Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
The Fish Story
With so much undesired spare time on my wi-fi laptop hands, I’ve been eyeing the e-news more than my actionless spiked rods. (Yes, I’ve actually been bait fishing – sorta. See below.)
Despite being a newsman for well over 30 years, I’ve developed this odd loathing ofnewsy news. Proof: I’m reading the news in my truck and couldn’t give a camel’s ass that nuclear talks with the Islamic Republic of Iran have broken down. I did cringe upon reading that somebody’s secretary – I think her name was Kerry – was quoted as saying, “The U.S. isn’t blind or stupid.”
Hey, speak for yourself, lady. Not only is ignorance loaded with bliss, but I thoroughly endorse turning a blind eye to anything in life that’s even remotely aggravating. What’s more, since when do we allow some secretary to take over the floor? OK, maybe during National Secretary Day, but that’s not until April.
So you won’t have to read up on it, there’s this worldwide dread that Iran will use nuclear weapons on neighboring nations. Could happen. Those damn mountain nations just don’t get the nautical concept of spitting into the wind – or pulling the mask off that old Lone Ranger. Being a B-movie fan, I flash back to a goofy movie where all these drunken Mexican bandidos are partying around the campfire and suddenly begin shooting their guns straight into the air until one of them gets all wide-eyed and yells “Oh, sheet! Zee bullets!” – and they all run away with their hands over their heads. Kaboom! Kaboom! “Oh, sheet! Zee fallout!”
But that was all the thought time I gave the Iran nuclear enrichment program – as if an OPEC nation needs further enrichment of any sort. I was far more blown away by an astounding story regarding a McDonald’s in Texas that has banned any punk-ass patrons wearing “saggy pants” – and flashing rapper’s crack.
The manager of that Mickey-D’s told the press that wherever low-baggers sat they would “soil seats for the next customer.” You read about this, so you know I’m not BS’ing, right?
First of all, we all know that Texas is a veritable bastion of urban badness. Yeah, right … ya’ll? Gimme a break.
By the same token, there’s that unslight matter of the Lone Star state leading the entire planet in executions. If I were an urbanely attired, bad-ass Dallasanian – full of piss, rap and vinegar – I might pick a state that isn’t equipped with a costly, state-of-the-art execution facility, currently struggling to make ends meet. It needs capital … adding a whole new dimension to the term “capital punishment.”
“I realize you’re only a 17-year-old, baggy-britches, little puke, but in these-here parts we take the McDonald’s ‘no saggy pants’ code seriously. I’m afraid I have no choice but to sentence your seat-soiling ass to our trend-setting, state-of-the-art execution facility in Huntsville, equipped with easily the best viewing room anywhere. Not a bad seat in the house, I’m fond of saying – though, technically, I’m thinkin’ you’ll actually have the verybest seat in the house – for a while, anyway. Sometimes I just crack myself up.”
Closer to swag reality, I sorta support that ban of bad-ass, Big Whopper-seeking rap-rats. They should be ostracized, mainly because they got no frickin’ common sense. Here they’re presenting all bad-ass, but in these cops shows they do a crime, then trip all over the place trying to hold up their pants and run away. It looks more like a large python just chased them out of a pay toilet. Hell, maybe they should routinely carry around a roll of toilet paper so they can claim they couldn’t have done the crime because they wereindisposed. “You’re trippin,’ boss. That wasn’t me. Look, this roll of TP proves I was in the can when all that s*** was goin’ down. You feelin’ me?”
The thing is many cops are lovin’ the look. Here are these cops with sidewalk-wide, Dunkin’ Donut asses who now only have to waddle over, reach down and grab their writhing suspects – as they’re goin’ crazy trying to untie themselves from their own pants.
And what do these low-baggers always say when they’re getting hauled back to the squad car? “Hey, man, let me pull up my pants.” It’s a little late for that, dumbass.
Anyway, I’m proud to say I’m the dazzling byproduct of a protestingly dressed, thought-we-were-bad-ass, psychedelic age. Therefore, I’d better protest the Mickey-D baggy pants ban as being a groin kick to freedom of expression. What’s more, what’s next? How long will it be before the McDonald’s baggy pants ban also reads, “No plumbers, either”?
