30 March 2011

Fish are Fighting Back...Attacking Fishermen

375-Lb. Mako Jumps in Boat

”It's the catch of a lifetime, but it's not clear whether a Texas fisherman landed an 8-foot shark or it landed him.

“Jason Kresse, 29, of Freeport, and two crew members had been fishing for red snapper about 50 miles into the Gulf of Mexico and were dumping fish guts into the water about 3:45 a.m. Monday when they heard two big splashes in the distance.”

Read more: KansasCity.com

Woman Pinned to Deck by 300-Lb. Eagle Ray

”A Florida tourist encountered a nautical nightmare when a 300-pound eagle ray leapt from the sea onto a boat and pinned her to the deck, officials said...."

Read more: New York Daily News

Thanks to Rebecca for tipping us off to this item.

29 March 2011

Corps of Engineers to Dredge Clinton, Westbrook…Dump Spoil in Madison

The following public notice has been posted on the CT DEP website:

“(Clinton, Madison, Westbrook) Notice of tentative determination to approve a water quaility [sic] certificate for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge areas with the Federal Navigation projects in Clinton Harbor in Clinton and the Patchogue River in Westbrook using a hydaulic [sic] hopper dredge and place the dredged material offshore of the beach at Hammonasset Beach State Park ("HBSP") in Madison for beach norishment [sic]. Notice of of [sic] intent to review propsed [sic] managment [sic] activities for consistency with enforceable policies of Connecticut's federally approved Coastal Management Program."

And they don’t spell very well either.

To view this public notice

28 March 2011

Shoo-Fly Is On Her Way North

We've just gotten the word from the transporter that Shoo-Fly, our Pathfinder 2200 fishing vessel [which has been languishing in dry storage in the Florida Keys since we left there on 15 MAR], will be picked up and be on the truck to Connecticut this week.

We're looking forward to getting back on Long Island Sound and, particularly at this time of year, the Housatonic River.

Be nice if it got just a bit warmer though.

Fly Fishing Basics

”In the last five years I’ve seen rods that cost around a $100 that cast as good as [or as well as] the old graphite rods that used to cost 400 to 500 bucks 20 years ago. Today that $100 beginner’s rod can cast a line short, long and anything in between and cast well. Is it as good as a present day $700 rod? No but its [or it’s] close enough especially for a beginner.”


27 March 2011

Stripers Showing Up in Delaware Bay

”…all striper fans would need is a couple of sunny days to warm the water up a degree or two and fishing should improve. He said a handful of charterboats have been out on Delaware Bay, but this weekend should see more action - weather permitting ...”


Spring is Sprung

”Over the weekend, there was a noticeable increase in cars and trucks towing boats around this area.”

Bob Sampson in the NorwichBulletin.com

26 March 2011

ASMFC May Actually Do Something About Striper Decline

”Even with more and more anglers going to catch-and-release only on stripers, the numbers of larger, older fish -- the big spawners -- are decreasing. Dramatically. Just about any serious Long Island Sound striper fisherman has known that fact for some time. The schoolies are there but they do not seem to grow into adults.”

Charles Walsh writing at CTPost.com

Thar’s Gold in Them Thar…Shipwrecks

”In this March 24, 2011 photo released by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Bill Burt, a diver for Mel Fisher's Treasures, shows a centuries-old, 40-inch-long gold chain he found off the Florida Keys.”


25 March 2011

Fly-Fishing Notes

As with First Impressions, that First Cast Can Be Critical

”Ask anyone who has ever traveled south to where the bonefish ply the tropical flats, and they will also tell you that catching a bonefish can be a maddeningly frustration-fraught experience.
“On a recent visit to Abaco, one of the northernmost Bahamian islands….

Charles Walsh writing at CTPost.com

New Online Issue of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters

Ask Lefty: “My accuracy is OK when I do a 50- to 55-foot lawn haul, but if I try to incorporate false casting, my accuracy suffers. What can you recommend to improve my precision?”

Click here: FFSW

24 March 2011

Another Gulf Oil Leak?

