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while i was sleeping (reading)…

laurelli_siff13

this came out two weeks ago and I completely missed it. Peter Laurelli, one of my perennial favorites, released his latest surf and inshore fishing video via Vimeo and I didn’t see it until today. Every year when Peter’s videos come out I have to kick it into gear and I know it’s time to stop fooling about and get my shit together for the upcoming season, and this video is hardly any exception. I don’t want to hype it up too much, because his film will get you hyped enough on its own, and his work just gets better and better. This time he takes a little departure from the Northeast surf shores and heads to the flats for bonefish and triggers. The part with the giant trevallys is un-fuckin’-real—that’s all I’ll say about that. Of course, he tosses in some salivating striper footage as well and revisits the Breezy Point jetty for good times. Always innovative and inspiring, here’s Peter’s 2013 SIFF video (better to watch it full screen with headphones ON, as he would say):

SIFF13: Islands from Peter Laurelli on Vimeo.

—mkl

last snowstorm of the year (maybe)

“The winter was nice, but the summer is hell”

Slowcore is not for everyone, but this is from one of my favorite bands back from the days at the University of Delaware, and this winter Low and Galaxie 500 have been on heavy rotation. I remember seeing them at the Middle East in Boston (the only time I was ever in Boston) back in 1997. I wasn’t even 21 yet so I must have snuck in because I still get carded to this day by people who themselves are barely enough to drink. But did anyone see the snow today? Is this the last of this part of winter? The water temperatures are still hovering in the 39-42 degree range so fishing for stripers may be a good few—warm—weeks off, but as I’ve found, the winter is always an excellent time to read, research, prepare, drink, and not-so-patiently await those early days of true Spring, for more reasons than one.

I’ve been digging around these last couple weeks trying to wade through several excellent posts/threads/presentations, two of which deal with the migration patterns of Hudson River striped bass, and the third of which argues the fallacies inherent in the fisheries management and conservation plans presented in the the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s report “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries” (http://www.trcp.org/assets/pdf/Visioning-Report-fnl-web.pdf). This report was presented to legislators for informational purposes and as a guide as they reevaluate and consider reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act—the law that regulates marine fisheries in United States’ waters. The series of articles I’ve been reading are by Charlie Witek, and you can find them on his own site (here) and on the Surfcasters Journal blog. (By the way, if you really want some serious ways to spend the evening not fishing, subscribe to the Surfcaster’s Journal web magazine. It’ll keep you occupied for a good while.) I want to give equal time to each of the three things I’ve been following, so I’ll probably break up the post into several as some of this stuff is pretty dense and technical and it’s all a helluva lot of information.

The most casual of the three is a thread in the Long Island/NYC section of the Stripers Online web site. You can check the thread here. The thread is titled “Stripers and Spawning in New York” and it’s full of personal accounts, empirical evidentiary observations, conjecture, and outright speculation—just as you’d expect from a thread by fishermen stewing over a long, cold winter. There is a wealth of information (not all independently confirmed, but still makes for interesting reading) based on personal experience, and, for the history fan and journalist in me, some old newspaper clippings about the striped bass habits around New York City like this one from the New York Times, June 17, 1888:
newpaper1888

And this one from another paper in 1877:
1877

There’s a couple important posters in this thread, one of whom is Captain Tom Mikoleski, who recently published a book called Bass Buff—A Striper Fishing Obsession Guide (disclosure, I haven’t read this book yet), which he excerpts w/r/t striper populations, spawning, and migration:

The important spawning estuaries on the east coast include the Chesapeake Bay and Hudson, Delaware, and Roanoke Rivers. In these estuaries, the conditions are similar and spawning occurs from March to May when water temperatures are between 58 to 64-degrees.

Female striper’s become sexually mature between ages 4 and 8, while males become mature between ages 2 and 3. It is believed that females give off a scent signaling their ripeness and this encourages the males to follow them up-river to the spawning grounds. Female bass seek out areas with current that help keep the eggs buoyant after release. When eggs are released in stagnant water, most fall to the bottom and suffocate in the silt.

When a male, or group of males, sense that a female is ready to release her eggs they will begin to prod and butt her belly. This pushes the spawning event to the surface and results in a commotion that southern anglers call a “rock fight”. When a female releases hers eggs, males swim through them releasing milt to fertilize the eggs.

