31 October 2008

Fish Report: 31 October

Went to Stratford today [Friday] to fish with Jim W. First stop was at Brewer Stratford Marina, where we keep the boat, to process the paperwork for winter storage of Shoo-Fly 3 and reserve our slip at the Marina for 2009.

As most know, here in the northland most of us pull our boats out of the water during winter months so that they are not damaged by the ice that comes down in the fresh-water flow of the Housatonic River. Some winters, if it gets really cold, ice will also form along the edges of the River even though they are constantly exposed to salt water which is less likely to freeze than fresh. So if you're going to keep your boat in the water at those times, special care has to be taken to ensure no damage occurs...this includes sealing all through-hulls. Setting up bubblers on the bottom below the boat or finding some other way to keep the water around the boat in constant motion can prevent ice formation. Or, you can do what most do—store the boat on land.

Paperwork [and accompanying dollars] taken care of, I got the boat ready for today's adventure. Jim showed up on time as usual and we inspected the wind which had been forecast for 15-20 kts at this time of day...increasing to 30 kts later on. It was pretty calm...appeared to be about 5 kts...but it's always hard to gauge the wind's force when your tucked down in between the docks. Nevertheless, hopes high that we might be able to get out of the mouth of the River for a change [it's been a horribly windy month]—and maybe even do some fly-fishing—we headed for the mouth of the River.

Sure enough, the wind started to come up out of the west.

We hit a few places—trying to stay out of the wind—on the way to the mouth...with no successs [wind-wise or fish-wise]. But around the breakwater, we got into a small school of striped bass, and Jim latched on to the 10-lb. bluefish shown in the photo. We found another small school of stripers up in the marsh—and that was it for the day. Although we ran up river above the Merritt Parkway Bridge for a few minutes, we couldn't find any action.

The fly rods never even got out of the rod holders as the wind blew stronger and stronger, coming right up the River at probably 25-30 kts; with the temperature maybe in the high 50s, the wind chill was...chilly.

We returned to the Marina, cleaned up the boat, and said "see you" until next time.

I went to Dunkin' Doughnuts and got a large hot chocolate.

At this point we plan that Shoo-Fly 3 will be in the water until the week of December first. Hopefully we'll see the striper bite in shallow water pick up during the next few weeks. Hopefully we'll have some Indian summer days in which to take advantage of that bite.

Summary for today: Bluefish are beginning to move out of the area as the water temperature on the Sound edges down to 55 F. Stripers are beginning to move into shallow water...finding them is still hit-and-miss, but it's improving.

30 October 2008

Chesapeake Striped Bass Count Lower for Class of '08

According to the Morning Sentinel: “This year's Young of the Year (YOY) index, an annual measurement of the number of juvenile striped bass taken in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay, is one of the lowest recorded since 1990.

"’Striped bass born in the Chesapeake Bay make up a very high percentage of all the stripers that migrate up the Atlantic Coast every year,’ says Brad Burns, president of Stripers Forever, an internet-based advocacy organization in Maine seeking game fish status for the wild striper.

"’So the fact that this year's YOY came in at 3.2 compared to the long term average of 11.7 indicates that the coastal striped bass population is not as 'fully recovered' as some fishery biologists would have us believe.’"

Stripers Forever has an excellent graph showing the history of the "Young of the Year" reports: Striped Bass Index Graph

29 October 2008

Study Shows Bacterial Disease Kills Stripers

"A study led by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, is the first to demonstrate that striped bass in Chesapeake Bay are succumbing to mycobacteriosis. This chronic bacterial disease, first detected in Bay stripers in 1997, now infects more than half of all striped bass in Bay waters.

"Knowing whether mycobacteriosis ultimately kills Bay stripers is of concern to fisheries managers and anglers all along the Eastern seaboard. Striped bass are one of the region's most economically and ecologically important finfish, and Chesapeake Bay is the main breeding and nursery ground for this species on the Atlantic coast." [Including Long Island Sound.]

"Their findings show that:

"—A fish infected with mycobacteriosis is only about 70% as likely to survive another year as a non-infected fish.

"—Older females are more likely than males to succumb to mycobacteriosis, perhaps due to the energetic demands of spawning and migration.

"—Disease-related mortality increases through the summer...."

Full report:
The College of William & Mary

28 October 2008

Great Meadows Marsh Deemed "Important Bird Area"

"As part of the inaugural Stratford Bird Fest Saturday, Audubon Connecticut, the state organization of the National Audubon Society, recognized the Stratford Great Meadows marsh and Long Beach West/Pleasure Beach barrier beach complex as an Important Bird Area.

