FDS: March 2004 Archives

March 31, 2004

Shad News On The Homefront

The Grifton Shad Festival is underway.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Of Course, From A Shark's Point Of View, Both Ends Are Baited

Night Skishing for Stripers.

Paul Melnyk discovered his unorthodox but deadly style of fishing by chance. Since the ’50s, Montauk anglers had donned wet suits and like frogmen swam out to large rocks that, at low tide, still lay 2 or 3 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. Once on these perches the rock hoppers, as they’re known, fished water that was unreachable by shore-bound surf casters. One night in 1996, Melnyk was on Weakfish Rock, a large boulder that has a flat top the size of a kitchen table and sits some 200 yards off the point, when a wave washed him off. It happens often, but this time Melnyk was fighting a 30-pound striped bass, and it started towing him to sea. With no chance of hopping back on the rock, he decided to fight the fish in its element. His 6mm wet suit gave him plenty of buoyancy, and if he placed the rod between his legs and floated on his back “like an otter eating an abalone,” he could actually put some leverage on the fish. Five minutes later he landed his prize. He was hooked.

If you liked the article, you can see the skishing movie at Paul Melnyk's website.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Just In Time For Hurricane Season

Cape Lookout re-opens, finally, on April 4th.

All of the Morris Marina Kabin Kamps cabins will be open and available for visitors, Mr. Vogel said, and about 50 percent of the cabins at the Alger Willis Fishing Camp will be available for occupancy, too. By fall – peak season for fishermen and their families – up to 80 percent of those cabins should be open.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You say Tomato, I Say German Johnson

The life history of Cynoscion nebulosus. Georgia calls them Spotted Seatrout. We know them as Specks,as in Speck Tackler!

Posted by Bigwig at 10:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Be There In A Month

Fishing Beaufort's North River.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Your Beerz. Gib Dem To Me

After hearing from Ahnuld's lawyers, Pumping Iron Brewing has agreed to stop producing Governator Ale.

The story claims that bottles of the newly-banned beer have been going for as high as $20 on ebay. Though I see no evidence of that at the moment, surely some entrepreneur will put offer a bottle or two up for bidding once the news leaks out.

If that entrepreneur is you, Liquid Solutions is still selling The Governator at a little over a buck each.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel!

Hop addicts are like heroin addicts. They keep coming up with new ways of delivering the drug.

The Organoleptic Hops Transducer, as its inventor, Sam Calagione, calls it, is an industrial-grade water filter, three feet long, that can be packed with a pound of fresh hops and attached to a draft beer line between the keg and the tap.

When the bartender pulls the tap, beer is forced through the hops, dissolving some of the aromatic resins from the flowers before the beer enters the glass. The result is a beer with a refreshingly herbaceous flavor, with notes of oregano and pine, as well as a slightly funky, swampy nose (the hop vine is in the Cannabaceae family, which includes hemp and marijuana).

Posted by Bigwig at 04:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

This Is What Happens When You Buy Rulers From The Low Bidder

A picture of the official National Park Service 150-feet-from-the-high-tide-line measurement.

Join the OBPA

Join the NCBBA

Posted by Bigwig at 03:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Everything New Is Old Again

The people who invented the circle hook, 3000 years ago.

Posted by Bigwig at 03:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brothers in Arms

The special appeal of beer.

Mothers will generally not wish to discuss the merits of beer. Fathers on the other hand, prone to consuming some pretty foul adjunct-laced suds, are all too happy to discuss the value of a 30 pack.

Posted by Bigwig at 03:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why, The Pelicans Were Dropping Trout From The Sky There Was So Many Of Them

You should have been here last week.

I can't count how many times I've heard that--most recently at Hatteras.

Posted by Bigwig at 03:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

George Jetson Meets Fred Flintstone

High tech

He follows a path to a mid-lake brush pile with the help of a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit that pinpoints bearings from satellite signals.

A liquid-crystal fish-finder etches a vivid picture of what lies below, using sonar to show everything from brush to schools of fish.

A flasher unit, also relying on sonar signals, lights up like a pinball machine, with orange bands showing activity at various depths.

And other probes and gauges indicate everything from water temperature to barometric pressure.

Low tech

When he goes fishing, he putts to his favorite spots in a 16-foot aluminum boat equipped with a 15-horsepower motor instead of the shiny fiberglass bass boat with a 200-horse motor that many use today.

Platt uses almost exclusively vintage tackle - some of the antiques he collects. His rods are made of tubular steel, not the graphite that is so popular today. And the reels he uses have no drag. His thumb acts as the brake.

About the only modern convenience he uses is a trolling motor - and he half apologizes for that.

The fish don't seem to care.

Posted by Bigwig at 03:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Porgy, NO Bess

A short list of the recreational gamefish available around Long Island's North Fork.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thy Rod and Thy Reel, Thee Comfort Them

Basic rod and reel maintenance in preparation for the coming season.

Saltwater reels need a little more tender loving care, said Ken Chaumont of Stanley Jigs. Chaumont, who is also a consultant for Rat-L-Trap, is a diehard saltwater angler and advises anglers to clean their reels after each trip.

"You don’t want to take out a garden hose and spray it directly into the reel," he said. "That often forces the saltwater deeper into the gears and other internal parts."

Instead, Chaumont uses a mixture of Dawn dish soap and water and puts it into a common garden sprayer. He then applies the mixture to the outside of the reel, which, he says, rids it of saltwater residue. "Once you apply the soap, just give it a very light rinse with fresh water," he said.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oh, The Farmer And The Cowman Should Be Friends

Ain't no fences on the water--something it seems Texas fishing guides have to re-learn every few years.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How To Clean a Gar

The minute I finished looking up Gar recipes, Richard Rouse of the North Carolina Estuarium called me back. He didn't have any recipes in particular, but he did tell me how to clean a gar.

1.) After you've landed the gar, give a good hard smack at the head/body join with a stick or fish club or some sort. If the gar doesn't start bleeding, you didn’t hit him hard enough. Then dump him in something you don't mind getting slimy--gar produce a lot of it.

2.) Once you're ready to clean, wash the slime off the fish as best you can, then take a hacksaw and cut off the head and tail. Hold the fish down as best you can--this won't be easy. The best place to cut is at the pectoral and ventral fins--there is a soft spot behind each.

3.) Get some shears. Tin snips or poultry shears, and cut at the light/dark line where the stomach meets the side. Make sure to cut over the ventral fins on each side. Degut the gar and rinse again. If the gar is big enough, the strip of belly should have good meat on it. If not, toss it with the guts.

4.) Ice the remaining fish tube (and belly meat, if you kept it) down for an hour or two, belly up, and get it good and cold.

5.) After the gar has chilled for a while, get a fillet knife and insert it between the outer shell of the gar and the meat. You'll have to curve it so that you’re slicing all the way up one side. Once you're finished, repeat on the opposite side. This should remove the shell, leaving you a tube of meat wrapped around a backbone. It you see any pink stuff, it's fat. Cut it off or not, as you like.

6.) Take the fillet knife and cut down the backbone and above the rib bones. Chunk up what you get and cook it

Richard says it cooks fast--give a particular piece only 2-3 minute in the oil, and salt the meat to draw out the water beforehand if it's mushy.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Peel The Label Off, Baby, That's Right

Pretty Beer of the Morning - Aventinus.

Available from Liquid Solutions for the low, low price of $3.85 a bottle, or from Internet Wine & Spirits at $3.66 per.

Reviewed by the BeerAdvocates here.

And don't forget to pour it into the correct glass.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Stephen King Mention

A discussion of oceanic dead zones, over at the other blog.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2004

Puppy drum...water temps

The puppy drum are still hanging around at the south point of ocracoke and if the water temps cooperate, they should be there for a good while. No reports on anything else being caught but the pups seem to all be within the slot! A good sign. Plus, people are reporting lots of bait fish in the water. The water temps have slacked off since the weekend, but if the wind shifts, it should push the warm water back towards shore. It's out there, but it just can't make a solid push shoreward. Come october, we should be sitting in good water!

Posted by Kevin at 05:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lost...Found. Pilot's hat

I may have posted this earlier, but I found a green pilot's hat with a tan bill and tan lettering. Colin, is this yours? Regardless, I'll have it in the car so the owner can claim it on the next trip.

Posted by Kevin at 05:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Jethro, Elly May, Git in Here! Vittles Is On!

I said "People will start eating gar next," and lo and behold if I wasn't right.

So, the cooks -- Bob Hines, George Sugg, Donald Smith, Billy Jay Woolard and Rouse -- heated up the peanut oil and fried herring, rockfish, mullet, gar, grindle, roe and hushpuppies. The fixin's and desserts were supervised by Ellen Smith, Linda Boyer and Joyce Carawan.

I called up the estuarium to see if I could get a copy of the gar recipe they used, not to mention to see how they cleaned the damn things in the first place, but the director was out. I left a message. They may return it, assuming they don't peg me as a loon--not to many people call up asking for a gar recipe, I imagine.

But, not to worry. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I found some others.

Stir-Fried Gar, and Gar Stew.

Still don't know how to clean one.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Master Bait Company

Ever wonder where Tradewinds and Red Drum Tackle get their bait?

Now you know.

Posted by Bigwig at 02:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Cheap Drunk

Another reason to get a wholesaler's license--you can bid on seized alcohol at police auctions.

Posted by Bigwig at 02:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just In Time To Get Knocked Down Again, If The Village's Luck Holds

The Hatteras Village weather station is set to re-open this summer.

Posted by Bigwig at 02:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Remember, Keep Away From Lancelot Link After He's Had A Few

What's worse than a mean drunk?

A mean drunk chimp.

A Uganda Wildlife Authority report on the attacks says that local beer is usually brewed illegally along river valleys, which are also the habitat of chimps. "When chimps come across the local brew, they drink it, become drunk and in that state any encounter with people means an attack," says the report.

Posted by Bigwig at 02:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eddy Fisher

Saltwater Fishing, one of the very few other fishing blogs on the Net--I know, I've checked, has some tips on how to catch more flounder.

