Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Tuesday, September 29, 2015: Wow, I sure miss those northeasterlies winds … after ten days straight of ‘em. We bonded – like me and chiggers.
Well, I might not have to wait long for northerlies to come again if TS Joaquin paths this way. But first we might be getting a good hard rain’(s a gonna fall), meaning a rain our cricks, streams, beach sands and lawns need. Those hit-or-miss showers won’t be wrought with wicked winds -- or the Chowderfest-ruining timing that Joaquin might muster.
Below: Time-wise, I prefer this noon projection map ...
As of now, it’s actually a coin flip as to whether or not we’ll feel even the outer reaches of Joaquin come the weekend. I worry for both the Chowder Cook-off and Sunday’s vital NASCAR race in Dover, Delaware. That NASCAR race is part of the playoffs, in which Mayetta’s Martin Truex, Jr., needs to shine -- at least moderately bright -- to stay in the “Chase” game. The “Chase for the Cup” is the name given to those playoffs. After Dover, four of NASCAR’S top 16 drivers/cars get eliminated. While Martin is in decent shape to move into the next round, he’s still considered “on the bubble.”
Martin will be doing public appearance here on Thursday, since he’s essentially in-town for the Dover race.
I’m talking racing because local fishing topics have eludued me. I’ve seen a mere few surfcasters trying the slightly lowered surf. Here’s hoping that many casters are simply getting in some extra work time so they can go whole-hog when the LBI Surf Fishing Classic launches not this weekend but next. Here’s hoping the serious of big stirs we’re seeing will not only cool the water but stir in all kinds of serious stripers and slammers.
I know via FB that the bassing in New England remains slow to very decent. yes, a wide range.
Just got home from a week and a half long vacation / fishing trip that had me visiting Cape Cod, Rhode Island and Montauk. The fishing was anywhere from very bad to a slow pick, but this trip wasn't solely about the fishing. I had a great time on the Cape with my wife and Cousin-in-law, and got to see my first drive in movie. I also got to explore a few new fishing spots and took an involuntary swim in Cape Cod bay. Afterwards, I got to spend time with some great friends in Rhode Island chasing fish up and down the beach, right up to Taylor Swift's house. Most of that group then went to Montauk where I got to fish and hang out with a bunch of club members. It was a good trip. In a day or two I should be ready to do it again.
Locally, I have heard tell of occasional gator-size bluefish, hosting 20-pound bods. Blues of that bulk will heighten the hooking for the Classic.
I still hear many folks saying/arguing you can keep two striped bass over 28 inches. Not true. You can keep one fish over 28 inches and another one over 43 inches. That relates to the Classic because weighing in a morning bass of, say, 32 inches eliminates you from weighing in an afternoon striper of 42 inches. It adds some strategy to weigh-ins.
It seems the LBT frontbeach will (re)open to buggies on Oct 1. Other smaller LBI municipalities are already entertaining buggies, though there sure aren’t many tracks on the sand even in those buggyable towns. Surf City has seen high tides up to the due fencing at the north end of town. That makes for spooky driving since receding high tide water can leave sinkholes, which look easily drivable until you instantly sink up to your truck’s gills.
Below: They're out there today.
An addendum to my Causeway bridge story in here (https://jaymanntoday.ning.com/profiles/blogs/9-25-15-good-bye-old-c...):
As to any angling angles, the most the NJDOT will offer is a maybe. “The project may also provide opportunities … to improve public access to the waterfront, including areas for fishing and crabbing.” I can see those hand-railed sections of the pedestrian walkways to and from the refuge on Cedar Bonnet Island as offering a touch of angling potential. As to fishing from atop the smaller trestle bridges, that’s within the “may” range. I’m looking into it via next Tuesday’s NJDOT presentation to the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.
I’m getting requests for some/many of the plugs, flies and jigs I show in here. I place them in like someone showing artwork, not necessarily to market them. I almost always include either the name of the maker or the FB person who forwarded the items. It’s often possible to contact the makers directly, though some are just showing off their creations, not selling them. I’d also check with shops who might put you through to makers. Oddly, there are seldom fishing flea markets in the fall. The ones in the winter and spring are alive with freshly-made fishing lures. I bring that up because many makers/jobbers offer their products at those markets, providing you get there early.
LURE DIY: Learn how to mold your own topwater poppers from a turkey baster, courtesy of Kona luremaker Jim Rizzuto.