”The Times Picayune is reporting that a Houston based company, Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners, has taken responsibility for leaking Louisiana crude from a non-producing well that has contaminated Louisiana coastal beaches and wetlands and created a slick that spread for miles offshore.”


Thanks to Val S. for forwarding this article to us.

”Harp Seals from Canada Take a Liking to US Waters”

”Harp seals from Canada are showing up in U.S. waters in greater numbers and farther south than usual, and biologists want to know why.

“Small numbers of juvenile harp seals are typically found each winter stranded along the coast of the northeastern United States. But this year, well over 100 adult harp seals — not juveniles — have been spotted….”


23 March 2011

Fishery Regulators Finally Doing Something about Menhaden

”After countless years of debate, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted Tuesday to have its scientists prepare a plan to manage menhaden as a vital cog in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and proposed curbing the commercial industry in the interim.

“The commission could vote as early as August to send the proposal out for public comment, but it is more likely a decision will come in November with implementation coming in 2013.

"This action has potential to increase the spawning stock by 50 percent…."


Commercial Fishing Causing Problems in Antartica

”Industrial-scale fishing by New Zealand is throwing Antarctica's delicate ecosystem off balance with disastrous consequences, an expert warns.

“It is creating an explosion in penguin populations while cutting the number of killer whales.”


Photo: Toothfish

22 March 2011

Long Island Sound Cold Enough to Kill

”Every year, Long Island Sound units respond to cold water accidents, some of which result in the deaths of unprepared boaters. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound responded to a tragic scenario involving a recreational kayaker who succumbed to hypothermia off the shores of Milford, Conn., in May of 2010. Even though it was Spring, the water temperature in Long Island Sound was only in the 50s.”


Lordship Lighthouse Once Illuminated Mermaids

”The Stratford Point Lighthouse has seen many upgrades and facelifts through its long, 169 year history guiding sailors and boaters. Built of cast iron with a brick lining, the 52-foot high structure sits tucked away at the end of Prospect Street in Lordship and is classified as an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation.”


21 March 2011

But What Effect Will Dredging of Housatonic at Stratford Have on Fishing…Shellfish?

”U.S. Army Corps allocates $100,000 to help study disposal alternatives. Stratford's beaches could benefit as dredged materials were deemed 98% pure in initial analysis.”

Yeah, and what the heck's in the other two percent?

Characterizing Marine Resource Dredging Effects in Washington
"This paper synthesizes the extent and nature of scientific information about how dredging activities in Washington State potentially affect habitats and key ecological functions supporting recruitment and sustainability of estuarine and marine organisms.
"Direct behavioral effects include entrainment, increased turbidity, fish injury due to suspended sediment exposure, decreased dissolved oxygen levels, and the effects of noise. A turbidity threshold of 200 mg/L could reduce dredge-induced salmonid prey-predator reaction changes. High sediment loadrelated fish injury deserves further analysis. Gill injury thresholds specific to marine environments have not been identified. Suspended sediment size, shape, and exposure duration are likely important risk assessment factors for salmonids and other fishes. The most relevant issue is likely the fish ability to avoid plumes and dredge areas. Benthic infauna, epibenthic and demersal organisms, such as borrowing shrimp, crabs, and fish, are subject to entrainment risks. A clearer understanding of dredging effects to biota requires further synthesis of physiology, life-history strategies, water column use, and timing."

Want to read more about this? Google: "effect of dredging on marine estuaries"

It's not pretty.

We're from the Corps of Engineers and we're here to help you?

Right. Nice work in New Orleans.

Bunker Restrictions Crucial to Chesapeake Ecosystem

”An alarming 70 percent of adult striped bass sampled in the Chesapeake Bay are infected with a serious condition called mycobacteriosis, and these ailing fish are migrating from their nursery in the bay all along the Atlantic Coast. What's wrong with the striped bass?

“It turns out that the disease afflicting these magnificent predators is likely linked to the loss of a forage fish called the Atlantic menhaden.”


19 March 2011

Stripers Forever: Call for Action

”There are real problems with the fisheries management plan for striped bass and it all starts with commercial and recreational fishing mortality rates that are too high, and triggers for management board action that are unrealistic.”
Stripers Forever

New Issue of SaltWater Sportsman Now Online


18 March 2011

Striped Bass: Future in Peril?

