Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Wednesday, February 28, 2018: Forecasters are getting serious, aka dramatic, about the coming offshore storm ... while I check out myself

Wednesday, February 28, 2018: Forecasters are getting serious, aka dramatic, about the coming offshore storm system forming off North Jersey by Friday.

I sure see the wind, especially with a tunneling effect twixt two systems from D.C. to us. There is also that in-place “blocking high pressure system” to the north. Right now, it all points to the potential for a wow-storm for New England. Again, for us, a foul wind will blow, but with winds more north than east … mercifully.    

Now, will the wind alone have enough oomph to cause the serious or “major” flooding being called for? It is not a slam-dunk flood event, due to that more northerly –and even a tad westerly -- angle of the wind. Might the moon phase and even a groundswell add water to the situation? That’s where it gets iffy … fast.

All that said, in this day and age, there is no gauging storm potential using old criteria. Kindly skip the yet-to-really-arrive sea level rise. It’s the frickin, already-there, big-picture ocean temperature increases that are (and will) over-fuel every major system forming off our coast, near or farther out. Coastal storm explosiveness has been around for a thousand years. Now, however, the detonations are becoming more and more unpredictable.

What’s more, there’s a highly noticeable shift in the intensification process off the mid-Atlantic. Low pressure explosions seem to be taking place farther north than in the past -- when the detonation would occur most often off Hatteras. It now seems to more often take place off Jersey, as this system will surely do off North Jersey.

I’ll be making calls tomorrow to consult with some weather folks. I’d like to pin down the flood range potential, which I just can’t see as “major” – a term that really should be reserved for the likes of … I won’t say her name.


Here are the forecast peak wind gusts from the coastal storm. As this storm intensifies, it will produce a very large area of strong winds. High Wind Watches across much if the Eastern US, including the Baltimore-Washington metro & the central and southern Appalachians.

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I’ve suddenly gotten into checking myself out. Whoa, wait! That sounds just too weird. How about, I’m checking myself out instead of having some strange lady do it. Hell, that sounds worse.

Image result for women checking out a man's ass

I guess I haven’t time to be brief. What I’m trying to say is, when shopping, I now check out my own items at places like the grocery. And, check it out, I’m getting pretty good at it.

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There are some stumbling points with self-checkouts, mostly due to my using reusable bags. To do that, I usually have to advise that lady jammed inside the scanning machine that I’m forsaking the store’s frickin plastic bags. Once that’s made clear – and despite the hidden-away possibly lady copping a bit of an attitude about my reusable bag insistence – it’s then kinda cool to swipe the bar codes, while being told the price. In the case of Shop-rite, I’m not wild about having my scanning flow slowed to be loudly reminded of my savings on a sale item. “You saved … 2 dollars.” Hey, lady, why the hell do you think I’m buying blood oranges?! I wouldn’t touch them for your outrageous going price! I’d say that out loud but there’s no guessing what little paybacks she might have at her disposal. “Toothpaste … let’s see, that will be 87 dollars and 11 cents. How’s that grab your cheap ass?!”   Why you little …!

Just kidding. I’ve gotten nothing  but polite pricing from the little people inside those machines.

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I’m buffing up on the my self-scan capacities because the process has “It’s the future” written all over it.  You can see that at Walmart, where they’re paring down the in the flesh checkout lanes by over 50 percent. It’s scan or stand, i.e. stand in line waiting for a human cashier, with a light flashing over her register, to attract a supervisor for a price override because some lady with pink-streaked hair remembered at the last second that she had a coupon for Midol.

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Of course, the rush to a state of self-scanningness has me sympathetically wondering whence goeth all those displaced cashiers … you know, the ones who can’t fit into scanning machines? I envision a glut of unemployed stand-up check-out folks hanging out at the employment office, talking about the golden days when being behind the register meant you were somebody.

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It’s amazing how quickly life can change during these breakneck-speed times. Even as I perfect my self-scanning, I’m reading about the arrival of shopping with smartphones -- whereby you scan a product as you put it in your cart … or reusable bag. You then pay with the phone … and walk out. To be sure, highly high-tech tracking devices know your every move and purchase. The tracking equipment is so spot on it’s estimated that that shoplifting will soon be neigh impossible. Oh, great. Now you have a s-load of former loss-prevention folks hanging out with the axed cashiers up at unemployment. Face it, if you can’t fit into one of those scanning machine, you’re SOL.