With the mullet bait, I will work an area where the water is moving on an outgoing tide. I look for the areas around structure that provide a break to the water movement – areas that create an eddy. This is where the flounder will lay and wait for an ambush. They often will strike out at moving baitfish into the current and move back to their relative safety. I work the mullet along the bottom slowly, casting beyond the eddy and dragging the bait across. I will do this from several angles, looking to draw a strike.

Posted by Bigwig at 02:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sadly, Robert Plant Eventually Rewrote “And She’s Buying A Fish Ladder, To Heaven…”

Most everything you'd want to know about fish ladders, including how much trouble you can get into for fishing near one.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why, I'm Already In Competitive Shape

Finally, a sports team where even I can make the cut.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Poor Man's Tarpon

Hickory Shad are making a comeback on the Roanoke. Hopes are high for a similar population return on the Rappahannock and Rapidan now that the Embrey dam has been breached.

Shad stocks have been steadily increasing in the James and York rivers since restoration work began a decade ago. Millions of fry have been stocked, Gunter says, and those young are beginning to return to the rivers in increasing numbers.

Last year for the first time, American shad fry were stocked upstream of Embrey Dam, at Kelly's Ford. Millions more will be stocked again this spring under a five-year federally funded program. Potomac River watermen catch the brood fish and hand them over to the game department to harvest eggs and sperm and raise the young to stocking size in hatcheries.

The first adult fish should return to the Rappahannock in 2007 and 2008.

Update: One step forward, one step back.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Take Off, To The Great White North

An eight-building fishing lodge for sale in British Columbia, for barely more than what most houses cost nowadays.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rhisky Business

"I don't care if she is naked, she keeps getting in the way of the whisky!"

The potential for Scotch was first seen in 1973 when The Macallan was featured in the famous sex scene in Don’t Look Now with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.

But even then, product placement had not properly evolved because Christie’s body kept getting in the way.

I imagine the owners of Suntory have been walking on clouds for months now--they didn't have to pay a dime to get their product featured in "Lost In Translation"

Posted by Bigwig at 12:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quicksilver Madness

Field and Stream has more on the problem of mercury levels in fish, an issue that seems to be growing in prominence.

Most fishermen today are familiar with some form of fish consumption advisories, because almost every state has waters that are contaminated by industrial chemicals or other toxic substances such as dioxin or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Dealing with toxins is one of the sadder facts of being a sportsman in the modern world. And while federal and state agencies have made progress in reducing many kinds of water pollution, one poisonous substance is very much on the increase, and it may turn out to be more dangerous than all the others combined.

That substance is mercury—the most widespread and pervasive toxin now found in the fish that we like to pursue and eat. To date, 45 states have fish consumption advisories for mercury.

Seven fish are on the North Carolina advisory list-- shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel in coastal waters, and largemouth bass, jack fish (chain pickerel) and blackfish (bowfin) caught east and south of Interstate 85 in fresh water.

To find out which fish are under advisories in your state, go here.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2004

I Think I Saw Charlie

Tuna Fishing off Hatteras looks nice.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Best Career Day Ever!

A father a boy can be proud of.

Years ago, prior to a Parents' Day appearance at an elementary school, Henderson was introduced to the class by his son.

"This is my dad," said the boy proudly. "He drinks nine quarts of whiskey a day."

Posted by Bigwig at 10:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Major Sturgery

The Rise and Fall of the Atlantic Sturgeon fishery.

Photos of the Bayside wharves ca. 1890 show an endless row of floating cabins and shacks, with three railroad cars at the wharf ready to haul away the caviar and meat.

At the peak of the harvest, 15 railroad cars a day carried those products to New York.

Roe, or egg sacks, as large as 30 pounds and more were found when the huge female carcasses were opened. The meat was smoked and a large amount was sent to Albany, N.Y., causing it to be called "Albany Beef."

One picture shows a man holding a sturgeon twice as long as he is tall, the tail end hanging over the side of the wharf.

Nothing was wasted. From the refuse, oil and fertilizer were made. The roe was sold in 135-pound wooden kegs. As the fishery began to dwindle, the price of roe rose. In 1885, it sold for $10 a keg. By 1900, it was bringing $105 a keg. Fishermen were catching less but still making the same amount of money because of the demand. Some became millionaires.

"Females only come in every three or four years to spawn. That's why the decline was over a period of years," Brown said.

If the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons for the next 7 generations, then we've got seventy-five years on the Atlantic Coast before sturgeons are common again.

And Russia has longer than that, if indeed the Beluga sturgeon ever recovers.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It Was Good Enough For George Washington, But Not Good Enough For You

Maker's Mark turns fifty.

To signify the new beginning, the sixth generation bourbon maker torched the family's 170-year-old bourbon recipe -- essentially the one used to quench the thirst of George Washington's revolutionary army.

The ceremony produced some unintended pyrotechnics. The fire, which Samuels set in a long-neck bucket, sparked an explosion that burned a hole in the ceiling and singed his daughter's hair.

It was under such inauspicious beginnings that Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey was born 50 years ago.

Sounds nice, and the company produces a decent product, but to put the brand in perspective, Maker's Mark sells less whiskey than Old Crow, Ten High and Wild Turkey, though it is closing ground fast.

Maker's Mark is still catching up with its popularity. The brand has been pressed to keep up with its torrid sales of the past three years. Projecting volumes six years ahead to allow for aging requirements is tough, said brand icon Bill Samuels, and the company has had to squeeze its export markets a little to keep pace.

Made at the brand's small distillery in Loretto, Ky., Maker's Mark has set the pace for premium, small-batch bourbons and can sell just about every drop it bottles for at least the next six years.

Posted by Bigwig at 09:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Which is The Easiest To Extract From My Ear?

A survey of the best worm hooks for trout. Circle hooks are mentioned, of course. Not mentioning them would be like leaving Liberace out of your gay pianist survey, but they don't get quite the smae amount of extravagant praise they have elsewhere.

Over the past two seasons, I tested various circle-hook sizes and styles in worm fishing for stream trout. If I allowed the fish time to swallow the bait, about 50 percent of the trout were jaw-hooked. The remaining fish were gut-hooked even though I followed the manufacturers’ directions carefully—making no hard hooksets and letting the pulling fish hook themselves. Granted, these were small-stream trout, and my testing extended over a few dozen rather than several hundred fish. Circle hooks, I found, were a big improvement over standard bait hooks in terms of reduced gut-hooking, but they aren’t as fail-safe as I’d been told.

Posted by Bigwig at 08:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brew And Grow Rich

Beer's yearly impact on North Carolina's economy? Over a billion dollars, though the total pales in comparison to those of the big three; California, Colorado and Texas

See the impact liquid bead has on your state here.

Posted by Bigwig at 07:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Putting Your Thumb On The Reel Is Also Frowned On

Ever wonder why you never land the lunkers, while the nut who passed out at the edge of the surf two hours ago wakes up just in time to reel in a trophy?

For starters, you're not holding your mouth right.

You're probably also expecting the biggest examples of a species to act as the smaller ones do, and that ain't neccesarily so.

Where to look for really big fish depends on the time of year, type of fishery, and the species of fish you want to target. But except for spawning time, perhaps the primary connection you’re looking for is food. Big fish don’t necessarily eat the same things their smaller brothers do, but they might. Still, to tip the odds in your favor (if there can be such a thing in trophy hunting), you should concentrate your efforts in areas that hold forage of sufficient size to attract the monster you want to catch.

You have to be willing to fish with lures that smaller fish will often pass on. Yes, big fish come on small baits, too, but if you watch serious trophy hunters, they often fish with things that look like what other people would be happy to catch.

Posted by Bigwig at 07:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Damn Kids And Their Crazy Ways

Pabst Blue Ribbon - The choice of a new generation.

Posted by Bigwig at 05:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Myself, I Just Like Watching Them Squirm

The humble earthworm and the politics of fishing.

It’s hard to catch a mess of trout for supper in these judgmental times. Not that it’s hard to catch the trout—well, sometimes it is. It’s just that vocal extremists increasingly make you feel you’re stealing trout right off another angler’s hook if you knock one on the head now and then.

Posted by Bigwig at 05:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No, Not Newcastle And Natural Light

The best combination for making a Black and Tan.

Posted by Bigwig at 05:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

There But For The Grace Of God

The Cape Hatteras Atomic Testing Grounds.

Nov. 10, 1948, Hutchinson wrote to Admiral Parsons that, "Meteorological conditions in the coastal strip between Cape Hatteras and Cape Fear are entirely satisfactory for removing the radioactive products, the winds aloft prevail from the west. The winds in intermediate and low levels can be predicted with sufficient accuracy to assure westerly components for removing radioactive materials from the test sites out over the sea...If 'fall out' proves to be an undesirable quantity with regard to choice of test sites, all 'fall out' can be avoided south of Hatteras, since the Gulf Stream flows from this shore toward mid-Atlantic."

Posted by Bigwig at 05:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Congery Of Eels

Cue The Jerk Voice: "The Eels are coming to Cheesquake! The Eels are coming to Cheesquake!"

While we in New Jersey shuddered through the late days of winter, floating visitors were headed our way from the distant Sargasso Sea -- a two-million-square-mile ellipse of deep-blue water adrift in the North Atlantic. They were tiny and almost invisible. Few people noticed them.

It's a hell of a name for a park, I'll give it that.

Posted by Bigwig at 05:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

For Now We See Through A Glass, Darkly

Touring the beer paradise.

But while travelers will find it hard to avoid the historical influence of religion, there's another type of trinity worthy of a pilgrimage: beer, chocolate and cheese.

And the greatest of these is beer.

With more than 100 breweries producing at least 450 different varieties of beer, Belgium will seem like a beer snob's version of heaven on Earth.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2004

Once I Buy One, The Wife Will Have To Let Me Get A Boat

Lowrance has a new depth-finder - color, good to 2500 feet, and under $700.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lifestyles Of The Trophy Sow

The magic 30-inch speck.

Only three in 10,000 speckled trout will live to be 9 years old, and it is the 9-year-old trout that achieves the magic 30-inch length that marks a milestone for most saltwater anglers.

As nature would have it, every one of those 30-inch trout is a female.

