Friday, April 29, 2011

Mid Atlantic Fracking Controversy

A hot issue in the Mid Atlantic USA is the practice of "fracking". Wikipedia defines Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking") as:

"a process that results in the creation of fractures in rocks. The fracturing is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations to increase the rate and ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas.

"Hydraulic fractures may be natural or man-made and are extended by internal fluid pressure which opens the fracture and causes it to extend through the rock."

One staunch opponent of fracking in the USA, including Mid Atlantic states is Food and Water Watch, a national environmental rights organization.

According to FWW:

"Last week, on the anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout, a fracking well in Bradford County, Pennsylvania had its own blowout, leaking toxic fracking fluid onto nearby farmland and into a local stream. Seven families had to evacuate their homes and the spill caused Chesapeake Energy, the second largest natural gas producer in the country — and the operator of this well — to suspend fracking in the state of Pennsylvania until they can figure out what caused the blowout."

The issue has gotten considerable attention following worldwide disasters such as the 2010 BP Atlantis oil spill and more recently the Nuclear reactor crisis in Japan.


In May, 2011, members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a thorough environmental assessment of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin before allowing a potential 20,000 shale gas wells to be drilled in the area.

source: F&WW

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Mid Atlantic Wildlife

In the Mid Atlantic, the appearance of wildlife is a traditional sign of spring. Birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and other creatures all appear in numbers during the spring season.

Birds are often associated with spring throughout the Mid Atlantic. In the final days of winter, snow geese grow restless along the Atlantic Flyway. As each day grows longer, they become more and more vocal and take to the air relentlessly. Finally, in early spring, flocks of snow geese fill the skies as they move to their seasonal nesting sites.

Another goose, the Canada goose is an icon of spring season in Mid Atlantic states. During early spring, geese separate into pairs and begin nesting. Outdoor enthusiasts often see the gander standing guard near a source of water as the goose is hidden nearby with her clutch of eggs. After the goslings hatch, the family will appear together, feeding and swimming.

Throughout the region, wild turkey sightings are a ritual of spring. In rural areas, male turkeys are seen giving elaborate displays to their prospective mates, with birds often gathering in large flocks. Eventually the flocks disband as the hens incubate their clutches of eggs.

Songbirds are often associated with spring. Robins are a traditional favorite, arriving in large numbers onto suburban lawns. Bluebirds also appear in spring, returning to the same birdhouse year after year. Along woodland streams, warblers suddenly appear, as if released from a box nearby. They feed and sing for a few days, then sometimes disappear just as suddenly. One of the most beloved spring icons is the hummingbird. This tiny bird migrates thousands of miles each spring, appearing just in time to sip from spring flowers.

Cottontail rabbits appear as grass gets deeper. Their numbers seem to increase each day as young rabbits become more curious and their appetites continue non-stop.

Reptiles and amphibians are another sign of spring. Small frogs are heard chirping, even before warm weather becomes consistent. As lily pads emerge and ponds come to life, bullfrogs are seen and heard.

To anglers, freshwater fish signal the spring season. First come yellow perch and white perch, then hickory shad and river herring. As the spring season progresses, the number of fish species increases dramatically.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Chesapeake Bay Crab Survey

The states of Maryland and Virginia have released results of the 2011 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey.

The study found that the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is above the target for the third year in a row. Overall crab abundance declined due to cold winter weather that killed as many as 31 percent of Maryland’s adult crabs, compared to about 11 percent in 2010.

The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is estimated to be 460 million crabs, nearly double the record low of 249 million in 2007. During 2010, Chesapeake Bay watermen harvested more than 89 million pounds of blue crabs.

According to the survey, 254 million adult crabs survived the bitter cold winter in the Chesapeake, above the current population target for the third year in a row. This marks the first time since the early 1990s that the Bay has seen three consecutive years with the adult population was above the target (200 million crabs) and the harvest was below the target of 46 percent.

According to VMRC, estimates of abundance are developed separately for young of the year crabs, mature female crabs, and adult male crabs. The primary assessment of the Bay’s blue crab population is conducted annually by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring Yellow Perch Fishing Techniques

Throughout the Mid Atlantic, anglers are seeing a resurgence of yellow perch, with the 2011 Spring season being one of the best in decades. After years of low populations, these colorful fish appear to be making a strong comeback.

Yellow perch are caught using a variety of live and cut baits as well as artificial lures. In many areas, live minnows are preferred as bait for yellow perch. Other popular baits include nightcrawlers, bloodworms, or grass shrimp.

A relatively new bait for catching yellow perch are the many synthetic baits that have become popular. These baits do not need special care and packages typically last a season or more. These scented offerings come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Some scented bait products are meant to be fished in the same manner as traditional baits.

Other scented products are molded into soft bodies which are used with conventional jig heads, worm rigs or other setups. These baits offer the best of both worlds; they exhibit lifelike movement while producing a strong scent trail.

