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Fish culturists keep Pennsylvania waterways populated with walleyes

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Part two of two

Last week, I wrote about how the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission collects spawning walleyes that are used for propagation purposes. I was very fortunate to assist fish culturists Bill Smoyer and Barry Novobilski in tending their trap nets set in the choppy waters of Lake Wallenpaupack. During that visit, several dozen walleyes were collected and taken to Pleasant Mount State Fish Hatchery in Mount Pleasant Township, Wayne County.

It was my first visit to the hatchery, and I did not know what to expect. I was surprised to see a group of men in raincoats, thick rubber gloves and rubber boots. They were equipped with washtubs, buckets and turkey feathers — not your typical OB-GYN clinic.

But this surgical unit was more than prepared to handle dozens of pregnant moms and fertile dads. Tom Pekarski, manager of Pleasant Mount State Fish Hatchery, said they collect and fertilize nearly 20 million eggs each year.

The employees at the hatchery wasted no time and immediately transferred walleyes from the state Fish and Boat Commission truck to the hatchery.

Once inside, the technicians had to determine the sex of the walleyes. Males and females were separated and placed into respective holding tanks. Furthermore, the females had to be inspected and determined if they were “ripe” — ready to release their eggs — or “green,” meaning they are full of eggs that aren’t ready to be released. All of the “green” females were marked with a colored tag inserted in the dorsal fin. They are monitored for two weeks to see if they become ripe.

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“If they still don’t produce eggs, it is assumed that they already spawned and are taken back to the lake and released,” said Pekarski. “Every adult male and female walleye that were used for spawning are released back into Lake Wallenpaupack the next day.”

A group of three ripe females are placed in a large metal washtub of water that was mixed with an anesthetic solution. Within a few minutes, the female walleyes become sedated. A technician rinses off a female and, using light pressure from his thumb, carefully releases as many as 180,000 eggs from her body into a basin. Another technician holds a male walleye and applies gentle pressure on its lower abdomen, which releases sperms onto the eggs.

The basin full of walleye eggs and sperm is stirred with a turkey feather to make sure the sperm fertilizes the eggs. “The turkey feather is used because it won’t damage the eggs. It takes about two minutes to fertilize the eggs,” said Pekarski.

The fertilized eggs are mixed in a solution of water and Fuller’s earth — a claylike earthy material used to remove the natural adhesive on the eggs.

“The walleye is a broadcast spawner, and they spread their eggs along the bottom of the lake, where they stick to submerged vegetation and objects,” Pekarski said. “We need to remove that adhesive, otherwise they’ll just lump into one big cluster and die.”

The newly de-gunked eggs then go into incubation jars.

Pekarski said that by using this process, hatching success is 75 percent. In the wild, it could range from zero to 90 percent.

“There are so many variables that can affect natural hatching in the lake, such as insects, wave action and water temperature,” said Pekarski.

It takes about 21 days for the fertilized eggs to hatch. The newborn walleye called “fry” pass through a screen on top of the incubation jar and then into a large water-filled holding tank. Perkarski said, “Most of the fry in the tanks are released into lakes, such as Wallenpaupack. The remaining are transported to a holding pond and are allowed to reach the 1-inch fingerling stage, which takes about 35 days.”

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission appears to have fish culturing down to a science, based on what I witnessed. It was my first visit to the Pleasant Mount hatchery and certainly not my last. I’ll be there within 35 days to see the results.

Rubber boots, Fuller’s earth and turkey feathers — who would have guessed?

Contact Rick Koval at pocononaturalist@yahoo.com or write to him at PO Box 454, Dallas, PA 18612.

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Lodi Flea Market revs up

Galt resident and fishing equipment collector Gary Ogren sat under his sales tent at the newly opened Lodi Flea Market on Friday morning and thought aloud that he might just have a gem of deal for the right person.

It’s a 1947 Johnson Sea Horse boat motor, and he bets it still runs.

“People collect them,” he said of the old motor. “Whoever gets it will consider it a real find.”

Bargain hunters — some possibly in search of old boat parts and some not — filtered in to the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds for the flea market’s opening Friday in search for worthy deals.

From pocketknives to chili-pepper-shaped earrings, shoppers found variety.

There were roasted peanuts and other food items for sale. Hats, tools, fishing poles and shoes were also featured at a several booths.

Vendor Ron Collins pulled out a padded rifle case among a crowd of onlookers and opened it up to reveal dozens of “magic wands” that he manufacturers by hand in Elk Grove out of metals and stones.

The prize purchase, however, is in the eye of the beholder.