It is in the spring, when the winds are shifty and unpredictable, that the sow trout grow heavy with eggs and mean with an aggressive-protective streak. It is the mass of eggs that push the long, skinny females over the 10-pound threshold, and it's the attitude geared to survival that sends them on the attack.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Important Question Is Whether Gambling On The Fish Keeps You Out Of It

National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer Bill Vanderford on spring fishing for freshwater stripers.

Unlike black bass, stripers are normally not structure oriented. They are an open water eating machine and always go where the most food is found, and during the first warm days of late winter or early spring, striped bass will venture into major tributaries to go through the spawning process. These tributaries could be rivers or major creeks that feed the lake. Locating the big linesided predators in these general areas can be as easy as discovering their food supply.

He deals mostly with the stripers in Georgia's Lake Lanier, but I don't suspect the population there is much different from those in any other location.

Also, there's a Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame? Does that mean there's also a Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame? Because there doesn't appear to be.

I've heard there's a Pompano Hall Of Fame in Tarboro, but's not online.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pleased to Mead Me

I was going to link to the beer and mead column Julie Bradford of All About Beer Magazine wrote for the N&O's weekend section, but the editors there didn't see fit to make it available to an online audience.

So I scanned the relevant portions in.

Mead and beer were old beverages by the time Elizabeth ascended the throne, their origins almost as distant from her time as they are from ours. Mead, made from fermented honey, was the ancient beverage of newlyweds — hence the term "honeymoon." Even though it existed with beer, mead was probably the more exclusive drink, honey being a scarcer resource than barley, the basis of beer.

In Renaissance times, honey was a more common sweetener than sugar, which had to be imported. Elizabeth and her court would have known honey— and mead — well.

But for modem drinkers, mead is a rare drink, so Faire goers should welcome the chance to sample the range of styles from Desi Dew Meadery of Rougemont. Some of the varieties on offer from mead maker Bill Bailey, such as a champagnelike sparkling mead, are beyond the technology of the 16th century. But his two still meads should conjure up visions of the Renaissance good life.

Beer was undergoing more dramatic change during the Renaissance than mead. In Medieval England, "ale" was the term for an alcoholic drink brewed from barley, water and yeast. The drink was a household staple, perishable and sweet, but brewers had learned to temper its sweetness with a variety of herbs. These herbs, in various secret combinations, were known as "gruit."

In continental Europe, a new herb — hops — began to usurp the place of gruit. Hops imparted bitterness and acted as a preservative to the new beverage, which was known as "beer." By the early 16th century, hops won. In Bavaria in 1516, the Reinheitsgebot purity laws dictated that beer could only contain barley, water and hops.

England was the last holdout against the evils of hops, but by the 16th century, ale was in retreat. Many of the brewers in Renaissance England were Dutch and Germans who brought their craft with them. Queen Elizabeth probably drank hopped beer, though some of her subjects may have dung to gruit-laced ale.

This weekend, the Greensboro based Red Oak brewery will offer a beer that owner James Sherrill is proud to say adheres to the Reinheitsgebot. The Red Oak amber lager has a strict German pedigree and is unfiltered and unpasteurized. Elizabeth I would have been amazed at the clarity and consistency, but she would have recognized the rounded sweetness: Hops were used as a flavoring then, not a weapon.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

He's Asking For A Shiner, All Right

An Alaskan reviews Texas beer.

Texas has never been known for outstanding beer, but the Lone Star State still offers a few good examples of lighter fare. This part of the country enjoyed prolific European immigration - specifically from Germany - throughout the 1800s. That infusion of people brought the brewing experience for some world-class styles of beer. Can we blame early Southwestern brewers if they arrived on the arid soil and found their mainstream bocks and heady dark beers just a little bit too cloying in the noonday sun?

Posted by Bigwig at 03:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Moderately Elderly Man And The Gulf

A Black Drum fight to remember.

There must have been hundreds of them and they turned the sea black as they swam past. I managed to hook one of the beasts on a light spinning rod and reel loaded with 10-pound test line.

Posted by Bigwig at 03:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mini Trouble On The Cooper

South Carolina heads for a tumultuous political showdown over the liquor minibottle, the mandatory use of which in bars and restaurants has heretofore been enshrined in the state's constitution.

...as it turns out -- and on this the minibottle lovers and haters agree -- the minibottle is not so small, after all. A minibottle holds 1.7 ounces of liquor, and bartenders must pour all 1.7 ounces -- no more, no less. It may not look like much, but compared with the average drink size around the country -- which is 1 to 1.25 ounces of liquor -- it packs a wallop.

And South Carolina dispenses a lot of wallop. Each year, the state's bars sell about 70 million minibottles, and the number is only expected to rise as more tourists visit Charleston's graceful, antebellum streets and go wild on the strip in Myrtle Beach.

The Palmettos have a powerful suspicion of the man behind the bar, that's for sure. I mentioned the situation to the wife, whose immediate response was. "How else can you be sure the bartender isn't stiffing you?"

I always dealt with that fear by overtipping at the start of the night. The thought of amending the constitution so I wouldn't have to tip as generously never occured to me.

Posted by Bigwig at 03:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Reel World

Abu Garcia has realeased a new freshwater spinning reel - the Cardinal 604.

Posted by Bigwig at 03:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Minor Sturgery

Tracking the shortnose sturgeon in Georgia.

"We want to make sure the river systems have good water quality, make sure we have an ample supply of fresh water. It could be the shortnose sturgeon is telling us, 'you're using too much water. Hey, be careful about what you're doing to my habitat.'"

Hilton Head Island and Brunswick have had problems with salt water intrusion into their freshwater supply. How the fish behave and where they go may lead researchers to other sources of fresh water, or show them which ones are in danger.

"This fish might be the future of salvation of our freshwater in southeast Georgia," Bryce said. "They are amazing creatures."

In other sturgeon news, a six-inch juvenile Atlantic Sturgeon was fished out of Virginia's James river by a group of schoolchildren on Wednesday, providing the first conclusive proof that a breeding population of the species still exists in the Chesapeake Bay. However, The outlook for the population is not good.

Sturgeon need clean gravel river bottoms on which to deposit their eggs. Sediment from upstream road building, construction, farming and other human activities are making such areas hard to find, Spells said.

The fish also take years, 15 to 18 in the case of females, to reach sexual maturity. That means that many probably die before ever getting a chance to spawn.

"If I had to design something to go extinct, it would be a sturgeon," Gillingham said

Posted by Bigwig at 02:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 27, 2004

Over The Edge

Coors has rolled out its low carb beer, Aspen Edge, and the reviews are already pouring in.

Virtually no taste-like drinking seltzer in a glass that you poured a beer into and drank an hour before

overall gross

I am steadfast in my belief that this particular beer will never cross my lips again.

But!

If you drink Ultra or Rock Green Light, you will be switching over to Aspen Edge

Taste is better than other low carbs

The Ultra looked like water compared to Aspen Edge.

I'm not the kind of person who would drink it--but I'm a beer geek. I'd rather give up beer while on a diet than drink low-carb beer. However, if you're not like me, (and most people aren't) Aspen Edge appears to be a least a step up from the other low-carbs.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Dredge Report

State officials are considering closing another 30,000 acres of inshore waters to oyster dredging.

Dredging has been named as one of the reasons the state has seen a long-term decline in oyster populations.

An abundance of oysters in North Carolina waters began to drop in the late 19th century following a period of high dredging activity when fishermen, having depleted the resources in Long Island Sound and the Delaware River, began moving from state to state with oyster dredges, Marshall said.

Studies indicate that dredging is not only bad for the oyster population--it also completely destroys the seabottom, which impacts the overall fish population. There's a diagram of a scallop dredge here--I image not much at all is left after one of those passes by.

The more areas closed to dredging, the more mature the seafloor environment is. The more mature the seafloor environment is, the more fish it can support. It's as simple as "No Wetlands, No Seafood."

"Less Dredging, More Seafood."

Posted by Bigwig at 11:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chasing Chang'aa

Carrie Nation comes to Kenya.

Chang'aa brewers work throughout East Africa, where the brew in slang is called Rapid Results and is most popular in poor neighborhoods with high unemployment. Moral and medical concerns about chang'aa come up now and then and are almost always forgotten or dismissed.

But lately the women who make Africa's homemade alcoholic brew are facing their most powerful and persistent enemy: other women. Chang'aa dens are destroying lives, increasing domestic violence and causing divorce, several women's groups claim.

The problem with Carrie Nations is, if they succeed, soon after come the Al Capones.

Plus, the hangman won't be able to do his job.

Postscript: A night out on the town at a beer and chang'aa bar.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Don't Give A Sediment

Here's a study claiming that hog farms are no threat to North Carolina's water quality.

After major flooding and hurricanes in 1995-96, North Carolina received federal grants to clear fallen trees and woody debris clogging rivers and streams, to prevent future flooding. The DENR report admitted this factor made it impossible to blame hog farms for the decreases in biological indicators in the regional waters:

“Zealous pursuit of this goal often totally cleared all woody material from the stream, material that is a critical habitat for both fish and invertebrates. For some streams, heavy machinery was used along the banks. ... It is difficult to separate out the effects of de-snagging in these streams from the potential impact of increased numbers of hog farms within the same area.”
...
The data clearly show the water quality within and downstream of the hog farming areas is as good now as it was before the hog industry expansion. Despite a tenfold increase in the hog populations, there has been no increase in nutrient concentrations, no reduction in dissolved oxygen levels, and no increase in sediment loads.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't care if hog farms aren't an overall threat to NC waters. I still don't want the waste lagoons overflowing during floods and adding their oh-so-delicately-named "sediment load" to the state's watersheds. Prevent that from happening, and Smithfield Foods can build all the hog farms it wants.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Remember, A True Gourmand Can Burp The ABCs After Each Course

Preach on, Brother.

"Beer is a much more complex and diverse beverage than wine. At its simplest, each grape is its own winery possessing everything necessary to make wine, whereas a brewer has a cornucopia of malt and hop combinations, along with traditional flavouring agents, to choose from when concocting a recipe. This means that there are endless permutations and variations in beer."

