ABOVE: Barny facelift goes on.
Below: A profound phobia of mine. I once got a vest wetsuit stuck on my head in a surf shop in Hawaii -- I panicked inside a dressing room, busted down its door, rolled out and knocked over racks of clothing before all but ripping the bloody thing off. I then calmly stood up, told the dozen or so nearby aghast faces "It's too small" and quickly departed the premises. That was many years ago and I haven't tried to put on a vest wetsuit since then.
Tuesday, May 31, 2022: This second one-day heat wave will not only end suddenly but will give way to a 30-degree drop in air temps. In fact, the 10-day forecast shows nary a sizzler. In fact, my treasure digging future look comfy, graced by 70-degree days. Of course, the coolness won’t do much for my frog hunts.
Diamond terrapin young are starting to immerge from nests. Wherever/whenever possible, h them to water’s edge. There are rescues but helping the little ones to reach the nearest (safety) launch point into the bay – never the ocean – allows the terrapins to best register, chemically speaking, their birthing area, hopefully for a return as an adult.
On the drier side of things, there is an unusually brisk showing of boxing turtles in our area. The oft cross roads. They can be surprisingly fast when on an unbothered run for the other side. However, if spooked, which can happen with an approaching auto, they go carapace, meaning they go into their shell – and stay there. Staying put, mid-road, is a bad thing for all creatures, mice to men. A kind hand is surely a lifesaver for a tucked inside box turtle.
Just to keep things kosher, it is illegal to keep box turtles, despite the once very common practice of keeping them in a box as a long-lived pet, most capable of outliving their owners.
Of further note: Box turtles are not named after the practice of keeping them in a box. According to way-back accounts, they are so named because of their unmatched ability to completely close their shell, as in box-like. This power closure is strong enough to fend off predators, including possums, racoons, foxes and coyotes. Unfortunately, box turtle nets are sitting ducks for those same predators. The odds are never good for the eggs.
Here's a gorgeous male box turtle I found last week -- and left untouched.
SEASON'S START: Got into quite the verbal tussle with an alleged lawyer I mixed it up with on the beach. It began when I saw some kids digging what I worried might be a starter hole, maybe knee-deep but being expanded and deepened. A restaurant owning buddy of mine was nearby and said, “Are you seeing this?” knowing how delicate the entire hole digging thing has become since the recent sand collapse death.
I walked over and very politely said something to the kids – a 10-ish boy and a younger girl. The boy instantly offered a wise-assed attitude, the type that too often comes from having wise-ass parents. OK, that’s kinda harsh but the little s*** showed no respect to his elder. Yes, me.
Here's a soon to be inflammatory photo showings the the hole digging. I admit it wasn't much -- more of where it was going. Backing off a bit, the kids were digging in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It was when the kids’ mother later walked over to the still-being-dug hole that I unadvisedly walked over, hoping to iron things out. Big mistake. I should have anticipated the mom's temperament after getting sass from the boy.
Claiming to be a lawyer, she refused to accept or understand our local sensitivity to any sand digs. But things quickly took a bizarre legal turn when the boy said I had taken pictures of them digging the hole. Quite true, though, as can be seen, my photos were shot from a goodly distance, as to not show close-ups of the youngsters, a courtesy that newspapers often demonstrate.
Well, the photo thing sent mommy dearest into a hiss-fit, though I became rather hissified myself -- something I seldom do unless I know I’m in the right.
Despite her alleged lawyerness, the woman was regrettably clueless to the rights of photographers to shoot freely in areas of public domain – or any locations where there is no expectation of privacy. Per Legalbeagle.com, “... In a public park, on a public beach, on a city street or in an outdoor spectacle, like a marathon, you can shoot photos to your heart's content. Take snaps of trees and sidewalks, yes, but go ahead and snap shots of people, too. Be a little careful however if you are using a telephoto lens. Just because your feet are on public land doesn't mean that you can shoot into private property.”
Sidebar: Paparazzi have proven the above telephoto lens aspect to be utterly null and void.
An odd legalese read: "In public areas, an individual does not have a right not to be photographed.”
Things ended on an unsteady keel, by my saying, "I'd agree with you, ma'am, but then we'd both be wrong."
I went back to my volleyball. She sat down in a beach chair and quite obviously began frantically hitting keys on her smartphone, undoubtedly convinced she could find Google proof she was right. Instead, she surely learned she didn't have a legal leg to stand on.
The next time I looked over, the kids had begun building a large sand castle, which is a wonderful use of the shovel and sand. I was so tempted to go over an make nice with the youngsters by saying something positive about their build -- but wisely thought better of it.
E-BIKING THE BEACHES: For my weekly column, out tomorrow, I went kinda large on the e-bike thing, having researched the bikes, modifying my initial suspect stance to the point I’m now quite interested in their potential.
Ab e-bike last weekend at the bay park in HC:
My e-bike interest was hiked when I found there are motorized mountain bikes, able to take the off-road, hands down.
Though I didn't bring it up in my column, I have no doubt larger tired e-bikes can handle wet sand. Hell, I used to manually pedal my mountain bike along the beach – in summer, no less.
With e-bikes legally aligned with pedal bike, they should have beach-going privileges far above other motorized devices.