“I got a dozen pair of rubber gloves for $6,” said Don Merck, who came to the flea market with his wife and son. “They’d be pretty expensive at the store.”

Flea market operator Chris Hernandez, 42, said he opened in Lodi because it is located between Stockton and Galt. It’s the first time Hernandez has delved in to operating a flea market. It’s a career change from being an event coordinator for nonprofit organizations, he said.

“I remember coming out to flea markets as a kid with my grandpa,” he said. “This is kind of like going back to my roots.”

There were 60 vendors at the flea market Friday, Hernandez said. He already has double that lined up for next week’s offering.

The flea market is scheduled to operater from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Friday.

“We’ll have more fresh produce, … and I’m just getting a great response,” Hernandez said.

Lodi residents Patty Hubbard and Alexa Hubbard said they came out to the Grape Festival Grounds on Friday to support the flea market’s effort. They left with $5 smartphone cases.

“We hope it grows,” Patty Hubbard said.

Contact reporter Keith Reid at (209) 546-8257 or kreid@recordnet.com. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/lodiblog.


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OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Horn Island CCA hosting Kids Fishing Rodeo

The Horn Island Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association will hold its annual Kids Fishing Rodeo on Saturday at River Park Pier on the west bank of the Pascagoula River.

The event is free to all kids 5 to 13. Each child must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. followed by learning activities, fishing and interaction with volunteers from CCA, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. The program ends by noon.

Kids will also be able to participate at various stations where they’ll learn about conservation, fishing gear, knot-tying, casting, fish identification, water safety and proper fish release techniques.

Kids can bring their own fishing gear, but rods and reels are also available.

The City of Pascagoula is providing facilities and support. Other sponsors are Dominoes Pizza, Killer Bee Baits and Allen Beverages. Funding is made possible through the Youth Program of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

More details can be found at www.ccamississippi.org.

OPEN BASS TOURNEY TODAY: There will be an open bass tournament today from 2 to 8 p.m. at Dead Lake Marina.

The entry fee is $40 per boat and there is no membership fee required. Payouts will be based on one place for every five boats entered.

There will be a five-fish limit and bass must be a minimum of 12 inches in length. For more information, contact Wayne A. Miller at 251-455-7404.

SAFETY BOATING COURSE OFFERED: The Orange Beach Flotilla of the Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering a safe boating course on May 19 at the Orange Beach Community Center from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The USCG Auxiliary will give instructions on boating laws, safety equipment, boat handling and navigation. In addition, boating problems and serious boating incidents will be discussed. Successful completion of the course earns the student a certificate, which meets the examination requirement for a Alabama boating operators license and discounts from some boat insurance companies.

The cost is $35 per person, which covers the textbook, instructional materials and lunch. If two family members share a book, the cost is $45. The course is open to ages 12 and above. The class size will be limited to 30 students. Additional classes will be held at the same location on June 1 and Aug. 11.

Registration for the courses is required and can be made by calling John Griggs at 251-955-1443.

MBGFC ONLINE REGISTRATION OPENS: Online registration is now open for the 35th annual Mobile Big Game Fishing Club Memorial Day tournament and first Outboard Shootout, both to be held May 25-27 out of Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach.

Once again, someone fishing the open tournament could win a $1 million bonus for breaking the existing Alabama blue marlin state record that stands at 779 pounds, 5 ounces.

Early registration prior to 5 p.m. on May 23 is $200 per angler with a minimum of four anglers per boats longer than 32 feet and three anglers for boats 32 feet and under. The entry fee is $500 per boat with an unlimited number of anglers in the Outboard Shootout.

Boats can also register prior to the mandatory captains meeting and dinner from 4-8 p.m. on May 25. The fee in the open tournament is $250 per angler with the same angler requirements per boat length.

Boats can leave after the mandatory sign-out after the captains meeting.

The MBGFC weigh dock at Orange Beach Marina opens at 5 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m. on May 26 and May 27. Outboard Shootout boats must be weighed in by 8 p.m. on May 26. The dock is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 27 for both divisions.

Categories in the open tournament are catch-and-release marlin and tuna, dolphin and wahoo. In the Shootout, boats will be competing in catch-and-release tuna, top boat under 27 feet for dolphin and top boat over 28 feet for wahoo.

For more information, go to www.mbgfc.org.


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Millville-based Silverton Marine Corp. files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Yacht-maker Silverton Marine Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week in Trenton, months after suspending its boat-building operations in February.

The company made powerboats along the Maurice River but had suffered from poor sales during the recession, said the company’s New York bankruptcy lawyer, Robert Hirsh.

Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy gives companies protection from creditors while they reorganize or sell assets.