Female striped bass become sexually mature when they reach between 21 to 31-inches in length, and weigh between 6 to 15-pounds. Females in this size range release about 500,000 eggs annually. Research over the last two decades has indicated that females in this size range are responsible for the majority of the egg production during the spawn. A huge striper of 40-pounds or larger produces more than 3,000,000 eggs when she spawns, but consistent spawning seasons are now behind her in this size range.

Even though big cows only spawn sporadically, I firmly believe we should try to release many of the larger sized striped bass we catch. These big fish have been running the coastal gauntlet for close to 20-years, and I feel in my heart that these impressive specimens have earned a “senior rank.” These big bass also carry genes for larger size, and when they do spawn this trait can be passed along to their offspring.

Once the eggs are fertilized they hatch within 29 to 80-hours. Newly hatched striped bass larvae live off their egg yolk sacks for 5-days while their bodies develop. When this period is over they begin feeding on zooplankton that consists of microscopic crustaceans and insect larvae. If the right organisms are not available for food during this critical time of their development, many of the fry will die. The fry feed voraciously, and before long they will take on the shape and markings of adult stripers. Most young of the year striped bass will stay within the river of their birth until 2-years of age and approximately 14-inches in length before joining the annual migration.

After spawning, most of the Chesapeake stripers will head north to spend a good part of the year in the waters of the mid Atlantic and New England states. The Hudson fish travel a little less, as they are rarely found south of New Jersey, or north of Massachusetts. Traditionally, by the second spring moon period in June, the big stripers are on station in various fishing hot spots up and down the striper coast.

He also wrote in a later post: In addition, it has also been discovered rather recently that cold wet springs are better that warm and dry. Also, as I wrote in Bass Buff-A Striper Fishing Obsession Guide, one successful spawn, if protected properly, can offer big dividends for the population of striped bass further down the line. The 1982 year class was the one that basically brought the fishery roaring back in the 90′s. I know there has been a lot of doom and gloom about the striped bass stock, but they have proved over and over again, if we give them a reasonable shot, bass/nature has a funny way of making things right. The basic problem recently is that we are removing stripers faster from the population than they are able to replace through their spawning because recent spawns have been below the average. Text bolded by me, but so far we’re doing pretty well on a “cold, wet” early Spring.

Another poster to read carefully, for more than just purposes of divining through grammatical and spelling errors, is a fellow called RJ. This guy obviously has no shortage of information about striper spawning habits in the NY area, though I haven’t figured out what exactly he does or what qualification, if any, he has, other than living and experiencing life on the water for over 50 years. His posts can be hard to read, but somewhere in there, he knows his stuff such that even striped bass guide Bill Wetzel at one point commends him for his wealth of knowledge. He has an excellent post here (linked for brevity) on the normal progression of striped bass migrating into, and spawning in, the Hudson River. He also has several quality posts here, here, and here.

One of my favorite excerpts from his many posts:
I’ve witnessed 3 early morning spawning events on the flats between Coxsackie and Athens NY. The weather was a drizzling rain coming from low clouds with light or no wind at all. All three began just past high tide. I like to drift with a dropping tide while live lining herring starting just before sunrise. I was drifting south of Coxsackie looking for feeding bass. I spotted a single large swirl and then splashes on the flat next to the ships channel. The first time it took me a while to understand what was happening. The next two times I immediately dropped anchor and reeled in my offerings. Spawning striped bass are not interested in anything but the act of procreation. If you are lucky enough to be part of this act, shut your engine down and anchor up of just drift with the tide. The stripers will not get out of your way and your prop will kill them if you don’t shut it down.