Thinking almost exclusively in autumn terms, they could be thoroughly kick-ass for fishing the beach, accommodating the many fine fishing folks who can’t afford 4WD buggies but have every right to motor to, say, the Rip in Holgate.
To be sure, Island towns will likely hustle to ban e-bikes on crowded summer beaches. Hopefully such bans will vanish at summer’s end -- or there will be some serious town-level explaining to do since the state is very supportive of these clean green machines.
Here's some legi-reads from my weekly:
A couple years back, these clean-motor bicycles (of sorts) were fully green-lighted and gubernatorially blessed here in Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy, in passing legislation hyping smaller alternative get-around devices, said, “Electric bicycles and motorized scooters offer a fantastic alternative to cars and their use will serve to cut both emissions and congestion in our cities. As we seek to support New Jersey’s Innovation Economy, this bill will help encourage a true reimagining of urban commuting.”
A prime mover behind the successful e-bike legislation was NJ Senator Linda Greenstein. “E-Bikes continue to grow in popularity around the country with many electing this green means of transportation as an alternative to getting behind the wheel,” she said. “They are easy to operate, affordable and allow riders greater mobility. They are environmentally responsible and alleviate roadway congestion. This law reinforces New Jersey’s continued commitment to a healthy environment.”
Obviously, the gear carrying capacity of a beach e-bike is limited, but a rod rack or two -- with tackle in a backpack -- is a mighty fine and efficient way to cover any section of low- tide front beach, along all of LBI.
Safety-wise, e-bikes on the beach don't pose a threat to anyone, especially compared to buggies. Emission-wise, they’re the air’s meow.
Now to the tricky subject of … permits.
I likely won’t make any friends by suggesting that the cost of an “e-bike beach permit” would be a small price to pay for the right to motor Island beaches to fish. They should not be the same cost as buggy permits since the beach upkeep needed for them is minuscule. In fact, imagine the e-bike permit becoming the first time Island towns collaborate for an all-inclusive Island-wide certificate. Such an effort can surely be done in the name of keeping things clean and green. In fact, I foresee more than a few mobile anglers saving a mint on gas by doing e-biking angling, san fumes.
RUNDOWN: As of this typing, there is very brisk bass action in and around Barnegat Inlet, including the pocket immediately north of the North Jetty. Live snagged bunker fill the bass bill.
For bass trollers further off the beach, there are big fish being taken at a brisk clip. Of course, finding the schools is not always a slam dunk, though radio chatter indicates a pretty widespread bite.
Surf stripering isn’t quite in league with boat bassing, but linesiders are showing often enough to convince beach walk-ons they have a decent chance at bringing home the bass bacon.
With nearshore water temps still a bit brisk, the suds stripering might hang in a couple weeks longer, followed by a tough-to-gauge presence of “resident” summer bass. With the sanding under of jetties/groins, what used to be a daily shot at the early a.m. bass populating the rocks is gone, though some Island rocks are reemerging via erosion.
I’d be lax if I didn’t duly note what has too often presented as a blight of sand sharks, ye olde name for dogfish. I got a message from a fellow who had to give up the surfcasting ghost after hours of hooking sand dogs on every cast – but he didn’t go home empty-handed. “I switched to jigs and they (sharks) were even grabbing at the tails, though I caught a take-home bass on a white sassy.”
Being a natural born terror to all junkfish, I have experienced summers sporting macro-bursts of smooth dogs. Less frequent are irruptions of spiny dogs, an exceptional food fish when handled and prepared properly. I’ve also cooked up smooth dogs and they’re OK and all but their rubberier meat is nowhere near the flakier meat of spinys.
As expected, some stunner-grade late-spring black drum are passing along the beachline. I saw a photo of one caught on LBI. It had to be pushing 70 pounds. A few far more edible-sized drum, in the 20-pound range, were caught surfside, on clams. These late-run drum are not spawned out so they must be heading further north to turn into bays, rivers and lagoons.
Weakfishing remains feeble, though jigging pink plastics in common weakfish haunts has attracted a here-and-there sparkler, though no tiderunners, vital to a successful spawn.
Bluefishing remains a bummer. Sure, there are some flashes of former spring passages but nothing steady at all. Best visual was a picture of a fellow who scored maybe a dozen eater-sized blues. Nowadays, I’ll take that all day.
BUST-ABOUT: A fellow fishing from the bulkhead near Andy’s in Barnegat Light was seen trunking an undersized striper, meaning he rushed the illegal catch back to the trunk of his nearby car. The Division of Fish and Wildlife was contacted and enforcement arrived to pop the poacher.
Understand, this was not a major rustling affair, per se, though I’ll bet the eelgrass farm this angler would not have stopped at just one bass, nor would he have stopped at trunk-hiding only bass. The prime take-away is larger than any fine, as in, one never knows who’s monitoring angling goings-on, especially when it comes to stripers. Bass are held sacred to many fishing folks, maybe even a tad overly so. Toe the legal bass line – or else.
I had Marty Rodgers and his family from Ship Bottom, NJ out today for an interesting mix of fishing. We had two keeper sea bass among a lot of throwbacks, as well as a legal 21 inch cod, all at the Tires. We stopped to fish the inlet jetty on the way back and added a 28 and 30 inch striper to the cooler. Both on bunker we snagged right there at the jetty.