Mid Atlantic anglers often use conventional artificial lures for catching yellow perch. Perch eagerly bite panfish jigs, small spinnerbaits, inline spinners, small spoons, crankbaits or other offerings. During cold periods, anglers may target drop offs, using vertical jigging techniques. As the water warms and fish move into spawning areas, more fish are caught in shallow water where small lures are more effective.

Some yellow perch specialists prefer to combine techniques, tipping their jigs with a live minnow or other natural bait. Small setups such as a 1/16 oz. shad dart tipped with a small minnow can be deadly when casted along creek structure and slowly worked along the bottom.

Once fish are located, anglers must choose to release their fish, or retain a few for the table. Yellow perch are known for being very hard to scale. As with all fish, perch should be kept chilled and wet prior to cleaning. For smaller fish, the angler must be persistent with a fish scaler, slowly loosening scales by making diagonal swipes with the scaler. Once scaled, perch can be headed and gutted before cooking.

Larger yellow perch can be filleted and then skinned. A larger fillet knife is needed to cut into the skin during the filleting process. Once the fillets are removed from the fish, a smaller, more delicate knife is useful for cutting fillets from the skin.

Yellow perch often contain roe during the spring season. These yellow pouches which are found in the body cavity contain the female's eggs. The angler should be careful not to nick the roe sac during removal. After rinsing, the fillets and roe are ready for cooking.

Yellow perch fillets, whole fish or the roe are often breaded or battered and fried. Fillets can also be baked. Their mild, sweet flavor makes them suitable for most baked fish recipes.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cape Hatteras Beach Access Information

Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches are subject to area closures as a result of a U.S. District Court approved consent decree.

Visitors may encounter area closures in effect to varying degrees from mid-March to mid-to-late-August and sea turtle nesting closures may occur until early November.

2011 Shorebird pre-nesting closures have already been established at the inlets, Cape Point, and South Beach. As soon as subsequent breeding activity is observed, the consent decree requires that automatic, non-discretionary buffers be implemented. 

To learn more about closures and beach access, enthusiasts can visit the NPS website and read the latest Beach Access Report. The report is is issued every Thursday throughout the breeding season. For more information, check the National Seashore's website at:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Listening Session

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will be soliciting input from the public during a question and answer session from 5 pm - 6 pm on Wednesday April 13, 2011 in Annapolis, MD.

The session will be in the evening and is designed to allow stakeholders an opportunity outside of the normal Council agenda to ask questions or express concerns regarding Council management issues.

Topics to be discussed may include:

Ecosystem Management

Bycatch Reduction

Catch Shares

Recent Assessment Results

Recreational Data Collection

Research Set-Aside Program

Allocation Issues

Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Annual Catch Limits

Questions will be taken as time allows from both those attending in person and via webinar.

For online webinar access register at:  Once registered, users will receive an email confirming registration along with the instructions for joining the webinar.

source: MAFMC

Watermen to Restore Chesapeake Bay Oyster Bars

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and The Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) are continuing to work with commercial fishermen on oyster bar rehabilitation projects. The program is a part a Maryland plan to help mitigate the economic impact of regulations enacted in 2008 to help rebuild the blue crab fishery, while also helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

The program utilizes the skills, experience and equipment of Chesapeake Bay watermen to increase the amount of viable oyster bar habitat in the estuary. The rehabilitated oyster bars will create habitat for a natural spat set and/or hatchery seed plantings in both sanctuaries and public shellfish fishery areas. The program also provides watermen with income for helping with oyster restoration.

This spring, more than 750 Maryland watermen will restore 23 oyster bars in the Chesapeake Bay and will reclaim more than 1,000 acres of buried oyster shell.

A number of the oyster bars slated for rehabilitation are located within new sanctuary areas that were created by the Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. These areas include Harris Creek, Eastern Bay, and the Little Choptank, Nanticoke and Manokin Rivers.

source: MD DNR

Friday, April 1, 2011

How to Rake Quahog Clams

Quahog clams are found in saltwater bays and estuaries in every Mid-Atlantic state. These delicious clams can be caught with clam rakes or by other methods.

Raking quahog clams is a relaxing activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Aside from a rake, a container and a pair of sneakers, not much is required in the way of equipment. Raking clams is usually done from spring through fall as harvesters must get wet in order to effectively catch clams.

Raking clams can be done in a variety of water depths and bottom compositions, although some areas and water conditions are more productive than others.

The best areas for raking clams are usually shallow with a smooth, sandy or slightly muddy bottom. Several types of bottoms may contain clams, but are not suitable for clamming. For example, extremely hard bottoms are difficult to penetrate with a rake. Other areas may be covered with aquatic vegetation, shells or other debris, all of which make raking difficult or impossible.

Some clammers prefer to work during an outgoing tide. A flowing tide often helps clear the water so that the bottom can be seen while wading along. Clamming can be done even if there is poor visibility but seeing the bottom can be helpful. Low tides allow clammers to comfortably work farther from shore, where clams are sometimes more plentiful.