Dive into the thread and skip the bickering. There’s a lot of really interesting information in there among the personal opinions and spelling errors and absolutely worth a read. That’s about enough for me for tonight. I will try to get summaries of the other two articles I’ve been reading in the next week or so. How is everyone prepping for the upcoming season (one that technically opened a couple weeks ago)? I finally bought another plug bag to replace the P.O.S. Aquaskinz medium bag I’ve been tearing apart for the last couple years, and so far I’m pretty satisfied with it. I tried to pick up the Commando Scout 4-tube bag but could never get an answer on their availability from the guy after multiple attempts. I didn’t want to spend $300 on a custom bag either, so I ended up with the Mak Angler 3-tube bag. A little smaller than my last few, but with plenty of pocket space and it’s made out of that Dacron shit—the hook resistant sail cloth. I wish it had more slots for bucktails and tins, but that’s why they sell a separate bucktail/tin pouch (for $80) I guess. I’ll worry about that if I need to worry about it, but so far I’m pretty happy to toss the AS bag in the garbage where it belongs. (To their credit, their higher end bags—the Hunter Pro series—from what I’ve seen, are pretty good quality.) Here’s to warmer days in the next few weeks.

—mkl

is the snow over yet?


Pic taken from the Greenpointers site

Early last week the passenger ramp linking the India Street pier and the landing platform the ferry got dumped into the East River, with passengers narrowly avoiding getting dumped themselves into the icy drink. No injuries, but ferry access was shutdown for a while at India Street.

Have you ever ridden the East River Ferry? It’s a great way to get around in Brooklyn as traveling north to south by train sucks, and you can also get a fun view of the city via the water, but what about these drivers? These guys seem to fancy themselves the pirates of the East River, mowing around at top speed at all costs without abandon, playing bumper boats with the landing platforms before hauling ass off to the next spot. They’ll get you to your destination posthaste, but Lord I don’t feel safe riding on those things. Where does the company, New York Waterways, get its drivers? Rikers Island? What are their qualifications? Although the platform collapse may or may not be directly related to the drivers’ acumen, I have to say I’m not really surprised that something like this happened. I’m only surprised nobody got hurt, thank Christ.

What else is happening this week? When is this snow going to finally fuck off? In the meantime, I’ve been gearing up for the spring season. I picked up a nice little toy from a guy out East a couple weeks ago: a VS 275 and a custom-built (for him) Lamiglas 10321M, cut to 10’6″—so I pretty much fulfilled my goals for dedicated surf gear in one fell swoop. I just booked a guide trip with the maestro Bill Wetzel for June, so there will definitely be a post about what I can learn on that trip. I’m going with my uncle who fishes the Indian River Inlet in Delaware pretty hard, and has for the last 25 years. It should be a good trip, as we are explicitly not going “trophy hunting,” but rather looking to learn something about fishing a really challenging place, something we can use and share with others as an edifying building block to what’s known as the Striper Mecca. Somewhat related, does anyone here fish in a wet suit? Any recommendations?


I’ve read some interesting articles over the week, most brought to my attention by our members. This one, with a heads up by Thomas, is a really cool look at the progression of fish size, or reduction if one so considers, on a single fishing “bragging board” over time in Key West, Florida. The research was done by a graduate student named Loren McClenachan, who found the series of photographs, dating back to the 1950s and ranging to 2007, documenting what is really no surprise to anyone, the reduction in size of fish over the last 50-60 years and the effects of overfishing. I haven’t read through the entire document yet, but here’s the link if you’re interested.

Also I’ve read some intriguing articles about the illicit marijuana industry in Oregon and northern California and how the allocation of water resources is affecting the salmon and eel populations out there. Here’s one of them. The article is based on a radio program (which you can listen to here) interviewing, among others, Scott Bauer from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Scott Greacen from Friends of the Eel River, a conservation group. From the article (with some edits for clarity):

“After California voters approved medical marijuana in 1996, the Emerald Triangle’s culture of small-scale, homestead pot cultivation that dates back to the 1960s found itself increasingly overwhelmed. Many local growers, plus thousands of newcomers, geared up to take advantage of the profits to be made in the so-called Green Rush.

That’s led to an explosion in the number and size of pot farms dotting the hills. And that’s meant more water being pulled from the streams, and more sediment, pesticides and fertilizers draining back in.

Scott Greacen says what he’s seen reminds him of an earlier era, when poorly-regulated logging caused extensive sediment damage to salmon-bearing streams. ‘The dirt in the creek doesn’t care if it came off a logging truck or a grower truck. It’s dirt in the creek and that’s bad for fish,’ [he says].

‘I think it’s pretty clear that the marijuana industry at this point is the biggest single business in terms of its impact on the river.’