"Audubon also announced a $50,000 commitment, through the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and the Jeniam Foundation, to develop a conservation plan for the area that will incorporate community input from residents of Stratford and Bridgeport.

"The area will be the 27th addition to Audubon Connecticut’s Important Bird Areas inventory, joining 12 other Connecticut areas within the boundaries of the Long Island Sound estuary. The program is a voluntary, non-regulatory global effort coordinated in the U.S. by the National Audubon Society."

More about Important Bird Areas can be found at: Audubon

Source: Stratfordstar.com

27 October 2008

Are the fish stocks increasing or declining?

Effective fishing regulations depend on good information. Are the fish stocks increasing or declining? Mostly, the data collected have come from recreational and commercial fishermen…who may not be the most scientifically correct collectors of data.

Developed to meet the needs of fisheries management and stock assessment activities in the northeastern United States, NEAMAP (Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program) is an integrated, cooperative state/federal data collection program. Its mission is to facilitate the collection and dissemination of fishery-independent information obtained in the Northeast for use by state and federal fisheries management agencies, the fishing industry (commercial and recreational), researchers, and others requesting such information.

This is a new bottom trawl survey operating in the near-coastal ocean waters of the Southern New England and Mid-Atlantic regions between Montauk, New York and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and waters in Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound…but not Long Island Sound

So far, the results of two surveys have been tabulated…the latest having for the survey that took place between 23 April and 15 May 2008. At total of 150 locations, about 299,000 individual fishes weighing over 32,000kg and representing 85 species were captured, including 9 species not previously seen in NEAMAP cruises. Individual length measurements were recorded for 54,701 specimens. Lab processing is proceeding on the 6,133 ageing structures (otoliths, vertebrae, spines) and 4,810 stomach samples which were collected (1,309 stomachs have been fully processed as of the date of this report).

A full report on this survey can be seen at: NEAMAP

Presumably, some time will pass before any conclusions can be drawn from the surveys as the project is long-term in nature and a database must be constructed before patterns of change will become clear.

26 October 2008

Striped Bass: Taking Stock:

Vineyard Gazette Online: “Today the striped bass is one of the great conservation stories in the last quarter of a century. Indeed, the recovery of the striper may be one of the only hopeful developments in the Atlantic fishing industry which has been in a depressing state of collapse for the last decade, decimated by years of overfishing and political gridlock among fisheries regulators.

“Twelve years ago federal marine fisheries officials declared the striped bass officially restored, calling for a widespread relaxation of the stringent conservation measures that had been in place for a decade.”

Shoo-Fly Charters: Yet, there are other serious problems besides the issue of how many tons of stripers commercial fishing vessels are allowed to take. For example, see our post of 30 August in which we chronicle the plight of the striped bass in Chesapeake Bay.

Another source of concern that is seldom mentioned is that of bycatch. This can occur, for example, when a commercial boat, dragging for other food species, inadvertently scoops up a school of stripers. If they can't keep the fish, they pitch them back overboard where many, if not most, will die either from the rough handling while in the net or from having been out of the water too long.

Sportfishermen.com has posted a video that purports to show dead and dying stripers as a result of having been taken in bycatch: See the video

The World Wildlife Fund says, "There is growing acceptance by fishing industry leaders of the need to reduce bycatch. Proven solutions do exist, such as modifying fishing gear so that either fewer non-target species are caught or non-target species can escape. In many cases, these modifications are simple and inexpensive, with the best innovations usually coming from fishers themselves.

"The bycatch numbers are truly frightening. Many of the fish and other animals caught in fishing gear are thrown away as unwanted bycatch - amounting to many millions of metric tons of marine life wasted each year."

You can read the WWF's list of whales, dolphins, turtles...and fish that continue to be destroyed as bycatch: WWF Listing

25 October 2008

Fish Report: 24 October 2008

Writing on Saturday: It’s a dismal day out there today. The National Buoy Data Center buoys 44039 [Central Long Island Sound] and 44040 [Western Sound] are both showing winds gusting to 23 mph and the forecast from NOAA is for SE winds 15 to 20 kt.—increasing to 20 to 25 kt. with gusts to 35 kt. [40 mph] and seas 3 to 5 feet building to 5 to 8 feet, showers likely. Definitely not a good day to venture out on the Sound.

