It’s that time again. What time do you ask? Time to go fishing. With the Debbie M still under wraps I jettisoned out in stealth mode aboard the MOS (my kayak). With some worms and plastics, I was well prepared for my pre-Easter big breakfast assault on the local schoolies. For the most part, it was slow but I did manage a few feisty bass to about 22”. All on sandworms. One thing that always blows me away when catching fish from a yak is how strong fish really are. One schoolie bass I was fighting actually was strong enough to pull my grapple style anchor out of the mud and set me adrift. No joke.
On the nature side of things: While kayaking I witnessed two environmental success stories in one fell swoop, literally. I watched an adult Bald Eagle swoop down to the water’s edge and pick out an adult bunker to bring to the breakfast table. The first story is the eagle which was brought back from the edge of extinction in the lower 48 states. I’ll make the story quick. Industrial revolution spawns DDT. DDT gets into our environment and is nothing but bad news to every living thing. In 1962, Racheal Carson publishes Silent Spring telling of the dangers of DDT which starts the environmental movement. Now 1970, the Feds create the Environmental Protection Agency and NJ has one known nesting pair of eagles. In 1972 the US bans the use of DDT. Ten years later NJ still has only one pair of eagles nesting, and the egg shells are still thin and have to be removed so the parents do not break them. The DDT ban, combined with restoration and management efforts by NJ’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, brings the number of nesting pairs to 23 in 2000. Flash forward to the end of 2017 and there are 178 nests being monitored by the State.
Now onto the bunker, the most important fish in the sea. Have you read Franklin’s book The Most Important Fish in the Sea? If you care one iota about how the ocean’s ecosystems are balanced off our coast you must read this book. We completely decimated the bunker stocks decades ago. Native Americans showed us how to use bunker as fertilizer. Then during the industrial revolution, bunker oil was used for grease, replacing whales as the source for of industrial lubricant. Now bunker is used for bait, fish oil, fish meal, omega 3 fatty acids. Now get this, one company, one company, did I say one company?, Omega Protein (BTW: it was purchased last year by Cooke company.) gets 90% of the annual allowable harvest of the bunker in the US. Now for even more news, Omega Protein, employees only around 1,100 employees. So do the math, Omega with a little over 1,000 employees gets 90% of the most important fish in the sea. So for 1,000 US jobs, we disrupt marine ecosystems from Maine to Texas that could be giving tens of thousands of jobs to the to the US. Another example of how the rich get richer……Now on to the somewhat success story, in my close to 40 years on Barnegat Bay I have seen the bay go from no bunker anywhere through the eighties and nineties, to some fall peanut bunker, to now adult bunker in late winter / early spring and peanuts showing up earlier and in greater numbers than ever. Mother nature is resilient and will bounce back, she just needs some time and a little help from you.
Capt. Alex 609-548-2511