CATAMARAN DOWN: I chatted with one of the three Massachusetts sailors aboard the ruined catamaran that hit hard times off bayside Beach Haven. He told me their troubles started harmlessly enough, seemingly. “At first, it just sounded like we were hitting a gravel bottom. It didn’t sound like much.”
Instead of gravel, a rotted piece of submerged pole – the remains of a recently removed buoy post – was fatally ripping through the catamaran’s port pontoon. It was a body blow that soon leaked into the heart of the vessel, forcing the men off the ship. As the sailboat listed badly toward port, the men were picked up and transported to the nearby docks off Engleside Avenue.
I was alerted to the semi-sinking and zipped down to BH. I’m not being flip here, but I have to admit I have long wondered if a larger catamaran would sink if only winged, i.e. could it stay alive and afloat with just one undamaged hull? The crewman I talked to sorta answered that question. “I guess we’ll soon find out.” At press time the vessel was still a-flounder, albeit unsunk.
Background-wise, the three men were sailing from Marion, Mass., to Miami. Things had been going swimmingly until they reached the Barnegat Bay stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).
Their first B-Bay problems reared up on Sunday when they were greeted by the bottom in Double Creek channel. They went hard aground due mainly to a ridiculously low blowout tide. The blowout conditions were compliments of a 40-mph west wind. In fact, the real spoiler for the sailors would be the tides, though the bay itself always gets the blame.
After being pulled off the Double Creek sand bar by Shawn M. of Sea Tow – who was working a series of hard-aground from the tides – the catamaran headed to Beach Haven, via the ICW. There, they spent the night in a bayside cove off Amber Street. The next morning, they got up and anxiously readied themselves to head the hell out to open sea, having had it with Barnegat Bay. Obviously, they never even made the first bend in the road, so to speak.
Through absolutely no fault of their own – having properly negotiated the correct side of the newly placed channel marker – the men and their vessel were again victimized by the epically low tide. The blowout tide had enhanced what might be called the grabbing range of the in-channel water hazard. Despite the vessel’s scant 3.5-foot draft, it was pierced.
And the cat wasn’t the first victim of the hazard. A grapevine warning had been issued earlier regarding the 107 buoy. It read: “As many of you know, Marker 107 had been damaged and was replaced recently by a can style buoy. I was rounding the new buoy yesterday on the way in when I hit something pretty hard and solid below the surface. It is my suspicion that the marker was not completely removed and there is a portion still below the surface. The marker must have snapped off in a weak spot when they tried to remove it. It was high tide when I hit it and it put a good bend in one of my props.”
I’ll steer clear, for the moment, of the possible culpability of those folks who had tried to remove the old channel marker post, breaking it off below the waterline. However, I have to believe the vessel’s owner won’t be letting it slide.
In the meantime, a special warning marker will be placed to mark to hazard.
For updates, check my website at www.jaymanntoday.ning.com.
BEING PATIENT WITH REPLENISHMENT: This is a good spot to write what some folks critical of the beach replenishment method don’t want to hear.
I know significant time and effort are being spent by various Island groups and individuals to have the state’s current beach replenishment methods modified to encourage sandbar salvation/formation. I see their points. However, I know for a solidly grounded fact that method tweaks won’t be happening – at least not during the upcoming Island-long “big fix,” which is still under an “emergency” heading.
Last summer, there was an effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to save some sandbars by tweaking a section of beach during the re-replenishment of Harvey Cedars. It didn’t fare so well. It ended up costing substantially more than replenishing other similarly sized portions of that beachline. The Corps and the replenishment contractor, Great Lakes Dredging, will fully confirm this. What’s more, Great Lakes almost lost some equipment during the sandbar-salvaging experiment. I’m betting Great Lakes will double-think bidding on future LBI projects if such tweaking is required. That’s sorta spooky considering the admirable speed at which that company now does emergency beach fixes.
The upcoming Island-long big fix – from Loveladies to Holgate – is pretty much etched in granite. It is set to start next spring, April-ish. It will pump and pound sand well into tourist times, better known as summer. Fortunately, the mastery of LBI beach replenishment now allows full-blown beachgoer usage, except where the dredging is in full bloom and boom.
