Pulling Gill Nets from the beach video

I am writing a blog entry on the past weekend happenings during the strong northeast winds. But I don’t think I will post it this week, probably wait for next week. First we are getting ready for STRIPERTHON 2013 on Friday. And two, you got to let some time go by before gathering your thoughts. Yeah, I know the blow its over but it’s hard to believe how many people will chase yesterdays bite. And even harder to believe how many think that fishing Montauk is fishing from Clark’s Cove to the Kings. When Legendary Vito O says “I did the walk” it means he walked and walked and walked. Not that he went to Caswells. And please, enough of this silly  “I was in Montauk and it sucked, I only seen two rats caught”. Montauk SUCKED royally in September and the early indications are that its back to being dismal again after this blow. But during the blow, if you fished the right spots, with nothing but bucktails, you could catch fish till your arms fall off. Or until your bad elbow blew up like a beach ball. I hope and pray that we get a little uptick in fishing because for me personally, this is the worst season I ever had to endure. Coming on the heels of an awful season last year. And catching few fish this weekend did nothing to change my opinion that striped bass stocks are in trouble. Because even with solid bite there should have been more fish in more places.

But I am usually not in the “right” place when I fish Montauk and I’ll explain that in my follow up post. I don’t hang in Kings because that is where I want to fish. I am in Kings because that is where my best photo opportunities are. There is where most people are. Or under the Bluffs on the north side.Simple as that. Without fresh pictures, SJ looks like any tired old fishing mag. And we are not about to let that happen, are we? 🙂

Anyway, let’s find who won that gorgeous Lemire’s Plugworks Calamari Popper.

The winner is joe m  jmprop3@gmail.com


You have 5 days to send us your shipping information at info@surfcastersjournal.com. Check out the whole line of Lemire’s PlugWorks lures at http://www.lemiresplugworks.com/online-store.html

About two weeks ago , after we were done fishing for the night at the Napeague State Park in Montauk, NY we found these East Hampton Baymen pulling the Gill Nets from the beach. They set up shop about 20 feet west of the sign where the state park ends. I don’t believe they are allowed to do this on state property. Anyway, use of gill nets from the beach is supposedly (or I been told) perfectly legal. I don’t agree that it should be, but I always follow the letter of the law and have to accept it. If that is the case, than they are just working for $. Yes, we hate when something we consider so dear becomes just another slab of meat on the shelf of your seafood store, but until we make stripers a gamefish, this is what it is.

I am not sure about the green netting at the end. It’s a much thicker netting than the rest of the net which is thick monofilament.   I believe you need to have a certain size “eye opening” in order for smaller fish to swim trough. Material is probably irrelevant too

However, to me the green net looks more like seine than  gill net. Anyone with knowledge cares to chime in? Here is the video


30 comments on “Pulling Gill Nets from the beach video

  1. Tim

    I can give you the baymens contact info if you want. I too think this so called “seine” netting should be reviewed and given more attention to rules being followed. I know for a fact that they cut corners, but in reality there is little to no regulation.

  2. Trisser

    That is truly disturbing but at least their catch is regulated through commercial quotas. I was truly mortified by the carnage I saw on the CCC this spring. Hundreds of fisherman taking two fish in their bikes and buggies with no quota limits. The stack of illegally harvested bass in the back of the game commission truck was three times as high as this video. All that fish gone in one morning was just sad! I’m becoming a fan of selective moratoriums. Dont allow people to keep bass in May and June on the CCC or September and October in Montauk.

  3. Owen

    CCCanal in May and June is more disturbing to me. Whether it is recs or commercials killing really makes no difference, but to see the carnage that Trisser mentioned come at the hands of people who are supposedly fishing for the recreation is a serious problem.