Read More: http://fishtr.hk/1GdcKpR
Hey John Jr. Bushell, thanks for the mullet. The bite turned on after high tide. In spite the the stained water, grass, and catching one surfer in SSP it turned out to be an awesome day. Just got to go and work it. It took 8 ounces to hold but the fish were there. Thanks again to Betty and Nicks!Michael Keefer
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Associated Press] By Patrick Whittle - September 28, 2015 -
PORTLAND, Maine, As waters warm off the coast of New England, black sea bass are moving north and, fishermen say, threatening the region's most valuable aquatic species: the lobster.
The influx of sea bass - among a number of species that are appearing in greater numbers off of Maine and New Hampshire as ocean temperatures climb - has some fishermen and lobstermen saying the best solution is to ease restrictions on catching the newcomers.
The sea bass prey on lobsters, a much more economically important commercial species and a key piece of New England's culture, and quotas that have drifted downward in recent years should be increased, fishermen said.
"What we need is a major increase in the allowable catch, both commercially and recreationally, because black sea bass are wiping out your lobsters," said Marc Hoffman, a Long Island, New York, recreational bass fisherman.
Hoffman, who sits on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission advisory panel for sea bass, said the time to raise the quota is overdue. He said it is particularly important in southern New England waters, where fishing managers say the population of lobsters has fallen to the lowest levels on record.
Black sea bass are a sought-after sport fish, but they are also popular as food and are growing in commercial value - federal statistics show black sea bass were worth a record of more than $8.5 million in 2013.
Scientists with the commission say more research is needed to determine just how abundant black sea bass are in New England waters. But about a quarter of the black sea bass caught in 2013 came ashore in New England; the fish is more often caught in the mid-Atlantic states, especially New Jersey and Virginia.
Meanwhile, the valuable lobsters were worth more than $460 million that same year, another record. But the southern New England lobster stock has cratered, which the Atlantic States commission attributed to environmental factors, including temperature rise, in a recent report.
Black sea bass appear to have shifted north in range, but there has not been a scientific study of the population since 2008, said Kirby Rootes-Murdy, the Atlantic States coordinator for the species.
Maine recently established a commercial fishery for the species, and New Hampshire fishermen have inquired about the possibility of starting one, state officials said.
As black sea bass move north, it makes sense that fishermen would follow them, said Kathy Mills, a scientist at Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland.
"We have a situation where more of the quota is concentrated in the mid-Atlantic states," she said. "It could be the basis for developing a commercial fishery."
William Adler, a Marshfield, Massachusetts, lobsterman who sits on interstate boards for lobster and bass, agreed.
"We never used to see black sea bass. Occasionally, you'd see one in a trap," said Alder, adding that raising the quota would "save some of the lobster stock."
Rick Wahle, a marine science researcher at the University of Maine who studied lobsters, said growing black sea bass populations off of New England could indeed be a threat to lobsters. The traditional predator of New England's lobsters - the Atlantic cod - is imperiled and black sea bass could fill that void, he said.
"It might even fill the role of some of the native ground fish that have been depleted," Wahle said.
But Wahle noted that lobsters face other dangers as waters warm, including shell disease. "It's not the only threat coming from the south," he said.
Iconic fish species move north as ocean warms
Warming ocean temperatures off the North Atlantic are causing fish to move up the coast to cooler waters — raising concerns among scientists and regulators about the ocean's ecosystem, and potentially changing the experience Delaware anglers have enjoyed for generations.
In 2013, a Virginia Beach striped bass tournament drew hundreds of boats, but only one striper was caught.
Wachapreague, Virginia, a tiny town south of Chincoteague that called itself the "flounder capital of the world," lost its identity and economic engine when summer flounder relocated to waters off the coasts of New Jersey and New York.
And the iconic blue crab, a staple of restaurants and dinner tables throughout the Delmarva Peninsula, are expanding their range, scuttling up the coast to Maine.
Striped bass, which gave birth to a charter fishing industry in Delaware, are swimming into deeper water during their fall migration through the mid-Atlantic — well beyond the 3-mile limit off the coast where it is legal to catch and keep them.
Black sea bass — once so common in area waters, they were the go-to-fish when other species weren't biting — have moved north to New England.