Talked with Don G. this morning. He was going to fish today but is postponing to Sunday when he hopes to be able to get out to Middleground where some ‘gator bluefish [big ones] are hanging out. Winds for tomorrow are forecast for gusts to 20 kt., so he may possibly be stuck in the River.

I fished yesterday with results similar to Tuesday’s trip. Picked up a few fish around the mouth of the Housatonic, including one ‘gator blue. We also found fish upriver, but they were small and not feeding aggressively. All together we caught half-a-dozen bluefish and more than two dozen stripers, none of which were big enough to be blog-photo-worthy.

Val. S. reported from the Stamford area that he’d limited out on blackfish on Friday but had seen no sign of surface action—bass, blues, or birds—while he was out there.

We saw the clouds coming in from the west yesterday afternoon: Mare’s tails they’re called—because they look like a horse’s tail. “Mare’s tales and mackerel scales make tall ships carry low sails” is the weather folklore-saying about these clouds; they’re very good predictors of rain to come within 24-48 hours.

The last of the sun caught the fall leaves along the bank of the River just into Shelton.

We'll be off the water for a few days taking care of some of those things that tend to pile up on one [dentist visit, check up at the doc's office, etc.] so we'll fill in with some fishing news reports for a while. We plan to post one on Sunday that includes a link to a video showing dead and dying striped bass that apparently were bycatch from a commercial fishing vessel. Not a pretty scene.

23 October 2008

Weekeepeemee River Stocked with Trout

The Connecticut DEP arrived in our driveway on Wednesday with its stocking truck loaded with trout. This was not a delivery of the typical opening-day nine-inch to thirteen-inch mixed bag of brookies, browns, and rainbows; rather, they were 4” browns that the state hopes will stay in the River over the winter to provide early fishing when the season opens in April.

The state uses these fish for this purpose as browns have a better ability to “hold-over” the winter than do some of the other hatchery-raised trout. Also, they have less of a tendency to run down river at the first hint of low water than do some breeds.

Browns are not native to North America; they were introduced is our area sometime in the late 1800s and are now firmly established in many rivers and lakes. Apparently they can live as long as thirteen years and grow to as much as forty pounds in weight...although few do either.

The fellows on the DEP truck said they were putting in about 200-300 fish in the run down behind our barn. Overall, in the River, they’re probably stocking 3,000 to 5,000 of these fish.

They reach into the tanks on the back of the truck and haul up nets full of the squirming little critters. Then one of the men, probably the fellow lowest on the seniority list, gets to run down the hill to the River and dunk the fish in…hopefully before they expire. Seems to work pretty well.

Friends are probably aware that the mighty Weekeepeemee runs along adjacent to our property here in Woodbury. Usually I get down to the stream 1-2 times a year…sometimes with good luck. But, frankly, chasing nine-inch trout has become something of a passing idea…especially when there are nine-pound bluefish out on the Sound just waiting to pummel our lures.

Interestingly, the Weekeepeemee and the Nonnewaug Rivers combine in Woodbury to form the Pomperaug River which eventually flows into the Housatonic River at Southbury. Therefore, the water flowing past our home here in Woodbury eventually reaches Long Island Sound at the mouth of the Housatonic...where we keep our fishing boat.

As to the baby browns: “Good luck, fellas; hope you have a nice winter.”

22 October 2008

Long Island Sound Oysters Not Doing Well

"In 1996, about 1 million bushels of oysters worth $50 million were harvested from Long Island Sound. By last year, the oyster catch had dropped to less than $10 million, according to the state bureau of aquaculture….

"Biologists want to find out how changes in the estuary have affected the fortunes of oystermen. Connecticut is undertaking a comprehensive assessment of Long Island Sound with the aim of finding ways aid recovery, locating good locations for new oyster beds and, essentially, determining the character and quality of the Sound."

• Complete article at: New Haven Register

21 October 2008

Photos of Two Bluefish…and Half a Striper

Charlie W. and I managed to get in a couple hours of fishing this morning—just before the clouds and showers arrived.

It was quite a nice morning at the docks today…which was a surprise as the marine forecast had gale warnings posted for winds 34-47 mph. It was blowing 10-15 tops as we headed out toward the mouth of the Housatonic River. Usually it’s the other way around: If the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service says winds will be 5-10, you can figure it will be more like 15-20…or more.

