Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Each new year is like this 365-page book being written on a daily basis. I have this sense that you can idly sit back and accept whatever life scripts into the book’s pages or you can go out and write your own pages. While, personally, I’m going to wait for the movie version to come out, I strongly suggest you sharpen your pen and get crackin’ on the sassy saga that will become “2008: The year of …”
Anyway, I’m back. A couple weeks of vacation and I’m ready to take on the world. Now, what the hell’s there to do?
Convenience fishing – non boating -- is confined to the Pines, where the pickerel feeding mentality is more than willing to thaw out on a moment’s notice.
Of course, “thaw out” might be an over dramatization. We did have those two brutally cold couple days and three night – actually they weren’t that far from a normal winter fare – but prior to that it had been in the 50s and this week will see 60s. Pickerel love those weatherly swings and show their pleasure by annihilating any spinners thrown anywhere in their water highly tannic waters.
If you’re willing to go the extra mile out to sea – or, more simply, jump aboard a local headboat -- there are some tog-rich wrecks awaiting. However, there are also some less-than-ready wrecks. The above is the compilation of a number of wreck reports I have, the best of which saw blackfish coming aboard to the point where an emailer had four fish over 5 pounds. Another published report had nary a fish caught. On the whole, the wrecks still have prime potential not to mention they’re the only shows in town.
REEF RUEFULNESS: Now, to the serious crap.
The Artificial Reef bill flew through the state senate but the sister bill never even made it to the Assembly, held from the floor by last-minute scheduling – and shenanigans?
I want to include a letter from the group spearheading the Save the Reefs effort.
“I'm sorry to report that Bill A3986 was not heard by the General Assembly…
“Optimistically, I watched most of the proceedings on-line thru the day. Surprisingly at 10:45, bill sponsor Assemblyman Sean Kean addressed Speaker Roberts and asked that, all though not posted, A3986 be heard and voted upon before the 2007 session ended. The request was an irregular and bold move by the Republicans. Immediately another assembly member countered by making a motion that A3986 be tabled for another time. A vote followed resulting in a close 40 to 31 decision in favor of the opposition.
“Moments later Republican Leader Alex DeCroce called me from the Assembly floor to describe their efforts and apologized for failing. He reported that our so-called bill co-sponsor, Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (Democrat from Cape May), voted against A3986 being heard. Van Drew is the Senate candidate that the RFA campaigned for, helped get elected and was supposed to be on our side. It became blatantly clear that Van Drew is a turncoat and has been on the commercial industry’s side all along. We have been duped!
“We lost the battle but not the war! We were very, very close to a win and all of us should be commended for our efforts. What we have accomplished in less than a year is most impressive. Our crusade will continue and we shall prevail!
Reef Rescue will schedule a meeting for later in the month. I look forward to future strategy.
Thanks to all, Pete Grimbilas, Reef Rescue.”
PISSING MY VACATION AWAY: The clamming is so bad on the Holgate mud flats that I’ve turned to harvesting piss clams – “soft shell” or “fryer” clams, as they’re more discreetly called by the likes of restaurant folks.
What an untapped – and fully delicious – bivalve commodity.
In an area no wider than my truck’s bed, I got 150 clams in nothing flat – though a numb hand came along with them since you have to hand pick them by reaching down into deeper sand and mud, which is frigid this time of year.
Piss clams are way too delicate for raking, except to take off the first three to five inches of upper sand/clay/mud material. They bust pretty easy. A busted shell renders this type clam nearly unusable, not for any sanitation reasons but because these are very grit-prone creatures and a busted shell lets grit inside, grit the animal cannot expel.
Speaking of which, purging is very vital with piss clams. The cooler method works great. After rinsing off surface sand and grit (I do that on-site at the flats), spread a load of clams (I put as many as 200) along the bottom of a max-large cooler -- smaller cooler, fewer clams. Add saltwater to maybe 6 inches deep, over the clams, and let sit overnight. As with all clams, using freshwater for purging is the kiss of death. However, some freshwater can be added to saltwater, maybe even an equal amount, to make sure there is enough for a full purge.
A couple cool things happen during overnight purging. As all the clam gunk, along with the grit, is purged by the clam, the water soon gets absolutely crystal clear, regardless of how muddy it may have looked at first. This is the clams’ filtering action. Of course, the ugly stuff goes downward so you have very carefully remove the clean clams from the water since all that sludge is beneath them on the bottom of the cooler.
Point to ponder: Many folks (and I used to be one of them) just bypass the purge process. “Ahh, ya just cook ‘em and eat ‘em. Grit and all.” Well, just take a look at what the clams purged out and left on the cooler bottom. We ain’t talking just a few grains of sand but also this slimy mucous stuff along with long strands of fecal matter – by the loadful.
I’ve become a purger.
Anyway, to do a double-purge number on any bivalves, you can carefully remove the overnight clams, empty that hideous looking stuff, rinse the cooler and repeat the flush out by repeating the spreading and covering with saltwater. Admittedly, that final purge seems a bit much but, man, are those clams sweet and clear after that – kinda like special occasion clams.
