Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, January 05, 2016: Damn it’s frigidified out there. As the famed saying goes, it’s colder than a witch’s butt cheeks.

You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to ... jump!!!! 

Tuesday, January 05, 2016: Damn it’s frigidified out there. As the famed saying goes, it’s colder than a witch’s butt cheeks.

To folks in OBX ... South Croatan Highway just north of Jockey's Ridge State Park a few minutes ago.


The single-digit wind-chills made for some astounding sea smoke this early a.m.

 Below: George Gilbert 

I don't know that the pictures show just how much the ocean is steaming this morning

George Gilbert's photo.

Sea smokefrost smoke,[1] or steam fog,[2] is fog which is formed when very cold air moves over warmer water. Arctic sea smoke[3] is sea smoke forming over small patches of open water in sea ice.[4]

It forms when a light wind of very cold air mixes with a shallow layer of saturated warm air immediately above the warmer water. The warmer air is cooled beyond the dew point and can no longer hold as much water vapor, so the excess condenses out. The effect is similar to the "steam" produced over a hot bath or a hot drink, or even an exercising person.[2][3]

Sea smoke has a turbulent appearance and may form spiralling columns.[5] It is usually not very high and lookouts on ships can usually see over it (but small boats may have very poor visibility)[6] because the fog is confined to the layer of warm air above the sea. However, sea smoke columns 20–30 metres high have been observed.[5] Because this type of fog requires very low air temperatures, it is uncommon in temperate climates, but is common in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Photo: Brendan DeMilt 

HOLGATE BUGGYING ALERT: Hideous driving conditions in Holgate today -- and likely tomorrow, too.

You many new buggyists (and even some expert beach drivers) shouldn’t go there, unless staying in the near-ocean wet sand -- for the entire journey. And it’s not that easy staying the low route with all those sections of dead forest sticking up near the water. What’s more, there is a large swell running so sudden waves are pushing foamy water way up the beach.

The bigger buggying problem in Holgate: The upper-beach “dry” sand is frozen above -- and quicksandish below. That’s the dreaded bogdown set-up in which your buggy breaks through the layer of ice and instantly sinks into the super-soft sand below; blown to over a foot deep be the recent winds.

This ice-over set-up always happens this time of year but Holgate’s ongoing erosion makes for even more unpredictable sand behavior. Also, it’s neigh impossible for another vehicle to get enough grip in the sinky sand to offer a tow out.

If you’re hellbent on hitting the Holgate beach, stay in any existing tracks. I made a few tracks up in the higher sand this a.m. – almost bogging down a few times. I actually abandoned my journey to the Rip. I sure as warm-blooded hell didn’t want to get out and dig out in skin-curdling cold. 


Ben Wurst

Here are twelve of my favorite photographs that I made this year. There was a lot of diversity in 
my photographythis year. Some of favs are candid moments with my kids. As you can see from my photos more of those tend to happen with my son than my daughter… Besides digital, I also began shooting on 35mm film again with a used Canon EOS 620. I have since moved on to an EOS 3, which I plan to use more in 2016. I haven’t shot film in a couple months (I still have 6+ rolls to develop from this year).

I’m looking forward to growing and learning more. Some of my goals are to shoot more weather, wildlife, and people, including street photography. I am starting to learn more post-processing techniques in Photoshop and Lightroom, like using luminosity masks and burning and dodging.

Happy New Year!



My new Rod! Can't wait until Thursday! This rod was made in tribute to my Brother William (Pete) McClelland. We grew up as Irish Twins, he was 53 weeks older than me. We both retired as Sgts. from Middletown Twp. P.D. Pete passed on way to soon after his retirement and we never got the chance to make all the fishing trips we had planned to make together. Now a part of him will be with me whenever I am on the water.

Only seven more Sundays ...

(This is not an advertisement -- I don't allow them -- it is just a fun read for kids.)


Written specifically for young children, Fish On the Move outlines the migratory habits of Atlantic striped bass. Our next generation of fisherman follow this iconic fish up the east coast and back again, learning about the fish's origins, diet, and migratory habits along the way.