“The goal is to restructure Silverton,” Hirsh said. “The company is looking at various options right now, a stand-alone restructuring plan or alternative restructuring including a sale. The goal is to maximize value to creditors.”

The court action is part of the larger corporate bankruptcy of parent company Morgan Industries Corp., based in St. Augustine, Fla. The company has two divisions selling powerboats and sailboats through nine companies, all of which filed for bankruptcy protection this week.

As recently as 2010, Silverton and its sister companies, Mainship Corp. and Luhrs Corp., both based in St. Augustine, cornered 5 percent of the nation’s market for large Fiberglas powerboats with inboard motors, according to court records.

Silverton is known internationally. The parent company sold its boats at 90 dealerships in the United States and 80 dealerships in 40 other countries. Sister company Hunter Marine of Alachua, Fla., was the largest maker of sailboats in the United States and was responsible for 32 percent of all new sailboat registrations in 2010.

But luxury watercraft companies in southern New Jersey have faced lean times in recent years. Post Marine Co., which had been making yachts in Hamilton Township since 1957, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and liquidated in 2011. Viking Yacht Co. in Bass River Township, Burlington County, has laid off 560 workers since 2008.

Silverton, too, had been making severe cutbacks, said Don Ayres, economic development director for Millville. He oversees the Urban Enterprise Zone in the city.

“At one point, they had more than 400 employees. But this year they were operating with a skeleton crew,” he said.

A March 20 report by labor-market firm Dun Bradstreet Inc. said Silverton had 370 employees in 2010 and 300 in 2011, with estimated annual sales of nearly $24 million. In 2009, Silverton told The Press of Atlantic City that it employed 250 people.

The Urban Enterprise Zone in 2010 approved a $2 million loan to Silverton to help the company diversify its product line. The company later withdrew its application.

“It was mutually agreed upon it wouldn’t have helped. The real problem was a lack of sales,” Ayres said.

The global recession cut deeply into the luxury yacht market while lenders were risk-averse about extending credit, Ayres said.

“The management team did everything they possibly could to try to bring about a more positive result,” Ayres said. “We’re going to root for them to reorganize and hope for the best. They have done the right thing. The economic conditions just deteriorated so drastically.”

Silverton listed both assets and liabilities between $10 million and $50 million. Its 20 largest debts total $2.1 million, including $34,612 to Millville for utilities.

The company’s largest creditor at $1 million is Textron Inc., of Minneapolis.

Contact Michael Miller:

609-272-7217

MMiller@pressofac.com

Boat builders in southern N.J.

Viking Yacht Co., Bass River Township

Silverton Marine Corp., Millville

Yank Marine, Upper and Maurice River townships

Egg Harbor Yachts, Egg Harbor City

Ocean Yachts, Egg Harbor City

Henriques Yachts Inc., Lacey Township


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Lakefront residents raise a ruckus over Juanita Bay party boats

Robert Pantley and his family like to go out in boats to fish, water ski, wakeboard and photograph wildlife.

But the party scene outside their Juanita Bay house bears little resemblance to Pantley’s idea of what boating is about.

The screaming engines of speeding boats, throbbing stereo subwoofers, sexually explicit song lyrics — and at least once a live band — bombard his lakefront property on warm, sunny days.

“I’ve got a 12-year-old son, and I don’t want him listening to it. If you want to listen to it in a nightclub, that’s fine. If you want to do it at your home, that’s fine. But don’t make us listen to it,” Pantley said.

“The music gets louder and louder and louder as the drinking goes on. … If you have 100 nice days, you have 100 days of blasting music.”

Since Pantley, a former Kirkland City Council member, and two other residents wrote to the council last fall and he showed a short video clip of a bay full of partying boaters, the council has been considering rules to address noise and safety issues.

A draft ordinance that would have banned the practice of “rafting” boats together in open water as well as loud “hooting, whistling or singing” and stereo sounds audible from more than 50 feet away was sent to a committee for revamping after objections from boaters.

Council members expect to shelve a rafting ban at least for this year, but hope to adopt a noise ordinance in June.

Kirkland Police Capt. Bill Hamilton told the council in March that police were concerned about behaviors associated with rafted boats, including noise, nudity, public urination, and ski boats and personal watercraft speeding past swimmers.

“We genuinely have the fear that someone is going to drown or be struck by a boat in this area,” Hamilton said.

There have been deaths, including 20-year-old Javed Khan, who drowned while boating with friends in 2009.

“I’ve pulled out a few people who have drowned in Juanita Bay,” said King County sheriff’s Deputy Chris Bedker, a member of the county Marine Rescue and Dive Unit since 2000. Not all the deaths were boating related.

