Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Wednesday, May 04, 2016: I thought it would be a quiet rainy day but ... And the Johnny Bucktail apology

"Sam, there's no room for ya. Sam don't do it ... Damn it, Sam!"


As a reporter, I kinda like the way broadcasters handle photo bombs in Pakistan ...

Below: This squabble gets personal very quickly when the goose hits below the belt ...  

Wednesday, May 04, 2016: I thought it would be a quiet rainy day but the arrival of a convicted psycho-killer and Ancora mental hospital/prison escapee in Barnegat has changed the entire complexion of the day. As of early this afternoon, an insane manhunt Arthur W. Buckel, 39, has not lead to his capture – or neutralization. He’s a baby killer – though he was scheduled for release

It was amazing listening to the number of residents calling in about virtually anyone walking the streets. As nearly as I can figure, there must have been half a dozen bloodhounds, using the term to mean any breed of scent dogs. Some of the odder calls included a resident who believed there was someone in her outdoor treehouse based on her dog’s barks. I counted no fewer than 20 call-ins about suspicious people on the streets.  

Hey, I’ve always said that criminals had better steer well clear of our area. Our police, including special SWAT and bloodhound units, are not to be challenged. It’s when full-blown psychos like Buckel hit town that we can let out boys take care of business.


Today's "What the hell did you expect?!" award goes to this pet owner. 


Lots of folks out bluefishing until the weather blasted in. Some simply donned raingear but when lightning is in play, I’m in flight. I’ve been in the proximity of fatal lightning strikes on three different occasions over the years. I read where folks survive strikes. There wasn’t a prayer for the victims I saw. Keep that in mind this summer.

I’m blown away by the size of some of the bluefish now being caught. They’re all-heads and still in the upper teens of pounds. I know I say this a lot but some of those fish would surely push state-record size if they were autumned out.

And I guess I will get a smidge uppity but not being sure why folks are keeping those potential trophy-sized fish. There are plenty of smaller, more edible blues out there. Worst response I hear for keeping big blues: “Get them out of the way so striper fishing will be better.” Something seriously wrong with that mentality.  

I was asked if there have ever been regulations regarding blowfish. None that I could find. I recall there was once a “State Record” for blowfish but it was retired, as were: 

*** Retired Categories ***

Species Lbs. Oz. Year Angler Where Caught
Barracuda 27 8 1991 Gary Szilagyi Off Cape May
Blowfish, N. puffer 1 14 1987 Virginia Patten Delaware Bay
Blowfish (other) 9 10 1992 Kevin Steward Delaware Bay
Cutlass Fish 6 11 2002 Mike Green Mud Hole
Lobster, American 15 3 2003 William Sharp Almirante Wreck
Mackerel, chub 1 9 2002 Kathleen Leso Off Spring Lake
Shark, sandbar 168 8 1987 John Norton Little Egg Inlet
Shark, sand tiger 246 0 1989 Richard Brown Delaware Bay
Shark, white 759 0 1988 Jim Kneipp Off Pt. Pleasant
Stargazer, northern 13 0 2000 Jim Ludt Off Cape May
Striped bass, hybrid 13 2 2004 James R. Fowler Off Brigantine
Sturgeon, Atlantic 82 0 1994 Glen Lasco Sandy Hook
Tarpon 53 0 1982 Jim Klaczkiewicz Off Sea Bright


NOTE (!): Radar is not in real time. There is often a delay. What you see below (2 pm today) could already be upon us. 


Mother's Day and angling don't always mix so well. 


An entire assortment of these improvised photo/posters are flooding Facebook in the face of the ugly to-do over culling out of dead bass by Johnny Bucktail. I'm not sure if things aren't going a little to far over a rare action. Most anglers are very meticulous about keeping and releasing. Still, this incident has struck a nerve. 