Postscript: Here's an article on pairing beer with cheese, but it's damn hard to read. The author appears not to believe in indentation.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An Old Hickory

A 4 pound, 1 ounce hickory shad caught in a Neuse river tributary has finally been listed as a state record, though there were a few bumps on the road to that recognition.

The problem was that the fish was so large that no one was sure it was a hickory shad.

Positive identification of record-breaking fish often can be a collaborative effort among agencies. That was the case with the Maroules catch.

While fisheries biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission tentatively identified the fish as a hickory shad, it was sent to Wayne Starnes, research curator of fishes for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, to confirm identification.

The second confirmation was needed because the fish had grown so large that it had lost some of identifying characteristics, said Bob Barwick, a Commission fisheries biologist.

''Many record-sized fish often do not resemble their smaller counterparts and identifying these fish can be somewhat difficult, even for trained biologists,'' Barwick said.

Excellent. Next 18 inch puppy drum I catch is getting turned in as a record-breaking croaker.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Beer: It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

It's also a resume enhancer.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's How I Hooked The Wife, As I Recall

Fishing the carolina-rigged floating worm.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Rivers Lazarus

One of the scarier predictions for the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel was that the fish populations in the Chowan and Roanoke rivers would be devastated.

Turns out the predicted death of those two rivers didn't come about after all.

I guess I'm not as smart as I think I am, particularly when I start trying to outthink Mother Nature. I hope everyone will accept my apology.

I printed what I was told, and that's not acceptable, even if my source was a fisheries biologist. I should have known better, particularly after what has been said about the Neuse River in the past. Believe me, it will not happen to me again. At least the conclusion was good

Wrong prediction or no, it takes a man to go back and apologize for something probably he only remembers in the first place.

You won't catch me doing it.

Postscript: The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is planning on stocking the Roanoke and Chowan rivers with bass anyway, just in case all those fish caught over the weekend happened to be all the fish there were.

Number of subadult bass to be released: 30,000
Cost: $2 each, though 6000 destined for the Roanoke have been paid for by the Bass Pro Shops.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Need One Of These About Fifty Yards Off The Bight At Ocracoke

South Carolina is creating two inshore artificial reefs in Winyah Bay, just south of Myrtle Beach, in an effort to improve recreational fishing in the area.

The reefs will consist of 120 two-foot high concrete habitat modules coated with oyster shells in order to simulate natural development of an intertidal oyster reef. The reef units will encircle the permanent yellow marker buoys that were placed in the center of each reef site. The SCDNR will monitor these sites to determine if this type of reef is an effective method to improve recreational fishing.

I wonder if they'll do the monitoring via fish cam. Bound to be cheaper than sampling via a boat, though I suspect a boat trip would be a lot more fun.

Postscript: Note how the money for the reefs was raised.

"The program would not be possible without funding and support from the Saltwater Recreational Fishing License Program. These funds ultimately come from recreational fishermen who purchase a saltwater fishing license each year," said Robert Boyles, SCDNR's Deputy Director for the Marine Resources Division. "There will be an increased focus over the next two years on the enhancement of inshore habitat that is easily accessible by small boat anglers."

Posted by Bigwig at 10:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Southern Discomfort

Southern flounder stocks are in decline all over the Gulf of Mexico--so much so that Texas may resort to hatcheries as a means of restocking the sepcies. This is occuring while the speckled trout and red drum populations are on the increase, so no one is really sure why the southern flounder population is in trouble. Much of the blame is laid on shrimp trawler bycatch, however.

Statistics show that in Texas recreational and commercial fisher take a combined catch of approximately 600,000 fish per year. Flounder bykill by trawlers exceeds this number by several million fish minimum according to TPWD data.

Reports on the status of the Atlantic populations are harder to come by, but what I can find implies that those stocks are also in decline. This 2002 report by NC Fisheries says that the species is overfished, though it can't help bragging just a little, as well.

North Carolina is the southernmost range for summer flounder and the northernmost range for southern flounder - we are the only state that has to develop management strategies for two separate and distinct flounder populations that co-exist in the same waters.

Take that, single flounder states!

Posted by Bigwig at 09:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2004

Dressed To A T

Pop The Cap, the organization attempting to amend NC's antiquated beer laws so as to allow the sale of higher strength beers in the state, is raising money for the challenge by selling T-shirts.

When it comes time for the next brew festival, be a beer geek's beer geek and show up in one.

You can wear it with your hat.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Tautog Tautology: Hard To Catch, Difficult To Land

Why tautog are so tough to catch.

Despite their size, tautog merely nibble at your bait, thereby making them nearly impossible to detect at the end of your line. This is one of the few species of fish that can actually chew a chunk of crab from a hook and not move anything other than its jaws.

Other fish will grab a piece of bait and rip it apart with a side-to-side, head-shaking motion, thereby making a strike easily detectable. Consequently, in order to catch a tautog, you must keep the boat as still as possible and position it directly over the wreck or rocks where you are fishing.

More on how to land the tricky tautog here.

Tautogs' dietary preferences vary considerably, but they tend to favor small crabs and blue mussels. Nedelka says he has had the most success with a combination of live crab, frozen sand fleas and frozen surf clam.

He rigs his lines with a single bottom rig armed with a 3/0 hook and weighted with a sinker of 6 to 8 ounces. For a hook, Nedelka prefers a black, short-shank hook with a slight offset, which doesn't snag on the wreck as larger hooks do.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flounder, But No Otter Or Boon

The Outer Banks Sentinel mentions the lesser known Southern flounder in an article on the new NC flounder limits*.

We have two major species of flounder that co-exist in Tar Heel waters--summer and southern flounder--and each have their own management strategies," said Pate. "It is difficult to tell the two species apart, true identification can only be made by counting the gill rakers of the fish."

Southern flounder are generally found in sounds and rivers and in the near shore ocean waters along the southern portion of the coast and is managed by the state Marine Fisheries Commission and the DMF. A fishery management plan is in the final stages of development for southern founder to help rebuild this overfished stock.

Summer Flounder: 5 or 6 gill rakers on the upper limb of the first arch and 11 to 21 on the lower limb.

Southern Flounder: Less than that. Gosh, thanks Field & Stream. Actual numbers are 2 to 3 gill rakers on the upper limb of the first arch and 8 to 11 lower gill rakers on the lower limb.

*Which devoted FDS readers already knew about. The rest of you need to pick up the pace.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'll Have Another Helping Of The Kansas Pompano, Maw

Pompano, Sea Bass and Flounder look to be joining the big mouth buffalo fish as upcoming stars on the aquaculture circuit.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bet They'll Taste Dandy Mixed Up With Some Diet Coke

The Macallan, which has won four awards so far this year, is offering a chance to win five miniatures of Vintage Macallan whisky* in exchange for giving them all your personal information.

I signed right up.

*worth £977, or $1,776 in real money.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And The Juice Of The Barley For Me…

CtNow reviews barleywines.* Among them; Olde School, from Dogfish Head, and the Brooklyn Brewery's Monster Ale.

*Registration required, but I suffered so you won't have to - just like Jesus. You can log in with guest23/guest23.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Damn Redfish Will Bite Anything As Long As I'm Not The One Throwing It

A Walter Eager fishing report from Florida, which I would normally not note, though Walter pens a pretty fine column for a fishing report.

Except...small rod, 10 pound test, a pompano rig, and some dead shrimp. One fight later--a long one, I would imagine, a 51-inch Red Drum lay gasping on the rocks.

Plus, he confirms that mole crabs and sand fleas are the same thing, and points out the difference between a pompano and a jack crevelle, something we debated at Lookout a couple of years ago.

"Pompano have no teeth," Perry says. "The outer mouth parts are soft, but don't run your fingers along a jack's mouth. You will regret the tooth marks. Also, a jack has bony scutes near the base of the tail, and pompano have a soft tail base."

Postscript: Nice Dolphin, taken from the TCPalm pictures page.

And while we're on the subject of Florida, here's a list of the common species one would expect to catch in inshore waters.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Got Your Heavy Action Rod Right Here, Mister

How to choose a rod, though the emphasis is on bass fishing and tournaments, neither of which appeal to me all that much.

For those to whom it does appeal, Field & Stream has a list of the top 10 baits for catching big bass.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Give One To A Toddler and He'll Happily Chew On It For The Rest Of The Day

A history of the humble-but-deadly plastic worm, including more than one false start.

... it was a metamorphosis that began in 1877 when William Gregg of Missouri patented the first "rubber worm." Gregg's revolutionary lure was seen as nothing more than a novelty, however, and never caught on.

Postscript: Speaking of plastic worms, there's a new Hoodaddy in town. I might buy one based on the name alone.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Musky, As In The Fish, Though I Am Told That The Anglers Are No Bouquet Of Roses Either

The Carolina Rig continues its triumphant march northward, catching on with musky anglers in Ohio.

The Carolina-rigged floating jighead has not exactly revolutionized spring walleye fishing in northwest Ohio’s Maumee and Sandusky rivers, but it certainly has transformed it.

Anglers who fish the popular spring spawning runs increasingly have found that the rig boosts their chances of legally hooking a walleye - that is, hooking it inside the mouth.

And that is the name of the game, since foul-hooked or snagged fish must be released.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Think That I Shall Never See, A Poem Lovely As A Flea

How to hook a Sand Flea.

Looks like a mole crab to me, but that's probably just a difference in nomenclature.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004

What We Need Here Is A Water Taxi

ORV driving rules in the Hatteras National Seashore are changing as a result of the devastation delivered to the dunes by Hurricane Isabel.

White posts will mark the permitted-use area 150 feet landward from the average high tide line or at the remnant dune line. Four different kinds of signs will also indicate where traffic is or is not allowed. All markings are expected to be in place by Wednesday.

“The ORV use areas will not impact how much of the shoreline they can drive along,” said Mary Doll, spokeswoman for the National Park Service Outer Banks Group. “What it may impact in some places is how far from the shoreline they can drive inland.”

Well that's all well and good, but what does this mean?

Breeding and nesting areas at the open sand flats near Oregon, Hatteras and Ocracoke inlets will be outside the use areas. In past seasons, off-road access changed frequently in size, shape, location and time. But now the areas will be closed at all times to vehicle traffic, Doll said.

