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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday, April 30, 2007: Wild Winds and 800 Fuzes of beer on the wall

Monday, April 30, 2007:

Winds gone wild – flashing all around. I’m not sure what the wind forecast was for today but we just hit over SSW 40 mph gusts (early afternoon). That is not the stuff of comfortable bait fishing. There is enough offshore to the blow to allow for surfcasting. I had three weekend surf fishing reports since yesterday’s blog. None of those were kick-ass, though E.S. of Pa. had a 29-inch keeper.

I will reiterate that virtually any deeper hole near Barnegat Inlet has bass, including some less-than-usual backyard docks near HBH channel -- and even on the shallows near the Double Creek/Dike zone. West Dike has had bass, including some late-day plugging stripers. It is mainly an anchor-up, chum clam bite.

On the south end, clams and clam chum will pretty damn near assure you of striper action. Do not bank on keepers unless you’re live-lining.

Of interest is the prolonged winter flounder bite along Double Creek (east) and over toward Myer’s Hole.

Bluefishing is fair to very good. On average, blues are 3 pounds, mainly heads. The action is typically cyclical, as school cycle through and find the chumline.

The reports of larger blues – to 10-pound, all-headers – is a bit baffling for this usually small-bluefish time of year, though the slammers could very well be from the more northerly stock (coming in from deeper water off Delaware Bay) that I have written about. I have yet to get any specific reports of chubbier purple-ish blues, likely the Carolina stock, though some of the Great Bay angler chatter has noted plumper blues. It seems the Carolina fish often invade Great bay upon first arriving hereabouts.

A load of folks are black drumfish seeking, a few finding their mark from Grassy over to the LE Inlet shoals. Still, the sharpies working Tuckerton Bay are secretly doing some serious scale rattling, with a couple 50s supposedly being taken. Clams and clam chum are a must. By the by, there are also some radio squawks about small eater-sized black drum. I have no serious prejudice against these fine fighting – and eating – fish but I don’t dine on them.

The tog are in town – and out on the nearshore reefs. The blackies are also taking up position on the beachfront jetties. I have no word on the North Jetty tog play. That famed blackfish zone, especially near the submerged part of the North Jetty, actually runs a bit late when it comes to taking on its tog quota.

FUZES GONE WILD: The fuze crews are being blown away by the number of explosive devices now being found during the Surf City beach sand cleanup. The latest count had exceeded 800 devices and still ticking.

As you’ll be reading on many media fronts, the Surf City situation has gone to the War Room, literally.

Down in D.C. every military branch has gathered, in brainstorming formation, hoping to figure what, exactly, is happening – or, more exactly what happened -- in the nearshore waters off LBI. How did that myriad of military munitions nestle into the deep-down ocean bottom sands near LBI?

As I noted in my past blogs, the origins of these explosives may lie in their vintage.

I am not even remotely an expert on military munitions but I am way up there when it comes to treasure hunting and digging up old stuff. I was the first person to use a modern metal detector on LBI’s beaches (see “recall” below) My first reaction when hearing of the fuze findings was to modernize them, figuring they couldn’t possibly be all the old. Then I got a clearer understand of how deep down the dredge pipes were going to suck up this stuff, upwards of 200 deep in the sand. I then jumped on the way-old boat. Since then, I have been looking at books on military munitions dating back to the Spanish American War. Similar to bullets, there was not significant changes in the look of fuzes for 100 years.

So how far back do these explosives go?

Well, the unexploded ordinance experts are flipping through munitions books dating back to the Civil War.

One now has to wonder if there was once a massive cleanout of military munitions done right off LBI, a deep-sixing of decades and decades worth of stored explosives. That could explain a huge diversity in the types – and vintages – of the fuzes. That would also imply one singular drop – though possibly going on for days and weeks.

I recently read with interest the history of Naval Weapons Station Earle up in Colt’s Neck, North Jersey, the military site where Surf City fuzes are being taken for destruction. I quote from a publication entitled, “Commander Navy Region Northeast.”

“Naval Weapons Station Earle began in 1943, when a pressing need developed for an Ammunition Depot in the greater New York area to support the war effort.”

That “pressing need” speaks volumes. I can tell you right now that when he military says “pressing need” it is usually after fully achieving SNAFU conditions and working toward a FUBAR rating.

Polite interpretations: SNAFU: Situation normal all fouled up and FUBAR: Fouled Up Beyond Any Repair.

Since its creation, Earle has performed exemplary duty – which I’m highly inclined to say about any group that has large explosives at its immediate disposal. However, there are some indications that there wasn’t a glowingly proficient program of munitions management prior to Earle. No surprise to me that the Surf City fuzes seem to date from, well, before 1943.

So, does it really matter from whence came all those explosives, seeing they were deeply buried in the ocean bottom sands and probably would have happily resided there for the history of the planet had they not been resurrected?

Well, it has been said in a similar context, “Enquiring minds want to know” And I’m right at the front of that enquiring-mind line, bag of popcorn in my right hand, Sobe energy drink in the other and sporting this goofy “I just gotta hear this” smile on my face.

And, yes, I would still like to own a couple of those fuzes for show-and-tell, maybe put one on a silver chain and hang it around my neck when dancing at Joe pop’s this summer. Ok, so maybe they weigh ten pounds or more, I got some mighty thick chains from the Seventies. Just nix those peace sign pendants.

RECALL: Talk about explosive irony.

I was one of the very first metal detectorists on LBI, back in the late Sixties.

My first forays onto the beaches would draw a veritable army of followers, looking oddly like a flock of seagulls following someone carrying a bag of bread. I would stop on occasion just to look up at the dozens of semi-blank faces transfixed by my detector’s loop, which was swung rhythmically back and forth.

Virtually no one knew for sure what I was doing. However, a goodly number of folks were alarmed, especially older folks. Get this: The machine reminded many WWII types of a handheld minesweeper, which, in fact, was the prototypical design for future metal detectors. The hovering fear was the possibility that some sort of old explosives were still buried in the beach sand, maybe from the Big One. I was asked on at least a dozen occasions “Looking for bombs, eh?”

I would allay those fears by telling gawkers I was actually using radioactive isotopic bombardment to sterilize the sand crabs, which were overpopulating. That instantly relieved everyone , being those were the days of free love and birth control. Beside, I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell them I was finding money and jewelry within the hot summer sands.

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Comment by retej2 on April 30, 2007 at 6:11pm
Jay - cool site. I'm interested in dockside bayfishing and am not sure if you are talking West Bay or East Bay. Is there any action on the Beach Haven docks - ie 15th st south?
Comment by theking on May 2, 2007 at 9:53pm
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