31 August 2008

Need to Check Wind Speed and Wave Height on the Sound?

The National Data Buoy Center has a website that provides boaters and fishermen with reports on wind speed, wave height, water temperature, etc. directly from the weather buoys on Long Island Sound. To access, go to shoo-fly.org, click the Weather-Sunrise/Set-Tides link in the left frame and scroll down to the National Data Buoy Center link.

For Internet access the Fairfield area the buoy number is FWIC3; for New Haven NWHC3, for the Western Long Island Sound 44040, and 44039 for Central Long Island Sound.

Alternatively, the National Data Buoy Center has a toll-free phone line that you can dial to get the Sound reports: [888-701-8992]; requires a push-button phone or cell phone. Dial the toll-free number, press "1" and then enter the buoy number.

For telephone access the Fairfield area the buoy number is 39423; for New Haven 69423, for the Western Long Island Sound 44040, and 44039 for Central Long Island Sound.

30 August 2008

The Importance of An Oily Little Fish

The Connecticut Post of 29 August said, “Sun sparkled on the harbor. But the water's calm surface was dappled with white spots, and they weren't water lilies. A closer look showed a slew of floating, filmy fish—belly up…the fish—called menhaden, or more colloquially, bunker—likely died of oxygen deprivation, experts said…the dead fish could also be attributed to an annual bluefish tournament…guys try to get the menhaden with nets...A lot of the menhaden get missed and ripped up."

After reading this it became clear that we desperately need to form an organization to protect the menhaden from the depredations of hypoxia and human avarice. Accordingly, we announce the formation of “Save the Menhaden” [STM]. The goals of this new, not-for-profit charitable group will be: [1] Protect the menhaden from hypoxia… At the first sign of oxygen-deprived schools of bunker, STM volunteers will rush to the harbors armed with lengths of garden hose. They’ll place one end in the water and then blow into the other end to bring much-needed oxygen to the suffering menhaden. [2] Protect the menhaden from those fisherpersons who net and snag menhaden to use as bait for bluefish and striped bass. STM will prepare Bunker Boats that will zoom in to cut nets and snagging lines before the fisherpersons can harvest the hapless menhaden.

Funds are desperately needed: Send donations [no amount is too large] to STM, 123 Bunker Blvd., Fishoil, UT.

Bunker are typically 10-12 inches long, but can grow larger than that.

On a more serious note, “Tidewater,” a fisherman from Centreville, MD, writes: The high-rollers out of Virginia are harvesting over 100,000 metric tons of bunker a year and almost all are taken from the lower Chesapeake and just outside of the Chesapeake in the ocean. Spotter planes are used to locate the fish…. The consequence of this harvest of menhaden is that the Chesapeake has lost a great portion of not only the forage fish for stripers in this breeding sanctuary, but also the quality of the bay which has been negatively affected by the loss of these wonderful, filter-feeding fish which are both vital and beneficial to the water quality. Now, many of the stripers are suffering from large open wounds which are attributed to near starvation. Consequently, the stripers look for another source of food, and while much of that is filled by perch, spot, and croakers, they are also vacuuming the bottom of small crabs...as a result, the crab population is being hit very hard. Ecology is a complex balancing act, and no one effort like limiting menhaden harvests, or replanting grasses or oysters, is going to solve the problem.

29 August 2008

Fish Report: 28 August 08

Deb P. fished with me last evening [28 August]. We went out from 3:30 until sundown…about 7:30 and on arriving at the mouth of the River [Housatonic River, Stratford, CT] we were instantly into fish. Deb scored first with a smallish striped bass [the only one we caught] and then we tallied 34 bluefish over the next couple of hours. Deb fished plastic jigs on a 8-lb. spinning rig…I fished a 7-wt. fly rod.

During the course of the trip two of my flies were chewed down to the bare hook by the bluefish…but I had no cut-offs. One useful trick when tying flies for blues is to use a long-shank hook and tie the fly at the back of the hook near the bend. This results in many hook-ups where the leader never gets into the bluefish’s teeth zone. I was using a 40-lb. shock tippet on the leader and didn’t have to replace or re-tie as each time the metal shank was all the bluefish got to chew on.

Deb is a professional photographer, so we’d hoped for a good sunset so she could get some shots. Unfortunately, the cloud cover got too heavy…so while she was able to frame nice shots, the lighting just wasn’t there.

But all those bluefish were fun.

28 August 2008

Tired of Messing with Epoxy?

Try UV Knot Sense by Loon Outdoors [www.loonoutdoors.com]. For coating your fly line to leader connections, there’s nothing better, and it’s far superior for coating the heads on your flies. No mixing, no worrying about getting bubbles in the mix, no sloppy application tools [just squeeze it out of the tube]. The stuff runs very slowly so it can be worked into the shape you want. It doesn’t seem to yellow over time.

The catch? It hardens only under ultraviolet light. This means you can use it only on a sunny day when you can take your coated knot or fly out into the sun…or you can buy a UV light for use in the house. TIP: I bought a bulb through eBay for $6.00 that screws into a desk lamp. Newtown Bait & Tackle [www.newtownbaitandtackle.com/] carries UV Knot Sense and you can try a tube of it for $6.95 [plus tax].