N.J. rec fisherman “Johnny Bucktail” faces wave of anger after fish tossing video goes viral

johnny bucktailsA Monmouth County fisherman is facing a firestorm of criticism — mostly from fellow fishermen — for a video he posted online showing him tossing numerous motionless fish overboard. The video, posted Monday to Facebook and Youtube and which you can see above, shows John Contello of Hazlet on board his father’s 37-foot Sea Hunter boasting of the number of striped bass being caught as he looks down on a pile of fish in the back of his boat. He then proceeds to throw two of them through the air and back into the water. Commenters attacked like sharks. Video, read the rest here 10:41


N.J. fisherman faces wave of anger after fish tossing video goes viral

Brian Donohue | NJ Advance Media for NJ.comBy 
Brian Donohue | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

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on May 03, 2016 at 4:30 PM, updated  May 04, 2016 at 7:12 AM
Stay connected to NJ.com
A Monmouth County fisherman is facing a firestorm of criticism — mostly from fellow fishermen — for a video he posted online showing him tossing numerous motionless fish overboard.

The video, posted Monday to Facebook and Youtube and which you can see above, shows John Contello of Hazlet on board his father's 37-foot Sea Hunter boasting of the number of striped bass being caught as he looks down on a pile of fish in the back of his boat. He then proceeds to throw two of them through the air and back into the water.

 "This is for people who want to know what Johnny Bucktail-style is,'' he boasts to the camera, referring to himself with a nickname lifted from a type of fishing lure.

Commenters attacked like sharks. 

Many said the motionless bass appear to be dead and accused him of "culling," a practice, largely considered anathema, by which keeper-sized fish are kept only until another larger fish is caught. The smaller fish is then tossed back - dead or not - to avoid being caught by authorities with more than one fish.

Other viewers, unsure if they were dead, were simply appalled at how he threw them overboard, rather than releasing them gently as is considered more humane and sportsmanlike.

"Looks like you are pretty good at catching fish but you sir are not a fisherman.. you are an a--hole. This is a really bad look for you and your boys " wrote a Facebook user named Mike Murphy.

"You're a disgrace to striped bass fishermen,'' wrote another YouTube user. The video was taken down from Youtube shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Contello's father, who was not present when the video was filmed, defended his son, saying the fish were not dead. "They were only on the deck for a minute" before he released them, he said. 

"My son goes by all the rules. He just happens to be a great fisherman, he catches a lot of fish a lot of the guys are f—ing jealous," said John Contello, who shares the same name as his son. 

Johnny \"Bucktail\" CostelloAn image from the video posted by Johnny "Bucktail" Costello 

His son, a 19-year-old college student who has been fishing since age six, was fishing with five friends that day. He would never toss a dead fish overboard and has been traumatized by the internet backlash, Contello said.

"What they're doing to my son is horrible,'' he said. 

He also defended the manner in which his son released the fish.

"People are saying that's not the way you release them,'' he said, "That's bull (expletive)."

 "There's nothing wrong with tossing a fish head first back into the water," he added. 

The video, which had more than 35,000 views on Facebook after just 21 hours online, was being circulated on fishing-related Facebook pages and message boards.

By mid afternoon many commenters were circulating photos and memes of his likeness, including one of a human skeleton with the caption "Me waiting for Johnny Bucktails to release a live bass." A headline on a forum thread atNewJerseyhunter.com reads, "This is why we can't have nice things."

By state law, anglers are allowed to keep only one striped bass between 28 and 43 inches in length and another above 43 inches per day.  Special applications can be made for a "bonus tag" allowing one additional fish between 24 and 28 inches per year.

It is widely considered poor sportsmanship as well as harmful and, scientists say, possibly deadly to fish to toss them overboard the way Contello does in the video.

"I'm speechless,'' said John Tiedemann, Associate Dean at the Monmouth University School of Science who has led research into the mortality rates of fish that are hooked and then released.

Tiedemann said both the fish in the boat and the ones being sent airborne "appear to be dead" because there is no movement of the opercula, or gill cover. "He's clearly to me, culling for size,'' Tiedemann said. "But let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Let's say it's not dead. You then need to revive those fish."

Fishermen typically revive a fish tired from the fight by gently placing it in the water and allowing water to run through the mouth and over the gills, essentially helping it catch its breath.