We drifted past a breakwater, casting ¼-oz. jigs on 8-10-lb. spinning outfits [that’s very light fishing gear]. We got some hits instantly, and then I hooked up a striper who put up a good fight until suddenly, on the surface, he stopped coming to the boat. Charlie and I couldn’t figure out what was going on—but we finally realized the striper'd been grabbed from behind by a large bluefish. When we got the poor fish to the boat finally…well, the photo tells the tale…or loss of a tail.

So Mr. Striper was a goner and we had to toss him back…where the rest of him was undoubtedly finished off by the rampaging bluefish below. We couldn’t keep the striper as he was undersize— even before the bluefish got him—and the fish and game people might not feature that. The rules say you cannot remove the head or tail of a striper until you get it home; this is to keep poachers from beheading smaller stripers and claiming they would have met the size requirement.

We may have avenged our tailless friend as we brought two blues to the boat that were of a size fully capable of chomping the tail off the striper. Sort of instant bluefish karma. We also lost several other large fish, undoubtedly bluefish, that cut off our lures with their teeth even though we were using leaders of as much as 80-lb. monofilament.

It was warm and sunny when the wind abated a bit and the sun shone upon us…but both of those conditions drew to a close as a menacing cloud bank approached from the west accompanied by an accelerating wind.

We headed back to the dock and cleaned up the boat. Just as I was getting in my car, the first drops of chilling rain fell on the windshield.

20 October 2008

Billions of Fish, Eggs Killed by Power Plants

"For a newly hatched striped bass in the Hudson River…drifting a little too close to a power plant can mean a quick and turbulent death. Sucked in with enormous volumes of water, battered against the sides of pipes and heated by steam, the small fry of the aquatic world are being sacrificed in large numbers each year to the cooling systems of power plants around the country… but energy-industry officials say opponents of nuclear power are exaggerating the losses….

"Technology has long existed that might reduce the fish kill by 90 percent or more. Cooling towers allow a power plant to recycle the water rather than continuously pump it in. New power plants are required to use cooling towers, but most existing plants resist any push to convert, citing the huge cost and claiming that most fish eggs and larvae are doomed anyway. ‘We're not killing grown fish,’ says Jerry Nappi, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, owner of Indian Point. ‘If we were killing billions of grown fish you'd be able to walk across the Hudson on their backs.’ "


19 October 2008

Tautog: Val S. Boats Ten-Pounder

We can't claim any of the credit for landing this tautog [also called blackfish]. Val S., who often fishes with us, was out on his own 22-foot Pathfinder when, as he describes it:

That's what I got on Wednesday. He was by far the largest of the 25 or so Blacks I caught in about 3 hours on the incoming. The next biggest was just under 5. Most were keepers over 14". This one was 25".

We don't do any blackfishing on Shoo-Fly 3, although, from what we've seen and heard in the last few weeks, chasing "togs," at least in the area of the mouth of the Housatonic River, may be the most active fishing available.

This is a bait-0nly fishery with the prime bait being small green crabs. The trick is to split the crab in half and then put a half on your hook and lower it to the very bottom, preferably in a rocky area. In the Housatonic, we see boaters lined up along the eastern breakwater pursuing togs. They motor up to the rocky wall and fasten a line off the stern to one or more of the rocks; then they ease the bow out and throw an anchor off that end. This effectively positions them to bounce their baits on the bottom at the edge of the breakwater.

The bite of a tog is not particularly aggressive; however, once hooked, blackfish put up a strong, dogged fight. It's reputed that they'll wedge themselves between rocks if you give them any opportunity to do so.

They're excellent eating, so Val's family dined well on this fish...maybe more than once?

Bluefish: Seriously Good Eating

Charles Walsh, writing his fishing column for the Connecticut Post, was kind enough to give this blog a mention in his article on Sunday. Of more importance is the recipe he provides which should have any serious blues-fisherman smacking his lips:

"Just before starting to write this column about my favorite way of cooking bluefish, I called up the excellent fishing blog of Shoofly Charters (http://shooflycharters.blogspot.com) to see how Capt. Skip's most recent excursions in and around the mouth of the Housatonic had gone...."

Click to read his whole column

17 October 2008

Catch and............Eat!

Today, there’s a growing interest to return to the days of yesteryear when fishing was solely for sustenance, sharing catches with tribal folk and neighbors. This appears to be re-emerging as prices at food stores skyrocket and supply periodically is thin. Isn’t it appropriate that now, of all times….