Some boaters and sympathetic lakefront homeowners say the noise and safety problems have been exaggerated.

“It’s the sounds of summer! What’s wrong with the sounds of people having fun? Joyous people make me happy,” said Bill Wassmer, who has a home on the bay.

“If you don’t want to listen to this, don’t buy a house,” he said.

As for the city’s motives, Wassmer said, “I think Mr. Hamilton would love to put two or three guys out here to cruise around and look at girls in bikinis. It’s a power grab we don’t need.”

City officials say they have no intention of setting up their own marine patrol, but have been discussing with the county marine unit how to keep the floating party under control. The county marine unit patrols the city’s waterfront under a contract with the city.

Several boaters who frequent Juanita Bay told the City Council that tighter rules would prompt them to put their boats in the water elsewhere and buy their provisions and visit restaurants and bars somewhere other than downtown Kirkland.

City officials invited merchants to attend a public meeting on possible legislation last week.

Kirkland, with a downtown marina and boat launch, is generally viewed as a boating-friendly city. It is unclear how strong that friendship will be after the dust settles on the dispute over Juanita Bay.

Much of the debate has focused on rafting boats together — a practice that allows sun worshippers to climb from boat to boat visiting friends, but that some waterfront residents call keggers.

In some parts of Lake Washington, like Andrews Bay next to Seattle’s Seward Park, rafting is a family activity, said Jeff Pace, fleet captain for the Rainier Yacht Club and moderator of the Andrews Bay Yacht Club.

Friends tie up together, turn on the barbecue and prepare a meal while their children swim, and then they spend the night on the water, he said.

Juanita Bay draws a younger crowd more inclined to drink excessively and take their clothes off, Pace said. “That’s the element in Juanita that has caused the concern among the neighbors. I don’t blame them.”

But he objected to banning rafts “as a way to profile the boaters that they don’t like,” saying existing laws should be enforced and speed limits considered.

Juanita Bay is a strong draw for young boaters, many of whom cluster in groups of four to 12 boats, and who once built a raft of 45 boats in a gathering promoted on social media, Bedker said.

Boaters with blaring stereos tend to turn them down when they see a sheriff’s patrol boat, Bedker said, but deputies responsible for many parts of Lake Washington can spend only a limited amount of time in Juanita Bay.

Many Juanita Bay residents, in the meantime, are impatient.

“We could close all the doors and all the windows of this house and sit in one of my daughters’ bedrooms back off the front of the house and you could sing along to the lyrics. It really is that loud,” said Pantley’s neighbor, Brent Anderson.

In recent years, Anderson said, Juanita Bay has become louder and rowdier, becoming “the Tortuga or Cancún of Lake Washington.”

He said he no longer calls the police about the noise — “but I have to call when I see somebody weaving through those stacks of boats at 35-40 miles per hour in a dual-engine ocean racing boat that’s the big popular thing now. Seriously, they’re going to have another fatality out there.”

There are boating-related problems even outside boating season. Eastside Audubon Society board member Tim McGruder said he was concerned about aggressive boaters disturbing wildlife around Juanita Bay Park.

Pantley said fewer trumpeter swans stayed in Juanita Bay last winter, a year after he witnessed a Jet Ski operator chasing a group of swans during the Christmas holiday season.

Penny Sweet, who chairs the City Council’s public-safety committee and who hears boat engines “loud and clear” from her house several blocks away, said she expects the council to adopt a noise ordinance this spring and then see if additional measures are needed.

Rafting “sort of looks like a party,” and may ultimately have to be regulated, she said.

To those who say lakefront property owners should just accept the noise, “It’s just not fair,” Sweet said.

“Some of them have been living on the lake for 20 or 40 years. I just don’t happen to agree that therefore you sacrifice your ability to hear a conversation in your own backyard.”

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com


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Johnson Outdoor 2nd-quarter net income falls

Johnson Outdoors saw its second-quarter net income fall 14 percent because of a higher tax rate and flat sales on its recreational gear.

The company said net income for the three months ended March 30 fell to $7.3 million, or 74 cents per share, from $8.5 million, or 87 cents per share.

Revenue was nearly flat at $128.7 million. Marine electronics revenue rose nearly 2 percent on strong sales of its Minn Kota boat motors and products and Humminbird GPS products. Diving revenue rose 2 percent on growth in the U.S., Asia and Northern Europe. Watercraft sales fell 6 percent on lower volume and outdoor equipment sales fell 8 percent.

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Shares of Johnson Outdoors Inc., based in Racine, Wis., fell $1.04, or 6.3 percent, to $15.45 in midday trading. The stock is up 7 percent since the beginning of the year.