After one exits South Road on Ocracoke, it's sand flats all the way to the inlet. Does that mean the inlet itself is now off limits? I'm willing to walk that far, but I don't think anyone is willing to carry the beer coolers that far.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fence Post

Harassing furriners and spying on the hippy peaceniks is fine by me, but this time the Department of Homeland Security has gone too far.

"This is the single most famous striper fishing spot in the state of New Jersey," Kelly said.

Which is why the surf-casters are up in arms now that the Coast Guard is taking it away from them.

Over several weeks, the Coast Guard built an extension to an old rusting fence along the perimeter of its station at the northern end of Sandy Hook. More than 1,000 feet of new, 6-foot-high chain-link fence, topped by three strands of barbed wire, extend from the end of the old fence to close to the waterline. The fence bears signs that read, "U.S. Government Property. No Trespassing."

The fence seals off the tip of the hook from not only fishermen but bird-watchers and anyone else who wants to walk along the tip.

The Coast Guard said the fence was required under homeland security measures necessitated by 9/11. It recently received the funding for erecting the fence in compliance with the Maritime Transportation Safety Act.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Poppers: They're Not Just For Gay Sex Anymore

How can you call yourself a man if you aren't aware of the up-to-the-minute thinking on lure selection and retrieval technique?

I start with a medium retrieve then I let the lure fall for a second or two. This technique is very rewarding when using a Fin-s-fish, or any paddle tail. As for color, let trial and error be your guide.

When surf casting from shore, the proper technique will increase your land/miss ratio. Let’s start with my favorite surfcasting lure, the popper.

Poppers, or plugs, not only come in varying shapes and sizes, they also have different action and buoyancy. One of the most common poppers in the area for blues and stripers is the "Atom popper".

The Atom mimics a wounded baitfish on the top of the water and makes a popping sound when pulled through the water. When baitfish are active, this is the lure to use.

An Atom plug is a sinking plug. By reeling at a moderate to fast speed, the plug will come up to top water. After two or three turns of the reel, give the pole a medium jerk and keep reeling. This technique will give that popping sound and keep your lure on top.

Sounds like a lot of work. And what exactly does one do with one's beer while one is busy sinking, jerking and reeling?

This is why I'm a bait fisherman.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Except Now, I Would Wake Up Dead

Back in the glorious days of our singledom, many were the times we bought herbal speed at the convenience store on the corner before heading out to Bub's. The combination of caffeine and alcohol gave a man abuzz that was a wonder to behold, and a joy to possess.

Had to pay for it in the morning of course, but it was worth it, as evidenced by the fact that we did the very same thing come the next weekend.

Now, thanks to the advances of science, one can get an overdose of caffeine and alcohol in one glass. Just order a Black Bull - a Guinness with a can of Red Bull.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ask The Bavarians, If You Don't Believe Me

Jesse Jackson's son Yusef has been selling beer without a license.

He got off on a technicality. Yusef is an Anheuser-Busch distributor--so the product he's selling isn't really beer at all.

No, not really. But a man can dream, can't he?

Posted by Bigwig at 10:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hey Buddy. How'd You Like A Cheap Skin Mount Job?

I bet a four pound Pompano replica would look mighty nice above someone's mantle.

Now if I can just come up with a joke where the phrase "Barvey Wallhanger" makes sense....

Posted by Bigwig at 10:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Big Mouth, And A Large Mouth

Speaking of world record fish, a world record big mouth buffalo fish was caught on Monday.

No, I've never heard of the species either, though they may be the next big thing in fish-farming.

And what was probably a world-record bass was recently caught by a woman fishing from a 13 foot plastic inflatable boat. She missed her chance at everlasting angling fame and the millions that would come with a world record bass when she released the fish after weighing it and taking a picture or two. The International Game Fish Association later rejected her application for a record as being improperly documented.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

1 Fish, 2 Fish, Big Damn Catfish

Cody Mullennix went to the lake armed with a surf rod and 20 pound test. 30 minutes later, he had a world record 121 pound blue catfish.

Which he promptly took to the state aquarium.

Postscript: ESPN has more pictures, and a description of the rig Cody used.

The day went from good to historic when the next big blue inhaled the angler's offering of a three-inch dead shad on an 8/0 circle hook. What came up at line's end looked like it could swallow the 56-pounder.

Posted by Bigwig at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August Busch Would Have Been Beaten To Death Years Ago

How the real brewmasters test their beer.

Brewers had to sit down on beer spilled onto the bench and wait until it dried. If the trousers did not remain stuck to the bench the brew was too weak and the brewer punished with a stick.

Posted by Bigwig at 09:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's The Hat That Makes The Man

Found a fishing hat.

You can get yours here.

Posted by Bigwig at 09:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"O Oysters," Said The Carpenter,"You've Had A Dismal Run!"

North Carolina's oyster harvest has crashed and burned, down over 90% from its high. 1.8 million bushels were taken in 1902. In 2002, the state's oystermen brought a measly 46,000 bushels to dock.

For the most part, pollution is to blame. Oysters are a bellwether species--their decline can be seen as direct measure of increasingly poor water quality.

Todd Miller, executive director of the N.C. Coastal Federation, said that water quality has improved but that more must be done to deal with the loss of wetlands, which filter runoff, and to reduce sediment. "The No. 1 need is to deal with the environmental trends that are causing the state to be inhospitable to oysters -- period," he said.

Dirty water not only means fewer oysters, it means fewer fish. Just as the blue bumper sticker says, "No Wetlands, No Seafood"

Postscripts: A chart of NC oyster harvests since 1972 can be seen here.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Let's Get Small

Practically every state on the Atlantic coast has raised the summer flounder size limit for the coming season. Every state that is, other than North Carolina, which has reduced the size limit for ocean-caught flounder from 15 inches to 14 inches as of March 29th, making the keeper size the same no matter where the fish was caught for the first time in years.

The decreased size limit comes as a result of management tactics that have slowed recreational harvests for the past two years, said Preston Pate, director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

The division estimates that anglers caught 49,000 summer flounder last year, well below North Carolina's 2003 harvest target of 231,000 fish under an interstate management plan. Recreational fishermen harvested 189,480 pounds of flounder in 2002, when there was a 246,000 fish harvest target.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

One Second Mortgage Later, Kevin Became The Proud Owner Of The Entire Shimano Line

Shimano's Calais 100A Baitcasting Reel makes Field & Stream's Best of The Basics. Cabelas has them at $389.99 each.

If that's basic, I'd hate to see advanced.

Postscript: Gene Mueller agrees.

For example, in the current Northern Bass Supply catalog there is an advertisement for Shimano Stella spinning reels that — for even the smallest model that can hold only 110 yards of 6-pound testline — will run $489.99.
Folks, we're talking about a cockamamie spinning reel that is intended to help you catch stocked trout, perch, small bass, crappies, maybe a little old catfish — none of which will "run away" with hundreds of yards of line like a powerful tarpon, bonefish or permit might. No, the aforementioned species tug a little, then lay on their side while you reel them in. So why would Shimano make this reel with 12 ball bearings, waterproof drag system, titanium-coated roller and other such nonsense when you're angling for a fish that a child can hand-line in without any problem?
One other thing, Shimano, if you ever hope to get me to spend $489.99 for a light-use spinning reel, don't you dare tell me that the body of the reel is made of aluminum. For shame. For that kind of money, I believe silver or gold-plated metal would be appropriate.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 24, 2004

"We Have Three Faucets In Our House: Hot Water, Cold Water, and Shiner Beer."

There's a new brew in Shiner, and it's got its own movie.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

With Apologies To Cat Stevens, But Yusuf Islam Can Go Screw Himself

Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun

Oh I've been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be, some day it's going to come

Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a Beer train.

And on that beer train, a rare site indeed--the honest journalist.

“So how’s the column coming?” he says. “I don’t know,” I reply, “I’m kinda drunk now,”

Posted by Bigwig at 11:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Breakfast Of Champions

A vanilla ice cream stout beer float.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

He Was Of Course Referring To That Great Scottish Distillery, Bushmills

There's aye sorrow at somebody's door! The leader of the Scottish National Party has gone and spelled whisky with an "e."

They'll be returning the Stone of Scone to England next, and filming the next edition of The Malt Project in Tennessee.

Postscript: The whisky tax mentioned above passed, which means two things for the American market.

1.) The tax will hit the smaller producers the hardest. Some may even go out of business altogether.

2.) Higher prices on every bottle of Scotch brought into the country

Put those together and there's only one result--less variety to pick from at the liquor store.

So buy now, while it's relatively cheap.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

For Extra Credit, Tell Me Who Sang "Mercury Poisoning" Without Googling It First

The fish species with the highest concentrations of mercury: bowfin, pickerel, largemouth bass, walleye, spotted bass, pike, king mackerel, shark, tilefish, bluefish, croaker, swordfish and some salmon.
...
Adult men and non-nursing women who will not become pregnant can usually have three-to-four meals per month of blue-fin and yellow-fin tuna, lobster, perch, catfish, trout and smelt; two-to-three meals per month of canned tuna, grouper, oysters, bass and sunfish; two meals per month of orange roughy, croaker, and one or two meals per month of salmon, bowfin and pickerel although recommendations vary slightly among environmental agencies.

I didn't realize people ate bowfin--it appears to be a singularly unappetizing fish to my eye. People will start eating gar next.

Postscript: Found a recipe, just to make sure people actually do eat them--Bowfin Boulets.

Sounds Cajun, which is hardly surprising. Everyone knows cajuns will eat anything.

Two Cajuns are sittin' out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night sippin' whiskey, when they see a bright object descend from the sky. "Boudreaux, wot dat?" "I don know, Pierre." The object lands, a hatch slowly lowers onto the ground, and a strange alien creature makes its way down the gangway. "Well look at dat, Boudreaux!" "Pierre, wot is dat?" "I don know, Boudreaux, but you betta start the roux."

Posted by Bigwig at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spinnin' Reel, Got To Go 'Round

Elderly spinning reels and the heartbreak of premature bail failure.