27 August 2008

Caroline and Zachary Catch their First Bluefish:

24 August 2008:
Zach helped steer the boat out to where the fish are

The anglers carefully considered their lure selection

Zach reeled in the lure, trying to entice a fish to strike

And after an amazing battle Zach landed his first-ever bluefish

Caroline also hooked up at the same time...it was a double!

Resulting in Caroline's first-ever bluefish

Caroline then helped steer the boat back to the dock

Michael was content to stay close to Mommy

And, as usual, the big one got away.

26 August 2008

Fishing Report: 25 July 2008

Don G. and I fished the mouth of the Housatonic River Friday morning starting at 0600...we also ran out to Stratford Shoals aka Middleground [photo].

We totaled 16 bluefish, 2 striped bass, 2 fluke, and 2 porgies. The biggest blue was probably 5 lbs.; the biggest striper was 25", however, Don lost a much larger fish at the side of the boat...it was certainly a keeper, and maybe into the low 30s in terms of inches.

The fluke and porgies were bycatch; it's amazing the varieties of fish that will eat plastic jigs.

I caught a couple of bluefish on a new fly...er, a fly that's new to me: Chris's Slick Willie. For more details on the fly, please see our post of 02 September 2008.

Fishing was definitely tougher today...perhaps just a matter of the season progressing into the hottest months...perhaps, as Charlie W. suggests, a result of two days of rain putting all that fresh water into the River. Time will tell.

Fishing Report: 20 July 2008

We've made three trips within the last 6 days resulting in 13 fluke, 16 striped bass, and 127 bluefish. We didn't go looking for the fluke [summer flounder] so catching them was...a fluke; a couple of them might have been keepers. No keeper bass...mostly smallish bluefish that we caught on very light spinning tackle and on flies. And, all done in shallow water, 2-11 feet in depth.

Fishing is strictly an early morning or evening endeavor now...until the colder weather shows up in the fall.


11 July 2008: Hopefully all captains [all credentialed merchant mariners, among others] are aware that they are required to sign up for the Transportation Workers Identification Credential by 15 April 2009 [see http://www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/layers/twic/twic_faqs.shtm for FAQs on this]. Thought I’d pass on my experience applying for my TWIC card. I made my appointment via the Internet some 5-6 weeks ago, signing up for a 15-minute time slot at 1400 on 10 July at the Port of Bridgeport, CT. On the morning of, however, thought it might be a good idea to go online and check the status of the appointment to be certain all was well. Went on the TWIC site, logged in and found that my appointment was for 21 August at some port in Texas! Called TWIC, finally managed to get a human being on the line who said that I had no appointment scheduled at all. I asked her if they were having some problems with their website; she responded, “No.” I asked her to give me the phone number for the Port of Bridgeport TWIC facility; she said she couldn’t do that. So…I was scheduled to take two anglers fishing out of Stratford later on that afternoon, so figured what the heck…might as well go over to the TWIC center and see what’ going on…perhaps they’d allow walk-ins. Strolled into the center at 1400 and the fellow behind the desk said “you must be Captain Persson.” Somehow or another he knew I was going to be there…not in Texas. I told him about what I’d gone through with TWIC on the Internet and the phone…asked him if there were problems with the TWIC website. He indicated there might be a glitch or two, which roughly translated means it’s fouled up beyond all recognition. Hope this information will save mariners some trouble along the way to their TWIC card.

Shoo-Fly in First Daring Rescue of the Year

02 June 2008: Well, not really all that daring…. Charlie W. and I were fishing on the Housatonic River on Monday, 02 June at about 4:30 in the afternoon when we spotted two kayakers “heading out to sea.” Apparently these fellows had spotted a small school of bluefish and had decided to go after it…even if that meant paddling out into the middle of Long Island Sound. In doing so, they’d forgotten two important factors: 1] the tide was also pushing them out, and 2] the wind was blowing at their backs at about 25-30kts. [it was howling]. This meant that their ride out, following the school, went very nicely; however, when they turned around to head back, they were a lot farther out than they had planned to be, and tide and wind were directly in their faces.