  4. Awesome John

    Take a look at these sorry bastards.. total losers, bums, failed at everything else in life and must resort to raping the sea. Why not get a regular job? Too hard… this is easier just pillage the eco system. Wasn’t gill netting in NYC made illegal? This is a disgrace. How cam America let these winos do this sh*t? What gives them the right to use their own survival as an excuse to wipe out a species which is the survival of countless families? I am sure glad I didnt cough up the 6,000 dollars that I usually spend every year to go to montauk. Had I been on the beach and saw this I would take out my tire iron and lost control on these loser winos.

  5. fishdaddy1

    WOW! That is one seriously disturbing video. Even for the every day person that doesn’t rely on and enjoy fishing, but knowing that the Striped Bass fishery is so bad and in serious peril makes it really hard to watch these guys heaving these fish into the back of their beat up, piece of s**t truck! Something has to be done. A moratorium on harvesting for a few years or something. At least those of us who really enjoy the recreation of it would still be able to fish for linesiders and maybe the jerks that are happy enough to take home an illegal fish would just fade away. Sad to think that my son may never get a chance to catch a big striper….

  6. Cow Harbor Tackle

    This netting has been going on all summer in Montauk usually 300 yards off the beach where it is rarely seen and then harvested from boats. Next time your visiting Camp Hero, take a good look through your binoculars and search for floating sticks with flags on them….those are the gill nets used everyday by these guys.

    I was not aware they are using gill nets from shore, but take a look in the back of the truck and notice how few (although disturbing) fish are in there due to the major depletion of the biomass stocks.

    Again, these practices are legal and commercial guys take advantage of that fact.

  7. Ken

    As disturbing as this is , please keep in mind this scene will be repeated not only by these guys buy many others as well before the season ends. The really sad thing is that far more fish than you see here came off the beach in turtle cove for days last year during the blitzes. We , the fisherman are also contributing to the downfall of the striped bass.

  8. Brian

    That’s nothing. Check out the posted reports section of noreast. The south shore LI boats are absolutely murdering the bass population as we speak. One boat bragging that they kept 109 fish today.

  9. kevin

    don’t criticize people for practicing their livelihood which abides by the law. I’m a surfcaster just as much as all of you and yes i do disagree with this. But also i know it’s part of the society which we live in and theres not much changing it. coming from someone who knows these people on a personal level, yes it is wrong but the only people you should be criticizing is the NMFS and their idiotic laws. Making Striped Bass a gamefish and outlawing the commercial sale of it in NYS is only one piece to the puzzle. IMO recs and charters do more damage on the stocks than commercials.

  10. Zeno Post author

    “Making Striped Bass a gamefish and outlawing the commercial sale of it in NYS is only one piece to the puzzle”
    Its the only puzzle piece we need.
    We do more damage to this fishery then comms by a large margin. But its obvious there is not enough fish there for everyone to take. Since striped bass is much more valuable fish as a recreational species then commercial make it a game fish and be done with it. Raise the minimum limit and shorten the season if you have to. If that does not work and recreational fisherman keep taking too much make it permanent that you cant keep one. Ever
    like tarpon in Florida
    In my eyes there is no need to have a commercial sector for striped bass.
    Yes,. considering I come from a background that supports commercial fisherman, especially one that works alone like my grandfather did, I will always have a respect for a pin hooker, clamer, baymen or any of them. It’s a very hard and honest way of making living.
    But to be honest, I don’t think the society as a whole cares for those people any longer. They are not celebrated as hard workers, they are vilified and bunched up with other when one gets nailed for cheating
    It’s the world we live in
    I still rather be a pin hooker then an accounts..no offense to accountants out there. Keep crunching those numbers and doing your Kegal’s for straitening your butt checks 🙂

  11. Adam

    Great job Z
    Many from up island or out of state have never seen the Lester’s fish. Keep in mind they have been ding this since King George signed their treaty. This same law abolished the NYS fishing license a few years ago.
    Agree or disagree it is legal. Those who speak poorly of these Bonacers don’t know a thing about the east end!

  12. JohnP

    Each year the same thing comes up, but the answer is always the same as well. Hard to find fault when we are doing a really good job at killing more fish than we need to as well.