Scott Bauer works on salmon recovery for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. He says research has shown huge amounts of water are being diverted from streams and rivers across the region. In fact, he says, ‘It’s possible that in some watersheds, marijuana cultivation is consuming all the water available for fish.’

Fortunately for me, I don’t smoke pot. I only drink beer. However, a Mother Jones video (below), made by Anthony Silvaggio—an environmental scientist—shows not only the impact marijuana farming has the rivers and waterways, but on the forests farmers cut down to make room for their operations.

From the TakePart article: “The fact that it’s unregulated is a real problem,” Silvaggio says in the video. “Talking with agricultural commissioners of different counties, they report to me that it’s difficult for them to help growers that want to do the right thing because they can’t talk about it because it’s federally prohibited, and they get federal dollars.”

The comments in the TakePart article are entertaining. One can blame logging, farming, or whatever, argue about anti-pot propaganda, which might be one of the most productive things some people have done all week, but it’s all just yet another example of human impact on the world. I’m no hippie, but I also don’t think weed should be illegal. The fact that (federally) it is, and that’s complicating efforts to do the right thing for their immediate environment, is classic bureaucracy, a tragic comedy of folly and red tape.

In other news, there’s a big surfcasting show this weekend in Lincroft, New Jersey. Lots of valuable seminars by the likes of Don Musso (Superstrike), Bill Wetzel, and more. Lots of top-notch vendors too. Not sure if I can make it out this weekend, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be sorry if I did.

—mkl

man battles shark, goes to pub afterward, and other stories…

I’ve been laying low for most of the winter so far, venturing out to go to work and then hustling back home to fatten up on beer, but I’ve been keeping a close eye on things going around in the fish/fishing world. I saw this article yesterday about this guy in New Zealand who is a total badass and stabbed a shark that was biting him, then stitched himself up on the beach, then went to the pub to get a beer before heading to the hospital. “[James] Grant gave himself stitches using a first aid kit he kept in his vehicle for pig hunts. He and his friends then went to the Colac Bay Tavern, where he was given a bandage because he was dripping blood on the floor.
The stitching was finished off when he went to Invercargill hospital, where he was back at work on Monday.

‘It would have been great if I had killed it because there was a fishing competition on at the Colac Bay Tavern,’ Grant told Stuff.co.nz.”

This guy is in the early running for most interesting man of the year. I’ve also been waiting anxiously for Peter Laurelli’s 2013 fishing video, which should be out soon. For now, I’ve been watching the trailer for his newest video, which has much more to offer than surf casting in the Northeast, with what looks like some nice giant trevally footage coming. Check out the trailer:

SIFF13: ISLANDS – Trailer from Peter Laurelli on Vimeo.

Always inspiring and awesome stuff from Peter that helps me whittle away the winter days planning for the upcoming season. It may still be a couple weeks before he releases his final version, so I may have to wait a little longer. In the meantime, I’ve been watching a steady diet of John Skinner’s YouTube videos, the latest of which is just a simple video of him with a 33# bass on a pencil popper. Yeah, you know. For John, it’s not that big of a deal.

There’s always something to learn from his videos. I really need to pick up a couple of his books while the weather outside sucks.

There’s also this video that came out a week or so ago of this African tigerfish caught snatching a swallow out of midair. Even though the video isn’t of great quality, you can see the fish chasing the birds while they’re flying just above the water. I first learned of these fish from River Monsters when Jeremy Wade was hitting up the witch doctor to help him in his quest to catch one of these crazy, mean looking fish. Then, after he finally lands one, after convincing a whole village to give him good luck, he tries to convince his guide to let the fish go, even though it would feed like everyone he’s met since the episode started. Since he (Wade) apparently didn’t want his head on a stake after getting everyone to help him catch some mystic fish and then letting it go while the village goes hungry, he conveniently keeps it out of the water long enough so it can’t be revived, and hence is relieved of any responsibility for C&R and his life is spared.
jeremy wade

It hasn’t been all entertainment and wonder this winter though. Thomas posted an article on our Facebook page featuring John Price, whom you may remember from that incredible investigative piece Alison Fairbrother wrote in 2012 for the Washington Post concerning the depleted population of menhaden in the Atlantic. Well, Price is back and what he’s seeing is vastly undernourished stripers in the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s no wonder since Omega Protein is still out there scooping up bunker by the thousands of tons and grinding them into pet food. From the article:

In the stomachs of the fish coming to the dock at Tilghman, Price sees little of the menhaden, bay anchovies, and blue crabs associated with rockfish diets. Instead the fish are full of cut-up chunks of spot, used by charter boats to lay a trail of “chum” or “chunks” to attract fish to their clients’ lures trailing behind the boat.

