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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday Oct. 23, 07 -- Windy outside and an equally windy weekly report

Tuesday, October 23, 2007: waves: Building 3 to 5 feet, southerly windswell; very choppy. Water clarity: Good, getting churned fully by 30 mph winds, SE. Plugging potential: fair to poor.

This is a full repeat of late last week. Howling south winds making any type of fishing a tough go – unless you’re with Stu D, on the west point at Holgate. He had a load of small blues, herring, weakfish and large fluke. Elsewhere, very little serious fishing was being done. A few folks figured it would be a good day to try to nab that daily winner in the tourney, hoping to find even an entry-level bass of a qualifying bluefish. With the low number of anglers working the water that seemed like a good theory – until the side-ass gale whipped sand with paint-removing speed.

The winds will go west tomorrow and it’s always a crap shoot as to how quickly things will calm down and be back to fishability. In the meantime, here’s the weekly column with some left field fishing stuff.

STRIPED BASS DERBY ALERT: This is the weekend of the premier boat bassing tourney, the 11th Annual Sea Shell Motel Striped Bass Derby.

This all-tackle, all boat event runs October 26th, 27th and 28th.

If any tourney-ites can find where the big bass are hidden, it’s the folks fishing this contest. Per usual, many of the top bassers have prepared heavily for this. Word is out that major linesiders are in play, though located out quite a way – but within the allowable fishing parameters of the Derby.

There are cash prizes for top ten heaviest fish plus special prizes for junior angler, lady angler and fly fishermen. There are also top-notch door prizes compliments of local businesses.

Prizes:

1st place: $2500

2nd place: $1500

3rd place: $1000

4th place: $800

5th place: $700

6th place: $600

7th place: $550

8th place: $450

9th place: $350

10th place: $300.

The event is topped off with a huge BBQ, where the weighed-in fish are fried up.

For last-minute info go to: http://www.seashell-lbi.com/bass1.html.

CLASSIC CHATTER: The first two-week segment of the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic is in the books and the chapter on “Bluefish” is fat -- and steadily fattening -- while the striped bass section is at an all-time thinness. These number are borderline astounding: 222 bluefish have been entered in the first two weeks and an insanely scant 12 bass. No that’s not a misprint: a total of 12 bass, with the largest in the past week weighing in at something like 15 pounds. Same time last year: 74 bass.

However, this silence of the stripers is not a tourney troubler by any stretch. In fact, after that high-bar-setting 42-pounder was caught early in the Classic, the playing field has since leveled so much that anyone going to any street end can take big prizes with a very modest (borderline small) bass. It’s great. Sign up and get crankin’ – since plugging is as god as way as any to find a better bas right about now. For daily tips and updates of bassing LBI, go to http://jaymanntoday.ning.com/.

I’ve oft pointed out that it’s not the number of fish that make a tourney exciting, it’s the winning nature of the fish being caught, regardless of the size. Apropos to the season, it’s like a football team winning a game 9 to 6 instead of a more likely 28 – 21. It’s a win regardless of the lowness of score.

I do want to point out that it is nothing new for bass to be delayed for the “derby.”

Every year at this time I like to pull out my collection of tattered and yellowing copies of the “Long Beach Island Derby News,” a newspaper-sized publication that I have only found from the 1956 Derby. It was written primarily by legendary LBI fishing columnist, Dick Clements, an outdoor writer far ahead of his time, with a fabulously funny style and an immense knowledge of the sport of surfcasting.

In a couple of the 1956 issues, Clements talked about the horrible bass fishing, as proven by a winning “Segment” fish of 9 pounds and a weekly winner straining the scales with its 4-pound, 11-ounce weight. That was with over 2,000 anglers in the Derby.

The interesting thing in that publication is the way anglers were blaming oddly warm fall weather as the culprit. Sound familiar? They were way ahead of their Global Warming times.

Clements wrote: “Most fishermen are still blaming the weather for the poor results shown to date in the second running of the Island Striped Bass Derby …

“The stripers have failed to move south in their usual great numbers and with warm weather and water continuing they are just not moving.” The date of this entry: November 9, 1956.

FORRAGE FORAY: In a Congressional power move with larger impacts than even savvy saltwater anglers realize, Congressman Jim Saxton is trying to place a moratorium on bunkering in the EEZ. You heard right, Jim wants all factory ship that target bunker – often to the tune of millions of pounds a season – to cease and desist.

According to a pres release, Saxton’s bill, H.R. 3840, is modeled after the successful Atlantic Striped Bass Act. Saxton and others have supported and renewed that Act (EEZ-wise) since the 1980s.

Per the release, “H.R. 3840 establishes a moratorium on commercial Atlantic menhaden fishing for reduction purposes in Atlantic coastal waters until a scientifically-determined catch level can be established that also considers the role of menhaden in the ecosystem.

Prohibits commercial Atlantic menhaden fishing for reduction purposes in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone that extends 200 miles into the Atlantic Ocean from the coast.”

As the struggle to protect stripers flies to a who new level (see below), this bill could have more of an impact on fisheries than all other management moves combined.

In fact, if commercial fishermen would wise up, they’d be hugely in favor of Saxton’s effort to save all forage fish, the surest way to help all species to rebuild. Of course, the pros always seem to side with each other, even when it means killing their own livelihood. They’ll defend the factory ships – the same ships that move into rich fishing areas and destroy the stocks for all time, killing the little guy, then moving off to some other global location to repeat their dirty work.

SOUTH SHORE FOR SURE: As many fellow buggyists know, I’m one of those help-every-timers. Even when I’m pressed for time, I feel compelled to stop and try to lend a helping hand to a sunken soul. I have some great techniques for freeing vehicles. And have loosed more sinkees than I can count. However, I have seen many buggies that are unfreeable and, on many occasions, costly buggies about to go into the drink.