Many fish species, especially their young and larvae, have highly specific temperature and salinity ranges and must move to cooler waters to survive. That's why summer flounder are less abundant along the Delmarva Peninsula and are more common farther north.
And while blue crab remain a constant here, they are expanding ranges into cooler, northern waters where it was once thought they could never survive.
Blue mussels are struggling to survive the summer heat.
Malin Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University, looked at more than 350 North American species and found that fish are moving, and their movements track local temperature changes.
He points to the American lobster, which used to be common off Long Island but now the population is centered about 500 miles farther north, off the coast of Maine.
Owner and captain Ronald "Boe" Virdin of Smyrna, unloads crab bushels from his crab boat, Bad Habit in Leipsic, Del. (Photo: JASON MINTO/THE NEWS JOURNAL)
"As temperatures have warmed in the waters off our coasts, animals with a low tolerance for that warming have just picked up and shifted," said Pinsky, who is leading a team researching these shifts. "I hesitate to say 'moved,' mainly because we don't yet know whether fish are actually swimming, or whether they're simply reproducing more slowly in their old ranges and faster in their new ranges."
The reality is that the ocean in the North Atlantic, a region that includes the Delmarva Peninsula, has warmed 2 degrees since 1901 and fisheries scientists see this upward shift as a clear signal of climate change. The mid-Atlantic has the widest range between summer and winter water temperatures of almost any place on the planet, said Jon Hare, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northeast Fisheries Science Center Laboratory in Narragansett, Rhode Island.
The trend is also manifested by some traditionally southern species moving up the coast to our waters.
Tarpon, known as a Florida sportfish, are routinely caught off Oyster, Virginia, and even sometimes even in the Chesapeake Bay off Solomons Island in Maryland.
Juvenile gray snapper, a species more common in the mangrove swamps of the Bahamas and Florida, are being caught in Delaware's Inland Bays.
Shrimp are routinely caught off the Delaware coast in trawl survey nets, something fisheries scientists never used to see here.
Offshore spade fish, trigger fish, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and even an occasional pompano can now be hooked.
These shifts and the "ecological consequences of climate change in the marine environment pose significant challenges" for state, regional and federal fisheries managers, said Rick Robins, chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, the regional group that is tackling the issue.
Fishing has been managed by catch limits and quotas, often at a state-by-state level. But in the warming North Atlantic, Robins said, there is much more at stake: the future of the marine ecosystem and, perhaps, the old way of life for both commercial and recreational fishers. A new strategy should be discussed.
Some fishermen are highly mobile and can simply move their gear and follow the fish. But others have less flexibility, said Robins, who owns a Virginia-based conch processing operation and a fish export business.
Crab boat helper Mark Sterling of New Castle unloads crab bushels from the crab boat, Bad Habit in Leipsic, Del. (Photo: JASON MINTO/THE NEWS JOURNAL)
Tracking the fish
Sea bass and summer flounder used to be plentiful in our waters. While one can still catch both species along the Delmarva Peninsula, the population centers have moved. Sea bass are now primarily found off the coast of Massachusetts and summer flounder have moved to New Jersey and New York.
Even here, you likely won't catch them in Delaware Bay. Instead, the keeper-size flounder are now out in the ocean, said charter boat Capt. Bert Adams, who runs the Judy V. out of Indian River Inlet.
The list goes on and on. Scientists have documented 36 different fish populations that have shifted north from our region.
"There is a general trend that species are moving northward as temperatures warm, but it's more complicated than that," Hare said.
There is the long-term rise in ocean temperatures driven by climate change, and there is multi-decade variability — such as the 1940s phenomenon when ocean temperatures warmed and then returned to more normal conditions, he said.
There is also impact from overfishing, predator-prey relationships, habitat loss and less-studied shifts in bottom of the food-chain species. Pinpointing causes in the mid-Atlantic is especially difficult because the range in temperatures between the summer and winter is among the widest anywhere on Earth, Hare said.
Amid these new findings, there are things that ordinary citizens can do to make a difference and help scientists better understand what is happening, Hare said. In the Chesapeake, anglers can log into ChesapeakeCatch.org to help build a database of what it being caught, kept and released.
At the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, teams of citizen scientists volunteer to seine the bays with nets throughout the summer to build a record of juvenile fish species there. The organization depends on citizen scientists who work on the fish survey for much of their research.
