Monday, April 30, 2012

The Shark Tooth Gods Smiled ...

Well, at least they smiled on my wife! We went back to a local nature park that allows beach access and started walking. On the way to the beach, we passed a large tidal pool and were amazed at the number of crabs we saw cruising around in the pool. Welcome to Maryland! Once we got to the beach, we started our hunt. I wear my trusty Muck Boots and try to walk along the "debris line". This in the edge where the shells / junk / fossils get caught up in the wave action and there is usually a drop of of a few inches to a few feet, A lot of the heavier shells tend to get stuck in this area. I figure that big TEETH will be there, too. It's difficult to see into the water, even if the water is clear. The constant wave action means you just have to peer in between the small waves. It's a great plan on paper, but, at least for me, it doesn't usually pan out.
Upper L - Sand Tiger Shark. 3 Hemipristis. 5 Tiger Shark. Lower row - Mako Shark. All 13 Million year old Miocene Era fossils

My wife decided she would just walk along the high tide mark and look for stuff laying on the beach. "Hah", I thought. "What a foolish idea. If there were ANY teeth up there, they have long since been picked over by the other folks who have tramped up and down the beach. Silly woman." A few minutes later - "Oooh - look at this one" She reaches down and plucks a mako tooth from the sand. The first one we've ever found. Hmm - obviously a once-ina-lifetime event. "Oooh - this one is bigger." Another nice Mako. Maybe she's on to som ... "Oh my God Joe - look at this one" She reached down and plucks a magnificent (for us) 2" Mako from the sand. A really nice speciman. The kind you hope to find, but rarely do.
I think this is a Hemipristis, or Snaggletooth
Our trophy Mako. OK - her trophy Mako

We ended up the day having found more bigger (again - big for us) teeth than we've ever found before. [Actually, we ended the day with my wife finding more than we usually do. I didn't add very much to the total haul, but I did a great job of carrying the jackets in my backpack, and occasionally getting water out] We tallied 6 Makos, 5 Tigers, a couple of Sand Tigers, a bunch of misc. teeth, some cool sea glass, a few nice Ray skutes, and some very nice coral. On the way out we stopped by the tidal pool and I scooped out a crab. Tried his damnedest to pinch me, much to my wife's pleasure. Put him back after taking his picture.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Another Fishing post - will they never end??

I just got to experience my first "Opening Day" in my new state, and I have to say, it IS a rather interesting event. No, not the home opener for the Nats or Orioles (although the Nats do have the best record in the National League at the moment). Not even the Opening Day of Trout, an elbow-to-elbow event held annually in my original home state of PA. Nope - it was my first "Opening Day of Trophy Rockfish" season, and I was there with every other boat in the state that could float. In the Spring, the big female striped bass - or rockfish, as they are known locally - move into the Chesapakes Bay to spawn. The season started this year on April 21, and the limit is 1 per person per day, 28" or bigger. A co-worker had booked the services of Mid River Guide Service - Capt. Bob Wetherald - and had an opening for my son and I. Since Joey's birthday was the 22nd, I thought it would be a great thing to do with him. He had never been on a charter fishing trip, and the Bay can get rough, so I wasn't sure what to expect. (I DO know what to expect from me - I get seasick if it's too choppy) Sat. the 21st the weather called for 5-10 from the S, freshening to 15 from the SW. Thunderstorms building in the afternoon. It certainly wouldn't be glass calm but we were getting an ealry start - meet at the dock at 5 AM - so we could (hopefully) get out and back before I got sick. Capt. Bob had been out the week before - catch and release fishing - and knew exactly where to be to find the fish. We left the dock at Solomons at 5:20 and by 6:15 we had the planer boards out, line set, and were approaching the area holdig the fish.
Joey with his first rockfish
A double At 6:30 we had 3 fish on, fought them to the boat, and put 2 in the fish box. The smaller one was legal but not the size we were looking for. Bob had the fish dialed in, and by 10:30 we were bringing in the lines and stowing the rods for our run back to the dock. All in all we hooked 12 fish, landed 10, and brought 4 back. We could have undoubetly hooked and landed more fish but, as the day progressed, the number of boats increased monumentally. It became a bit of a chore to turn the boat and keep the planer boards out of other folks boards. The timing to return to the dock was perfect. All the ones we kept were between 36" - 39". REALLY nice rockfish. It was my first big rockfish, my son's first rockfish ever, and - I didn't get sick! Neither did Joey. An evening dinner of freshly caught rockfish bites was enjoyed by all!
A nice rockfish for my son
the boat limit
me and Joey with our rockfish

Friday, April 6, 2012

An actual fishing post, and another state falls from my list

Imagine, an actual fishing post on Flowing Waters. Not a shark tooth post, not a cat post. Real, honest to God fishing!

