Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

April 23, 08 -- Entire weekly blog

Lost Rod and Missing Teeth; Ordinance Stripped Down

LOST ROD LOOK-AROUND: Maybe some of you weekday surfcasters can keep a helping eye out for this fellow’s choice plugging rod (see email below this blog), lost in the Peahala Park suds.
Hey, we’ve all been there when it comes to unpleasantly parting with a prized possession during a fishing session. Weirdest lose I’ve heard of occurred years back when an angler – I’ll leave unnamed but will chuckle as he reads this – who took out his dentures, placed them on the back bumper of his buggy (don’t ask) and later drove off.
The whole situation would have been a laugher if this fellow weren’t so upset over the prospect of catching unholy hell from his wife. He didn’t even crack a smile (or thereabouts) when I told him I’d help him look for them since I was really good at driving the beach “looking for choppers.”
Realizing it was a tough room, I took up the search. By the by, there’s this certain subtle beach cruising speed that must be assumed when hunting for a full set of false teeth – incredibly costly teeth, mind you.
And damn if I didn’t find them – with some help.
(Gospel truth) As I inched along in my truck, I saw this seagull up ahead acting oddly, which is saying a lot considering there is no normal when it comes to gull conduct. The bird was attracted to -- and quite obviously apprehensive of -- its newest find, a set of human teeth. It was nervously pacing back and forth a few feet away from the dentures, it’s head bobbing and weaving to either get a closer look at the unprecedented find or to be ready to bolt should they suddenly leap forth in a frenzied attack.
I guess it’s the less than normal parameters of my own behavior that had me slowing down a bit, reaching over for my always-nearby camera, just in case that once-in-a-lifetime shot came along when the gull picks up the teeth in its bill and begins nonchalantly walking around with this huge human-looking smile on its face -- walking over to its buddies, saying, “Hey, check me out, I’m a happy tourist.”
Anyway, here’s the email: … I lost my favorite plugging pole over the weekend, a sacrifice taken by the waves. Doubt it even turns up, but I felt I needed to send a few emails to some sites to see if anyone sees it turn up.
I was fishing the rock jetty on 105 Street in Peahala Park (I think that's
the correct town for that street). My daughter was practicing casting,
and I guess the sand spike wasn't firmly in the ground (my fault for not
checking). A short while later after she took a break, I noticed the
spike rolling in the shore break, with no pole...
It was an 8ft G Loomis with a Quantum Cabo 40. Nice rod, and again, my
favorite plugger... I am sure its gone in the depths, but I remember
seeing a few stories from last fall of people finding rods in the surf.
Thanks for your help. Jim C.