In New England, Steve Zottoli, an adjunct senior scientist at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Lab, is working on an interactive website to help schoolchildren learn more about striped bass by encouraging them to follow the fish. Considering the major spawning areas are the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay, and the Hudson River, "it's miraculous they find their way up here."
Hare said people can also get involved in fisheries management discussions in their own state and region. It doesn't mean they can stop the movement of summer flounder northward, but they can have a say in the way fish resources are managed, he said.
Scientists and Anglers
What scientists already know for certain, based upon a Northeast Fisheries Center study completed in 2012, is that ocean temperatures are increasing beyond anything that could be explained as multi-decadal variability, that salinity is decreasing and that rainfall and stream flow into the oceans are increasing. The total increase in the North Atlantic since 1901: about 2 degrees. That may not sound like much, but many fish have specific thermal requirements.
"We don't necessarily foresee a catastrophic collapse," Pinsky said. "Species that are heavily overfished are especially sensitive to climate change and so allowing overfished species to recover may be one of the best things we can do for preserving fisheries in the future."
Adams, 49, has been fishing since he was 3 and running a boat since he was 8.
"I think it's more complicated" than a temperature-driven population shift, he said "I think it's a 40-year cycle."
He said there is the influence of fishery management actions, which sometimes favor one species over another or artificially inflate some populations through the introduction of hatchery-raised fish when a species gets in trouble. Efforts to rebuild striped bass populations and several shark species mean there are more big, top-of-the-food-chain fish, he said.
"We're protecting all the predators," he said.
Even with the shift, there are still plenty of fish to catch in Delaware waters, said Rich King, of Millsboro. He fishes every day and blogs about his and other people's fishing experiences.
"There have definitely been some pattern changes," he said. But when it comes to whether climate change could be the reason, King said he doesn't even want to go there. Shifts "happen all the time," he said. He points to this spring when there was a spectacular blue fish run that lasted seven weeks. "Those bluefish ate everything that moved."
Some of this isn't new. Every year, unexpected tropical fish make it close to shore on Delmarva as warm water eddies spin off the gulf stream. It's most common this time of year, when waters are often their warmest. Some suggest that's how a few Portuguese men-of-war landed on Delaware's state park beaches earlier this summer.
On Thursday morning, Kevin Mundy, of Frankford, was fishing in the surf off 3-Rs Road in Delaware Seashore State Park. He already caught three black-tipped sharks and had just casted for a fresh supply of menhaden. He took one of the live fish, hooked it to a mackerel rig and cast it out.
A boat on the Leipsic River in Leipsic, Del. (Photo: JASON MINTO/THE NEWS JOURNAL)
He felt a strong tug and his fishing rod bent over.
As he pulled the fish in, he thought it looked like a catfish but it was a fish he didn't recognize, a cobia. Cobia are large, long fish with a dark stripe running along their bodies. They are usually found in Florida, but in the summer, sometimes come as far north as the Potomac River.
"I've never seen them here," he said.
Striped bass move out to sea
For 70 years, Eric Burnley Sr. has been fishing in the mid-Atlantic. He lives in southern Delaware, but used to run a charter business out of Virginia. Striped bass are one of his passions, so much so that he wrote a book about them.
"We're seeing a constant change," he said.
He tells the story of a popular striped bass fishing tournament held off Virginia Beach. In 2013, some 200 to 300 boats fished in the tournament, he said. "One striped bass was caught," he said.
Striped bass, which used to move south during the fall and early winter from New England, were out in the deeper waters beyond the 3-mile legal catch zone.
Burnley said that was a year after Hurricane Sandy and he still wonders if that is what chased the fish further into the ocean.
But others say the shift to deeper water has been brewing longer.
Harry Hornich, a striped bass fisheries specialist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said that, traditionally, striped bass moved to the warmer waters off Cape Hatteras for the winter.
The species is so important in Maryland — it is the official state fish — that state fisheries scientists participate in the fall migration survey.
They used to call it the North Carolina survey, he said. But these days, instead of catching the sample sets of striped bass within sight of land off Nags Head, North Carolina, they find them to the north — near the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. The new target area is about 20 miles off the coast, where land is not visible.
Managing for the shift as climate changes is an emerging issue for the mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council. Earlier this year, they published a white paper that Hare helped author.
"A number of scientists from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and elsewhere have been looking at this problem, and multiple studies have found that about two-thirds of the fish populations on the northeast U.S. continental shelf are moving northwards," he said.