That brings up the always-touchy issue of calling in the tow pros. In our case it’s the fine folks at South Shore Towing and Recovery in West Creek. Commit their phone number to memory: 597-9964

Chatting with Pete at South Shore, he fully understood when fellow mobile anglers offer a helping hand to one of their brothers in buggying. However, he noted that impromptu sand diggers should know when things have gotten too deep – and have gotten way too hairy.

“One of the problems we run into is people who are stuck really bad,” said Pete. “Fellow fishermen try to help and by the time we get there the water is brushing up against the truck.”

He has also seen the aftermath of some failed efforts pull out a beaches buggy.

“I’ve seen windows smashed out after chains or straps break and fly back,” he said.

Needles to say, those wildly thrashing chains and straps have the potential to decapitate anyone in the rebound zone. A few years back in Holgate, I saw a heavy nylon towing strap (with metal hook) snap and knock the side mirror off a nearby vehicle waiting to exit the beach, scaring the bejeezus out of its driver, sitting inside sipping a coffee. I doubly recall that incident because I had already told folks to stand back as the tow effort began. The mirror was annihilated at a distance far beyond where I figured things were safe.

Pete has seen some other signs of failed improvised towing efforts. “We pull up and here’s a truck with its bumper laying on the sand from someone trying to jerk a (buggy) out.”

Unlike most of us – even those of us with the moosiest buggies -- South Shore is among the only folks with the proper vehicle for extricating a solidly sunken truck or SUV. Its 4WD tow truck is specially geared to beach or backwoods pullouts.

South Shore’s tow truck does its buggy-saving moves in two ways. “First, we can winch out a vehicle, “ said Pete, “But we can then also tow it off the beach.”

A winch and a tow are two vastly different functions.

Many a buried buggy simply needs to get back on its own four feet, so to speak. A winch out slowly but surely inches out a buggy that is hung up on the chassis undercarriage – the most common hang-up on the books. Once winched to solider ground, the buggy can resume its journey – after paying proper free-up fees.

However, in those frequent cases where 2WD or even inadequate all-wheel-drive folks go sand-bound -- failing to proceed almost immediately -- the only hope of de-beaching is to be winched then towed out. A fell tow is also needed when a buggy experiences a fatal mechanical failure, most notably the loss of 4WD or the failure to start.

So, what about the damage after being towed out – the wallet whacking, that is. Well, I liken it to a patient who comes to a doctor with a horrific pain that he begs the doctor to cure. Then, when the pain is gone, the patient wails over the doctor’s bill.

If South Shore can hook and pull a vehicle from a ramp or beach buggy entrance it is $150. Once the tow truck has to air down and hit the sand, it goes up to $300 – and higher if there is also a drive to the tip of Holgate, as happened a while back when an Escalade, sporting those see through rims and hyped up tires, sunk near the Holgate Rip. It was hopelessly mired (2 miles from the Holgate entrance). Making matters worse, a Hummer blew its transmission trying to help the Caddy out. Note: Blowing a tranny is a very common occurrence when trying to pull out a dead weight stuck vehicle. The only good thing for the friendly Hummer owner was the fact there just happened to be a 4WD tow truck on-scene.

The prices for a pullout and tow are in-line when one considers the sky-high cost of a buying and maintaining a 4WD tow truck.

I get a head shake over those folks who I see sheer panic mode as their new SUV is bogged down and waves are lapping at the tires then, after being rescued by South Shore, go ballistic over the tow-out price. Boy, if that isn’t the same as a deathly ill person being saved by a doctor then igniting over the doctor’s fees.

“We’re not out to kill the fishermen. I’ve been doing the same prices for four years,” said Pete.

So when do you turn to towing – and hold that course?

It’s a tough call. All properly equipped buggies have digging utensils -- and a working knowledge of accepted free-up techniques. If all is right with the world, start digging away while looking around to see who your fiends are.

However, the main factor is always the pressing need – as in the ocean pressing in for the kill, or a pressing engagement on the mainland or a pressing need to reach prescription drugs. When in doubt, shout out. Call South Shore and wait for them to arrive. Don’t call them as a back-up, then hectically try to dig yourself free. Such false alarms could eventually leave us with no one to turn to in a big crunch.

CLEMENTS WISDOM: I want to end with another piece of Dick Clements writing. It

“A bass fisherman. This is the true pinnacle. Here only the elite of the fishing world dwell, for the apprenticeship is hard …

“Weaker men quail at the thought of long hours of squidding until arms go weak, and in weather that makes the gulls stay grounded …

“You will see that it is a dedicated man indeed who will continue in this hunt for a striped bass.

”Add to this, what about the fish himself? He is no great shakes as a fighter, a blue half his size will fight rings around him with a little left over. He is powerful, it’s true , as plenty of fishermen who have tried to slug it out with him have found out, but fight … no!

“On top of this he is a prima donna bar none. He’ll roll in front of you and laugh at everything you throw his way. He’ll turn down any and all your squids or plugs and swim away with a flip of his spade tail then calmly wolf down the monstrosity on some amateur’s line.

“… Why would a human being want to go weeks on end, red-eyed from lack of sleep from fishing night tides, soaked by rain and splashed by stinging salt spray, hands forever frozen by bitter winds and utterly fatigued with hours and hours of fruitless casting and reeling, casting and reeling? I’ve asked a dozen bass fishermen and gotten a dozen different answers. Nobody seems to know, but the best part is nobody seems to care. All’s necessary is for a bass to be there and for you to have a rod and reel and enough stamina to wait him out.”

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