The story of the striped bass migration

By Jeremy & Jean Pallai

"Required reading material for young anglers-to-be." -- On The Water Magazine

Written specifically for young children, Fish On the Move outlines the migratory habits of Atlantic striped bass. Our next generation of fisherman follow this iconic fish up the east coast and back again, learning about the fish's origins, diet, and migratory habits along the way.

Whether you're an avid fisherman, nature lover, or simply a parent looking for a rhythmic bedtime story,Fish on the Move is sure to delight.

  • Signature first edition 
  • 6 x 9, 20 page hardcover
  • Beautiful acrylic spreads with ocean wildlife, migratory maps, and more
  • Illustrated and designed in Duxbury



Monday, November 23, 2015

Keeping The Wild In Wildlife

Toward the goal of wildlife photography as a harmless and sustainable practice

Tech Tips

“Copter View”: The red lechwe, an elusive, swamp-dwelling antelope, is difficult to photograph in its own environment. A gentle approach from the air and long reach (400mm) captured this beautiful animal at sunrise in Botswana’s wildlife-rich Okavango Delta. Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF 100-400mm at 400mm, 1/750 sec. at ƒ/5.6, ISO 800

The subject of humans and their fascination with wildlife has been a hot topic lately. As the mainstream media feasted on the topic of big-game hunters wasting threatened species for sport and profit (most specifically, Cecil the Lion), wildlife photographers rightfully expressed horror and congratulated themselves for their harmless pursuits of the same subjects. While we’re truly unable to fathom the concept of killing for sport, at the same time, we observe that hordes of photographers, in hot pursuit of meaningful images of wild creatures, can cause their own kinds of harm, despite their benign, even loving intentions.

First, Do No Harm
The truth is, both sport hunting and wildlife photography, particularly of big game, are usually conducted within the same, highly monetized, public and private spheres around the world: reserves, public lands, national parks and game farms. Hunting and photography feed an enormous public and private economic system throughout the world. There’s an obvious, but essential difference between the two pursuits, of course, which we’ll state here for the sake of clarity: Hunters maim or kill their subjects and remove them from the environment and the gene pool; photographers take only photographs and, ideally, leave their subjects unscathed by the experience. 

But do we? Let’s take a hard look at ourselves, the impacts we have on wildlife subjects and practices we can adopt to achieve the goal of wildlife photography as a harmless and sustainable practice. Here, we’ll discuss just three aspects of wildlife photography that are receiving considerable negative attention today. (There’s much more to be said about this subject, as we did a few years back in our book, Wildlife 
Photography: Stories from the Field

“When you encounter an animal in the wild, you represent all of that individual’s cumulative experiences with humans, and you are adding to that experience with your own actions.” We’re quoting ourselves here, from a description of an encounter with a very aggressive African elephant in Botswana a few years ago. The issue of cumulative stress on wildlife subjects is more important than ever, as there are far more photographers now than there were when I took up nature photography 50 years ago, and there are few remaining inaccessible locations on Earth. I’ve always photographed under the premise that no photograph is worth the life of the animal that we wish to capture with our cameras. With that said, over the decades, I’ve observed that those we ask to manage wildlife act with varying degrees of intensity, depending upon the venue and the philosophy, to keep photographers from disturbing “their” subjects.

The details of wildlife management are often murky and illogical. As an example, I recall a Yellowstone Park Service study of human/elk interactions. Researchers placed heart monitors on some of the elk to associate levels of stress (as evidenced by elevated heart rates) to close approaches by humans in the winter season. The results indicated that the animals’ heart rates increased, indicating stress, when humans approached even from a great distance, and before the animals indicated any observable response, such as lifting their heads to look at the people. My problem with the study was that the elk in the study had been pursued, darted and collared by researchers, and at least one of the animals died during the procedure. I think those elk might be a bit sensitive to humans after that experience! I would also think that an elk’s pulse would be elevated with every intrusion into its space, whether it’s a photographer, or a wolf, or even a vehicle along the park roads. 