“Essentially, they are doing the same thing I’m doing in my aquarium, running a feeding operation, but on a larger scale,” Price said. Uphoff said there’s no evidence that this is hurting the overall rockfish population, but it shows “great fishing” can be partly the result of artificially concentrating fish.

Similarly, Price said, rockfish can look fat and healthy on casual inspection, but they frequently turn out on analysis to have absorbed water as fat reserves shrank.

His work has convinced Price that rockfish nowadays are getting inadequate nutrition. Body fat’s down, disease is up and bigger fish appear in decline. Only in 2010, when they were able to exploit an unusually large number of small spot—not a big part of their normal diets—did the bulk of the fish he sampled seem well-nourished.

“Of all the threats to stripers I used to worry about, not having enough food was one I never imagined,” he said.

So couple this with the commercial trawlers in North Carolina and it’s not surprising that the stock of striped bass in the ocean is in serious decline, despite what people may be trying to tell us. It’s sad to see such little regard.

fucking shark killers
And it’s happening in the Pacific as well. An article came out this week in the NY Times about a shark processing plant in town of Puqi, in the Zhejiang Province. This plant is slaughtering hundreds of rare sharks—including the nearly extinct whale shark, basking sharks, white sharks, and other protected species—for their oil, organs, and fins. From the beginning of the article it already seems hopeless: activists had to be tipped off by a Chinese environmental protection group in order for the story to get out, not the other way around. Here’s an excerpt:

What they saw shook them – whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world, a tropical species the size of a bus (they can grow to 12 meters, or about 40 feet, long) butchered by hand on a slippery floor. The sharks are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, meaning they are within the “extinction risk” category.

“It’s a lot of carnage in one place, a lot of damage. It was pretty overwhelming,” said Mr. Hilton, describing the scene at the factory that he and Mr. Hofford visited three times, posing as buyers, in an undercover investigation that began in 2010 and concluded last December. “We walked into the courtyard, and there were shark fins everywhere. I didn’t think it would be so blatant.”

Said Mr. Hofford: “It was shocking. You go in there and they were laid out on the floor, all chopped up. You nearly want to vomit. When you have swum with them, it’s very upsetting.”

In a report released this week, the two men allege that about 600 whale sharks are being slaughtered annually for their stomach, lips, cartilage, oil and fins at the China Wenzhou Yueqing Marine Organisms Health Protection Foods Company, in Puqi township near Wenzhou.

Basking and great white sharks were also being “industrially processed,” said the two members of the nongovernmental organization WildLifeRisk in the report, titled “Planet’s biggest slaughter of whale sharks exposed in Pu Qi, Zhejiang Province, China.”

According to the activists Paul Hilton and Alex Hofford, the sharks were mostly sold in pieces in China, with some meat labeled as freshwater tilapia, fins, of course, labeled for soups and medicines, and the majority of the oil shipped off of to North America for vitamins—something else Omega Protein is doing with their menhaden hauls—and cosmetics. May Mei, a program manager of the NGO WildAid—whose most famous Chinese celebrity face is former NBA player Yao Ming and which campaigns to end the tradition of shark fin soup—all but said there was nothing they could do about it, except express shock and dismay.

“Our control system just isn’t good enough. And we have to teach fishermen what’s a protected species and what’s not. Supervision at all levels has to improve, including at customs departments.”