FROM DISROBING TO THE PUBLIC TRUST DOCTRINE: There is some angling-based ado over the just-adopted Long Beach Township ordinance prohibiting disrobing on township streets. Not surprisingly (to me), this ordinance loosed some genuine concern about whether or not anglers prepping for the beach could be so daring as to take their chest waders off and on, streetside.
And that’s not an unfounded fear. I’ll explain why, via historic precedent.
There are NJ Island towns (some very familiar, though unnamed for now) that have been -- and still are – supremely strict about enforcing disrobing ordinances, primarily targeting surfers/waveriders as they get in and out of their wetsuits in the street, usually next to their vehicles.
Surfers (myself included) have been known to publicly employ the towel-wrap technique to trade off cold drippy swimsuits for dry duds. It’s easy getting the swimsuit off-body while keeping towel properly secured but it’s one helluva time getting a pair of pants or short all the way up while maintaining credible coverage.
Per complainants (mainly beach block homeowners), waveriders have allegedly gone full monty when switching from bathing suits to street clothes, or vice-versa. I say alleged because I have genuine doubts about how often blatant nakedness comes to the fore when juxtaposed to the number of times homeowners claim (to the police) they saw escaped skin.
In my surfing past, I have been vociferously warned by officers not to “disrobe” on the street when I was preparing to simply take off my full wetsuit – wearing a legitimate swimming suit on underneath. On a surf-site street, an officer once aggressively confronted me when I was readying to take off my two-piece sweat suit, beneath which I wore a very nice swimsuit (if I do say so myself).
Locally, I can garner dozens, make that hundreds, of surfer testimonies about having gone through this fierce “disrobing” confrontation for even the slightest attire removal.
At this point, I’ll even admit that a few rowdy waveriders likely needed to be told by cops to tune down their take-offs and put-ons.
Paradoxically, when fishing I wear neoprene chestwaders, the same material as the wetsuit I wear when waveriding. The waders cover almost as much of me as a full wetsuit, yet the later can be an ordinance buster. Now that’s a very fine line for law enforcement to draw. By the by, quite a few hardcore surfcasters also don full wetsuits when working the likes of the Barnegat Light inside shoals.
I use this known conflict point to demonstrate the length to which any “No Disrobing” ordinance can be taken if law enforcement starts pulling at loose threads. Even if the ordinance was not intended to strip away public rights, it can easily go south very quickly, especially when aggressive property owners (and even renters) see the ordinance as a chance to clean house on folks daring to park in front of their property. While the boys in blue tend to react less aggressively to fishermen donning or removing chestwaders, those unquenchably cantankerous property owners are a whole different matter. Many (if not most) surfcasters readying to hit the beach have been confronted with “Hey, you can’t park there. You’re blocking all my driveways.” Now, those insatiable (and illegal) complainants will have a whole new tool to call the cops over. “They’re changing their clothes. I want you to arrest them immediately.”
Anyway, this and any local disrobing ordinance inadvertently exposes a very delicate Island problem, namely the reason behind surfers, beachgoers and even visiting anglers needing to go streetside – go public, as it were -- when trying to toggle between street wear and beach attire. LBI suffers from a critical shortage of changing facilities, i.e. public or commercial bathhouses or restrooms. While such relief-based facilities might seem a mere option for coastal towns, the increasingly influential Public Trust Doctrine begs to differ. Since all citizens must be allowed access to the beach and sea, part of that right includes the assurance of appropriate parking (not a mile from the sand) and facilities common to fully enjoying a beach experience. His is actually a major issue – one already influencing the proposed beach replenishment project.
I’m of course being instantly scratched off the Christmas card list of all Island towns by bringing this up. Municipalities go insanely bonkers at the mere mention of a lack in public facilities, most often pointing feverishly at one low-access minimally-functional “bayside park” area, which is portrayed as “more than enough” to accommodate tens of thousands of daily beachgoers.
Hey, I’m not even remotely behind street-end Port-a-Johns and such, as are now being proposed for LBI by the state – under the mandates of the Public Trust Doctrine. All I’m suggesting is discretely backing way off when it comes to earnestly enforcing “Disrobing” ordinances. It’s not going to take the courts very long to start siding with folks who swear they had no practical choice except to go the streetside towel-wrap route to ready themselves for the beach.

RUN-DOWN: I’m getting word on just how decent the bass bite was over the weekend, mainly Saturday, South End. In a small zone (a couple jetty lengths) over 60 bass were taken on clams. As nearly as I can figure, only one keeper came out of the sudsy mix, though I also heard of a weakie or two. That push in schoolies is nearly 10 days earlier than last year’s first serious surf action. We’re all hoping this’ll usher in the monster bass – that astounded anglers in Virginia and Maryland over the winter, where 60-pounder actually became commonplace. Not only have I never come close to catching a 60-pound bass, I’ve never even seen one. Hey, this could might very well be LBI’s year of the super striper, based on bass stocks we’ve been protecting since the 1980s.
Along those linesider lines, the 2008 Simply Bassin’ Spring Tournament registration forms will be in the shops this week. This tourney has become a great grass-roots event, floated by the strong support of the participating shops. Make sure to sign up so due respect can be given to the largest bass you’ve ever caught – arriving this spring.
UGLY INLET: Little Egg Inlet had a hard time of it this past winter.
As Barnegat Inlet gets ready to host the Currituck hopper-dredger for one of its longest visits ever, the inlet area at the South End is all over the place, literally. Waves break in the designated inlet when even a smallish swell is running.
I’m told there is an effort by boat captains to have Little Egg’s so-called “Middle Channel” designated (and marked) as the primary channel. The channel that the Coast Guard annually marks as “Little Egg Inlet” is supposedly so tricky, depth-wise, that mariners no longer trust it.
If you have any info on the effort to re-mark LE Inlet, please call or email me so I can help contact various authorities.