Charlie and I fished around the mouth of the River for a while, whilst keeping half an eye on these two intrepid paddlers. It was easy to see that all their efforts were accomplishing nothing; in addition, it appeared that they were constantly having to rest their arms, which was not helping the situation at all. So, Charlie and I figured we’d better go check on them and see if they wanted a ride back to the lee of the land. We didn’t know what to expect. Sometimes when one offers help, it’s welcomed. Other times, especially when dealing with males, it’s seen as an affront to their manhood and to their powers of decision making. So we idled up to them, managed not to call them a couple of lunkheads, and asked if they’d like a lift. Their response was, “wow, that would be really sweet,” and “we were paddling like mad and getting nowhere.” Indeed. Charlie and I were amazed at how poorly dressed these guys were for what they were doing. The water temperature was 55 degrees, but they were in cotton shirts…one guy had shorts on. The other chap appeared to have a wet suit on, but only had himself into the bottom half of it. We also noted that one paddler had a cooler mounted on top of the kayak and the other had an open can of Busch beer in the cup holder of his boat. The pair didn’t seem inebriated, but booze on boats [unless you’re a passenger on a luxury liner, isn’t smart]. Also, alcohol will not prevent hypothermia, no matter how much boozy antifreeze one consumes. We got the pair into our boat—one on the right side and one on the left—and had them hang onto the bow painter of each kayak as we slowly motored back toward shore. Of course, while we were motoring in…and what we were doing had to be patently obvious to people in other boats…two idiots went past us full bore throwing wakes…one of which hit us so hard that it knocked the kayak loose from the grip of one paddler, so we had to stop and catch it. Eventually, we got back by the breakwater where the kayakers could be out of the wind and away from the worst of the tidal flow, and we got them back in their boats. The guy with the cooler offered us a beer as a reward [we declined]. Then the two paddled over to the breakwater and clambered up on it…apparently to rest for a while.

Charlie and I fished some more, and later, after the wind had finally dropped, we saw the pair heading back up river to the boat launch…but by this time the tide had changed…and they were paddling with it. All-in-all, Charlie and I had lost probably a half-hour of fishing time to bring the paddlers back to safety…but it was worth it. Don’t know if either of the two realizes it, but if we hadn’t watched out for them, and if no other boat had come to their rescue, they could have spent a very uncomfortable night out on Long Island Sound.

First Stripers of the Season

22 March 2008: : Got up this morning determined to get the boat ready for fishing…so scooted off to Stratford with the large vehicle full of Coleman coolers [don’t use them to cool anything on the boat…just for storage; in fact, one of them has a cushion on the top and it serves as a seat], cleaning materials, brush, net, boathook, and all the other accoutrement that are essential to the boat for effective fishing]. Arrived at the dock to see Shoo-Fly 3 looking rather lonesome; it was the only boat in the water at the dock. So I got all the stuff on the boat…and it was still early, so…well why not give the boat a quick run and see how everything is operating? Just happened to have a rod and reel in the car [snicker], so threw that on the boat and headed up the River [Housatonic River]. The boat ran fine, so decided to run up to where the fish hang out…just to see if anyone was catching. Should point out here that was not exactly dressed for this. It was 45 degrees with the wind 15-20 knots out of the northwest; water temp was 40 degrees. Was all right on top with a fleecy jacket and a Gore-Tex windbreaker over that, but had no long johns under the trousers…and on the feet, a pair of Crocs with no socks. So the run up north was brisk. Arrived at the first area where there were likely to be fish and, sure enough, could see them on the Garmin fishfinder stacked up like cordwood in 30 feet of water. Said to myself, “why not try to catch the first striped bass of the year?” Why not, indeed? Put on the white plastic swimbait that had worked so well in Islamorada and after about four casts, caught a nice striper of about 20 inches.

Changed to a lure with a dark back and light bottom and caught one on each of the next two casts. Decided that, facing the cold run back to the dock, and as I wanted to go see Uncle Dick who’s in Bridgeport Hospital getting his plumbing sorted out, that I’d quit while ahead…and headed south.

It's Not A Pole, It's a Rod...Probably

Please forgive this lecture:
Rod: The long, willowy device to which a reel is attached for fishing is called a “rod.” A “pole” is the sort of thing that might be made from cane and have a string and a bent pin tied on the end for line and hook. Anything with a reel attached to it is almost always a “rod” and referring to a rod as a “pole” instantly identifies you as...well...in football, it would be the same thing as asking the person with whom you’re watching the game, “why are they clustering together out there on the field before they start each play?”
And while I'm being a pedant [i.e., one who unduly emphasizes minutiae in the presentation or use of knowledge]:
I'm really getting tired of people who don't know anything about fishing...when I tell them we had a difficult day on the water...say, "That's why they call it fishing!"
These are the same folk who, when you tell them you do fly-fishing, report that they “…really loved A River Runs Through It,” as though this makes them fully knowledgeable on the subject. To a fly-fisherman, this is similar to a comment such as, “Some of my best friends are fly-fishermen.”
Folk: please stop pretending! You don’t know anything about fishing and you particularly don’t know anything about fly-fishing.
But...if you want to learn, I’ll be glad to teach you.

Clean Water and Long Island Sound

Had a note from Charlie W., a fishing buddy from Stratford [CT]. He was responding to an article I had sent to him from the Hartford Courant about Long Island Sound getting cleaner. Charlie observed that despite the subject of the article, there didn’t appear to be much good news there. He lamented that the renewed lobster die-off is especially bad…just when it seemed that they were coming back. He noted that it was odd that the oysters appeared to be thriving over on the Long Island side but other species continue to decline? He opined that there will undoubtedly be more grants and studies and more “inconclusive conclusions.”
I wrote back to Charlie that I think what we need to do is dredge a channel through the center of Long Island so the Atlantic can wash through and clean the Sound out with each tide.