Friday, December 30, 2011

tornadoes and trout

Tornado of gannets off the west side of the shoals. Pretty amazing really, it looks like a tornado, hundreds if not thousands of white gannets, the size of a goose, but more slender. The flock looks like a cloud; a wide area of rising birds, circling and beating upwards to get altitude. As the cloud continues to build from all sides a corner of it darkens as the birds converge on a point a hundred feet above the water. The cloud builds from all sides and continues to darken. When the clumsily climbing birds arrive above the designated target their grace is shown. Suddenly, they lose all air from their wings and fall out of the sky, diving straight down, together, hundreds of them, continuously falling out of the sky on a single point on the water. Pointed beaks, stretched knecks and swept back wings, the gannets slam down and out of site after their quary, sometimes 30, 40 or more feet. The torment from above pours and pours without signs of slowing, the point from which the birds are falling out of the sky is repleneshed from all directions within the every building cloud.

Is the water also throffing white from the birds and the tell tale swirls of predators from below that have pushed the bait within range of the birds? Can't see from here. Stunned menhaden pounded from below and above. Maybe big drum, stripers, even bluefin tuna? Often whales are in the area and almost always dolphins.

An exhaust emerges from the eges of the touchdown. The birds pop up from the depths, if lucky gulp down their prey, shake off the spray and take flight to the windward and upward into the cloud to gain the height needed to propel them back down to the deep.

The tornado loses it's focus and dissipates with only scattered birds falling from the cloud which now is losing it's intesity and is beginning to scatter. Under the surface, whatever was there, corralling and driving the baitfish upwards has also scattered. Trolled and jigged lures amoung scattered "marks" yield no off to the jetty.

Caught one nice keeper trout for dinner and a dozen dog sharks on light tackle. That was my afternoon.