Tiedemann said he was doubly outraged that the fish appear to be of spawning size.


"These are all big spawners that you're killing, what we call big fat fecund females," Tiedemann said. "So these are the spawners that you want to protect."

Contello's father said his son has revived fish before releasing them in the past, but he believes it's only necessary to do so when they have been out of the water for an extended period of time. 

"If he had a fish for a long time, he would revive it,'' Contello said. "He's not a punk kid. He gets excited that he catches a lot of fish. And he's so upset over this."

A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said Wildlife Conservation Officers with the state Division of Fish and Game were sent the video today and are looking into the matter. He had no further comment. 

Brian Donohue may be reached at bdonohue@njadvancemedia.com Follow him on Twitter @briandonohue. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

And the apology: 
As a 19-year-old who loves to fish (and who has been fishing every chance I can get since I can barely remember), I feel terrible about the backlash over my recent video. Despite what it may look like on the video, I want to be 100% clear in saying not one of the fish we threw back over the side was dead; yes, five fish in the cockpit (one per angler) were going home, but every other fish that came over the rail was unhooked and released – none floated, they all swam away as green as when they first came to the side. I know the video looks bad folks, but it’s not what it seemed – and forgive my excitement, it was a mad dog bite and we were all very excited. I’ve released a lot of big fish over the years and have taken great care in those trophy releases – perhaps I need to be more respectful for the teens and 20’s we’re catching and releasing too, I got the message. So maybe I have more to learn, and I’ve spoken to quite a few knowledgeable captains and anglers in the past few days who have offered a lot of good advice – to those who have reached out personally to offer guidance and friendly recommendations, thank you! To those who have threatened me, my family, my school, and anyone who has ever known me, much less fished with me, I hope you will consider what those actions mean to others. I’m confident that I’ve not done anything wrong legally (and welcome the discussion with enforcement folks monitoring this ongoing madness), but if perhaps if I’ve treated this great fish in a way other than with the great respect it deserves, I’m sorry – and I’ve learned a great deal from this experience.
Below ... and it gets even weirder yet. 
Brian Donohue | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

Email the author | 
Follow on Twitter 

on May 04, 2016 at 4:08 PM, updated  May 04, 2016 at 4:18 PM
Stay connected to NJ.com 

There is an expression that says you can't swing a cat in New Jersey without hitting a mobster.

Apparently, you can also try throwing a striped bass.

The New Jersey fisherman who sparked a firestorm of internet criticism for a web video in which he boastfully throws and mishandles fish is the son of a New York City mafia captain sent to federal prison in 2008, NJ Advance Media confirmed.

Both father and son share the same name of John Contello, with only their nicknames differing: "Big John," the nickname listed in federal indictments for the father; and "Johnny Bucktail", after a type of fishing lure, for the son.

In a pair of interviews yesterday and today, Contello's father blamed the backlash on older fishermen's jealousy towards a 19-year-old who catches more fish than they do.

"He wouldn't do that,'' he said of mistreating fish or culling his catch. "My son is a good fisherman. He's never been in any trouble."

Contello continued to defend his son's handling of the fish, but said he spoke with his son about being too boastful about his fishing prowess.

"I told him not to rub it in people's faces," Contello said.

The younger Contello issued a heartfelt apology earlier today, a day after the video he posted of himself on board his father's 37-foot boat sparked outrage and prompted one fishing tackle company to drop their sponsorship of him.

"I know the video looks bad folks, but it's not what it seemed — and forgive my excitement, it was a mad dog bite and we were all very excited," the Hazlet teenwrote on his Facebook page. "I've released a lot of big fish over the years and have taken great care in those trophy releases — perhaps I need to be more respectful..I got the message."

N.J. fisherman faces wave of outrage after fish tossing video goes viral

N.J. fisherman faces wave of outrage after fish tossing video goes ...

Fishermen accuse "Johnny Bucktail" of tossing back dead fish. Father says they're just jealous he catches so many.