”The future of striped bass fishing hangs in the balance. The struggle between commercial and recreational fishing playing out in the Northeast will determine the quality of angling for future generations.

“Within the last decade or so, the Hudson River has produced a bountiful harvest of spawning fish. However, fishing creel surveys conducted up and down the coastline, from Virginia to Maine, tell a different story. The number of anglers catching larger, mature stripers is decreasing.”

Story in: RecordOnLine.com

Lobsters Seeking Colder Climes

”Lobster populations across all of southern New England, from the elbow of Cape Cod to the Sound, have sunk to what fisheries biologists consider dangerously low levels. Meanwhile, their kin to the north flourish, accompanied by a healthy fishery for this favorite culinary crustacean.”

Article in: TheDay.com

17 March 2011

Sure Sign of Spring...Charles Walsh's Articles on Fishing are Back

FISHING Season Can't Begin Without Trip To Bait And Tackle Shop

”The small amount of savings anglers gain by shopping at a big box store is lost in the missing personal service and general fishing know-how available at local shops. And try to find somebody in big box store who knows where the bass are biting or will listen to a too-long story about the big one that did or did not get away.”

Charles Walsh writing at CTPost.com

Going to Dinner? Wear Your PFD!

”At approximately 10:15 p.m., watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley received a report from the Covington, Ky., Fire Department that the Jeff Ruby’s Waterfront Restaurant had broken away from its mooring at mile marker 471 on the Ohio River. The barge floated approximately 85 yards downstream where it rested beneath the C.W. Bailey Bridge.”


Did You Pay Too Much For Your Fishing License In 2010?

"During the 2010 session of the General Assembly, legislation was approved and signed into law in April reducing many of the fees for sportsmen's licenses and permits. This was followed in June by legislation authorizing a credit to be applied against the fee for any 2011 sportsmen's license, permit or tag when purchase of a license, permit or tag had been made at the higher prices in place between October 1, 2009 and April 14, 2010. The credit amount will be the difference between the higher amount paid during that time period and the amount set by the new fee structure established April 14, 2010.
"For info about these credits, visit the DEP website license fees and credits page: www.ct.gov/dep/sportsmensfeereduction"

Martin Armstrong at StamfordAdvocate.com

14 March 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...14 MAR

The cleats are all free of docking lines...

...as the barracuda stands motionless guard...

...over the empty boat lift.

Like the gull, we too have reflections...of another Islamorada Journal.

God Bless America...and the Conch Republic.

12 March 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...12 MAR

The War Over Frankenfish

”In November, Time magazine named the genetically engineered salmon one of the top 50 inventions of 2010, noting that Americans love to eat salmon but that wild populations are dwindling.

“That prompted a letter to the editor from Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who chided the magazine for its selection.

"’Want more salmon?’ he asked. ‘Here's a better idea: Protect its natural habitat, maintain water quality and manage wild stocks for sustainability. That's what Alaska has done for over 50 years.’"


Boaters Concerned About Fuel Costs

”Motorists aren't the only ones watching the price going up at the fuel pump -- so are boaters.

“While the boating season is more than a month from launching, there are projections that fuel prices could be $1 more per gallon more than for regular fuel. And the concern among the marinas is that the higher fuel and potential new taxes may leave many boaters high and dry."

Fish Die En Masse…Foul Harbor

”An estimated one million fish turned up dead Tuesday in a Southern California marina, creating a floating feast for pelicans, gulls and other sea life and a stinky mess for harbor authorities.

“The sardines apparently depleted the water of oxygen and suffocated after getting lost in the marina, officials said.”

Florida Keys To Implement Paddle Craft Labeling Program

”KEY WEST, Fla. — The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary in Sector Key West are teaming up to launch Operation Paddle Smart, a campaign benefiting the Florida Keys and the U.S. maritime community.

“The goal of Operation Paddle Smart is to educate small watercraft owners on water safety and provide them with a sticker that could be beneficial to everyone involved, whether they’re kayaking or part of a search and rescue operation.”