    Wriiten Saturday November 19, 2005.

    I set out to introduce a couple of guys to surfcasting on the east end of Long Island. We did some boat fishing earlier in the day, but they really were more interested in seeing what the striper surf was all about. Its been a tough fall, the slowest in years, but on this day they got their wish, and then some. That afternoon, just west of Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett, juvenile “peanut” bunker were being chased by schoolie bass into the shallows. A day in surfcasting heaven – a beautiful day, miles of pristine beaches, gulls and gannets diving, fish breaking, peanuts in the trough, and tight lines for all.

    They actually got to see more of the east end’s fishing culture than most surfcasters trekking to Montauk ever do. On this day, an East Hampton “haul seine” crew was in operation. The crew – looking like they had stepped right out of John Cole’s book Striper – consisted of about 6 trucks, 8 men, a dory, and a gill net that stretched at least a half mile out into the Atlantic.

    We were just in time to see the nets coming in. On the sand lay hundreds of fish. There were bass, many much larger than anything we had caught and released in the blitz. There were many shorts. Next were bluefish by the dozens. There were also fish that I never thought would be out there chasing peanuts in the surf at this time of year, including fluke. Everything, regardless of size, looked dead or close to it. As the net came in (pulled by a winch on a trailer) the fish were sorted into piles. The total haul looked impressive. I stopped the truck to get a first-hand look, a sort of a morbid fascination with what was taking place.

    “Is this legal?” my companions asked in a doubting voice. I just shrugged my shoulders. It would have taken me hours to try to explain the politics of it all, and this was not the time, nor the place. I have witnessed beach gillnetting for a couple of years now. I get the “How could this be legal?” question often these days, but I continue to struggle with the answer.

    “Haul Seines,” which are launched from the beach, were banned in New York during the moratorium, though they are still used to conduct the annual striped bass stock assessments for the NY DEC. “Gill nets,” on the other hand, are legal.

    Never mind the definition, the nets are back.

    After years of glowing stock assessments and steady increases in quotas on both the recreational and commercial sides, I suppose it was only a matter of time before some altered version of beach netting was attempted. Perhaps the politics of the “haul seine” was too much of an obstacle. It was probably easier to simply find a way to launch a gill net from the beach. Well, kudos, they figured it out. The genie is out of the bottle.

    A couple of surfcasting buddies, offended by the kill, offered to take pictures. “Who are you going to send the pictures to?” I asked. “Who is in a position to do something about it?”

    To be fair, I suggested to one buddy that he could get the same image by emptying a dumpster at one of the big Montauk sportfishing marinas after a good day. A picture of a huge pile of dead fish looks the same, no matter who did it.

    In fact, these boats target larger fish, prime breeders in many cases, whereas the netters target fish in the 24 to 36 inch slot. You can debate yourself silly over which sector is doing more damage. Both are doing plenty.

    The most recent stock assessment, issued earlier this month, had recreational and commercial sectors combining to produce a kill way above a pre-agreed “target,” and just a hair under an absolute ceiling known as “overfishing.” Overfishing indicates we are at greater risk of a collapse. Where were the calls for caution? Not a word from most of the recreational advocates. Many were too busy with their slice, with not a word of concern over what might be happening to the size of the overall pie.

    What’s next? Bigger nets? A more favorable allocation, which might make beach netting more economically viable? This, in turn, might mean more crews launching nets from the beach?

    My biggest concern of all – Who has the credibility to raise an opposition?

    NY officials, no doubt influenced by recreational special interests, by-passed the public this spring and put in “emergency regulations,” giving recreational fishermen a second bass (despite years of overwhelming public opposition expressed at various hearings). To the south, NJ advocates are busy with a law to allow 3 @ 28, and they justify this legislation by saying they feel the stocks are in good shape. To the north, Mass is still fixated with opening the EEZ.

