Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday, September 29, 2016: Welcome to a good, old nor’easter. ... and a good day to talk beach sand ... stop on in.

They got out when the getting was good ... last week. Holgate. (J-mann)

Thursday, September 29, 2016: Welcome to a good, old nor’easter.

At least it's not on of these nor'easters.

This beachside sky ugliness, albeit a traditional ugliness, didn’t begin as your textbook variety nor’easter. But it’s looking more like it by the minute.

As we speak, two Midwest lows are combining and moving to our south, to likely form the required southerly/Carolina low pressure. Also on the move as we speak is a big blocking northern high pressure system.

This is what might be called a non-garden variety of historic nor’easter.  Hey, many of the most famed and fierce so-named nor’easters over the past 300 White Man years were variations on the standard theme, non-textbook.

The prototypical nor’easter lasts three days, both anecdotally and historically. If we could count yesterday as a storm day, we might be out of the muck by tomorrow. But we have to cycle back to the storm’s odd beginning to the west. That could mean today is the first day --and at least part of Saturday is the third day.

If you’re into this holidayish arriving weekend, known as Chowderfest Weekend, you see why that subtle extension of the three-day storm looms large for Merchant's Mart Saturday. As of now, more and more forecasts show Saturday as a bust, with Sunday squeaking by as more doable, weatherwise.

Since I can’t get sued for it, I’m bucking the trend and seeing Saturday as being better than the predicted rain-out. Sunday could be very fall-like -- and chowdery.

Please note: Due to events earlier this month and heightened security measures across the country, we are asking everyone to participate in making the 2016 Chowderfest safe and enjoyable by being aware of their surroundings and reporting any unusual or suspicious activities to a patrol officer on duty at the event.

We are advising that attendees refrain from bringing backpacks or bags into the Chowderfest field, if it is unavoidable please be aware that they will be subject to screening and any bag left unattended will be reported to authorities.

The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce volunteers thank you in advance for your cooperation, and are looking forward to welcoming you this weekend.

HOW WET?: There is a need to ponder flooding. After Hermine went through, flood-free, I’d like to think she set a trend -- and LBI might only be plagued by typical street flooding here and there. Right now, we’re looking good locally but I got word from Tuckerton (11 a.m.) that bay water is very stacked over there – one of my writers stuck in her raised bayside abode. I’m sure that has to do with the onshore winds blowing across the bay.

Can it flood on just one side of the bay? Not real likely. But, if we’ve learned anything in recent weather years, there is no foolproof predicting based on the past. The atmosphere is changing rather rapidly -- and so is the way the weather plays out on an almost daily basis. The fact 2016 will be the warmest year on written record proves were constantly treading on unexplored weather ground. There’s no guessing what an irritated atmosphere is capable of doing.

As to winds with this storm, it looks like we'll be firmly in the grasp of gale gusts, though nowhere near a sustained gale. I’m using the Weather Service’s wind scale of a gust being between 39–54 mph. Last night, I record a 41 mph gust with a few others not far behind that. The upside is the winds have far more north than east. A north wind can actually evacuate/blow water from the bay to the south. 

The real blow from a nor’easters is the steadiness of the winds, more than the gusts. We’ve been toying with 25 to 27 mph, sustained. That’s brisk but well below even the minimal wind speed of a tropical depression, which starts at 39 mph, sustained.

As to what this protracted blow will do to the beaches, there’s doubly no guessing. We had a new beachline applied via replenishment. What happens now is sorta all new.

I’ve looked closely at the science behind replens, using as much of my geology learning as I could apply -- while falling far short of fully understanding the complex hydrological theorems. One factor I found fascinating is the projected transport of the translocated beach sand back into the ocean. No, it’s not akin to planned obsolescence. Storms are duly expected to pull tons of sand seaward, even to the point of leaving the beaches looking anemic.

Below: The more sand ... the merrier.

Much of the lost sand returns to the beach rapidly, as do the storm-eroded sands of a fully natural beachline. We’ll see a massive sand return to the beaches after this storm departs. However, things get more geologically interesting as a goodly amount of sand hangs in the ocean, forming near-beach sandbars – the true first-line of defense against storms.

We’ve actually seen some unprecedented sandbars develop due to replenished sand doing its bar-forming thing. It will be interesting to see how the sandbars form in the wake of the completion of the entire “emergency” post-Sandy, Island-long beach fix, likely ending with Ship Bottom getting a pumped-in beach in October -- though a Holgate sand update might still fall under the emergency side of things.

I’d like to think what we’ll soon see – beach and sandbars -- will be what we’ll see for years to come. Sorry, beach stability is not in the LBI future – nor has it ever been, throughout all history. What’s more, it seems replenishment sand will just keep arriving. Today, Harvey Cedars allotted something like $630,000 toward its share of a $2 million beach sand update. Such work needs to be decided, even voted on, while the dredges are nearby. 

