Friday, July 9, 2010

Sound Check

With my brother in town from San Diego, our friend hosted us for an evening cruise on Long Island Sound aboard his 25-foot Sea Ray. In lieu of a fuel charge, the Captain requested fresh bunker for resetting his lobster traps. There was a steady blow out of the southeast that kicked up a decent chop, which made it difficult to swig beer without fear of chipping a tooth. From the harbor we ran a few miles east to check the first batch of traps that yielded the only two lobsters of the trip; one short and one fresh-molted keeper that were both thrown back. The other traps were far from empty, just not harboring the species we were after. We had starfish by the bucket loads, scup, black sea bass, a keeper blackfish, bait-stealing spider crabs, and giant conch shells. 

A legal-sized tautog, or blackfish, caught in a lobster trap
The traps were reset with cut up bunker pieces placed in onion bags. Another check after a two-night soak may produce a tasty lobster dinner, but that's becoming more of a rarity ever since a major die-off in 1999. The trap locations are in proven grounds, but competition is strong and the lobster populations are weak. Many factors are at play, but warming water temperatures is just the latest culprit of the lobster's demise from these waters. It is sad times for Long Island Sound lobsters and those that make a living off them. But it was an awesome evening on the water, especially for my brother who had not experienced a trip like that in a long time.

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