Click here to read the complete article

14 October 2008

Gee-whiz! $350 for four hours of fishing? That’s awfully expensive!

Yep, it looks that way, doesn’t it? Unless, of course, you’re the guide who will spend hours getting ready for the trip and cleaning up after the trip.

On one recent outing, for example, my anglers wanted to fish both artificial and live bait. In addition, I knew that fishing was a little flat at the time, so I wanted to be able to try all possible techniques to get some fish in the boat. So this was the procedure:

The evening before, prepared a total of ten fishing rods—five for each angler— these included: Two trolling setups rigged for tube and worm; two fishfinder setups for live-bait bottom-fishing; and six rods for jigging, with various-weight jig heads for use in different current conditions.

Checked each one of the reels for proper operation. Tested every knot and connection… retied most of them, replacing leaders, swivels, etc. as necessary. Sharpened all the hooks.

The final thing I did with each rod was to connect the hook to the barn door and then walk down the driveway about 150 feet letting the line out on a light drag—then walk back to the barn reeling in the line so it lay tight and smooth on the reel. This ensured that the reel would cast properly without encountering any snags or backlashes in the process.

Next, checked the equipment list to be sure all essential items, such as the keys to the boat, were ready and available. Checked over the life vests. Looked through the terminal tackle [hooks, lures, plugs, etc.] to be certain there was enough of everything. Loaded it all in the car.

Next morning, stopped at Newtown Bait and Tackle so Rich and Jan could set me up with sandworms for the tube and worm gear, plus some bunker and mackerel for the fish-finder rigs.

Stopped for ice and water at a convenience store near the dock and arrived at the boat one hour before the anglers were due.

Removed the canvas covers from the console and leaning post. Removed the electrical connection to the dock that keeps the trolling motor charged. Looked over the boat to make sure it hadn’t been the target of any gull or cormorant poo.

Loaded all the rods and gear on the boat. Checked the motor oil level and started up the 150-horse Yamaha. Gave the boat a final rinse. Set the drags on all reels.

Then the anglers arrived and we went fishing.

After the trip: Rinsed off the rods and reels. Loaded all gear back in the car. Washed down the boat including a fresh-water flush of the motor’s cooling system. Put the canvas covers back on the console and leaning post. Hooked up the electrical connection. Checked all the docklines. Emptied the trash bucket. Got in the car and realized I'd forgotten to eat my lunch.

Ate lunch.

All of that, of course, goes on out of the sight of the anglers…which is one of the reasons that knowledgeable anglers will tip their guides…as my anglers did that day.

When you take into account that the angler is getting the use of maybe $40,000 worth of boat and equipment…and is getting the benefit of more than fifty years of fishing experience…for less per hour that one would pay to have the car repaired or the plumber fix the sink, $350 for four hours is really not a lot of money. Don’t forget as well that fishing is a heck of a lot more fun than sitting around in your auto repair shop reading six-month-old copies of Motor Trend or watching the backside of the plumber while he works on your sink.

After writing this, think I'm going to raise my charter fees.

12 October 2008

Fishing Report: 11 October 2008

It was pretty nasty out on the Sound on Saturday…sunny, but the winds were at least 20kts. Couldn’t tell that from near the land as it was an offshore wind…but as Peter G. and Peter G. Sr, and I got farther out toward Middleground, it became clear that it was not going to be comfortable fishing there. The combination of the outgoing tide flowing west to east and the wind which was shifting around to the east really brought up the whitecaps on the Stratford Shoals.

There were a few other boats there at Middleground—no one appeared to be catching much, but we did manage one photo-worthy bluefish before we got tired of getting beaten up by the waves.

While there we heard another “Pan-Pan” emergency call from the US Coast Guard [CG]. We were sorry to hear that still another boater might be in trouble [see our post of 09 October], but were relieved to learn that the problem was 40 miles away from us and out of our reach. CG reported that an 8-foot pram was missing near the mouth of the Thames River [New London, CT]. Haven't heard the outcome of that, but anyone who was out on the water in Long Island Sound in a pram, under the conditions we were experiencing, could very well have been in trouble.

Seems as though government agencies can require all sorts of licenses and mandate all kinds of courses for boaters...but can't ensure that people will use common sense. Anyone who could create an effective course on that subject will have invented a goldmine.

We headed back to the Housatonic River and spent the rest of the trip there…hiding from the wind.

The colors on the trees along the River are just starting to show and from the looks of it, it will be a spectacular display for those fishing the River this fall.

