Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

(The following is my weekly SandPaper column, per requests. It can be read at www.thesandpaper.net however, that is a pdf file, meaning you can’t cut-and-paste sections or stories. I DO NOT DO THE PAPER’S WEBSITE. Note: Only http://jaymanntoday.ning.com/ has enough space to hold the column in its entirety.)

After J.M. and Talk of Turbines
AFTER J.M.: Did anybody see that National Geographic Channel multi-hour special called “Aftermath: Zero Population”?
That was some spooky stuff.
The show’s premise is seriously simple. Stated on the channel’s website: “What would happen if every single person on Earth simply disappeared?”
I was hoping that didn’t include me – and maybe Aishwarya Rai -- but it seems the theme is “Seeya, mankind!” – while every other everlovin’ thing lives. And it’s not like we didn’t have it coming.
The channel tries to soften what is essentially the ultimate doomsday dictation by semi-consolingly adding that all humanity is “Gone. Not dead, just gone.” I guess I feel better.
Contrarily, the channel hyped the show with a computer image of a rotting Statue of Liberty and an overhead view of a section of highway with hundreds of crashed human-empty cars winding into the distance, where a large city eerily smolders in the distance.
Despite NGC’s assurance that we were “Not dead, just gone,” it sure looked like show depicted humanity as a dead duck.
Actually, the ducks survive. As do dogs and zoo animals and cockroaches and rats and really nasty squirrels. Also making it into the human-less future were loads of weeds, all of them growing through the cracks that formed as human devices deteriorated. In fact, per the shows trick photography, entire cities were rendered lush woodlands within a couple commercial breaks.
And how about those dogs gone quickly wild, after Alpo and leashes went missing!?
Despite being part canine myself – lower-left family tree, father’s side, pre-Ice Age – I was significantly spooked seeing footage of post-humanity Rovers immediately reverting back to the pack, to the distasteful degree that bigger breeds were quickly feeding off those cute little dogs that human had bred for their laps. Apartment dogs became finger food for Shepards and pit bulls.
It was during the program’s clips of family pets gone wild that the most disturbing images of the entire program were interspersed. With no serious referencing by the National Geographic Channel, actual footage of post-Katrina pets gone batty was shown. By the looks of the dog fighting savagery, I’m guessing some of those animals had been lying around idling watching Ultimate Fighting matches on TV back in their cuddly in-home days.
Note: While researching a post-Katrina story, I was told about the animal pandemonium found when displaced residents were eventually allowed to return to abandoned towns in Louisiana and Mississippi. A vet and animal control officer I know went down there to help ready evacuated towns for repopulating. They were stunned by how quickly the law of the jungle had taken over among escaped pets. The dogfight footage used on this NGC show is actually mild compared to some of the scenes shot by officials during the recovery efforts. And, yes, many a small dog was gone when owners returned.
“Taurus, I’m so glad you’re still alive -- but where’s your little pal, Poof-poof?”
It was during the Katrina video inserts that it hit me: It is very likely that the developers of this show picked up the good-bye-to-humans theme when seeing the long-term Katrina aftermath footage from Louisiana and Mississippi. Many of the weeded roadway scenes in the show were from down there. An Island electrician who went to Mississippi to work on rewiring towns – some abandoned for a mere year – told me he was stunned that main roads were already overgrown with weeds, while some power lines had vines not only to the top but already creeping along the electrical lines.
On an angling front, the show gives attention to post-human fish stocks. For me, NGC’s read was a typical oversimplification, whereby mankind’s overnight exit leads to a near instantaneous return of marine species in incalculable numbers. The program even proposes that the millions of vessels left in the water when mankind poofs away will all eventually sink and become amazing structure.
That sudden stock-spurt prophecy might be real – or not. Just as possible: Certain larger human-special species, i.e. stripers, could take over the eco-ladder to the point of insane imbalances for thousands of years to come. Also, a here-and-now fear of farmed fish escaping and ruining the DNA of wild species could play out when mankind takes a powder.
Melding “Aftermath: Zero Population” into our bayside, I know for a fact that clam populations would quickly go crazy – except for the unslight matter of the Oyster Creek Generating Station melting down, making the nearby bay a glowing mess for a few hundred years, give or take.
The show actually goes to great lengths to prognosticate the meltdowns of unattended nuclear power plants around the world. Hey, if there’s any reason the planet, as a quasi-living entity, might not want humans to vanish it’s to upkeep nuclear facilities. It’s nice being needed, eh?
By the by, the program’s read of post-mankind changes is a thinly disguised condemnation of mankind now at work. It openly references the inane fishing practices of today. And it’s not like we’re being kind to the marine ecosystems. Still, it seems the show is often more inclined to take shots as humanity’s current indiscretions as opposed to scientifically predicting where things would go without us.
Anyway, the show covers loads of other terrifying after-humanity concepts. It’s an eye-opener with some very cool insights into what we might want to change before we all simultaneously fly off a better place. I strongly suggest taking in this series – to be re-shown for weeks to come.
TO EVERY TURBINE: Email question: “Jay, will the proposed wind turbines hurt or help fishing? …”
Trust me, they would help fishing in all ways.
I will sidestep (with full respect) the fact that wind turbines would surely enlighten one and all to natural cures for our nation’s blind obsession with petroleum. Instead, moving on to angling-specific benefits, it can be pointed out that anywhere turbines have been placed, fine fishing follows. Turbines are, in our fishing vernacular, “structure” of the highest order. And not just water-column structures. The base of these turbines also creates a reef-like domain.
Let me offer a speedy 101 on turbine placement. This synopsis is based on a company known as BluewaterWind (a Babcock and Brown firm), which is currently proceeding with a wind turbine project off Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and has applications in to place turbines off N.J.
A turbine begins with the building of a wide, usually rounded, rock base. There’s the first of the bottom structure.
A 15-foot wide tube is placed in the center of the rock base. One end is driven into the seabed, the other extends upward to near the surface of the ocean. A temporary marker buoy is placed above the foundation tube during the building process.
Conduits to hold electrical cables are placed in the foundation. These tubes face toward the beachline and will later be extended all the way to land, becoming the pipeline for the generated power.
Next, a transitional piece is placed into the foundation tube. It extends to the surface. A second layer of rocks is now placed on the bottom for added support. More bottom structure arrives via this step.
Then come the high visibility above-water parts.
After the temporary marker buoys are removed, ship-mounted cranes install the tower portion, inserting it into the tube, via the transitional piece.
The top piece of the tower, called the nacelle, is placed. The nacelle contains the blades and generator.
Electrical cables from the generator run downward toward the foundation, passing through the tower and tube. The cables pass into the conduits, which are now extended all the way to shore -- buried about 6 feet or more under the sand.
A third and final layer of rock is placed on the foundation. More structure – and the layer that would be fished upon.
To create a wind park, sometimes called a wind farm, numerous turbines are arranged in a grid formation, allowing enough space between each one to prevent wind deflection or drafting.
Per BluewaterWind informational publications, the turbines are placed 6 miles at sea. They do not interfere with beachside views of the ocean.
Also, studies now clearly indicate that here is plenty enough space between turbines for birds to safely fly, even at night.
SIDEBAR: A quick look at that bird danger angle offers a paradox that drives folks like myself crazy. Bird lovers are already railing against turbine because they fear the towers may lead to the death of, by their own admission “a few birds” that fly into the structures. And I do see that small point of concern. However, how can that “possible” loss be worse than the catastrophic damage being done to avian life by air and water pollution due to the use of carbon-based power? Hell, pollution is now fully jeopardizing over half of all bird species on the planet. In fact, wind turbine naysayers have no practical alternatives to the turbines – much the way anti nuclear-power people have no sensible alternatives when wanting to nix all nukes, opting instead to forever foul the environment to the point of no return.
But back to those turbine wind parks. Those base rocks will be ideal rookery habitat while the portion of the tower extending upward through the water column will act as cover. I have to think mahi-mahi will literally school around the towers.

HOLGATE STILL HAPPENIN’: “Jay … Is has the Island yet been cut through in Holgate? Jeff.”
Holgate stands definitely wholesome, for now.
This is actually the time of year the Island is supposed to gain glorious gobs of sand. Low storm-age and allegedly lighter winds of summer should allow beachfront berms to form. These then migrate toward the dunes, securing the beachline for bad wintry times ahead. That’s in theory, mind you.
Still, Holgate is indubitably destined to be dissected. It’s that’s proverbial matter of when, not if.
To know when Holgate will be lost, you need to understand the Big Break principal.
History has shown that catastrophic Island breaks are always related to catastrophic storms. This is not to say that slow and insidious erosion isn’t a major perpetrator when it comes to readying the Island for a cataclysmic cutting. The difference is, slow erosion – insidious slicings -- can be fixed by man or even nature -- as is the case in Holgate, where even a gradual break-through at the weakened points will have a tendency to refill (sand-over, as it were), allowing for safe low-tide passage via foot or buggy.
It is that major hit – the memorable 50-year coupe de grace storm -- that will hack asunder all weakened parts of the Island. On the south end, this breakage will occur when a height-of-the-storm channel is scoured twixt beach and bay. In the case of Holgate, the channeling has traditionally occurred right near the road’s end parking lot. However, hard structure placed in that area since the last big break will likely cause the cut-through to occur further south, by maybe a 1,000 feet or more. This is a super significant shift.
This Big Break occurrence won’t be just any cut-across. It’ll be the biggy; the life-changer for we of a live-for-Holgate ilk. The new channel will hold its own, post-blow, widening and deepening with each passing tide. It could quickly become navigable. It might even be named, something eccentrically creative, like Holgate Inlet. The south 1.5 miles (or so) of LBI will be an island unto itself, as it had been in the past.
The significance of the sublet shift in where the future Holgate Inlet will form is a modern matter. The new high-chance breakpoint is purely on the property of the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge. The manager of that refuge has long opposed any manmade efforts to buttress (replenish) the eroded beachline there, a beachline that has lost fully 50 percent of its sand volume over the past decade or so. It would take a legal battle royale to win rights to affect a manual stemming of a newly formed channel.
Should the channel form closer to the parking lot, which is land owned by Long Beach township and private residents, a sand fill or even a bridge could be placed to allow the public to access the state-owned riparian property of Holgate.
For now, we bide time –and watch closely as the Public Trust Doctrine gains in strength, requiring land owners, even the feds, to “maintain” all beach zones – and assure public access to same. That doctrine could loom large should Holgate part ways with state residents, requiring an engineering fix.
SKY SCOPING: It’s already time to talk hurricanes.
Hurricane Bertha is roaming out there. And she’s a spooky gal. No, not because she’s any threat to us. She’s not. It has more to do with the fact she was born way over in the Cape Verde zone (off equatorial Africa), a hurricane rookery that really shouldn’t get crankin’ until way later in the summer.
The reason to sweat out the so-called Cape Verde season is the Jersey-worrisome fact that 2/3 of all tropical systems originating there eventually turn into the western Atlantic, i.e. toward us. Life is simpler for us
Hopefully the tropics will come to their senses and back off sprinkling hurricane seeds that far eastward, this early.
When speaking of hurricanes, you have to ponder water temps. This is as cold water a summer as many of us way-backers can recall. In fact, looking at my journals, I’ve recorded a number of July 4th weekends when ocean water temps were in the mid 70s, as opposed to the mid-50s over the weekend.
Most folks know that upwelling is the culprit when unseasonably low water temps put a hurting on our much-anticipated summer activities. This year the south winds – prime mover in ushering in cooler upwelled water -- have not backed off for nearly 2 months.
We are seeing a reprieve this week, as nicer 60-degree-plus water has inched in, but the protracted affects of southerlies have the ocean all but geared to quickly revert back to frigid, often overnight.
Could we doomed to cold water all summer? Nope.
There is a threshold whereby solar heating of the ocean, along with warmer southern currents immediately offshore, will win out. However, that can take until August. What we need now is a backing off of the southeasterly winds, via a wind switch to the southwest and west or a simply calm down. Anecdotal note: Cooler waters early in the summer often mark a tendency to see milder water very late into the fall. Unfortunately, that’s not always the best thing for fall fishing -- but there are tons of last-minute factors that can take over the sky-scene.
A troubling meteoro-condition not being discussed much is a building drought, especially in the Pinelands, where many paddling creeks are low to impassable.
Last weekend, I was visiting a favorite wild blueberry field located within a one-time bog zone. For the past 10 years, that field has been marked by lush fens (very damp, often water-covered patches) and deep-water creeks. The fens are now crunch-dry and the creeks are reduced to a chain of stale puddles between stretches of dried mud. This is doubly troubling. Not only are we heading into the longest and hottest part of the summer but there sure seems to be an insidious dropping of our water table and even the deep-down aquifer levels.
Run-Down: Fluking is torrid in some spots and simply brisk in others. Fluke keeping is slow to bitterly frustrating. However, I like the feel and attitude of this emailer, “Jay, I read about all the frustration over no fluke to take home but I’ve been patient and eventually get dinner filets every trip and have even put filets away for the winter. I agree with you that many people are throwing around small fluke as if they’re trash. I wish the wardens would watch for that and fine a few people.”
I had nearly a dozen e-reports of hot fluke zones with low bagging counts.
There were two 13-pound fluke taken near the Middle Grounds. One came into Polly’s dock. Details on the second one are lacking. Anyone have data?
Seabassing is good when conditions allow ventures out to the reefs or close-in structure. Early birds get the bounty.
When cleaner waters move in, the shoreline bassing (for resident stripers) should pick up quickly. While water temps remain cold, jigs and slow plugs might find a taker or two. Clams and (especially) worms are a sure bait choice.
Clearer water should allow for kingfish finds. Think fake-o baits or worm pieces on red float rigs. Don’t be surprised if fluke grab on. The surf has had a load of flatties, virtually none approaching take-home.
Best bet: The South Jetty (from the rocks) and inside Barnegat Inlet (from boat) are decent picks, with cleaner water and plenty of bait.
GULP! continues to be the trick if you want any chance of bettering your keeper ratio of fluke. I’m hearing different angles of using it. Some folks swear by using sheets and cutting to squid-like strips while other folks are going with any of the assorted GULP! shapes. I’m also hearing it’s important to trade it out as the juices drain from used pieces. Per usual, you don’t want to let that stuff dry on the hook unless you have pneumatic tolls to chisel it off the hook.
I had a second report of kingfish in the surf going almost exclusively for GULP! or related fake-o baits. I had one interesting report of a kingfish chocking itself on a larger bunker bait for bass, somehow getting a huge chunk and hook in its mouth.

BAYOU BAD BOYS: Here’s a party boat tale from Louisiana -- but fits perfectly in-port hereabouts.
Federal fisheries officials last week levied fines of $125,000 against not only the headboat captain/owner of Captain Charlie's (David T. Harrelson of Lockport, La.) but also the 18 recreational anglers aboard that vessel.
As you all know too well, we’ve been dealing with a nasty headboat issue, primarily down Cape May way, whereby captains have seemingly allowed fares to take undersized tog. Even when such violations were exposed, the fines were not immense and the anglers themselves were seldom on the receiving end of fines. Though Asian anglers were singled out as the tog-smuggling culprits, I did some further research and found it was an equal-opportunity illegality. A couple of the worst violators were everyday Anglos, running live fish down the coast. As of this date, those guys have not been caught.
It should be noted that the fishing folks aboard the Captain Charlie’s weren’t saints. (Get it? New Orleans saints?) Actually, only the captain was from Louisiana. The fares included 17 Georgians and one Floridian, none of whom had Louisiana fishing licenses.
What’s more, when captured, the fishermen had 909 red snapper. That was doubly damning since the recreational red snapper season was closed at the time, in both state and federal waters. Are we giving out a “World’s Dumbest Fishing Criminals” award yet?
This year there is a 100-boat limit for the Beach Haven Marlin and tuna Club’s famed White Marlin Invitational Tournament – the there are only 25 openings remaining.
Many anglers are literally saving their fuel for this prestigious offshore contest. Don’t miss the cut-off.
If you plan to fish this tournament, register today.
Contact Phil Hiller, 856-234-1612.

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