Line Squall, Wind Shift Catch Keys Boaters Unaware

”The Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tow Boat U.S. and other partner agencies in the Florida Keys responded to 15 separate search and rescue cases in less than two hours when high winds and seas caught many boaters unprepared Thursday.

“Between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., the Coast Guard Sector Key West Command Center responded to, among others, a capsized vessel with two people in the water near Islamorada, Fla.; a 40-foot catamaran with 31 people on board that ran aground and was taking on water near Cottrell Key, Fla.; and a sailing vessel with four persons on board that lost propulsion and drifted into the Channel Five Bridge between Craig Key, Fla. and Fiesta Key, Fla.”

11 March 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...11 MAR


Click on any pic to enlarge.

On the right, Black-Headed Gull...named for obvious reasons.

One of the feral cats that hang out at the Winn-Dixie. This kitty is resting in the shade of a lamp post.

Needed shade on that day. Today we're freezing our butts off.

Life's little embarrassing moments.

At the restaurant, just back from the family rest room, and what's that stuck on your shoe?

Hope that's not coming our way!

Cute little boat...known as a Type-5 Uselesscraft.

No good for fishing.

From the amount of roll we could see anytime anyone on board twitched, no good for boating either.

Two pods of dolphin went past our dock last evening. Unusual to see them so close in to shore.

Meanwhile, in other news...

Housatonic Floods Affect Connecticut Towns

The Housatonic river left a huge mess in several communities when it spilled its banks Monday.
Seeing and hearing the rushing water at the Stevenson Dam is spectacular. Not only that, you can actually feel it.
Downstream, it's causing a lot of devastation.


10 March 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...09-10 MAR

They Survived...So Far!

Darned if that same boat, the one we rescued from the mud the other day, didn't anchor up right in front of our house on Wednesday evening.

I tried calling them on the VHF radio, but, guess what. No answer. They probably don't know how to use their radio...or more practically, they may just have had it off to conserve battery.

AT 0645 this morning they were still out there. I looked up an hour later, having been working on the computer, and they were gone. Looked at all the nearby sandbars, but didn't see them...so guess they went over the horizon to new adventures.

Trying to catch up on photos that have not yet made it into the blog.

Please click on any pic to enlarge.

In fact, most of these photos will look better if you click on them.

New safety device: If your motor conks out a hatch springs open and out jumps this big, burly guy with a broom in his hands that he uses to paddle you back to the dock.

Maintenance is easy: All you have to do is throw a hock of meat in the locker every day or so and he's ready to go.

A pelican...gone artsy-craftsy.

I've always loved shooting pix through archways.


Nifty sunset-struck cloud.

08 March 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...08 MAR

Shoo-Fly Crew Rescue Sloop

Wayne, Charley, and I got away from the dock around 1045 on Monday, heading over to the Florida Bay entrance to Snake Creek. Snake is one of the cuts that runs through the Keys from the Bay to the Atlantic Ocean.

[Click on any pic to enlarge]

As we approached the entrance to the Creek, we saw a sailboat, not moving, appearing at first to be at anchor. However, as we got nearer to the boat, a 35-foot sloop, it became apparent that it was not in the Creek channel, but off to the north of the channel, with its keel stuck in the bottom mud.

We hollered to the four sailors on board, two women, two men…one of the men was in the boat’s dingy…asking what depth of water they were in and what was their keel depth. The answer came back the same for both questions: “4 feet.” As my old Latin teacher used to say: “Ergo conclusio est….”

In talking with the intrepid mariners it became apparent that they had no idea why they had grounded as they said they’d kept the red marker on the right as they entered the Creek.

Waterways are basically delineated by two sets of colored markers: Red ones and green ones. The rule for keeping in the middle of the waterway is “Red Right Returning.” So, for example, it you’re in Long Island Sound and you enter the mouth of the Housatonic River in Stratford, CT, you’re “Returning” to land…you keep the red markers on your right…green ones on the left… and you’re cool. Problem with the Snake Creek markers was that “Returning” was not when you went from Florida Bay toward the Atlantic Ocean, the way this sloop was heading, but the other way around. So when they kept the red markers on their right, they were out of the channel and into the mud.