I bring this up in hopes of encouraging understandably disgruntled folks to accept – albeit grudgingly – the already formatted replenishment work model. After that initial emergencyshoring up, there just might be some room for romancing the Corps into trying new tweaks during future re-sandings.
Yes, future tweaks shall rapidly arise. The federal/state/local commitment to replenishment is long-term. Remember, Surf City is on its third replenishment, i.e. re-re-replenishment.
RUNDOWN: I’ll use a surf angler named Fred as the symbolic spokesperson of the week. He and his buddy have long set aside the first two weeks of November to fish the LBI suds.
When I drove up to him in Ship Bottom on Monday, he walked up to my truck and offered the lone term “mind-boggling” – a word used, equally, to represent the best of times and worst of times. It wasn’t a mystery as to which of those two polarities Fred was representing, especially when he quickly went far more verbose in describing how mind-bogglingly bad his angling vacation has been.
Not that Fred stands alone at the bottom of the bad-fishing heap. As I noted, he’s symbolic. I have thoroughly lost count of the malcontent surfcasters bemoaning the worst surf fishing known to modern man. I’m hearing the same old-time bitching coming from old-timers so weighed down by years they call me a young’un. I can assure there is no easy or singular answer to the piss-pooredness of this fishing season.
Of seeming import, there has been hectic bird play taking place a few hundred yards off the shoreline, especially off Brant Beach. It’s way too far to surf cast upon. I watched the dive zone though powerful Zeiss binoculars, and there was very little fish-related surface splashing going along with the bird commotion. However, I have heard tell of some large schools of bluefish a-cruise. They can always excite the surface.
I’ve taken to fishing very large GULP grub-shaped tails on a ¾ Kalin jig head. The difference now is I’m not swimming or jumping the tails back in right away. Instead, I’m fishing the setup bait-like, little or no retrieve. I’ll sometimes use a slow retrieve to get both bait and bounce action. Of course, I’m not catching jacks***, but I’ll bet anything the technique would work if there were fish around. Just sayin’.
Not that it’s good fishing news by any fin stretch, but the spiny dogfish presence is outright overwhelming. They have taken over the bottom and even higher up in the water column. They don’t give no never mind to where they eat. From surface waters to bottom sand, if it’s showin’, they’re eatin’. Unbelievably, there are many areas of the world where the species is firmly placed on the endangered and threatened species lists.
Huge numbers of sand eels are out there. I’m not sure if they’re balled up or buried – and being foul-hooked out of the sand. Regardless, nothing is on them. However, the bass being caught just to our north have them in their bellies – as do the very few stripers we’re getting hereabouts. With the piss-poor showing of bunkies and mullet, it makes sense that gamefish will be grabbing sand eels.
Got an email asking if we had any croakers this fall. I didn’t see even one. Considering how thick they were during fall not that many years back, I still think it’s related to the shrimping industry. Croakers are far-and-away the number one DOA bycatch of shrimping.
I should note the very heavy fishing pressure this weekend. Considering how junkified the surfcasting has been, it’s a credit to the staying power of the human fishing spirit. Amazing sunsets have helped the scene.
HOLGATE HAPPENNGS: I went to the Holgate wilderness fishing zone on Sunday and it was like a ghost town down there. OK, so maybe there’s never an overload of cowpokes thereabouts, but I was the Lone Ranger. The weird part was how highly fishable the Holgate waters looked. It turned out the water was just confirming that age-old adage that looks can be a bitch. All right, maybe that’s not the more famed form of that adage, but it fit the scene.
Needlessly maintaining the ghost town theme, the tumbleweeds were ruinous – swapping seaweed for tumbleweeds. Everywhere I cast out, my jigs and plugs snatched gobs of that blood-red, succulent-type seaweed with the rubbery branches.
Get this: That fleshy red seaweed, when dried, is worth a mint in Japan. All it takes is about 10 long, historically dictated preservation steps, replete with humming chants and bursts of inessential ceremonial swordplay. I was going to be fishing only until dark, so I passed on developing a seaweed drying and exporting business.