His apology came less than a day after officials with fishing reel manufacturer Accurate Fishing of Corona, California posted a message on the company's Facebook page announcing they were dissolving the relationship with Johnny Bucktail based on his behavior in the video.

"Accurate is based on true ethical treatment of gamefish and unfortunately the video we saw is in direct conflict of those beliefs. We want all our supporters to know we do not support such practices and will not be associated with anyone that does."

A woman who answered the phone at the company headquarters said she was not immediately authorized to comment.

The video, posted Monday to Facebook, shows the 19-year-old standing next to a pile of striped bass on the deck of the 37-foot Sea Hunter owned by his father, "Big John" Contello, a convicted organized crime figure.

The younger Contello boasts of the number of striped bass or "stripers" being caught. He then proceeds to throw two of them through the air and back into the water.  

While not a licensed charter boat captain, Contello is well known in the Raritan Bayshore for his hot-shot approach and fishing prowess that landed him on the cover of the widely read The Fisherman magazine. 

The video sparked outrage on Facebook and fishing and hunting forums from New Jersey to California, turning him into a pariah in the long simmering debate over whether to keep for or release them, and how fish should be treated.


We're getting to that corn-eatin' time of year again.


Shad report from John Augustine

We had the first hook up, 5 minutes later a double that turned into a delayed quadruplet, it was on! Thank God!
I hate getting skunked when your trying to introduce someone into a new fishery. They were all big roes to boot! We gave it our best to show him what shad fishing was all about in a limited window of time, but I think he got a good taste and enjoyed himself. We also missed a few trying to hand off the rod to him, and one battled loose, but he got a taste. He is a fish biologist so handling fish properly is a topic that does not need to be discussed, and that's the kind of angler I like to fish with. 

I think shad fishing can be a great introductory fishery and it also can be a seasoned fisherman's dream, they put up a fight that you can not anticipate, very strong and they know how to use the current to their advantavge like no other fish I have encountered. They can become a wall that can not be budged or a long running tarpon, also acrobatic at times, just a spectacular fish that turns into an addiction. This is also a fishery that the anglers protect and do everything in their power to release all fish unharmed. The roe are prespawn right now, take care of them. The proper return involves not taking them out of the water.

Other things you can do to keep them healthy and return them safely is to use flutter spoons or darts with a larger hook, generally a size 1 is best. This is still and excellent size to hook the fish and they have less a chance of swallowing it. Remember these fish have hundreds of eggs they are coming up river to spawn. Once they spawn, they return to the ocean, the young fry will also return to the ocean. THe following years to come they will return to the water they were spawned into, their birth place! So, this is why it is so very important we do not waste these fish.



Beast Bluefish! Unreal the fight in these dogs from the inlet walls. Up to around 16 to 18 pounds now...!
Shark conservationists meets her opposite for TV show interview. 

Classic smokey Joe orange belly and black is beautiful!!
Brian Silva: Slim Dannys

I'm putting this in here since it has a local angle, namely the fellow who sells them along Route 9 down LEH way. 
I often get asked about my lantern footman sitting in my front yard. I've had black people say you shouldn't have that out that way "it makes people think you are a racist" I laugh, or "its offensive to white people" again I laugh and then explain what the significance of the lantern footman really is.
I'm really amazed at how a lot of people don't know the real meaning behind these statues, so they vandalize them, bitch about them being racist, etc. When the image of a black 'footman' with a lantern signified the home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. These are largely a northern thing, and weren't commonly found in the South until after WWII when northerners moved there and brought this custom with them. The clothing of the statue was also coded. A striped jockey's shirt meant that this was a place to swap horses, while a footman in a tailed coat meant overnight lodgings/food, and a blue sailor's waistcoat meant the homeowner could take you to a port and get you on a ship to Canada. I always laugh when I hear black folks talk about how racist these are, because honestly, the cats who had them were likely the LEAST racist. Later, these came back into popularity after WWII, and they were again coded to show the white homeowners supported early civil rights efforts, weren't Klan, etc.
Sandra Dee McNair's photo.