BANGING THE DRUM: A major black drum – 77 pounds-2 ounces, 49-inch length and 35-inch girth -- was taken by Kimberly Mooney from Mystic Island. The fish was taken April 19 in east Little Egg Harbor off Beach Haven. It went for a clam gob.
While Mooney’s monster drum is a super hookup, it is 30 pounds off the state record, set last May 13, when Bill Kinzy of Southampton, Burlington County, caught a 107-pound drum while fishing Delaware Bay aboard the charter Sandi Pearl.
Kinzy’s record-breaking drum also went for a chunk of surf clam, giving a pretty sharp insight into how to fish for these often-massive bottom feeders.
Black drum are the largest member of the famed drumfish family, including over 150 species. The name derives from the drumming sound these fish can produce by using muscle contractions to rap against against a large and complex swim bladder. The sound is often referred to as croaking. Well known local drum include weakfish, kingfish, croaker, red drum (redfish or channel bass) and spot.
A black drum of 70 pounds or larger is likely over 50 years old.
In recent years, black drum have made a fairly significant comeback, having once been a major component of the local angling realm back in the distant days (1800s). While never up there with the famed red drum (channel bass), it is still a very respectable angling opponent, especially when fished with medium gear.
While I’ve heard chatroom prattle of black drum being a “tasty” fish, that is note even remotely applicable to a fish is over 25 pounds. Yes, I have tried preparing larger drum -- and won’t go into the details except to say it has huge gastronomical detractions.
Small drum, especially those just passing the minimum size of 16 inches, are a whole other edibility story. They can be filleted (or eaten in the round) and delight the palette. If I had to pick a cut-off point for “high edibility” in black drum it would be in the 10-pound range – but, then, I’m hyper-picky when it comes to seafood supremeness.
But onward to the finer side of the black drum – which is the fun side of battling them. There are folks who have totally tuned into the spring march-through of major black drum. Some top anglers last year took over 100 fish above 25 pounds – all taken in the short (90-day?) spawning stretch.
The best rig for drum is a simple striper-like bottom rig, though every thing should be up-sized for what is essentially our largest inshore gamefish.
Note: Black drum are an ideal circle hook fish, due to both the shape of their mouths and the tendency for them to suck up a bait and slowly move off – that slow pressure being the prime factor behind the effectiveness of circle hooks.
While medium saltwater gear makes drum fishing great fun, you don’t want to use a line-test that easily reaches break-point -- if for no other reason than not wanting to leave a break-off fish with a sore mouth, a dangling lip hook and some trailing monofilament as it heads into spawn. That’s no way to attract a mate – unless body piecings are also becoming popular in the fish realm.
And how do you know if black drum are around. Listen up. “I think it’s interesting how you can hear a drum noise coming,” noted Margaret from Jingles Bait and Tackle, who has boat fished the bay for drum when the fish were literally announcing their presence.
That these fish would be energetically drumming this time of year makes sense. Research indicates that a prime function of the drum sound is for mating/spawning. Just such partying is why the drum are funneling here en mass, as they concentrate while passing through Little Egg Inlet before spreading out to head toward favored backbay locales, many of which are up lagoon complexes like Beach Haven West.
BIZARE SIDEBAR: This is one of those tales you can’t believe even after hear it. A recent CBS report told of a family in Florida convinced their house was haunted because of odd unearthly booming sounds that would all but vibrate the walls. What’s more, other homes in the vicinity were experiencing the same eerie pounding sound. It took scientific investigators awhile but an odd answer to the mysterious bellowing was found in a nearby waterway. Per CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella, “Their ghost was a fish's mating call, booming through the seawall of their backyard (waterway) and reverberating into their walls.”
Marine biologist Jim Locascio pinpointed the sound to a black drum fish.
Being good relocated (retiree) homeowners, their next question was “How do we get rid of them (the drum)?”
Geez, where have I heard that “get rid of “solution before?
The report’s findings have simultaneously solved a load of similar odd-sound mysteries, centered on heretofore unexplained croaking, pounding, thumping, even whining noises heard by folks living in homes adjacent to bays, lakes and particularly lagoons.
Seems that spawning fish are actually up there, racket-wise. When microphones are placed in the certain water during spawn time, it is just this side of a frog-loaded swamp symphony.
Wanna listen in to the wild partying going on down their in fishy spawnland?
It can be done -- but not by simply wrapping a regular microphone in a plastic and dropping it down under. All you’ll hear is the sound of a plastic bag pressing against the microphone.
To tune into marine-based raves, you’ll need hydrophones, true underwater microphones. These subaquatic listening devices contain piezoelectric transducer that give off electrical signatures when reacting to pressure, like that arriving from sound waves being transmitted through water.
In essence, a regular microphone picks up sound waves directly whereas a hydrophone picks up the pressure of arriving sound waves passing through water; assigning the waves a tonality, which is then fed to the listener.
If you’re one of those able to shell out three C-notes, the best entry-level hydrophone I’ve found comes via DolphinEAR (http://www.dolphinear.com).

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