"Most of the earlier work was done on adult fish, but some more recent work has focused on the earliest life stages of fish, when they're tiny larvae floating in the water column. We've found that in many cases larval distributions are also shifting northwards. So not only are fish populations shifting northward, but their spawning locations appear to be shifting northward as well."
Steve Pagano, of North East, Maryland, can click off the fishing season by species like other people mark their social calendars.
Like Adams, Tom Hargreaves, of Ocean View, believes fish run in cycles.
Twenty-five years ago, it was hard to catch a rockfish (striped bass)," he said. "We were catching sea trout. ... I don't know what it is. I think it is overharvesting."
It used to be, he said, that in the fall, there was almost no one fishing at Indian River Inlet. Now, it is loaded with anglers.
What scientists don't know is what this shift in species means.
Are fish populations moving or are they expanding their range? How does the shift impact prey species and will it increase competition for other, much-loved species if new rivals move in?
Take blue crabs, for instance. They are opportunistic feeders. If you go to Professor Charles Epifanio's famous crab races during the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment Coast Day, you can see just how undiscriminating they really are. They chase stinky bits of spoiled chicken to Epifanio's special brew to pieces of hot dogs.
But what about in a place like New England? David Johnson, the scientist who discovered the blue crabs in the Gulf of Maine and wrote a recent paper about it, said blue crabs will eat green crabs. That might be a good thing because green crabs are an introduced, invasive species. The concern is they might also eat clams, an important fishery species in New England, he said.
New England has its own transition zone, Johnson said. At Falmouth, Massachusetts, you can explore the coastal waters in a swimsuit during the summer. But from Gloucester north, you need a wetsuit because the water is that much colder. Cape Cod is the boundary between the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the cold waters of the Labrador Current.
And that is why the blue crabs were such a surprise, he said. From what he's seen so far "they are producing. We are finding females with eggs."
Still, the numbers are low at this point, not enough to support a sustainable commercial fishery, Johnson said.
"Climate change is changing the diversity of the Gulf of Maine," Johnson said. As for the blue crabs, "I'm convinced they are here to stay."
While crabs can move if it gets too cold or too hot, some other marine species can't.
Shrimp moving north
Rich Wong, a fisheries scientist at the Delaware Department of Nature Resources and Environmental Control, said 20 years ago, blue mussels covered pilings in Delaware Bay.
But he doesn't see them like he used to. Blue mussels release larvae in the spring and the spat can set up on structures. But "eventually it gets too hot," Wong said.
Oysters, too, are stuck in one place once they settle into hard bottom.
Danielle Kreeger, science director at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, said she is starting to see oyster reefs in shallow water off Mispillion Harbor and along the rocks at West Ocean City, Maryland.
"We're starting to see intertidal oysters set up in Delaware Bay," she said. "They could never grow there before because of winter." It just got too cold when the oysters were exposed at low tide, she said.
Burnley said that this summer, flounder fishing season has been "spectacular" in Delaware waters. Some of the best flounder fishing used to be in lower Delaware Bay at a spot called "Flounder Alley."
"You're not going to catch anything worth talking about" there now, Burnley said.
He is a believer in the impact climate change is having on fish off our coast.
"There's no question the water is warming," he said.
Wong said he, too, sees a shift.
"It's unmistakable where we see the landings shifting, he said. "That is a real solid indicator that some large environmental process is happening."
And it may not take big temperature shifts to see major changes.
"It's really small, incremental rises in temperature that have huge impacts," Wong said. "It's really, absolutely amazing to see it happen so quickly."
SPECIES FINDING NEW HOMES
Striped bass are swimming into deeper water during their fall migration through the mid-Atlantic.
Less abundant off the Delmarva Peninsula; now common off the coasts of New Jersey and New York.
Blue mussels are struggling to survive the summer heat.
Black Sea Bass
Once common in Delmarva area, they have moved north to New England.
Less abundant off the Delmarva Peninsula; now common off the coasts of New Jersey and New York.
Once common off Long Island, now based 500 miles north off of Maine.
Tarpon, known as a Florida sportfish, are routinely caught off Virginia, and even in the Chesapeake Bay
A Chesapeake staple, they are expanding their range all the way up the coast to Maine.
Now netted off the Delaware coast, something fisheries scientists never used to see.