Hello Salamander Supporters,
I wanted to remind you that 
Salamander Saturday is 7 May 2016! This is a day to promote international salamander awareness and conservation. 
We are posting salamander education materials, Salamander Saturday events and other things related to this day on our webpage (
If you live in the DC metro area, we would love to see you at our "Science Class" event. You can buy tickets at:  
If you live elsewhere, please consider hosting a Salamander Saturday event on May 7th -- it is not too late! 
Please us know if you are planning an event so that we can promote it.
Thanks for all your support. This year we were able to fund $6,000 dollars in research and education initiatives. You can read about the grant recipients at: 
Warmer sea water can lead to greater quantities of algae, which kill others species by consuming oxygen in the water or filling it with toxins© Provided by AFP Warmer sea water can lead to greater quantities of algae, which kill others species by consuming oxygen in the water or filling it with toxins

Heaps of dead whales, salmon and sardines blamed on the El Nino freak weather phenomenon have clogged Chile's Pacific beaches in recent months.

Last year, scientists were shocked when more than 300 whales turned up dead on remote bays of the southern coast. It was the first in a series of grim finds.

At the start of this year, a surge in algae in the water choked to death an estimated 40,000 tons of salmon in the Los Lagos region, where the Andes tower over lakes and green farming valleys down to the coast.

That is about 12 percent of annual salmon production in Chile, the world's second-biggest producer of the fish after Norway.

This month, some 8,000 tons of sardines were washed up at the mouth of the Queule river. And thousands of dead clams piled up on the coast of Chiloe Island.

Authorities blamed a "red tide" of algae.

They banned fishing in the affected region, putting thousands of fishermen out of work.

"We have red tides every year in southern Chile, but this time it reached further north," said Jorge Navarro, a researcher at the marine institute IDEAL.

"It affected bivalve populations (such as clams) that had never before been exposed like this" to the algae, he said.

On the shores of Santa Maria Island off the center off Chile's long coast, cuttlefish have been washed up dead in the thousands.

Various beaches in the center of the country were closed meanwhile as the specimens of the dreaded Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish, normally foreign to the area, floated nearby.

- Shifting oceans -

Scientists largely blame the anomalies on El Nino, a disruptive weather phenomenon that comes with warming sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

With its 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) of Pacific coastline, Chile is particularly exposed to the effects of El Nino, which strikes every few years.

"We think that a common factor in the deaths of creatures in southern Chile, in the salmon farms and in fish off the coast is the El Nino phenomenon," said experts at the Chilean fisheries institute IFOP.

The current El Nino "has been classed as one of the most intense in the past 65 years," they told AFP in a statement.

Warmer sea water can lead to greater quantities of algae. They kill others species by consuming oxygen in the water or filling it with toxins.

"The Chilean ocean is shifting and changing," said Sergio Palma, an oceanographer at Valparaiso Catholic University.

"There has been a series of events that indicate an El Nino which is making its presence felt in many ways."

- Fish farming impact -

But scientists also suspect other causes for the mass destruction of the sea creatures.

The huge toll of whales last year "could be caused by a natural ecological process" that may be nothing to do with what killed the sardines and clams, said Laura Farias, an oceanographer at Concepcion University.

"There is no ecological, oceanographic or climatic explanation" linking the whales to the other incidents, she said.

She suspects the growth of fish farming in Chile's southern Patagonia region is to blame for killing the salmon and clams.

"There are studies indicating that in Patagonia the greater occurrence of toxic blooms could be a consequence of aquaculture."

Various scientists have said the current El Nino seems to be subsiding, causing the surface of the sea to cool slowly.

The mass destruction of sea life has been a wake-up call, however.

"Chile still lacks information about the sea," said Valesca Montes, a fisheries specialist at the Chilean branch of the World Wildlife Fund.

"It has to invest in oceanographic studies, so that we can predict certain events" and be better prepared for climate change.

Views: 837

Comment by J. Terhoon on May 5, 2016 at 6:08pm

RE:  John (convicted felon) Contello, Sr. & Jr.

It seems as though the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.


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