I recently spent a week in Texas and Louisiana working with a few of our reps in the field. During the course of the week in LA, we got a chance to sample some of the fishing the bayou is famous for. And I got to cross off another state from my list.

Dawn on the bayou

Those of you who actually read this mess may be familiar with a list I keep on the right hand side of the Blog. It is my quest to catch a fish in all 50 states. I have been stalled at 39 for a few years. This was my first opportunity to fish in LA, and I took advantage of it.

We spent the night in a fish camp near Cocodrie, south of Houma. We actually weren't too far from the home of Bayou Woman, a blog I still follow - see my list on right. (Great blog, btw) the morning had us launching the boat at daybreak and looking for trout..

Sometimes the birds were diving, other times they were just sitting. But there were fish below them

We caught plenty of these little guys. But catching any fish is good!

I love to fish new ways, and I had never fished with that standard of the trout / redfish world, the popping cork. We fished plastics under popping corks most of the day. The secret, like any tidal area, was catching the tide right, and looking for birds. Some things are universal. We spent the morning going from bird pod to bird pod. Some had a lot of fish, others a few. The trout were generally small - the 12" minimum was reached by maybe one out of 4 or 5 fish. As I found out, it is early for trout. They are moving from their wintering areas to the spawning areas. EVERYONE says come back in May / June / July and limits of big trout are the rule . Today was a good numbers day by my standards, although the locals thought it was pretty slow. I had a great time, we caught fish, and that's all the really mattered.

The grocery / gas / bait store on the canal

All i could think of was "Forrest Gump"

At the end of the morning, we ran across Lake (???) and fished some barrier islands on the outside of the lake with live bait. Here we got a few bigger trout, and one big redfish ate the guides bait. At least I thought it was big. We ended the day with 22 trout and 1 red.

A little better trout

Nice red

A wheelbarrow of fish, destined to become fillets shortly

Beautiful day on the water, took some delicious fillets home, and knocked off another state on my quest. Doesn't get much better than that! And I think I've got another state or 2 up my sleeves this year!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More teeth, and sometimes it's good to be pathetic

We continued on our quest to find more fossilized shark teeth. It's really just a good excuse to get outside and walk along the beaches, but I am really intrigued by this whole fossil thing. We're finding more and more of them, but all the ones we find are very small. My wife and I both keep thinking we'll find some bigger teeth sooner or later, but so far - just little stuff.

The interesting factor with this new "sport" has to do with the tides. The generally accepted principal is to go out on a falling tide, about halfway between high and low tide. We've been finding more, though, on high tides. Go figure. This past time out was a high tide so we had only a small section of beach to explore (the water goes tight against the cliffs at high tide and, unless you wear waders or the water is warm, you are stuck with a small piece of beach)

sand tiger shark (l), snaggletooth shark (r)

Fossilized porpoise tooth

Crushing plates (skutes) from Eagle Ray

All fossils are 13 - 15 million years old

Still, we were finding s lot of fossilized Sand Tiger Shark teeth and Gray Shark teeth on the short stretch of beach. We did, however, find our first fossilized porpoise tooth - pretty cool, actually. A local fossil guy came by and asked how we were doing - we replied with the usual "finding a few small ones". He reached in his pocket and gave my wife a "small" megalodon tooth he had just found about 50' away! "Small" was his verbage - not ours. I would have been doing backflips down the beach if I had this. He showed us pictures of one twice as big he found the week before.

Megalodon tooth. This one is not a "great" find (to the hard core fossil folks) because it is small, the point of the tooth isn't perfect, and a section of the serations on one side are missing. I think it's pretty darn cool, though.

Our best finds of the day

I guess that's what keeps you coming back. And why being a pathetic fossil hunter sometimes pays off.