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Harbor View Grille in Whitehall takes the charter fishing customer from boat to table

WHITEHALL, MI – The Harbor View Grille has come up with the perfect way to cap off a day on the water with a West Michigan-area charter boat captain.

HarborView1.jpgOwner and Chef Emil Rousseau slices the Harbor View Grille’s fresh bread.

The Whitehall restaurant is again offering its “Cook the Catch” promotion. The restaurant will cook fish caught on a charter boat with full dinner and drinks after a day of fishing.

Owner and Chef Emil Rousseau said that the “Cook the Catch” outing at the Harbor View is usually best with larger groups but reservations can be made for anyone between 2 and 5 p.m. any day from April to October.

Rousseau offers a menu of pan fried or a fried fish platter for an appetizer with cole slaw, a Cajun seared or Montreal grilled fish entrée served with rice pilaf, steamed vegetables and served with homemade bread. The cost is $12 per person, the customer provides the fish.

“Cook the Catch” has become a formal part of the Pure Michigan tourism promotion campaign, Rousseau said. Whitehall-area waters will produce trout, steelhead, perch, walleye and salmon that will be prepared at the Harbor View Grille, 115 N. Mears.

“What is more Pure Michigan than catching a fish and then having a great dinner,” Rousseau said, adding that the PBS television program Michigan Outdoors will be in Whitehall to tape a feature on the program next week.

HarborViewLogo.jpgThe Harbor View Grille is located at 115 N. Mears in Whitehall.

The charter boat industry is a critical element in the overall White Lake area tourism sector, according to Amy VanLoon, head of the White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. The Whitehall-Montague Charter Boat Association has 10 boat-owning members.

“The charter boat industry is very important to us and it is alive and well,” VanLoon said. “Emil has extended a hand out to them. He’s thinking outside of the box and being very creative. It is a great partnership.”

Charter boat captain Ken Clark is thrilled to have a chef of Rousseau’s abilities to offer a “Cook the Catch” promotion. He said his wife Nicci – who has been cooking and eating walleye for 30 years – vows that the Harbor View Grille walleye dinner is the best she’s ever had.

“It has worked best with my customers with a bigger party or family,” Clark said of his Whitehall-based Fishmas charter service on a trailered 21-foot Lund. “Having two charter boats come together for dinner works great. Then dinner is a shared experience.”

2006_07_0771.JPGCharter boat fishing on Muskegon Lake has a customer lookng for salmon.

Getting a program that meets all of the governmental regulations was a tall order when Harbor View Grille started the “Cook the Catch” program two years ago, the owner said. The restaurant offers the fishing charter-to-table service April through October.

From a Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Public Health – Muskegon County standpoint, how the dinner program works needs to be particular.

First, the fish must be caught in conjunction with a licensed charter boat captain. The fish must be placed on ice and cleaned by the captain. The bagged fish must be brought to the restaurant two hours before dinner and no fish can be more than 24 hours old.

The charter boat fishing customer is providing the fish. It isn’t being sold commercially, Rousseau said. The dinner customer is paying for the preparation of the fish and the side dishes, he said. Only the customer can consume the fish brought in off the charter boat, he added.

HarborViewDish.jpgHere the Cajun-seared salmon is served with black bean salsa, rice and Montague asparagus.

The fish appetizer can be either pan-fried with pepper, lemon, garlic and rosemary or lightly beer-battered. The main course is Cajun, pan-seared served with black bean corn salsa and rice.

“It’s low fat and extremely healthy,” the chef said. “The more the fish swims the more flavorful so wild-caught fish are the best.”

Rousseau comes out of the institutional food service industry, purchasing the old Riverview Café in 2008. He had worked for Aramark, managing food service operations at Grand Valley State University. The Ravenna resident received his culinary training at Oakland Community College in Southeast Michigan.

The Harbor View Grille, with stunning view of the east end of White Lake and the White River flats, is a “scratch food” restaurant that provides at least 65 percent of its menu offerings from Michigan products. The owner said the menu is 30 percent gluten free and 30 percent vegetarian – with the roasted corn black bean cakes a customer favorite.

A specialty is “homestyle” Sunday dinners, affordable for families at less than $10 per person. The Harbor View Grille features fish and chips with Alaskan cod and usually a fresh fish offering from Lake Superior whitefish to walleye. Homemade white bread is baked daily.

But the “Cook the Catch” program sets the Harbor View Grille apart from others.

“This is a win-win for us and the charter boat captains,” Rousseau said. “It creates a memory you can’t touch. I know of no other service like it in Michigan.”

Email: dalexan1@mlive.com

Facebook: Dave Alexander


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