Nonetheless, I keep this study in mind when I do photograph in Yellowstone and similar venues, especially in winter; since I don’t have access to elk EKGs, I continue to base my proximity on their observable response to my presence. When photographing a wild subject, use cameras, lenses and techniques that allow you to reach out without getting close. Watch from a distance to establish a baseline understanding of normal behavior. Then, as you approach, you’ll be able to discern changes that indicate you’re causing a disruption. And, of course, we must follow the directives within the jurisdictions in which we find ourselves.

While photographing wild animals from the air once was a relatively rare occurrence limited to research teams and BBC cameramen, the helicopter experience has become a routine aspect of African photo safaris. Two specific, contrasting flights come to mind. One pilot, a grizzled military veteran with lots of experience, moved fast, zoomed around the animals at close range and aggressively approached herds of elephants and giraffe. In every case, the animals ran in panic; I couldn’t use a single photograph from the flight because they all documented inexcusable harassment of the subjects. The following year, our group worked with a younger female pilot. She was sensitive to the animals, her approaches were much less aggressive, and while the animals were certainly aware of the helicopter, they continued with their normal behavior and demonstrated no adverse responses. Technique matters, whether approaching animals by plane (or drone), on foot, by boat or in a snow machine. Being aggressive and pushing too close and too quickly will seldom yield desirable photographs and will often be detrimental to the subject.

There has been a recent resurgence of the continuing discussion about baiting animals to entice them closer to the photographer or into a more favorable location for photography. One of the more serious early debates concerned polar bears near Churchill, Manitoba. At the beginning of winter, the hungry bears hang around Hudson Bay, waiting for the sea to freeze so they can reach their primary food source, the ringed and bearded seals that live out on the solid ice. Some 30 years ago, a few photographers were setting up camp with Tundra Buggies at a good distance from the primary bear-viewing area. When word got out that they were placing blocks of lard to bait the bears into photographic position, there was a huge protest from some conservationists. When I look back at it now, I don’t think it was so terrible. The incidents were isolated; as soon as the ice was ready, the bears left for their preferred wild food sources and weren’t being habituated to an unsustainable environment. The photographs attained by these photographers are now being used to call attention to the effects of climate change on the bears’ environments. Would this work today with the great number of tourists that now come to this area? No.

But let’s admit that baiting, by other names, is an essential strategy for both wildlife photography and sport hunting. A prime example is the planting of grain fields in or near wildlife refuges to augment or create habitats for migrating waterfowl that are accessible to hunters and photographers alike. On a smaller scale, I’ve been feeding small birds in my backyards in California, Colorado and now Oregon for many, many years. While some suggest that backyard bird feeding alters bird migration patterns, my observations don’t support that theory; the birds come in for some free fast food, then move along on schedule. While they’re in the neighborhood, I’m pleased to capture head-and-shoulder portraits of small birds from 3.2 feet away, using a blind and my new Canon EF 100-400mm Mark II zoom with a 1.4X tele-extender on a Canon EOS 7D Mark II. The angle of view is 896mm at 3.2 feet! Some types of baiting look more natural than bird feeders, but the effect is the same. We create desirable environments such as butterfly gardens and ponds to draw wildlife close to us so we can observe them, learn about them, photograph and remember them.

While there always will be critics, we, as nature photographers, are part of the wilderness, and we have the potential to advance knowledge and understanding of our wild subjects and their environments. The best practices we can adopt as nature photographers are to pursue knowledge of our subjects before we photograph them, respect their environments, and do what we can to limit our impact as individuals and as a group. We believe that the nature photography community needs to engage more broadly in thoughtful discussions about human/wildlife interactions and, as individuals, we need to carefully consider the costs our passions may impose on others. Finally, we need to make discerning choices about the institutions, both public and private, that our photography dollars are supporting, and to be sure that their standards are consistent with ours. Don’t be an unwitting accomplice to unwise breeding, the importation of wild animals from their natural environments, inhumane treatment or the canned hunt. 

We were pleased to learn this magazine will introduce a new column that focuses on wildlife photography. “Wild by Nature,” by our colleague Melissa Groo, will appear in the first issue of 2016. Congratulations to OPand Melissa on this important new feature.

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