Posted by Bigwig at 09:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Snook Took

A 40 pound Snook, caught off a dock with ten pound test.

No, I don't know what a snook is either--it's not an NC fish.

Field & Stream does, though.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bring On The Dingbatters

If there's a fishing regulation under consideration, it's always easy to find someone who thinks the stock it regulates would be better off without it.

Case in point, the proposed new NC crabbing plans.

The draft plan recommends that the state deal with social and economic conflicts between the crab pot industry and other water users by implementing a crab pot permit and tagging system.

The proposal calls for limiting the number of crab pots fishermen can use to 500 per commercial fishing license (recreational fishermen would not be affected by the proposal). But fishermen would only be allowed to set 350 pots per license in the Pamlico, Pungo, Bay and Neuse rivers and their tributaries and 250 pots per license in Core and Bogue sounds, the White Oak River and all coastal waters south of the White Oak River.

The state expects to reduce the number of crab pots in the water by 93,000 with this method. But while the state maintains a pot limit would not likely reduce the overall crab catch, it could reduce individual catches.

...

Almost all the fishermen who spoke said they would rather there not be a pot limit at all, and they criticized the proposed permit system that would cost a license-holder 20-cents per tag ($100 per year for 500 pots).

Been almost a whole day since I posted a crab-pot article--was getting a little antsy.

Here's a map of the Outer Banks that shows the two biggest areas of blue crab habitat in NC, the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds--together they're more than twice the size of all the waters in the article above put together.

They're also much less traveled. In the summer it's hard to swing a dead cat in the Core or Bogue Sounds without hitting another boat, whereas the Pamlico and Albemarle are practically as desolate as the surface of the moon in comparison.

Crabbers are important, but when it comes right down to it, they don't have the same economic impact as tourists do. It a strict money clash between crabbers and dingbatters, the crabbers should lose every time.

Besides, if it came right down to it, which would you prefer on your plate--a crab that's been dining on whatever hundreds of people have tossed or excreted over the side of a boat all day long, or one without quite so much contact with the offal of civilization?

Update: This story leads me to feel somewhat more sympathetic to the crabbers--it paints the tagging limits as more of a struggle between individual crabbers and larger commercial concerns.

Of course, if the larger companies can deliver crabs to market more cheaply, then the small crabbers are still screwed.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Buddy, Can You Spare Thirty Thousand Dimes?

I would do the Scotch Festival at Pinehurst in a flat second--had I the $1000.

And a golf game that wouldn't get me laughed off the course. I suspect I'd have to spend at least another $1000 just to get my game to the point where I felt comfortable taking it to Pinehurst.

And another $1000 on clothes--can't have the caddies looking down their noses at me, you know, and the $80 belt is starting to look a bit ragged.

Not to mention I think you're supposed to tip caddies. Christ, this is getting expensive even for my imagination.

Postscript: The N&O article that initially brought the festival to my attention.

Scotch whisky connoisseur John D. Reading will lead several tastings. Speaking by phone from his home along the 14th fairway in GlenLakes Golf and Country Club in Brooksville, Fla., Reading said he's been drinking scotch for about 50 years. Reading, 72, has a scotch collection of more than 400 bottles, and those aren't even for drinking. He has a different, drinking collection of more than 60 bottles.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'd Vote For Him

The hell with getting Daddy's buddies on the Supreme Court to appoint you to office--this is how a real politician gets elected.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's A Fine Pointer You Got There, Mister

Miller Beer: Hooray, the public is abandoning our brand at a slightly slower rate!

Miller has embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign in the US, placing particular emphasis on Miller Lite, which is aimed at health-conscious consumers.

Consumers like this fine gentleman, for instance.

Presumably the 40s are for the real health nuts.

Myself, I think they need to abandon the health-conscious angle and go more for the "It'll make your dog sniff a girl's ass" crowd.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Worst Thing About The Batter-Fried Chlorinated Pesticides Is That The Portions Aren't Big Enough

Delaware's Division of Fish and Wildlife will likely set the minimum size for a keeper summer flounder at 17.5 inches again this year. The usual suspects are unhappy.

But David Russell, owner of Russell's Charter Fishing in Bowers Beach, says that the 171/2-inch requirement means many catches are wasted.

Such large catches aren't as common and unhooking and tossing back the smaller ones that don't measure up likely results in the death of a lot of fish, he said.

That argument boils down to "If you let us keep the smaller ones, then they won't die, at least not until we clean them."

"If they want to replenish the flounder in the Delaware Bay, they're doing it the wrong way," Mr. Russell said.

When neighboring states set smaller size limits, customers go where they'll catch fish, he said.

"It's hurting my business," Mr. Russell said.

Hmmm.. Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay. Now, where have I heard that before?

Oh, that's right, it's the incredibly polluted place where people have been warned not to eat the fish from.

You don't suppose two-state government warnings about the cancer causing effects of PCBs have anything to do with David Russell's declining business, do you?

Nah. It's gotta be the size limits.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2004

I'll Have A Peanut Butter And Hair Of The Dog That Bit Me Sandwich, Please

Ever tried to spread beer on your morning toast, only to create a soggy mess that fell apart before it ever reached your mouth?

I know I have.

Many are the morns I spent taking the Lord's name in vain because I couldn't get the Natural Light flavor I craved served to me on a piping hot slice of toast.

Beer with the taste for food, my ass.

But I shall wander in the wilderness, no more, thanks to beer jam.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Barleywine

The word "Drinking"is up there too, isn't it? At least a version of it is.

Very well, then. Here's a real short Barleywine article--big on generalities, but a decent overview of what a barleywine is, at least. The Avery Hog Heaven* that made last year's Ocracoke trip is a barleywine, but doesn't get a mention.

*very hoppy, as I recall, which turned some off

Posted by Bigwig at 11:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crab Dips

Maryland's solution to shrinking blue crab numbers? Why, expand the number of ways commercial fisherman can take them, of course!

The DNR, which appears to be on a misguided mission to provide an income for commercial fishermen in the state, says the taking of hard crabs from fish nets instead of the traditionally accepted crab pots or trotlines is expected to create a positive but undeterminable economic benefit for the watermen and for crab processors.
What are they thinking up there in Annapolis?
Here's what bothers me: No biologist disagrees that the pressure on the Chesapeake Bay's crabs remains super high and that supplies remain very low. So why would the DNR want to increase the removal of crabs? If anything, shouldn't they decrease it?

And those poor fisherman need not bother with reporting the size of their catch with the proper authorities. Too much red tape, don't you know.

Rightly, the CCA/MD is upset about the whole deal, including the fact that the watermen would not have to report how many crabs they catch in various nets, or where such nets are located.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mississippi Pot Eradication

Crab pot removal program stories are obviously becoming the Lay's potato chip of the Internet for me--I can't stop at just one.

Mississippi joins NC and Texas, and the state is looking for voluneers to help.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2004

Yet More Pot News

Turns out that North Carolina has a crab pot removal program after all---it's just that the only people allowed to remove them are Marine Patrol officers--not volunteers, as in the case in Texas.

Some action shots of the program are here--scroll down.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fins To The Left

The NC recreational shark regs have been tweaked.

Under the proclamation, the possession of any shark species, except smooth dogfish and spiny dogfish, is limited to one shark per vessel per day, for vessels other than charter boats and head boats. The possession limit for those vessels is one shark per person, excluding the captain and crew. If no vessel is involved, the possession limit is one shark per person per day.

The possession of all sharks, except Atlantic sharpnose, smooth dogfish and spiny dogfish must be a minimum of 54 inches in fork length. The possession of all sharks, except for tiger, thresher, bigeye thresher, shortfin mako and hammerhead species, greater than 84 inches fork length is prohibited. Any shark retained must have head, tail and fins intact with the carcass through the point of landing. All sharks not retained must be returned to the water in a manner in ensure the highest livelihood of survival. Possession of basking, white, sand tiger and whale sharks is prohibited in state waters.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mmmm, Batter-Fried Chlorinated Pesticides

Another reason to discard the dark meat from a bluefish--it's where all the PCBs end up.

More on the New Jersey/Delaware advisory here. Restricting just fish taken from the Delaware River and Bay seems like a Band-Aid at best. Every angler knows that bluefish and stripers move up and down the East Coast all year long. What's to keep a fish feeding in the Delaware Bay in September from being caught at Cape Point two months later?

Posted by Bigwig at 09:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'll Keep Mine Beside The Worm Farm

Just the thing for the fisherman who wants to get divorced--A Home Live-Eel Well.

Posted by Bigwig at 09:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Missed Another One

Another striper run, that is.

On Tuesday, the stripers again came in to the north beaches of Oregon Inlet, but this time there were some anglers waiting for them. One angler caught 12 stripers in 45 minutes and said for a 15-minute period, waves were washing stripers onto the beach along with the Menhaden they were feeding on.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Headcounting

I found this interesting in light of our possible housing arrangements.

In another matter, Wayne Clark, a member of the Ocracoke Planning Board, told the commissioners that his group was concerned about the overcrowding of rental cottages on the island.

One resident asked that the county hire an inspector to check on the number of occupants in such cottages during the height of the tourist season.

No action was taken on the request.

Posted by Bigwig at 02:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Let Me Think--How Many Times Did I Pee Into Gatlin Creek?

Are hatcheries the best way to protect a threatened fish species, or should more effort be concentrated on restoring estuarine health?

The creeks play an important role in producing game fish, and Adams thinks they need better protection.

"If you were the manager of a factory, you'd want all of your machines working properly," he said.

"Well, these creeks are the factories where so many of our game fish are produced, and if we keep them healthy, they'll produce all the fish we need. Why spend millions of dollars on fish hatcheries when nature will do the same thing for you for free?"

Posted by Bigwig at 01:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Drum Tracking

Water Temps are just over 58 degrees in Charleston, and the Red Drum are schooling off Parris Island

According to the latest temp map, the waters off Charleston are about 6 degrees warmer than north of there--though the occasional drum is still being caught. But the warmer waters seem to be moving in, as well. April might be a pretty good month to be down at the coast.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Pot News

Another affect of Texas's abandoned crab pot removal program--Red Drum and Speckled Trout populations are on the increase. Blue Crab numbers are also on the rise.

