Tag Archives: fishing

Myth & Truth: Bonefish, Sunscreen & Slime


Bonefish with infection from too much slime removed.

An infection brewing from too much slime (mucous) removed. BTT photo.

Two fish displayed evidence of bacterial infection following handling, and both fish were exposed to the zinc sunscreen treatment. Based on these results, anglers should consider avoiding handling of fish with sunscreen-coated hands, as well as with UV gloves.

FlyLife Magazine just published an interesting article outlining a couple interesting experiments done at Bahamas’ Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) wetlab where they tested the effects of sunscreen tinted baits on bonefish feeding behaviour and whether sunscreen (conventional or zinc-based), sun gloves or clean wet hands are better for handling fish.

The results are interesting (and you can read the full account at the link above), but the basics are this:

  1. Sunscreen doesn’t deter or attract bonefish to bait. They are primarily sight feeders, so a refusal is probably because of something off in a presentation, or the fly pattern itself. Don’t blame the sunscreen.
  2. Although conventional sunscreen removed the most slime, zinc-based sunscreen seemed to cause the most damage to the bonefish.
  3. Clean, wet hands are the best for handling fish… so remove those sun gloves first.

I personally love the work Bonefish & Tarpon Trust are doing, and if you care at all about these species, so should you. Give em a click. Read. Join.

Why Size Matters (The One That Got Away)


MinuteEarth presents a compelling case for letting big fish get away.

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Interestingly, and worryingly, the Cayman Islands have no law preventing “harvesting” of fish above a certain size. We do have a law banning the taking of non-baitfish below 8 inches (or maybe 9 inches), which seems to make sense.

However, this highlights another one of those areas where common sense breaks down. Of course it makes sense to protect babies and juveniles, right? Right? Wait. Are there more adults or juveniles? Which can we more afford to lose? Which is actually more important to the survival of the species?

Perhaps there is a little be of anthropomorphization going on here. Our children are sacred to us—they’re about the only thing that is anymore—so we assume all young should be sacred.

Thing is, we only make a few young over our lifetime. About the only human who has come close competing with fish in terms of offspring is possibly Genghis Khan, who might be the ancestor of roughly 8% of all Asian males (and presumably quite a few females too). On the other hand the average 1st World citizen only has 2.06 kids. An adult barracuda, to pick a fish at random, can lay up to 300,000 in a single season. Three-hundred thousand. In a year. From one fish. Correction, from one adult fish. A young female only lays about 5,000 eggs. That’s 60 times less. It’s the difference between having your 2.06 kids and having 123 of them running around the house.

It turns out that, counter-intuitively, the adults of some animal species are the most valuable members of the population. Weird I know, but look at it this way, if you have a minimum size restriction on taking fish and those fish reach adult-hood just in time to breed once or twice before we pop them into a dinner pot, you’d need 30-60 of them to equal what one full-grown adult can reproduce. That’s so crazily different that it’s hard to get our heads around the sheer numbers involved.

Actually, different is exactly the word, because animals (especially fish) are in fact very different from us. It’s the old Disney™ problem again. We want attribute our values and biases to the world around us. Of course we pin our hopes to the young of our species. That’s a classically optimistic human perspective. But  the natural world is one of wondrous variety, and not all animals do it like we do.

It turns out that people are bad at much of this common sense stuff. For example, every reasonable adult and parent will tell their child they need an education in order to make a good living. At the same time statistics show that only 20% of college graduates end up with a career in their field of study. However, I hasten to add that they still make a living, still end up with careers. It’s just that while a university education provided something vital for their career, it wasn’t what they or their parents thought it would be. These are the numbers, the statistics, yet year after year parents and freshmen still make the same erroneous assumption about what they’re spending all that money for.

Or take the example of the example of happiness. Who do you think is happier, a recent paraplegic or a recent lottery winner? That’s right: someone who has no use of their limbs and someone who just got given a pile of money. Who is happier. Take your time. After all, it’s just common sense. Right?

Right. Unless you’ve already seen the video (or are a genius), you guessed wrong. After a year they are both equally happy.

This is why actual science with real data is so vital. Without meaningful numbers we would be left at the mercy of our notoriously useless common sense. It is also why our legislation needs to be driven not purely by the whims of the voting public or by the (already suspect) common sense of our politicians, but by actual research and data.

So, to the Cayman Islands Department of Environment, the data is in. Repeal the current (pointless) law and establish a new one that protects the mature, breeding adults of our marine species, for these are truly the future of our waters.

“We’ve Caught a Fish, Now We Can Leave”


SkiffRepulicLOGO

With a couple of my old clients, I shared the sentiment that if we caught a fish in a location, we could move on and fish somewhere else.   It was always acknowledged with irony, since we knew staying where we were was an easy win.  But we’d also proved our point, and we didn’t want to punish the fish there.  Besides, I was much too anxious to want to see new (and even find) new spots, see how far we could take a little bit of success.

Does that sound counterproductive?  Does that mean we’ll catch fewer fish?

In the short run, yes.   In the long run, definitely not.

~ Marshall Cutchin over at Skiff Republic (unwittingly) weighs in on the DIY debate (in a tangential sort of way).

Tarpon History & Habitat — Dr. Aaron Adams on Pine Isl. FLA.


I’ve just spent the last week with a group of like minded folk in Florida searching (mainly in vain) for tarpon. I was a lot further south than the area mentioned in this video, but it’s just another example of how far this influence of this sportfish has spread throughout the state.

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission vote Tarpon catch-and-release species


Save the TarponThe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted Wednesday to move forward with plans to put an end to “gaff and drag,” PTTS-style fishing by making tarpon a catch-and-release only species. All seven FWC commissioners endorsed the measure.

The commission’s vote paves the way for new regulations governing tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass and throughout the state to take effect in June. The Professional Tarpon Tournament Series opposes the FWC’s plan… (read more here)

Nassau Grouper’s Last Stand


Footage and discussion from Little Cayman and one of the last (fairly) healthy nassau grouper spawning aggregations in the Caribbean.

There’s really good evidence to suggest that when those grouper are spawning out there, the baby grouper that are produced end up back on the Cayman reefs.

After they sold what they could here then they took their catch to Grand Cayman and sold what they could there. The market was glutted and lots of fish went to waste… spoiled.

Grouper are an apex predator on coral reefs… the more of them you have, ultimately the healthier your coral reefs will be.

Witness the Revolution


The sky was filled with thick gray clouds that rolled into each other and glowed white and almost purple on the edges. It was cool and windy and the yellow sugar maple leaves stood out surprised from the deep green hemlocks. Frank was wearing a 12 thick red plaid shirt. He had missed a button so it was crooked. He stepped awkwardly into his olive green waders then strung up his rod…

Inside the Gerald Ford Museum and Library the large audience turned to look out the bank of windows and the cameras swung wildly around and on the phosphorescent analog live color images of the nation’s TV sets Nelson Rockefeller appeared in his translucent white underwear, tied squarely into the back of a twenty pound salmon.

~ Frank’s Inevitable Michigan, By Matthew Dunn
Pulp Fly: Vol. I

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