We told the plucky sailors to ready a line at their bow and, as they had a fin keel--rather than a full keel running the length of their hull--we’d pull on the other end in hope of spinning the boat on the tip of the keel and pulling the sloop off the mud.

Apparently they had no long lines available, so they knotted two shorter lines together and passed one end to their man in the dingy to bring over to us. Wayne had to explain to them to run their end of the line under the bow pulpit [guardrail] so the metal tubing wouldn’t be destroyed when the line tightened.

Charley took on the task of tying our end of the line to the lifting eye on the stern of Shoo-Fly [not an easy task as they’d given us the thicker of the two adjoined lines which was more hawser than line…while they kept the thinner end on their boat]. At any rate, we were now attached.

Putting Shoo-Fly in gear, I slowly tightened the umbilical and when the slack was out, increased the rpms on Shoo-Fly’s 150-hp motor. They cranked up the revs on the sailboat’s motor. The sloop began to move.

Then the knot they’d tied to the bow of the sloop came loose and the whole mess fell in the water.

We had to start all over again.

Charley pulled the entire line into our boat and tied a bowline [knot that makes a no-slip loop] in their end…gave it to the guy in the dingy…instructed the folk on the boat to attach the loop to the capstan [the device onto which one secures the anchor line]. Instead they put it on a cleat. Probably didn’t know what a capstan was.

We said, “what the heck,” and I tightened the line again, slowly, until it came taught…then added revs…they revved their motor.


No, wait a minute…she’s moving.

Sure enough she grudgingly turned in behind us and came free of the bottom; a few more seconds and we had the sloop out of the mud and back into the channel.

I slowed Shoo-Fly down so Charley could disconnect us...only to realize that the sloop, motor still going full tilt, was coming straight for us. We were waiving our arms [someone said like in Caddyshack II] and yelling at them to TURN-OFF. Didn't look like she was going to turn...so I bumped Shoo-Fly back in gear and scooted us out of the sloop's path..all the time with Charley hanging off the stern untying the darned towline.

Then we had to yell at the guy at the helm that he was about to go right through the channel and into the mud bank on the other side.

Charley said, “Imagine…they’re going out onto the Atlantic Ocean!”

We figured that the four sailboaters had probably chartered the sloop with the idea of having an easy, relaxing cruise. In any case, they were not at all well-prepared for what they were facing.

It was quite possible that they’d not be able even to navigate out the other end of Snake Creek as the exit channel to the Atlantic is so serpentine and badly marked as to boggle the senses of those not familiar with the area.

Of course, if they didn’t make it to the Ocean, that may actually be for the best…for them…and for anyone else out on the water.

Hopefully, common sense prevailed and they found a nice, sheltered spot behind a key somewhere [with more than 4 feet of water], anchored up, and opened some cold ones.

07 March 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...07 MAR

Housatonic Flood Warning Issued

”The National Weather Service issued a flood warning Sunday afternoon for the Housatonic River at the Stevenson Dam, which is on the Monroe-Oxford border. The notice is in effect until further notice, NWS said.”


Dolphins Save Dog

”Dolphins help save tired dog stuck in canal: Some persistent dolphins are being credited with saving a dog that had run away on Marco Island. The dog's owner said he had been missing for 15 hours before the dolphins alerted neighbors.”


Scientists' Amazing California Discovery Includes Fishing Tackle 12,000 Years Old

“People are discovering antique fishing tackle all the time, in closets and at garage sales, but none of that compares to discoveries made recently by archaeologists at two of the Channel Islands off Southern California.

“Looking for signs of ancient human settlement, they unearthed meticulously-crafted spearheads and other tools (see photo at right) that date back 12,000 years and provide insight into the lives of a seafaring culture that obtained bounty from the ocean”


High-Tech Gear Helps Hook Poachers

”A growing number of maritime agencies are waging high-tech battles with poachers illegally fishing the nation's waterways.
“Poaching is an ongoing problem for the commercial marine fishing industry, which in 2009 was a $38.4 billion business, says Lesli Bales-Sherrod, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement.”