Cooking is done by boiling or steaming. Note: a ton of internalized water comes out of soft shell clams – and they cook a bit slower than hard shells, quahogs. The siphon part is basically inedible but works as a fine place to grip the clam when downing the rest. Again, they’re delectable. As with most of my seafood, I go big on Bay Seasoning.
CLASSIC FEE UP A TAD: We had the post-Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic meeting and looking at the fiscal side of things the price has got to go up to $30 per angler (kids stay the same).
Still, that’s six weeks of very active angling, very nice prize money plus a growing list of special gift and cash prizes above and beyond tourney payouts all for a very minimal layout.
Hey, if that five bucks is enough to drive certain folks out, so be it. But, I’d sure hope folks will compare the Classic to the likes of a two-day boat fishing event that often begins at somewhere near $125 per boat – and escalates to many thousands of bucks when Calcuttas come into play. The Classic is a great deal – and makes fall a lot more fun.
Another minor change may be the switch to outside-vehicle Classic window stickers. Since these window stick-ons came into play, they have been applied inside, thus some vehicles have been able to adhere many years’ worth.
The problem is many newer vehicles (mine included) have lightly (or even heavily) tinted windows making inside stickers very hard to see. Also, we’re not sure how many folks even use these commemorative handouts. If you happen to like these stick-ons, let me know. If you’re part of a club with surf casters who enter the tourney maybe you can bring up this seemingly small issue. I say “seemingly” because in the past we’ve tried to discontinue certain innocuous tourney things and the reactions were surprisingly heated.
STORM BLOG: It’s not the size but the duration.
I’m talking about storms, coastal storms in particular.
Over the holidays, we got blasted by a couple storms. But, like the last 100 storms or so, we saw nothing but one-day systems.
It’s pretty obvious that we’ve been dodging multi-round volley storms, i.e. storms lasting days on end.
You don’t have to be long of tooth to recall the days of legendary three-day nor’easters. Those three-day category storms are most often what brings down the house, pun intended. During the Great March Storm, the third day had light winds and no precipitation but all was pretty much lost by then, as the 7th and 8th high tides bulldozed the Island.
It’s a mystery as to why we’ve suddenly gone one-day with virtually big storms. It’s either because we’ve been lucky as all get-out or it might even be one of those weird things being created by global climactic changes, causing systems to move faster.
Regardless of the cause(s), one of these days we’ll see a catch-up storm.
Mega-storms are graded by how often they occur.
You’re talking some mighty wicked weather when you’re up to the likes of a 50-year storm. The 100-year storm seems to be a popular “Big One,” a reference point for scientists and coastal residents alike. That 100-year storm looms large because it has a good chance of happening in one’s lifetime. And you won’t soon forget it.
The one concept that always perks my imagination – one I have written about -- has to do with the scientific inevitability that someday there must also be a 1,000-year storm, a 10,000-year storm and (getting highly hypothetical) a million-year storm.
Theoretically, a storm of even absurd dimensions could happen any year. The relatively recent “perfect storm” was likely something like a 200-year storm, though it obviously never made landfall. What that storm would have done had it come together adjacent to the coastline is almost unfathomable.
Despite the inescapability of mega-storms, it’s actually nothing to lose sleep over. I’m serious. Anyone who lives and breathes the LBI lifestyle knows full well that the day of wrecking ball reckoning will surely come. To use a tired but applicable cliché: It’s not if it’ll happen but when. And, truth be told, I’m pretty sure we’ll see our big one long before California sees its big earth-shaking big one or before Haleakala Crater on Maui will erupt offering the Valley Isle it’s big one. We just tally in the fun and quality life that can be had before that day of destructive reckoning arrives. Oh, we also make it a point to foster the good weather sense to bolt, post haste, when anything even resembling a big one comes calling.
SAD FAREWELL: The close-knit LBI fishing community was deeply saddened by the untimely death of local angler Ric O Brien, 41, son of Margaret at Jingles Bait and Tackle.
Ric was a personal friend. It was a bitter blow to hear the fellow baitman – and a top-notch angler – had died suddenly Saturday morning of apparent natural causes, possibly a heart attack, though that has yet to be determined.
Ric had been in apparent good health but had awakened early in the morning with a worsening medical problem, including chills. He had gotten out of bed and gone into another room where he collapsed at some point. Arriving paramedics were able to establish a heartbeat using defibrillation equipment, however he passed shortly after arriving at SOCH.
The last time I saw Ric was at the end of mulleting season when he and his family were at the back rip and I was netting starfish for his young daughter to play with. Since that time, we had celled each other in search of late-season stripers.
Ric was a storehouse of angling knowledge, gained from his mom, Margaret, and his dad, Jingles, who passed in1996. He was one of the few people it was always a pleasure to see pulling up to me on the beach.
His passing is just a brutal blow and one many of us are having a hard time acknowledging. His mom asked that he be remembered for the good times, which is what I’ll be doing.Services for Ric are private but donations in his name can be made to either the Beach Haven First Aid Squad (PO Box 1291, Beach Haven, 08008) or the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic (c/o Southern Ocean County Chamber of commerce, 265 9th Street, Ship Bottom, 08008).