Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Folks having a bad day ...
Tuesday, August 29, 2017: Surf is off-limits. It’s pushing eight to 10 feet and could change from a northerly windswell to an easterly groundswell. As to the chop calming down, i.e. a cleanup, that could begin as early as late tomorrow, with a rapidly smoothing out via Thursday morning’s west winds. Hard to believe: Thursday is the last day of August.
Though things should soon turn much milder, the upcoming Labor Day weekend is looking highly iffy, moisture-wise -- though any rain should be fast moving, marking a shift from SE winds on Saturday to possibly gusty WSW winds Sunday. Monday could be just fine … mild and westerly.
I feel compelled to ready folks for any upcoming west winds. The last couple westerlies have blown in black flies (stable flies), touching on “Runaway!” numbers. Such is always the case in late summer (and throughout much of the fall), when the matured black fly “hatch” is at its height. Beach trips should simply have repellents in the bag. Face it, bugs have always been part of life hereabouts -- long before we were here, actually.
On that buggy note, deer flies (below) in the Pines are also at the height of aggravation.
These biters are a bitch, not only because of their bite potential but also because of their frickin bounce-off behavior. They repeatedly rap off your head, face, body. It’s actually when they’re not bouncing around that they’re up to no good -- landing and readying to bite. One upside to these aggravators is how they can be readily fended off with most insect repellents, including the often ineffectual “organic” types -- which do squat to scare off the likes of green-heads.
As to fishing, I’m getting word of Spanish mackerel in goodly numbers; so goodly they’re being caught as bycatch when flukers are bringing up their lines.
I don’t know of anyone actually using small, fast metals to target them but the mack I’ve seen caught are easily eatable size, over a foot. Might they be a fun fish to target when fluke season abruptly ends? Here's hoping.
I’m not sure if Spanish macks can be fished with the likes of a tube mackerel rig, meant for Bostons. They just travel in such tight schools that nabbing more than one at a time is the way to go.
Smaller Spanish macks are great to eat but, much like mahi, they are very high in histamines, meaning they have to be kept cold and eaten quickly -- well worth the effort! Cook in the round to maximize the meat.
Years back, for a short time, I held the state record for Spanish mackerel. Mine was taken while whipping in lures in stormy Holgate surf. The mack that beat me out was a boat fish. No fair!
Cownose and butterfly rays are everywhere. I've gotten pics of them flush against the shoreline, merrily dining away on coquina clams and such.
Here's a shot of just how large those cow-nosed rays can get.
Holgate will open this Friday. I doubt I can get down there right away but I’m sure Stu will update me. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I got my 2017 LBT beach buggy permit last spring. I might have to stop by the cop shop and pick one up.
Saturday, I was out on the bayside pier at Sunset Park in Harvey Cedars and watched clouds of peanut bunkers drifting past. It was kinda crazy thereabouts, as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf0Oie2SmCw&feature=youtu.be
Check out this odd eyeful taken a number of year's back on Hammer's fishing boat. ...
False albacore, or albies as they are called in the Northeast, are prized gamefish but generally regarded as lousy table fare. The most widely shared “recipe” for albies is the old “cook them on a plank, then throw them away and eat the plank” joke. However, I have heard from at least one reader who has kept and eaten albies and claims they are in fact good eating if treated properly. It’s not surprising, considering that false albacore are in the Scombridae family of mackerels and tunas.
Also, taste in fish is quite subjective (for each person who says bluefish taste gross, there are two more who claim to prefer them to striped bass) and often differs by culture. One of the closest relatives of the false albacore (Euthynnus alletteratus) is the mackerel tuna (Euthynnus affinis), which is found in the Pacific ocean and is the preferred species for the Japanese dish Katsuo Tataki, in which the flesh is seared over an open flame with the skin on.
One of the reasons I wanted to experiment with cooking a false albacore is because they don’t always survive the catch-and-release process. They strike lures with such force that they occasionally catch a treble hook in the gills, which are located far forward in the lower jaw. Such was the case with the albie below, which hit a Daddy Mac jig and was clearly not going to survive to be released.
It’s important to handle fish properly if you want the final result to taste good. With an oily fish, such as bluefish, tuna or mackerel, it’s necessary to kill it, bleed it immediately, and get it on ice. After 2 minutes of bleeding in a bucket of saltwater, I iced it down in seawater mixed with plenty of ice to keep the oils in the flesh from spoiling.6w" sizes="(max-width: 550px) 100vw, 550px" />
After 20 minutes in the ice bath, the fish were kept on ice in a cooler until they were filleted a few hours later. Albies are easy to clean into four loins, like a mini-tuna.
The albie flesh looked very similar in color to most tuna – a bit redder and firmer than Atlantic bonito flesh. However, the darker meat that runs along the spine had a very unappetizing dark-red/brown color.
Skinning the fillets and trimming away every trace of dark meat, I was left with four small loins of pink flesh from each albie. It looked every bit as delicious as sushi-grade tuna.
I have seen albies cut for bait (popular for sharks and grouper in Florida) and the meat had a brown, rusty color to it and an overpowering fishy odor. I have to believe that this was a result of improper care and that immediate icing is important to preserving the quality of the flesh.
I placed the loins from one of the fish in a zipper bag with a simple marinade that I use on yellowfin tuna: 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, a tablespoon of Sriracha, a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger, and a couple of crushed garlic cloves.
I let the fish marinate in the refrigerator for an hour, and then gave it a quick sear, about 2 minutes on each side, in a blazing hot cast-iron pan with a small amount of vegetable oil. The results looked good – nice color on the outside, and still very pink and rare in the center. It was a little softer than most tuna meat, and the cooked edges flaked and fell apart when cutting through them.
The final result had a taste similar to tuna, probably closest to longfin albacore. I actually preferred it to the touted Atlantic bonito, which I think is a little watery and mushy. There was no off taste, no “fishy” flavor or suggestion of cat food. It wasn’t just edible – it was a delicious meal with some cold sesame noodles and quick-pickled veggies.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++