    I hate to say it, but based on all this gluttony and self-interest, you can hardly blame the East Hampton Baymen (who have reportedly been at this for generations) for finding a way to get their nets back in the water.

  13. KWhite

    That haul is a cold fart in the wind compared to the killing done by the party boat fleet. There are pictures from the old days of similar beach haul operations that would really make you sick. The difference in the amount of fish taken between the pics from the old days, and this video posted by Z should open eyes as to the state of striper stocks today.

  14. sioca

    On the issue at hand: I’ll quote from JohnP post above.

    “Who is in a position to do something about it?” A: We are

    “To be fair, I suggested to one buddy that he could get the same image by emptying a dumpster at one of the big Montauk sportfishing marinas after a good day. A picture of a huge pile of dead fish looks the same, no matter who did it.”

    ” Who has the credibility to raise an opposition?” A: Us

    Thanks Z & SJ crew.

    Good luck to all this weekend!

  15. JohnP

    In order to see anything change, this would have to be at least discussed and vetted at the NY MRAC (Marine Resources Adbvisory Council). And how many names here would be sympathetic to the cause (besides Charlie Witek)? Versus how many were A-OK to increase the take on both rec and commercial sides a few years back, even on the rec side?

    Recreational and Commercial Fishery Representatives

    Bob Danielson, Senate nominee
    John Davi, Senate nominee
    John Renaldo, Senate nominee
    Dean Yaxa, Senate nominee
    Paul Risi, Assembly nominee
    Vacant, Assembly nominee
    Christopher Squeri, Assembly nominee
    Vacant, Assembly nominee
    Charles Witek, Commissioner appointee
    Karen Rivara, Commissioner appointee
    Joseph Paradiso, Commissioner appointee
    Paul Farnham, Commissioner appointee
    Melissa Dearborn, Commissioner appointee
    Thomas Jordan, Commissioner appointee

  16. MRisser

    That vid. was PERFECTLY done. Nice work Z! Everyone can draw thier own conclusions from that.
    Do something if you don’t like it. Anything is a help.

  17. Robert Conover

    I was feeling good till watching that video, now feel sick !! glad to be in a game fish state . need to get every state on board !!

  18. Richard aka Woodwker99

    Wasn’t Billy Joel arrested for doing this a million years ago? then he wrote Down Easter Alexia?

  19. Tom W

    Illegal haul seining… never mind that they just put two gill nets together with a “green net” pocket. They “surrounded fish with no escape and look at all the skates they caught. Z please forward this to the appropreate people (DEC). These guys are breaking the law and should be fined and gear confiscated!

  20. Charlie_p

    It goes without saying that this is terrible, as is the slaughter of all those big fish the party boats are catching by hundreds right now. It’s important to note, however, that gill netters are out because we put them there. If you use fresh bunker chunks, they were probably caught in a gill net. As a by catch ( yes, the bass in the video were the target species) gill nets catch bass, blues, weakfish, false albacore and even an occasional (protected) sturgeon. I’m sure they do other damage. I have personally seen surf fisherman waiting and helping a gill netter unload his catch of fresh bunker. Little did they know that that same gill net caught nothing but striped bass as a by-catch on other occasions. Since he did not have tags for those fish, they were thrown back- dead or alive. Therefore, even with a reduction in the striped bass harvest by commercial fisherman, they will still be out there catching bass if there is a demand for fresh bunker. Get out and catch your own. Put them in a sealed bag and freeze them.

  21. Jim M.

    Great vid! Loved the tune, sounded like a live or recent version where the bass was just booming. Excellent camera work too, the bride (HS photo teacher) was impressed. I’m surprised they still do that, considering the effort and diminishing returns. It can’t be what it used to be, unless they’re family trying to protect a permit or license. I figured a lot of that disappeared after the last moratorium, something only to be read about (John Cole’s book?)

    I agree about what most have said, but like what you wrote about the party boats (“for the church” – classic). This is also a hot topic on several of the other sites, also. Great thought provoking posts!!


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