Considering the regulatory departments for industry in China, she’s more than likely right. Even more disconcerting is her assertion that China is not even the largest world processor of sharks; that distinction, she says, belongs to Indonesia. Much in the same way most of the world denounces Japan’s whale hunting fleets, but whose laws have little power or backbone to stop it, countries like China and Indonesia will continue to feed the shark processing industry as long as they’re able to—meaning until nothing is left.

help needed for bluefin tuna

bluefin

Jamie Pollock over at the Pew Charitable Trusts sent me an email last week looking for people who are able to make it to a meeting on December 3 in Toms River, New Jersey, regarding the health and sustainability of bluefin tuna fishing. I know tuna are out of most of our range from the shores of NYC, but there’s plenty of opportunities to catch these awesome fish nearby, and of course, they’re found more commonly in most sushi restaurants in the city. This is (or was) my usual encounter with bluefin tuna, and it is delicious and, in my opinion, worth the $20/piece pricetag, or whatever it is now. The dilemma for me is how to balance this consumer interest in bluefin tuna with the knowledge that these fish, as they are currently hunted, are far from sustainable and/or a farm-able resource. Their life cycle and nature really just do not lend itself to making it a kind of resource like salmon, but the price and demand is so high that there will always be a market. It’s sad to see, even when watching these guys on that fishing show eke out a living catching bluefin tuna by rod and line to make a life for themselves, it still hurts me to see it happening. The cynic in me says this can only end one way.

The meeting Pew is holding regards not the elimination of bluefin tuna fishing (which I think wouldn’t be unreasonable, except to the Japanese, maybe), but rather the consideration of a different type of longline that helps reduce bycatch of other fish. These two methods, alternatives to surface longlines, are known as the greenstick and swordfish buoy gear. According to researchers Researchers with the Florida-based Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center, these types of gear were able to obtain 93 percent tuna catch rate (greenstick) and 82 percent targeted swordfish rate (swordfish buoy) respectively. The way they work goes like this:

“Greenstick gear consists of a 35- to 45-foot fiberglass pole that tows a 500- to 800-foot main line. The original poles were green in color, hence the name. Up to 10 artificial squid lures are individually attached to this main line and skipped across the surface of the water to attract yellowfin tuna. Once a fish is hooked, fishermen quickly bring it to the boat so that they can release any unintentional catch immediately while still alive. Because of the way the gear was developed, tuna accounts for the vast majority of greenstick catch.

Swordfish buoy gear consists of a single piece of heavy fishing line attached to one or two baited hooks on one end and a flotation device, or buoy, equipped with a light on the other end. Generally, one vessel will use 12 to 15 of these free-floating gears at a time. The buoys, which are deployed at dusk, are set in a straight line. When a fish takes the bait, it drags the buoy out of line, indicating that it has been hooked, so the fisherman can quickly retrieve the fish and make a decision to retain or release it.”

gulf-greenstick-swordfish-buoy-gear-catch-745-lw

The meeting is again in Toms River, which makes it tough for me to make it with work and all, but if anyone can pass the word along to any friends who might be in the area and can make the meeting, then we urge you to do so. For more info check this link for a pdf fact sheet on bluefin tuna, or email Jamie at jamielynnpollack(at)gmail.com

—mkl

Derby 2013 Endex—Short and Sweet

johntrophy
pic by Ben Sargent

As custom dictates, I started my drinking early for the closing party of this year’s fishing derby. However, I, tempered perhaps by the memories of basically getting banned from Roberta’s last year and knowing I’d eventually have to drive home, did not get blackout drunk this year, much to some people’s disappointment. We closed the 2013 Brooklyn Fishing Derby at the place where it all started, back at Dream Tackle on Manhattan Avenue, with a great group of people and fishing folk. The wind consistently blew blustery arctic air from the west across the East River, but people still toughed it out day and night and I’m so stoked they did. They pulled out ling cod. They pulled out ugly fish. They pulled out perch. They pulled out three nice sized striped bass, and the winning fish hung by the end of a scale, caught only a few hours before the derby ended. Scott Behr made a valiant effort on a Saturday evening and it looked to stand up through the next day. But El Diablo Gringo, upon seeing Scott’s fat 33″, 12.08# bass, redoubled his resolve, sat out all night, and got rewarded in the morning with this fish:
bs-jr

At the closing bell, it was 2009 champion John Ruffino with a 15.5#, 36″ striper who took home the cup and as cool as it would have been to see a new champion crowned, it was great to see John again in glory. If there’s a guy who loves fishing and has supported the derby from day one, it’s been John Ruffino. I know I usually make fun of bait guys, but John, among a bunch of other guys who are out there every day, always puts in work in what he does, and to see him get rewarded is a reward for the rest of us. His friend was awesome enough to post this video of his catch:

Jan Groz is another fisherman who puts in his time on the water—the guy has crushed all competition in the last couple years with consistently 40+ -inch fish, and was there to graciously hand over the trophy to John. They now stand at 2-2, with Damar Douglas the only other winner from 2011. Jan took third place with a 32″, 11# bass caught Friday evening and the new contender Scott Behr took a close second. Congratulations and many thanks go to everyone who fished with us this year.
coolerfish

The formalities over, we retired to the backyard, where we set up three grills and sought to prove people wrong about the character of their question, “You don’t eat the fish out of there, do you?” We had the benefit of having a bunch of great cooks on hand: Jacques Gautier (Palo Santo and Fort Reno), Tim Coughlan (pit master at Fort Reno), and Adam Geringer-Dunn and Vincent Milburn, both from Greenpoint Fish and Lobster Company. All are great people and fantastic chefs and it was an honor to have these guys cooking the fish we caught from the East River.
scalingfish
am
pic by Alex Marquez
ej
pic by Eric Johnson
johnsfish2
johnsfish
bikesmoker
curedfish

Unless you were there, you wouldn’t believe the food these guys cooked for everyone. Cured bluefish sliders got it going early, Adam’s fish chowder kept everyone warm (and Jan’s fish got added to the pot), Scott’s fish became amazing fish tacos, Jacques found some roe in one of the fish and quickly claimed it for his grill, and John’s fish was grilled deliciously whole. We really can’t thank these guys enough for coming through for us. And if you weren’t there, you wouldn’t believe how good the fish tasted. Of course, we may all drop dead tomorrow, but one of the things I really wanted to get back to with this year’s derby was the idea of community. I remember throughout the first derby we all used to meetup on Sundays and fish the East River park (back when they closed the North 5th pier right before the derby started), then walk up a few blocks to the Brooklyn Ale House and drink some beers. I missed the meetings and getting people together to hang out and share laughs and stories together. I felt that over the last few years we’ve started to get away from that, even though we’ve met a ton of great people along the way. Too much stress and time was spent on finding money for prizes, hustling for sponsors, and trying to make everyone happy while feeling like everyone else was shitting on you because someone else measured a fish a half inch too long. One of the things I liked best about the closing parties was getting to see everyone together, meeting the members again, being able to provide something for people to really enjoy and feel like they were a part of all of it because they were, and even though it caused us an incredible amount of stress to put it together, I felt this is what the derby should be about, and the competitive part of it should remain fun, but secondary. For me, the BKUAA has always been about the people and the community we try to build by doing the derby. Every year we get to meet newcomers who are amazed you can catch fish from the river (and eat it, on occasion). Every year we get to know someone else who’s been doing it for years and years. Every year we’re honored to see a lot of familiar smiling faces anxious to fish another derby. All of these things are what’s important to me, and these are the things I feel are vital to what we do with the BKUAA. We’ve scaled back a little this year, but after hanging out with everyone in the backyard at Dream (many thanks to Robert, Barbara, and the crew at Dream for hosting us), I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.

More and many thanks go to Rich at Acme, Harry at Brooklyn Kitchen, Adam and Vincent at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster Company, Jacques and Tim from Fort Reno, and to everyone who showed up to our events and especially to all those fishing-folk who keep it going through the wind and cold.

sb_am
pic by Scott Behr
jborock
pic by Jane

—mkl

p.s. Working on planning a blackfish trip either this weekend or next. Will get details out as soon as I can.

fish now, beer later

scott4

I just got word that 2009 derby champion Jon Ruffino picked up a 36″ bass in LIC this morning, but have yet to see any photos for confirmation (edit: see pic below). Remember, all keeper-size bass will be judged by weight this year, and so far we have Scott Behr’s fish (above) weighing in at 12.08#. We’ll see what happens in the final hours and at the weigh-in at Dream at 3pm. Speaking of which, Ben has assembled an awesome crew of smokers and grill kings who are cooking in the backyard of Dream today for the closing party. Come by and pick up your shirt if you haven’t gotten yours yet, stay for the party and food and beer. I’m going to try to get a line in the water before the derby is officially over.

-mkl

p.s. Here’s Jon’s fish!

rufino

Scott Behr in the lead!

scott3
Nice fat fish, Scott! 12#, 33″

scott1
scott2

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