11 October 2008

Part of the Aging Process?

Are you familiar with this phenomenon? Every time I sit down, it seems, I have to get back up to find something I need that I forgot to get before sitting down. If I sit down to watch TV, I have to get up to find the darned remote. If I sit down at the computer, I will have forgotten to get the camera from which to download the photos. If I sit down to tie a fishing fly…well, you get the idea.

I’ve tried standing there before I sit down and saying, “now, is everything here that I need?"—but it doesn’t work. Some important "thing" will still be out of reach.

The funny part is how quickly after I sit down it becomes apparent that the “thing,” whatever it is, is missing. It’s like: Sit down…”oh darn” [or words to that effect]...and then bounce right up again to get the danged “thing."

It's sort of opposite to the "walking into the room" phenomenon—where you walk into the room to do something, and can't think of what the heck it was you were going to do.

Perhaps this is all part of an exercise program—designed for the elderly—that’s built into the aging process.

Helps to keep our buns in good shape...maybe.

09 October 2008

Shoo-Fly Participates in Rescue

On Wednesday, Don G. and I fished the upper section of the River, above the Merritt Parkway bridge, finding many striped bass, but mostly rats [small fish]. Don did have one near-keeper on that got off right at the side of the boat…so there’s no photo of the fish.

After a while we headed down-river to fish the mouth of the Housatonic. Once again the wind was howling out of the southwest, so venturing out to go to Middleground, where there’s a good chance of getting into larger fish, was not an available option. We hid out behind the breakwater and were just getting into fish when we heard “Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan…attention all stations” come in on the VHF radio.

There are three levels of distress calls used in the radio protocol: “Mayday” spoken three times, which means that a vessel is in grave or imminent danger; “Pan-Pan” [pronounced “Pahn-Pahn”] which indicates a very urgent message about the safety of a vessel; and “Securite” [pronounced “See-cure-ee-tay”] which is used for a message about navigational safety or a weather warning.

It’s not at all unusual to hear the "Securite" call as the Coast Guard uses that all the time to warn boats about potential hazards; but, the "Pan-Pan" call really got our attention.

The call was being broadcast by the Coast Guard who said an urgent message had been received about a yellow center-console boat sinking in the vicinity of Charles Island…and that all boaters were requested to keep alert and report any sightings.

Well, we were in clear view of Charles Island [CI] and although Don and I knew it wasn’t going to be a fun ride, we reeled up and raced off to the east.

Marine rules say that the Master of a vessel shall render necessary assistance in case of a marine casualty as long as this can be done without serious danger to the Master’s vessel. Violation of that rule carries a $1,000 fine…or imprisonment for up to two years. Of course, we could just not go and no one would have known the difference…but it’s possible that someone’s life was in danger.

We approached the southwest corner of CI and called the Coast Guard [CG] to let them know we were searching. The CG asked for our position, so we gave them our GPS coordinates. We asked the CG if they knew which side of CI the boat was on…CG didn’t know.

We looked around as best we could. We were being tossed around by 3-4-foot waves created by the incoming tide flowing westward and the winds blowing to the east. It was rough out there and although many distress calls turn out to be pranks, under these conditions it was entirely possible that a boat could capsize. We saw another boat anchored up and fishing and asked them if they’d seen a yellow center-console; they said they had not.

CG broadcast that the report was now that the center-console was swamped and that there was a person in the water…we still couldn’t see any such boat. After several minutes a CG rescue boat out of New Haven Harbor blasted its way toward us. They asked us what part of the area we had already searched; we told them we’d been about one-quarter of a mile off CI and had covered that water from the southwest corner to the southeast.

The CG boat swung around us and headed toward Walnut Beach. They reported that they had now spotted the boat. Turns out it was very close to the shore and that the sole occupant of the boat was getting out of the water and up on the beach. Guess the CG must have spotted the boat because of their greater height above the waves…or perhaps they were able to pick up a reflection with their radar.

So the CG handled the matter from that point. We called the CG and told them it was getting too rough out there for us and we were heading for the barn. The CG thanked us for our assistance...referring to us as a "Good Sam." We later heard on the VHF that the boater was in an ambulance headed for Milford Hospital.

Don and I crawled our way through the waves, back to the mouth of the Housatonic. By this time it was too late to continue fishing so we headed to the marina.