 Below: Cedars when it was really hurtin' ... pre-replen. 

As you might know, LBI towns paid nothing for the massive post-Sandy beach repair project. Prior to that emergency work, the state had been functioning under an ongoing beach-fix program, whereby the feds paid 65 percent, with the state paying 25 percent and county/municipal paying the remainder.

It seems the pre-existing New Jersey beach replenishment program, based on 65/25/10, will loom large from here on in. It might even come into play in Holgate, should it not fall under the time-frame of the post-Sandy fix.


Jim Hutchinson
NE winds, lots of rain, big tides - some fun! But perhaps it will kick the bait migration into overdrive by Sunday, and with it some good reports hopefully on striped bass!

We started the week off with a blast of tuna reports from the Wilmington Canyon; but as quickly as the bite…

Jim Hutchinson Sr.


It appears most of the boats of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association will remain at the dock this weekend. A strong northeaster is currently buffeting the area and is not expected to ease up until Sunday or Monday.

At this time the two main options for fishing when weather permits would be remaining in the bay and seeing some strong action on smaller fish or traveling offshore to take a shot at tuna and billfish. The rain showers and possibility of thunderstorms are not conducive to even short trips in the bay waters. The strong winds and big swells make trips offshore also a no-go. The good news is that when the nasty weather does subside, those two options should still remain.

Captain John Lewis of the “Insatiable” reports he had his final fluke trip of the season last Friday and had difficulty in finding keeper fluke. He did say that it should have been a black sea bass trip as those fish were big and plentiful, but out of season. The sea bass season will reopen on October 22, and Captain John plans to concentrate on bluefish, porgies, and weakfish in the meantime. He is also looking forward to some inshore bluefin tuna action and offshore canyon trips for yellowfin and long fin tuna. He says there are some huge schools of bunker just off the beaches of Long Beach Island, and this might mean some good fall thresher shark fishing.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at www.BHCFA.net.


(Beauty, eh. I fished them for years, using white bread balls; insanely strong fight, very black drum-like. State prefers they not be released. I always did. They love swimming into pipes or any other escape hole. I fought one that went a solid 50 yards right up a sewer pipe. j-mann)

Biggest Caro of my life on 6 lb test holy shit


Sorry there wasn’t much fishy here but it’s not the best of angling conditions out there. I’ll even be a bit of a downer by saying I don’t see things cleaning up for many hours to come. However, here's a fluke read from RFA.

Recreational Fishing Alliance  
Contact:  Jim Donofrio/ 1 888 564-6732  
For Immediate Release
September 29, 2016
Members of Congress Push for Benchmark Assessment of Summer Flounder in 2017
New Gretna, NJ - In a bipartisan 
letter submitted to Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eileen Sobeck on Thursday, members of the House of Representatives stressed the importance of scheduling a benchmark assessment for summer flounder in 2017.  Citing the socioeconomic value of the commercial and recreational summer flounder fishery and the looming quota reductions proposed for 2017 and 2018 due in part to a lack of data, Rep. Tom MacArthur and 4 other representatives indicate that any delay in the assessment of summer flounder "would be a major mistake and threaten the health of the summer flounder population as well as the economy of the communities the fishery supports."
At issue are the findings of the 2016 assessment update which indicate that a 30% reduction to the 2017 summer flounder total allowable catch (TAC) was required based on predicted low recruitment and spawning stock biomass (SSB) relative to the SSB target.  These findings were driven by the results of the 2013 summer flounder benchmark assessment which utilized an out-dated stock assessment modeling approach.  If unchanged, the resulting 2017 TAC will be one of the lowest quotas in the management history of the summer flounder fishery.  

A benchmark assessment is needed in 2017 so better assessment techniques that are now available can be used to assess both male and female summer flounder independently based on their different life history characteristics.  A sex-specific assessment approach can better predict the stock size/recruitment relationship and other biological reference points.  Also, biological data on male and female summer flounder gathered primarily from the recreational fishery over the past two years must be inserted into the stock assessment.  Doing so would close significant data gaps which produce uncertainty in the current assessment and further reduces available quota.  

"It is imperative that the benchmark  assessment is scheduled for 2017 as a  benchmark assessment is the only opportunity to incorporate new data sources as well as utilize a different modeling approach developed by Dr. Pat Sullivan under a multiple year science program directed and funded by Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund (SSFFF)," explained Greg Hueth, Chairman of SSFFF.  "If not, both the commercial and recreational industry are going to be in big trouble over the next few years due to the  reductions that NOAA is proposing. "

"We appreciate Mr. MacArthur taking the lead on this issue and understanding the need and urgency to improve the science used to set annual fishing limits for fisheries such as summer flounder,"  stated Jim Donofrio, Executive Director of the RFA.  "The industry has made considerable investment in fieldwork and data analysis to address many of the deficiencies in the stock assessment for summer flounder.  It is our hope that NOAA Fisheries acknowledges this work and recognizes the importance of scheduling a benchmark assessment for summer flounder in 2017 in light of the significant quota reductions proposed for 2017 and 2018."