The abandoned a wire mesh cages continue to kill crabs, fish and other aquatic life as long as they are on the ocean floor. Additionally, the traps can be a hazard to navigation, foul shrimpers' nets and snag fishermens' lines.

Until the 77th Legislature created the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap's owner or a TPWD game warden could legally remove an abandoned crab trap.

Somebody ought to bend CCA-NC's ear about trying this here.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MenHating It

Menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay are on the decline, though no one seems to know why.

"We don't quite know what's going on," said Matthew Cieri, a biologist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Cieri said there is a problem in the bay with recruitment - the number of fish added to the stock each year because of growth and migration into the area. "But we're not certain why that's happening."

If true, this doesn't bode well for the winter Striper fishing on the Outer Banks, which according to the Red Bible, mostly come from the Bay.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It'll Keep You on The Edge of Your Seat

A history of the wide-frame casting reel and its various usages.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stripers biting in Raleigh

I went fishing last weekend. A good friend of mine has a company that builds, maintains & STOCKS ponds and lakes. We went to a private pond about the size of CDL's swimmin' hole. Stocked with largemouth and stripers. These fish are also WELL FED with shiners & minnows. I caught a dozen stripers and largemouths. Largest striper went about 5 pounds. Average was about 3 lbs. All were caught on fin-s grubs with light tackle. Great fun! Plan on going back in a few weeks with fly rod and top water action as the water warms up. Nice way to spend an hour. Great fights with the light tackle trout rod! Only thing missing was 25 degree nights with 25 knot winds and getting taped to a chair! Wish you all could have been here. Nice way to tune the tackle and get the "kinks" out.

Posted by Mason at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2004

Them's Good Eatin'

Myrtle Beache's snot grass season opens soon.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flat Wrong?

It's a trend! Maryland has also revised the state's flounder regs for the summer.

In a nutshell, anglers were asked to choose between being able to keep less fish of a smaller size, or more fish of a larger size. After the public comment period was over, DNR sifted through the responses and settled on one option that was apparently heavily favored by recreational anglers. Most fishermen asked for the combination of a 16-inch size limit with a three-fish bag limit.

Meanwhile, there's a petition before the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to adjust the allocation of summer flounder in that area. Currently 1,400 commercial fishermen are allocated 60% of the catch, while the estimated 3 million recreational fishermen get only 40%. Commercial fishermen are also alowed to keep the 14 inch flatfish they catch, whereas the recreational fishermen have to throw theirs back.

The justification for that abuse of the public interest was use of figures from the 1980s to set the allocation. That was when large trawlers devastated wintering fluke stocks along the edge of the continental shelf, leaving little to come inshore, where they spread out and became a difficult target for anglers. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimated the recreational fluke catch in 1970 was seven times the commercial landings, but after those trawlers slaughtered the concentrated wintering fish, the catch figures during the 1980s turned around.

Fishery managers then used those figures as the "best available science" to reward the very people who had created the problem with 60 percent of the fishery while leaving the public with the responsibility to conserve what they weren't responsible for destroying. Netters currently not only get 60 percent, but are also allowed to market the 14-inch fluke that anglers must return. Catching keepers at a 16 1/2-inch minimum has proven difficult for the average fisherman, and it has just about driven shore anglers out of the fishery, though we're relatively fortunate, as some states have had minimums up to 18 inches.

Adoption of the change in allocation is not expected.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2004

The Foghorn

"You hear that, boy? That throbbing, coming over the water like the heartbeat of a whale, or the call of a bullfrog the size of a steam engine? It's the drum, boy. The black drum, down there in the deep. When the night comes, they all gather round and tell tales of the day.

The Black Drum....they're talking."

Update: The story has since vanished. Google's cache of it can be seen here.

Posted by Bigwig at 07:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ghost Fishing

The hell with rods and reels. This year let's just throw out some crabpots, then pick out our catch in October of 2005.

The trap, lost or abandoned so long ago its frame was crusted with barnacles and oysters, held seven toadfish, nine sheepshead, six gray snapper, four black drum and three spadefish.

That's a dinner or two right there, and you gotta admit--it leaves us more time for drinking.

Posted by Bigwig at 12:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Virginia's Floundering Flounders

Following New York's lead, Virgina is now considering a closed season for Summer flounder. Guides and baitshops are fighting the proposed new regs, of which there are a dizzying variety.

One option is to keep the regulations at the 2003 level -- a 17.5-inch minimum and a daily bag limit of eight fish. A second option is 17 inches and eight fish. Neither of those options involve a closed season after the March 29 opening.

The remaining options all have a 16.5-inch minimum with a variety of bag limits and closed seasons. Those limits and closures are: eight fish and 23 days; seven fish and 23 days; six fish and 22 days; five fish and 19 days;. four fish and 15 days; and three fish and eight days.

The charter boat industry, unsurprisingly, wants not only no closed season, but the keeper size reduced as well.

Donna Roeske, who has operated Capt. Bob's Marina on Chincoteague for the past nine years, is also urging the VMRC to reduce the minimum-size limit.

"We're looking at nothing but throwbacks with a 17.5-inch limit," she said. "We had our worst season since I've been running this business. I've got loyal customers who are saying they can't keep coming if they have to throw back virtually every fish they catch."

It would seem to me, that the fact that people aren't catching flounder above 17.5 inches is a graphic illustration of exactly how much danger Virginia's flatfish population is in. The whole point of the reg is that flounder are in trouble. Reducing the keeper size will only endanger the species even more.

The fact that closed seasons for flounder seem to be marching south is troublesome in and of itself. Is NC next?

Posted by Bigwig at 11:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 16, 2004

Pastoral Writing Comes To The Shore

An paean to a doormat Flounder.

I like how they practiced, myself.

Home, in our suburban yard, we had further prepared by endlessly casting one-ounce, pear-shaped rubber plugs we acquired at the Philadelphia Sportsman’s Show. We cast at a spare tire positioned just shy of an overgrown yew, firing away from the gravel driveway. We adopted the offhand demeanor, upright stance and succinct arm motion of the pro we’d watched carefully; and we held contest after contest using our own complicated scoring system.

These competitions usually evolved into taking ever-greater risks with respect to distance, obstacles and odd stances, and the greatest degree of difficulty was the Fence Cast. It involved standing shakily atop a four-foot cast-iron fence, ankles locked in the fence’s decorative circular top and casting hard (for the extra distance required) and sidearm (to avoid the silver maple branches overhead). No recollection of that yard is complete without the picture of a white rubber plug dangling from two or three yards of black nylon line snarled around a telephone wire. Many years later, when Jack or I might have something particularly difficult to accomplish in our adult lives, we could simply explain it to each other as, “… you know, it’s a Fence Cast.”

Coming Soon, A Sonnet To the Oyster Toadfish.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Yes, But How Do You Carolina-Rig One?

The Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture is considering a proposal to genetically manipulate North Carolina's oysters.

"What does this have to do with fishing?" I hear Kevin shrieking.

Well, cleaner water makes for more and healthier fish, for one.

The oyster feeds by pumping water through its body and filtering out its food (mostly algae and detritus—decaying plant material). This is called filter feeding. A healthy market-size oyster can filter approximately 50 gallons of water a day. At the height of the industry in the Chesapeake Bay, the oysters could filter the entire Bay in three-four days! Also, a natural oyster bed provides habitat—shelter and food—for a community that includes many other organisms: plants, crabs, worms, fish, etc.

Not to mention the pelthora of species, including drum, that feed on them.

The spat or larvae are very vulnerable and are eaten by a wide variety of fish and invertebrates. Larger oysters may be eaten by crabs, fish (oyster toadfish, rays, skates, drum), starfish, worms, or birds (oystercatchers).

So there.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Little Song

Fish Heads, Fish Heads
Roly-poly Fish Heads
Fish Heads, Fish Heads
Eat them up, yum.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

Science For The Common Man

Scientists have finally gotten around to proving what drinkers have been tell them for years. Guinness bubbles really do sink.

Next on the list--why it makes the opposite sex more attractive.

Posted by Bigwig at 05:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 12, 2004

Uisge Beatha

Slate reviews Scotches, or whisky, as the Oxymoronic Scotsman would say. They agree with him, btw. The reviewer mentions Talisker, "smelled like a slab of smoked herring left overnight on the counter of a warm kitchen," Laphroaig, "smoke and seaweed and something overpoweringly medicinal, like hospital bandages. It smells like someone being treated for burns beside a smoldering building. Next to a bog. Across from an open-air fish market.", and Ardbeg 10, "one of the world's reekiest drams" among others.

Those are all positive reviews above, mind you

Posted by Bigwig at 03:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 11, 2004

Why Yes, I Will Prostitute Myself

And for such a small price, to boot. Grolsch is giving away free bottle openers, though God only knows what they'll do with the information you have to give them to get one.

Well, I suppose I'll find out.

Posted by Bigwig at 09:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Knott Gonna Do It

There's new NC ferry starting service this summer--Corolla to Currituck, though technically it's Currituck to Knott's Island.

Never fished the northern banks- don't know anyone who has, really. Too hard to get there from here when Ocracoke and Hatteras are closer. Not sure of the fishing there anyway--Knott's Island requires a license, which implies that freshwater fishing is a bigger pursuit there than saltwater. I suppose all the water shown in this map could be fresh, but it looks like it would at the very least qualify as brackish to me.

Posted by Bigwig at 10:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

Next Year--Topsail!

North Carolina Game & Fish has published a 2004 fishing calendar featuring 36 Great North Carolina Fishing Trips!

Ocracoke is nowhere to be found, in any month. Neither is Cape Point, or Cape Lookout. The fishing nirvana that is Topsail Beach gets a mention, though.

I get the feeling this mag ain't published in state.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Speck fishing

Speckled trout in Texas escaped the freeze that decimated the NC populations this year. Interestingly, anglers there have noticed a difference in the type of bottom specks prefer, based on the temperature.

