Gone Fishin' : Fishing news bouillabaisse provides column fodder
I collect fishing news, all kinds of news. Some of it is sent to me, other items I gather. Lately, the news has been piling up.
None of this is terribly important stuff. But it is fun to share with readers. Besides, some day one of you may encounter a giant squid and want to know whom to call with your story.
In a story published on June 26, (Rare giant squid found off Santa Cruz), the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that the "bruised and bitten remains of what is thought to have been a 25-foot-long squid" was found floating 20 miles off the coast of Santa Cruz in California.
Researcher Sean Van Sommeran and his crew with the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation discovered the giant squid, or architeuthis, floating in the water, the newspaper reported.
Based on its mantle size, researchers said the animal likely approached 25 feet and weighed hundreds of pounds.
Giant squid can grow upwards of 50 and 60 feet and weigh up to a ton, according to researchers. The remaining tentacles were as thick as a human leg.
More than a year ago Fox News reported on a giant squid caught off the Antarctic Coast that weighed an estimated 990 pounds and was 39 feet long. Fox, which always has the average person and his or her interests in mind, reported that one researcher said that if calamari rings were made from the squid they would be the size of tractor tires.
Sounds like my kind of buffet.
People assume that next to being run over by a senior citizen in a Scooter, lightning strikes are one of the leading causes of death and injury in Florida. That is not true.
Leaping sturgeon kill and injure far more people.
Last June the Associated Press reported that a leaping sturgeon knocked a woman unconscious while she boated on the Suwannee River north of Rock Bluff. The AP reported that the large, prehistoric-looking sturgeon have hard plates along their backs. They can grow up to eight feet long and up to 200 pounds.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
To spice up the story, the AP provided the following itemized account: "In April, a leaping sturgeon severely injured a 50-year-old woman from St. Petersburg who was riding a personal watercraft on the Suwannee River. She suffered a ruptured spleen and had three fingers reattached by surgeons, but she lost her left pinkie finger and a tooth."
Shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon were once found all along the East Coast. The shortnose sturgeon is the only federally endangered freshwater fish in New England. Catch one and keep it, or harm it, and you are liable for a $20,000 fine. I recommend you behave like television bass fishing host Jimmy Houston: kiss it and release it.
As for bass fishing, it is only a matter of time before we see it included as an Olympic sport. Why not? They added beach volleyball. Homer must be rolling over in his urn.
I tried to watch the Olympics, but the truth is I found it pretty uninteresting watching sports I would not watch even if the competition was occurring across the street.
How about coverage of the women's marathon? The commentators should have received gold medals simply for finding enough to talk about for several hours.
In the Olympic spirit, I pass on the following information I received in an email from a Chinese fellow who must have read a biography of the Orvis Family. His name is Zhu YouXing, but you may call him Zhu.
"Hello, we make Bamboo fly rod (US$195), fly reel (US$78) and silk fly line (US$55). We hope may will do some business together with you. Thank you very much.
Best Regards, Zhu. www.zhusrods.com."
It is not too late to buy some new equipment in anticipation of the upcoming Derby.
On the subject of competition, Rep. John Brien, a Rhode Island lawmaker with time on his hands, proposed a bill that would have required fishing tournaments that charge an entry fee and pay out cash prizes to subject participants to a lie detector test.
Gov. Don Carcieri wisely vetoed the bill. He said it would have a "chilling effect" on fishing tournaments, according to the AP. He did not agree with the rep's efforts to use technology to make fishermen more honest.
Which brings me to the Wall Street Journal. How do I make these leaps? Well, the nation's number one business publication ran a front page story on Friday, August 22, on the subject of yo-yoing.
The story, "For Massachusetts Fishermen, A Weighty Debate About Fair Play, 'Yo-Yoing' Is Irresistible to Striped Bass, But Technique Can Fill Them Full of Lead," by Steve Stecklow was quite comprehensive and well done.
It included a video clip of commercial bass fisherman Scott Terry yo-yoing and a diagram that depicts the technique.
Mr. Stecklow focused on the controversy raised when Chilmark commercial bass fisherman and perennial Derby champ Lev Wlodyka reeled in a 57-pound striped bass that contained more than a pound in the type of lead weights used by yo-yo fishermen.
Lev was not considered guilty of employing the technique, but his fish was disqualified and later reinstated, minus the weight of the lead.
Mr. Stecklow wrote, "But the incident stirred a fierce debate here about yo-yoing, a technically challenging but potent technique that involves stuffing a bait fish with lead weight so it will sink to the ocean's bottom where big stripers lie. Popular in this corner of southeastern Massachusetts, yo-yoing is reviled by many sports anglers as unsportsmanlike and a potential source of toxic lead contamination to the fish - and the people who eat them.
Yo-yoing practitioners, mostly commercial fishermen, insist such concerns are overblown and say the assault is really a veiled attack on their livelihood by recreational anglers."
Mr. Stecklow referenced a letter to the editor published in The Martha's Vineyard Times by Scott Terry and described him as "possibly the only commercial fisherman who defends the practice publicly."
Scott demonstrated a yo-yoing technique he maintains is responsible to the Wall Street Journal reporter. As often happens when a reporter is present, things did not work out as planned.
Scott hooked a bluefish but lost it and his yo-yo rig at the boat. Since the offending issue seems to be the lead I am curious if the same effect would be duplicated if you stuffed a menhaden with small pebbles.
I was also curious about how our little controversy ended up on WSJ's front page, so I emailed Mr. Stecklow, who is WSJ's deputy Boston bureau chief.
He replied, "As any regular reader of the Wall Street Journal knows, we run an offbeat feature on the front page every issue. It's known internally as the a-hed. When I learned about the controversy over yo-yoing last winter, I immediately thought it would make a good a-hed, although I decided to wait until the season for striped-bass fishing. I also was attracted to the story, because I'm an avid angler myself, and have written about fishing before for the Journal."
Steve's story (I call him Steve now that I know he is a fisherman) is available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121936458113362151.html?mod=hpp_us_pageone.
Yo-yoing is just another fishing technique. But I do not think any fisherman is going to try and imitate David Hayes of Elkin, South Carolina.
His story certainly demonstrates that it is the fisherman and not his equipment that matters most. According to The Winston-Salem Journal, David's granddaughter, Alyssa, asked him to hold her Barbie rod and reel while she went to the bathroom.
David and Alyssa have been fishing in the pond behind his house since she was big enough to hold a pole. On this occasion she was using a pink Barbie fishing rod she received for Christmas.
David took the rod and seconds later he landed the state record channel catfish at 21 pounds, 1 ounce.
David said his granddaughter worried he would break her rod. He landed the 21-pound fish on a 6-pound test line. It was 32 inches long, 2 inches longer than the rod.
And the last item, a recipe for bluefish, comes from Times classified advertising maven Linda Wood, courtesy of her husband Wes.
She wrote, "So many people think bluefish is too strongly flavored. Make it this way and you'll have a hard time convincing people that it is bluefish.
"The onions and sauce seem to draw out the oil in the fish and it is wonderful. Wes came up with this one and we've passed it on to a lot of friends who only make it this way now. Try it!
"On a piece of foil (large enough to wrap the fillet) lay down a layer of sliced raw white onion rings. Top with a couple spoonfuls pink sauce (mayo, ketchup and white horseradish to taste). Place fillet on top, cover with more onion rings and top with pink sauce, and a little salt and pepper. Wrap up and grill until done (depends upon size of fillet, of course, and onions should be translucent).
"Voila. Really good bluefish!"