Extra! Check out my Cod article in the October issue of SaltWater Sportsman. Plenty of solid wreck poundin' info in there.
Holgate speed limit to 45 today.

For folks into the very interesting new crab show "Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove" ...

California Dungeness Crab Get Qualified Thumbs-Up in Tests for Domoic Acid

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SFGATE] By Tara Duggan- September 29, 2016 

The fate of the Dungeness crab season will hang on the test results coming out of an East Bay lab.
With the beginning of the season approaching in November, the California Department of Public Health has begun safety tests on Dungeness crab a few weeks earlier than usual. Dungeness crab samples collected from Crescent City (Del Norte County) all the way down to Monterey are filing in to the Food and Drug Laboratory Branch in Richmond, where they are tested for domoic acid, the naturally occurring but potentially devastating neurotoxin that wreaked havoc on last year’s season.
So far, results are normal for this time of year, said Patrick Kennelly, chief of food safety at the state health department — even though crabs from four of six regions are testing positive for domoic acid.
“To have a couple samples with some level of domoic is not uncommon at this time,” Kennelly said. Blooms of pseudo-nitzschia, the algae that produces domoic acid under certain conditions, are common in California waters in spring and fall, and then normally dissipate by crab season, he said. “We’re at the tail end of the time we would normally expect to see pseudo-nitzschia and domoic acid present in certain species. It’s not alarming.” 
But you can be sure that crabbers, as well as officials from the departments of public health and fish and wildlife, are watching the results closely, with Dungeness crab season due to start Nov. 5 for recreational fishers and Nov. 15 for commercial crabbers.
Last year, record-high ocean temperatures and a persistent algal bloom that stretched from Southern California to Alaska kept the California fishery closed all the way to March, meaning that local Dungeness crab was kept off Bay Area tables. 
While there are still pockets of pseudo-nitzschia on the coast this year, ocean temperatures aren’t as high. Kennelly said his department will have a better idea whether there is a chance of delay by the end of October, after more tests come in. 
Around this time last year, crabs collected up and down the coast had unusually high levels of domoic acid. Craig Shuman, marine region manager of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, also said it is too early to make any predictions. “Levels this year are lower than what we saw last year at this time, and we remain cautiously optimistic that the season will open on time,” Shuman said.
The Department of Public Health will continue conducting tests around once a week, taking samples of six crabs from at least two depth levels in each fishing region. After the samples come into the lab, they are separated to avoid potential cross-contamination, and steamed for 15 minutes — mirroring how most cooks prepare crabs — and then cracked. 
The viscera, or internal organs, are where toxins concentrate, so they are separated from the meat and blended. Domoic acid is then extracted and analyzed for concentration levels. Crabs that test with levels above 30 parts per million of domoic acid in the viscera are considered at risk, in case someone eats the guts. (The lab doesn’t test the meat until the viscera shows much higher levels of contamination, around 100 ppm.)
Right now, tests show no substantial levels of domoic acid in Dungeness crabs from the Half Moon Bay/San Francisco region or the Bodega Bay/Point Reyes area. However, crabs from Monterey Bay, Bodega Bay/Russian River, Fort Bragg and Crescent City are currently testing at levels above the action level of 30 ppm.
Half of the crabs collected in Monterey Bay have tested above 30 ppm. One out of 6 crabs collected from Fort Bragg, Bodega Bay/Russian River and Crescent City is testing above action levels. For comparison, at this time last year, 4 out of the 6 crabs in Crescent City and all of the crabs in Eureka tested above 30 ppm. 
Typically, all crab samples from all regions have to test below action levels to open the fishery. However, it’s possible that the Department of Fish and Wildlife could open certain parts of the fishery and keep others closed if problem areas arise. 
In the Monterey Bay, where  there is currently an advisory against eating bivalve shellfish and rock crabs because of domoic acid, the water temperatures are in a relatively normal range, unlike last year. However, algae growth has gone up because there have been more upwellings than usual and lower levels of nutrients in the water, said Raphael Kudela, an algal bloom specialist and Lynn Professor of Ocean Health at UC Santa Cruz.
“Those conditions also favor toxic algae because they like some upwelling, but produce more toxin when nutrients run out,” said Kudela in an email. “So I’m not surprised the toxicity has started going up.”
However, Kennelly expects levels there to normalize, noting a decrease in domoic acid in tests of rock crabs, a species that’s studied separately, in Monterey Bay since August. 
“We’re optimistic we’ll continue to see improvements,” he said.

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