More delicate than redfish, speckled trout go through a transition of sorts this time of year from mud to sand bottom. Not quite ready to commit either way, trout ease toward the slightly warmer tide over dark-colored mud on cooler days and find their way to light-colored sand during warmer spells.

It suggests that if you try for specks in the spring, you might want to stay closer to the marshes on the sound side.

Not that there will be many there, thanks to our weather. Florida appears to be having problems as well, having had to close the month of February for speck fishing.

Posted by Bigwig at 01:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 09, 2004

Beer Me

To hell with the ACC. From now on, I'm going to pull for a team that represents MY interests, The Taiwan Beer.

And I'll be able to keep my viewing thematically correct, enjoying the Taiwan Beer while enjoying a Taiwan Beer

Posted by Bigwig at 04:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Theme Song

I've found us a theme song.

Forgot what it's like
Like swimming, like sex, like taking a bang ??
Like fist fight
Think it's time got stinking drunk
Think it's time
Been so long
Who brought me to this?
Been so long
Forgot what it's like
Like fighting, like sex, like taking a bang ??
Think it's time got stinking drunk
Think it's time
You shut up!
Go!
Get drunk, get drunk, get drunk
Get drunk, get drunk, get drunk
Get drunk, get drunk, get drunk
Get drunk, get drunk, get drunk
Get drunk, get drunk, stinking drunk

The above is courtesy of Big Black, the group that gave us that stellar album, Songs About Fucking

Posted by Bigwig at 04:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Joisey Fishing

New Jersey is on the verge of losing a striper a day from the bag limit.

When scientists became concerned several years ago about too many large stripers being taken, New Jersey responded by changing from the coastal standard of two at 28 inches to one at that size plus the slot. The justification for taking a smaller bass was our status as a producer state, based on spawning runs in the Hudson and Delaware rivers.

The Chesapeake states have had a 20-inch minimum, which they reduce to 18 inches by giving up some quota, due to their producer area status -- a concept that was dropped following approval of Amendment 6, though the Chesapeake states got an exemption for the same minimum while New Jersey's slot was disapproved.

Yes, I know we don't care what happens up in Jersey, but it's an indication that the striper population is still under pressure, and that may indeed affect us one day.

Which raises the question--Since most people agree that stripers arethought to be having a hell of a rebound, why is New Jersey losing it's slot? What pressures are still being brough to bear on the Stripers?

One word: Bycatch

Between 1.4 million and 2.4 million pounds of striped bass were caught unintentionally and discarded in the Northeast trawl fishery between May 2002 and April 2003, according to an analysis by the environmental group Oceana.

Posted by Bigwig at 04:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MPA's

MPA's and the advantages of a salt-water license, in Field & Steam

Whereas saltwater anglers in California have been licensed by their state since 1934 and are more accustomed to restrictions, recreational fishermen in the Atlantic have been required to buy licenses in Southern states only during the past decade or so, and north of Delaware Bay, anglers still fish for free.

As a result, Atlantic fishes are managed primarily—if not exclusively—for license-buying commercial fishermen. Recreational fishermen get the leftovers. By contrast, fee-paying Pacific sportsmen get first choice on a number of species.

A case in point is the striped bass. Despite its first being introduced to the Pacific in 1886, it has been protected there as a gamefish longer and better than in its native Atlantic. Stripers have declined in the West because their brackish-water spawning and nursery grounds have been ruined by onshore development, not because the species has been overfished. In contrast, although stripers in the East still have adequate breeding and nursery grounds, their population collapsed twice in the past century for lack of protection from commercial overkill. We shouldn’t forget that.

Posted by Bigwig at 03:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2004

Just Write A Sonnet Next Time

An overly poetic desciption of red-drum fishing in Louisiana.

Frankly, after a half century on earth my familiarity with redfish was at best scant. To my personal knowledge, the redfish was either the primary ingredient in an over-enthused-upon Cajun dish or one of the protagonists of Dr. Seuss’s One fish two fish red fish blue fish (Yes. Some are red …/ And some are very, very bad). I could read that it was also known as red drum, red bass, spottail bass, channel bass, red horse, bull red if over 10 pounds (and usually found offshore), and puppy drum if under 18 inches. À Français, it was tambour rouge; en Español, corvinón ocelado; in Latin, Sciaenops ocellata. A red drum “drums,” the literature said, by contracting a muscle against its swim bladder. It is a bottom feeder in the most discriminating sense, chasing shrimp, crab and mullet in the shallows, signaling its epicurean pursuits with the hoisted guidon of its ocellated tail. Beyond this I knew it was found in the estuarine waters of southern climes, while I am found in the high arid heart of the West’s plains.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Little warmer than Hatteras, as well

Maybe our winter fishing trip should be in Florida.

Massive schools of 50-pound breeder black drum have invaded the lower end of Boca Ciega Bay, and what an awesome sight they are. At first these huge fish look like giant red drum because of their light coppery appearance. The black bars that appear on juvenile black drum disappear as they mature.

.....

Black drum aren't the only targets right now. Speckled trout fishing has really picked up as the bay has warmed. Motor-oil jigs fished slowly on grass flats in 3 to 4 feet draw many strikes. Live shrimp under a cork also draw strikes, but jigs will outproduce shrimp at least two to one.

Don't forget sheepshead, which will be abundant through spring. They have a generous bag limit of 15 per person a day (12-inch minimum from point of head to rear center of tail). Crabs, oysters, shrimp, barnacles and mussels work.

Or we might want to save enough money to charter a boat.

Then, radios on boats began crackling. Hundreds of sea birds had been spotted wheeling and diving a few hundred yards off the research pier at Duck.

Captain Tillett reached the scene first. And within seconds Wallace was whooping.

Both Kenny and Moriarity hooked and boated "doubles," taking two stripers each simultaneously on rigs with multiple lures, mainly big lead heads trailing either bucktails or plastic twister-tail grubs.

"Incredible!" Wallace exclaimed on returning to the Fishing Center. "The fish hit as fast as we got lures in the water."

We kept limits of two stripers per person to take home as food. Nearly three dozen more fish were caught and released.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Frozen Fish Sticks

Will January's cold snap affect our fishing come October?

Almost certainly it will, especially as regards to Puppy Drum, Specks and Southern Flounder.

At Oden's Dock in Hatteras, Ken Dempsey, an inshore fishing and duck-hunting guide, watched one afternoon as commercial fishermen brought in box after box filled with speckled trout that they'd dip netted after the trout had floated to the surface. The trout had been killed by the invasion of cold water.

Dempsey looked at Scott Caldwell, another inshore guide from Hatteras, and said, "We're going to pay for this later on."

Specks:
"We're just hoping for an average year for 2003," Burns said, not really convinced by the words she was speaking. "I wish I knew the answer, but honestly, we haven't seen very good signs of them."

Burns said that landings for specks were down for most of 2003. A few nice-sized fish began to show up in September, but nothing like the numbers of fish that filled the Pamlico Sound in the mid- to late 1990s, before the first of three winter kills wreaked havoc on the population.

"If I really had to guess, I'd say we're looking at an average to below-average year. We're hoping for an average year - at best. The (NCDMF) guys doing red drum netting caught gobs and gobs of juveniles this summer, but they've got to make it through the winter before they'll have any impact on landings (in 2004). A lot of it depends on whether we have a harsh winter or not.

Red Drum:
Red drum are recovering from some population numbers that gave biologists concern in the late 1990s. They aren't back to full strength yet, despite indications the past several years of excellent populations.

Here again, however, last year's cold snap may play a role in the success that fishermen have this year.

"Red drum fishing should be pretty good," said Paramore. "But we (didn't see) a whole lot of 12- to 14-inch drum. I think a lot of them might have gotten hurt in that cold snap. We're not seeing a lot of the smaller ones - the ones that will be 18 inches this summer when you catch 'em.

"We've got good indications from down south, around Wilmington, but there haven't been many fish in the Pamlico Sound."

Flounder:
"Our last stock assessment on southern flounder is that they are overfished, and we're working on a fishery management plan right now," Waterson said. "We hope it will be done by the end of 2004, and we'll probably have our first creel limits on flounder in 2005.

"Actually, the harvest is a good bit over what we'd like right now. The recruitment is not down; it's running about average - good years and bad years - but we're just overfishing them."

In addition, Waterson said, there was some winter kill of southern flounder last January between the Core Sound and Swansboro - certainly not the extent of the speckled trout kill, but certainly noticeable.

At the very least, we might want to plan on releasing all the flounder and specks we catch this year.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Area News

Five months after Isabel, Swan Quarter is still trashed.

In a region already teetering on the edge of poverty, Swan Quarter, the Hyde County seat, is still reeling from the sucker punch of Hurricane Isabel, which flooded the community with at least 8 feet of water, driving people from their homes and county workers from their offices.

The Pamlico Sound rose so high that it covered stop signs. One waterman reportedly floated his boat to his fish house and stepped off the boat’s deck onto the roof of the building.

The sprawling, red Hyde County Courthouse, originally built in 1830, is nearly vacant today, its ground-level offices stripped of wall boards, rugs and flooring. A portion of the reams of water logged county records that were sent out to be dried have just been returned; more still need to be restored. County employees conduct government business out of trailers and various buildings scattered around Swan Quarter and its outskirts.

Meanwhile, the Hyde County Sheriff wants more deputies and a larger jail.

So--no money for anything, combined with a pressing need for police improvements. I'd be wary of speed traps on the wayn to the Swan Quarter ferry this year at the very least, and we may well see a repeat of the beer and fishing ruckus of last year.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paid Up

I've gotten in enough money to pay for the house--the updated spreadsheet can be seen here.

So far it's eleven people for the first half of the week, and ten for the second, with 15 in the house for the Tuesday hump night. The realty rents roll-a-way beds, so I may bring in a couple of those depending on the situation. I'll decide once the trip is imminent. Tuesday night might be a good night for fishing late, though.

There's $100 in the group kitty right now. I've designated it as bait money. The second hundred will go for groceries. The third will go for beer. Anything after that...I'll decide later.

Saw Tommy yesterday--he's going to Korea for his trip this year, so cries of "Cockpuker Ahoy!" won't be heard until at least the 2005 trips.

Posted by Bigwig at 11:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack