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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday Sept. 11 08 -- Sharks abound; ugly itchiness awaits

KURT H. AND A SAND BAR SHARK, HOLGATE. Thursday, September 11, 2008: Waves: Finally settling down; 2-3 feet at the largest. Water clarity: Improved a lot; good to very good – and getting cleaner with NE winds persisting. Water temps: Ocean – low 70s. Bay – mid to upper 70s but dropping rapidly over next couple days. Well, we have a very fallish weekend coming up: cool and crisp at night and moderate day temps. Winds should be relatively cooperative. The fish, on the other hand, are being koi, I mean coy. With fluke off the menu, there’s a shift to weakies, seabass and (far more than usual) the search for small targets, like kingfish, croakers and even blowfish. I’m seeing a somewhat expected emphasis by boat anglers in making sure to bring some meat home to cover added gas costs. Hey, it actually makes sense to me. I had to go supermarketing for fish this past week and I was out $10 in nothing flat. A quick side note on the likes of kingfish, croakers and blowfish. They are some of the cleanest fish to dine upon. The in-meat presence of the likes of PCBs and dioxins is negligible to nonexistent within these small gamefish, especially when compared to striped bass (above 22 inches) and bluefish above 5 pounds. Black seabass fishing is very good on wrecks and reefs. Unfortunately, the seabassing nearshore is phenomenal. Why is that unfortunate? These nearshore seabass are far below the legal 12-inch limit, yet folks are keeping them left and right – including casters who should know better. The shark fishing around Little Egg Inlet (and even along the beachfront) remains downright torrid. How about that 150ish-pound sandbar (brown) shark taken – after a 90-minute fight – near the Holgate tip by Scotty C.? It was caught from the bank. That same area has seen a couple/few larger sandbar sharks (mainly 30 to 50 pounds) taken almost daily. These sharks are not considered dangerous to man but I once had a praying mantis (considered totally harmless) bite the crap out my hand. Believe it or not, there’s a bit of logic in there somewhere. By the by, I have also heard of bull sharks in the mix. These have a very rounded snout and are (roughly) identifiable by unusually small eyes. Be a sport, release all sharks as gently as possible (This is far from fishing but let none of us forget the vile and unforgivable attack on innocent Americans that took place this day in 2001. There is no room to grow indifferent to the radical Muslim al-Qaeda cult (my word) that attacked without provocation – and, no, I will not entertain the moronic religious nonsense that the United States is some sort of diabolic force to Islam. Terrorists are atheists. Al-Qaeda is full-blown scum, to boot. No religion allows wanton murder on a mass scale. Let’s remember the thousands who died this day, the hundreds of thousands who were personally devastated by the immediate loss of loved ones and the millions of us saddened and embittered by the senseless aggression by a band of mindless lowlife goons. May they all burn in hell.” WHAT’S EATING YOU: Holgate is trying to kick into fishing gear – it’s damn slow right now with the exception of that near-astounding shark bite. Still, we have not been able to access the heavily (grass) overgrown back mudflats to look for clams -- and fish some of the weakie-laden back points. Before we even lay foot on that zone, be fully warned that all of ocean County is under a jigger (chigger) alert. For whatever reason, these worst-of-the-worst biters are dangerously thick in area woods and meadows. I bring this up since Holgate has the worst jigger presence of anywhere I have ever experienced. There is virtually no mudflat regular who hasn’t felt the intractable wrath of these near microscopic menaces. And that includes those of us trying all we can to avoid them. Pity those who have unknowingly gone barefooted onto the mudflats – where jiggers are blown and seemingly do just fine in the goosh. I know of three cases (including one child who was frolicking in the slushy mud after his family came ashore to try clamming) who have needed hospitalization from hundred and hundreds of bites – and the indubitable inflammation and itchiness that can (for real) lead to potentially life-threatening reactions by the body. And it is a bite the jigger delivers, not a latch-on, as is the case with ticks. A jigger is the larval phase of the harvest mite. The harvest mite is closely related to ticks but feed differently. Here’s a fine write up on the dining habits of jiggers: “The larval (harvest) mites feed on the skin cells, but not blood, of animals, including humans. The six-legged parasitic larva feeds on a large variety of creatures including humans, rabbits, toads, box turtles, quail, and even some insects. After crawling onto their host, they inject digestive enzymes into the skin that break down skin cells. They do not actually "bite," but instead form a hole in the skin and chew up tiny parts of the inner skin, thus causing severe irritation and swelling. The severe itching is accompanied by red pimple-like bumps (papules) or hives and skin rash or lesions on a sun-exposed area. For humans, itching usually occurs after the larvae detach from the skin.” Note that last point. There is still a majority who think a jigger is still in-skin when the itching begins -- and has to be itched out. Not true. By the time you’ve commenced with scratching your skin to the point of gouges leading to life-long scarring, the larva has fed and, if it makes you feel even a little bit better, has dropped off to slowly die in the alien environment into which you’ve carried it, i.e. your home or vehicle. Anyway, approach the Holgate mudflats – and also the muds near The Dike on the north end of LBI – with the reality that you could easily bring sheer hell into your life should you take a major hit by these hideous little creatures.

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