A 58-year-old business man was convicted of theft by Munich's district court after scanning A$73.50 of veal liver as cheaper fruit. Photo / AAP

If you're pondering one-upping the self-scan realm, you might wanna check this www.nzherald.co.nz news story about a "precedent-setting" scan-scam punishment. :

If you think you are clever scanning your expensive avocados as cheap apples at the self-service checkout, you might want to reconsider before you face the consequences.

Don't believe me? Just ask the German man who was fined A$326,000 ($349,794) for his nefarious use of a self-service checkout.

The 58-year-old business man, who wasn't identified, was convicted of theft by Munich's district court after scanning A$73.50 of veal liver as cheaper fruit.

Although the fine might seem excessive, the court based it on the fact the man has a monthly income of A$37,500.

He had also been caught cheating the system three times previously, and has convictions for theft and tax evasion.

After the court appearance, the man was released from jail, where he had been held since the theft in December.

The news follows an angry wife being told to leave her husband after sharing his confession about stealing from self-service checkouts in December last year.

Posting on parenting forum mumsnet, the wife asked if she was being unreasonable for confronting her husband for his theft.

"Dh [darling husband] has started to steal from self-service tills. Mostly small items such as chocolate bars or cans but today he came home with a new wallet," she wrote. "He bragged about how the wallet was free."

She added that her husband would sometimes pay for one item, but take three.

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The importance of saltwater recreational fishing

Saltwater recreational fishing (fishing for sport or pleasure) is an integral part of American coastal life. From Maine to Guam, striped bass to ulua, recreational fishing is both a cultural cornerstone and an important economic driver in the United States. In 2015, nearly 9 million saltwater anglers took 61 million fishing trips generating $63 billion in sales impacts, $36 billion in value-added impacts, $22 billion in income impacts, and supporting 439,000 U.S. jobs.


NOAA Fisheries announces a proposed rule that would revise the regulations related to closures of the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries. The proposed action addresses previous public comments asking for consideration of revisions to the shark fishery closure procedures.

Who is affected?

This action could affect:

Any commercial shark fishermen in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

Any dealers who buy or sell sharks or shark products in these areas.

What will it do?

The proposed revisions to the closure regulations include:

Maintaining the current 80-percent closure threshold but allowing a shark fishery to remain open after this landings threshold has been reached or has been projected to be reached, if NOAA Fisheries determines the landings are not expected to exceed 100 percent of that quota before the end of the season (Alternative 1f).

Decreasing the minimum notice of a shark fishery closure from the current five days to three days (Alternative 2b), given reduced trip lengths and electronic reporting obligations, which have resulted in less need for extended notice of closures to avoid trip interruption.

Submit Comments by March 26, 2018:

During the comment period, NOAA Fisheries will hold one public hearing by phone for this proposed rule (see below). The public is reminded that NOAA Fisheries expects participants at the public hearings to conduct themselves appropriately. At the beginning of the conference call, the moderator will explain how the call will be conducted and how and when attendees can provide comments. NOAA Fisheries representative will attempt to structure the meeting so that all the attending members of the public will be able to comment, if they so choose, regardless of the controversial nature of the subject(s). Attendees are expected to respect the ground rules, and, if they do not they may be asked to leave the hearing or may not be allowed to speak during the conference call.

Information for Upcoming Conference Call/Webinar

Date and Time: March 2, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

To participate in conference call, call: (888) 946-7204; Passcode: 1023240.

To participate in webinar, RSVP at: https://noaaevents2.webex.com/noaaevents2/onstage/g.php?MTID=e8805c..., a confirmation email with webinar log-in information will be sent after RSVP is registered.

During the public hearing call, NOAA Fisheries will receive public feedback on the proposed management measures. Written comments, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2017-0070”, may be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or mail to the contact information included below. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to Federal eRulemaking Portal without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.


Photo: NOAA Fisheries/FishWatch.