In all, guess we weren’t that much help to the CG except that they knew they didn’t have to look carefully at the area where we had searched. Still, we were the first boat on the scene and if we had a better idea of where the boat was, we might have been the ones to pull the boater from the water.

This was actually the third time that Shoo-Fly has been involved with the CG in helping with a boating incident.

08 October 2008

Follow-Up to "The Tough Week"

Interestingly, we were not the only ones to have a tough time fishing...as can be seen through this report on a fishing contest that was won by...a fluke:

"Sunday couldn't have been a much nicer day on the beach, and as around 900 contestants enjoyed themselves during the annual Governor's Surf Fishing Contest at Island Beach State Park, Gov. Jon Corzine stopped by in the morning to greet the anglers who far outnumbered the fish.

"Tom Fote of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, one of the sponsoring organizations, was surprised that not a single striped bass or large bluefish was caught. Yet, the action by New Jersey commissioners to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in obtaining a research exemption to allow fluke fishing during the one-day contest paid off, as a 21-inch fluke landed by Richard Abdill of Delran won the Governor's Cup as the longest fish."

Read the Contest Report at NJ.com

06 October 2008

We Had A Tough Week Last Week

I know that guides aren’t supposed to talk this way. Everything's supposed to be “they were really jumpin' into the boat yesterday." There are guides who make it sound as though they've never had a bad day on the water...which reminds me of an old Swedish expression, “Mooska Turden," which means, “I doubt it,” or words to that effect.

Everyone has bad days. We had a tough week.

Monday: Roy P. and I managed two bluefish.

Wednesday: Don G. and I landed two small stripers and hooked maybe six bluefish.

Friday: Jim W. and I got skunked [caught nothing]…unless you count sea robins.

Part of the problem was the wind which pretty much howled all week culminating in 25-30 knots on Friday that chased us off the Sound and up the River.

We had a tough week.

It’s strange, because we normally think of the summer as being the difficult time to catch fish. But up to this week, we’d gotten skunked only once this year; that was in the first week of June. I calculated it out: We’ve averaged 16.9 gamefish per trip since last March. During the period 8/28 to 9/16/08 we averaged 23.2 gamefish per trip [that doesn’t include any sea robins].

This week: 3.3 fish per trip.

We had a tough week.

Now, we all know that fishing’s supposed to pick up during the fall as the stripers return south to their wintering grounds in Chesapeake Bay, the Hudson River, and, yes, the Housatonic River. But that run has not yet reached Stratford. It will come...but it’s not here yet.

And fall’s definitely on us…visible not only in the subtle changes in the color of trees, but also in the waterfowl. Friday we saw flocks of small ducks, probably teal, green-winged or blue-winged, that are not here in warm weather and are now heading for southern climes. There have been few V’s of Canada geese so far, but the time to see them heading south is fast approaching. Herons and egrets, blue and white, are still seen in the marshes, but in lesser numbers than during August and September. Osprey are still around, but their young are fully fledged and it’s only a matter of time before all head south. It was 35 degrees here this morning.

Fall’s definitely on us, so the stripers will be coming in and fishing will improve, and that should happen any day now—may very well be happening as this is written.

Nevertheless, for the past week, we had a tough week.

02 October 2008

Presidential Order Ensures Recreational Fishing

NJ.com: “The push by some environmental organizations to establish Marine Protected Areas that might prohibit catch-and-release recreational fishing suffered a setback when President Bush signed executive order 13962 on Sept. 26, ordering federal agencies to maintain recreational fishing as a sustainable activity on federal lands and waters, including marine protected waters.

“Earlier this year, Bush also signed an executive order protecting striped bass and red drum in federal waters from commercial exploitation, and urging states to do the same in their waters. The American Sportfishing Association applauded the president for taking his latest action to preserve recreational fishing opportunities. ASA president Mike Nussman said: "As a recreational angler and boater himself, the president clearly understands that sportsmen and women are conservationists first and foremost and that recreational fishing is an essential component of the nation's heritage."

“Though those executive orders add to Bush's marine conservation legacy, a future president could overturn them with a stroke of a pen. Therefore, it's important the candidates for that office be pinned down on their attitude toward such vital issues. The Sportsmen and Animal Owners Voting Alliance endorsed the John McCain-Sarah Palin ticket this week, describing McCain as "an avid fisherman." While Sen. Barack Obama's attitude toward fishing and marine conservation is unknown at this time, the alliance noted his endorsement by the anti-hunting Humane Society as a negative."

Read the article on NJ.com

Read the Executive Order