Arantes, a doctoral student in wildlife and fisheries science at Texas A&M University in College Station, who helped conduct the study.
Fishy policies
Of the five known species of arapaima, three have not been observed in the wild in decades, according to study co-author Donald Stewart, a professor with the State University of New York at Syracuse's College of Environmental Science. Stewart said that all five species dominated fisheries in the Amazon just a century ago.
A commercially important species, arapaima are traditionally fished by local Amazonian communities, a practice that's largely unregulated, the researchers said. To find out how this lack of regulation might be affecting the giant fish, the researchers interviewed local fishers operating within a 650-square-mile floodplain in northwestern Brazil.
In 19 percent of the 81 communities surveyed, the arapaima was found to be already extinct. And the giant fish's numbers are depleted, or approaching extinction, in 57 percent of the communities surveyed. In 17 percent of the communities, the fish were deemed "overexploited," according to the researchers.
"Fishers continue to harvest arapaima regardless of low population densities," said study leader Leandro Castello, an assistant professor of fisheries at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment, in Blacksburg.
But the blame for the arapaima's dwindling numbers doesn't just fall on local fishing communities. Policymakers in Brazil may also be responsible, the researchers suggest. Government officials in the region tend to follow a "bioeconomic" line of thinking, which may have doomed the arapaima, the researchers said. [Amazon Expedition: An Album]
"Bioeconomic thinking has predicted that scarcity would drive up fishing costs, which would increase price and help save depleted species," Castello said. "If that prediction were true, extinctions induced by fishing would not exist, but that is not what has happened."
Fishing down
What is happening in the Amazon River basin is in line with something Castello and his colleagues call the "fishing-down" theory. This idea helps explain how large, high-value, easy-to-catch fish such as the arapaima can be fished to extinction.
In communities where arapaima are scarce, local fishers stop hunting the fish in traditional ways, such as with a harpoon. However, this doesn't mean fishers aren't killing arapaima; they're simply killing them in a different way.
These fishers use gill nets to harvest smaller fish, including juvenile arapaima. While local fishers don't necessarily catch the smaller arapaima on purpose, by "fishing down" they still end up killing the fish and further depleting the arapaima population.
But there is a bright side to this sad fish tale, according to study co-author David McGrath, a researcher with the Earth Innovation Institute in San Francisco. In communities that have implemented fishing rules, such as imposing a minimum capture size for arapaima and restricting the use of gill nets, the density of arapaima is 100 times higher than in places where no such rules exist.
"These communities are preventing further arapaima extinctions," McGrath said.
Unfortunately, only 27 percent of the communities surveyed have management rules in place for fishing arapaima. One community that does manage these fish, Ilha de So Miguel, banned the use of gill nets two decades ago. It now has the highest arapaima densities in the region, the researchers found.
But regulations like those implemented by the community of Ilha de So Miguel are not common in floodplain regions, Castello said. These areas, he explained, suffer from widespread illegal fishing, a fact that he worries could lead to fishing-induced extinctions for other Amazonian species.
Fixing the situation
Part of the problem, Castello said, is a lack of economic alternatives for the fishers who survive on the commercial trade of threatened fish species. But the researchers said their findings demonstrate that it's possible to save the arapaima from extinction without jeopardizing local food supplies.
"Fisheries productivity in Ilha de So Miguel is also the highest in the study area," Castello said. "Cast nets are allowed because they are much more selective, yet they yield abundant fishes for local consumption, so food security for the community is not compromised."
This bodes well for both fish and fishermen, said the researchers, who believe that spreading the fishing practices of Ilha de So Miguel to other areas of the Amazon could bring this unique species of fish back from the brink.
"Many previously overexploited arapaima populations are now booming due to good management," Castello said. "The time has come to apply fishers' ecological knowledge to assess populations, document practices and trends, and solve fisheries problems through user participation in management and conservation."
The results of the study were published online in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems.

Photo: Sergio Ricardo de Oliveira (Live Science)

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