“Gag grouper? That’s our money fish,” said Mike Colby, a charter boat captain out of Clearwater, Florida, on the state’s western shore. “That’s what brings customers to the dock.”

But since 2010, Gulf of Mexico gag grouper have been managed under a rebuilding plan that stipulates shortened fishing seasons for recreational fishermen and lower quotas for commercial fishermen.

“We spent several years with a very poor gag fishery,” Colby said, and it hurt his business. “What do you sell to your customers? People want to yank and crank.”

Today, business is looking up for Colby, who owns a 40-foot charter vessel, The Double Hook. NOAA Fisheries recently declared the Gulf of Mexico gag grouper stock rebuilt, and regulators will likely allow more fishing in the coming year. That’s good news for fishermen, for coastal communities, and for the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

NOAA Fisheries recently released its annual Status of Stocks report, which shows that gag grouper and two other stocks—golden tilefish and butterfish—were rebuilt in 2014, for a total of 37 stocks rebuilt since 2000. This year’s report also shows that the number of stocks on the overfished and overfishing lists are the lowest they’ve ever been.

These successes were made possible by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the law that governs our nation’s marine fisheries. The Act requires science-based catch limits, an end to overfishing, and the rebuilding of overfished stocks.

A Turn for the Worse a Decade Ago

At least two things caused gag grouper to become overfished. First was increased fishing pressure as the number of people—and recreational fishing boats—grew quickly along Florida’s Gulf coast in the 1990s and early 2000s. And with gag grouper being the highest-priced fish in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish complex, commercial fishing increased as well.

But the other cause had nothing to do with fishing, but rather with environmental conditions. In 2004 and 2005 the Gulf experienced large red tides. The runaway algal growth that caused the red tides also depleted the water column of oxygen, suffocating the fish.

“We drove through acres and acres of dead gag. Big ones that you would think could swim away from a red tide event,” Colby said. “They were belly up, like cobblestones you could walk across.”

The stock had low population growth for the next several years and NOAA Fisheries declared it overfished in 2009.

“We had to put in some very stringent management measures to turn things around,” said Andy Strelcheck, NOAA’s deputy regional administrator in the Southeast. Those included a shortening of the recreational season from 10 months to 2 and a reduced bag limit, as well as significant cuts in quota for commerfcial fishermen.

Gag grouper

Gag grouper. Photo: NOAA Fisheries

 An End to Overfishing

Typically, overfishing happens when fish are caught faster than they reproduce. But even if fishing is kept at sustainable levels, environmental factors can sometimes unexpectedly contribute to a stock becoming overfished, as happened with the red tide and gag grouper.

But where overfishing is a factor, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that it be corrected. For that reason, chronic overfishing no longer happens in U.S. waters, even if temporary conditions of overfishing occur from time to time. And once a stock is found to be overfished, the law requires that regulators put a rebuilding plan in place that will get the stock back to the size that supports its maximum sustainable yield—the largest long-term average catch that the stock will support.

That’s what happened with gag grouper. The latest stock assessment, conducted in early 2014, indicated that gag grouper has rebuilt to sustainable levels. In light of these findings, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will likely consider a longer season and higher catch quotas later this year.

When it comes to rebuilding stocks, the usual story you read in the news has fishermen demanding more fish and regulators holding them back. But in this case it’s the fishermen who are taking the more cautious approach. Based on what they’re seeing on the water, many Florida fishermen are saying that the stock should be given a little more time to rebuild before harvests are increased. This inversion of the usual storyline shows that everyone involved shares the same goal—a sustainable fishery—even if they sometimes disagree on the particulars.

The Gulf Council will take these opinions into consideration when setting new season lengths and catch limits. But on the question of whether our fisheries laws are working, both scientists and fishermen tend to agree.

“The successes we’re seeing with gag grouper, and also with many other stocks, are a direct result of two things,” Strelcheck said, “the sacrifices made by commercial and recreational fishermen, and the new requirements added to Magnuson in 2006.”

“We shouldn’t start screwing around with the science-based aspects of the 2006 Magnuson reauthorization,” Colby said. “I’m 64 years old, and I’ve seen this movie before. You start messing with those requirements, and we’re going to go back to overfishing. I guarantee it.”



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