Tuesday, November 30, 2010:
It’s a tough go. Gale warnings are flying through tomorrow, winds going from south to west. SCA will be entrenched right through to the weekend. The hard onshore winds might kick up some striper action. Even those bass that moved out to deeper waster will follow in the warmer downwelled water back to the beach. They could hang for a while after the howling offshores take over.
Bass do fatten up for winter, though nothing like bluefish, weakfish and other gamers. Bass eat all winter long, especially down off the Delmarva, where anglers catch fat fish through the coldest months. This is not to say stripers don’t cut down on their daily nutritional intake. Off Jersey, overwintering bass reduce dining to as little as 30 percent of summer intake. This can be seen in otolith (ear bone) studies. The year rings (annuli) clearly show the growth slowdown during the coldest winter months. Bass are not yet in that lowest intake zone. I say we’ll have plenty of schoolie bass into the new year, thanks to long-distance la Nina effects. Fairly soon, clams will be the preferable bait.
Sorry boaters, chances for getting out (for days ahead) look piss-poor. There may be some in-bay angling opportunities by Friday.
DEER CROSSHAIRS: We’re only days away from the Dec. 6 commencements of “buck” season, i.e. firearm season. I bring that up to alert any woodsgoers to watch your asses when out there -- and, yes, they’ll do something with a .270 slug within said buttocks. I’m a firm worry monger when it comes to the insanely intense “open” deer season. The bad part is you can be well away from hunting grounds and still be within range of an over-fire, a.k.a. domestic friendly fire.
As for deer, they’re out there in overstocked numbers. The problem is they continue to jam into areas adjacent to mankind. Careful stand placement will allow hunters to legally snipe those backyard deer, as they move in (or away) from feeding areas.
NOTE: Sunday deer hunting is still strictly restricted to archery hunting, including crossbows. No firearms. No exceptions.
While safety zones have been reduced to 150 feet for archery hunters (during firearms season) that DOES NOT apply to gunslingers, who are still required to maintain a 450-foot safety zone from homes, roads and public-use areas. That 450 feet is a football field and a half. Hey, even military snipers use that known football distance as a personal perspective.
The Law: Private property must be strictly posted in NJ or you as a citizen (hiker, biker, outdoorsperson) can access that property. That DOES NOT apply to hunters. When hunting, you must always know where you are in terms of land ownership. If you wander out of a designated hunting area and onto private property, even if you’re in the middle of Timbuktu, you’re breaking the law, big time. If you set up your deer stand and it turns out you’re too close to some buildings you didn’t even know were there, you’re still in serious trouble if you get busted there. The only way to safely deer hunt with a firearm is to first heavily reconnoiter your hunting area – far ahead of opening day.
Conservation note: If you’re one of the many who nobly contribute deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program, the program’s butchers cannot take (unannounced) deer during the Six-Day Firearm Season. It’s venison overload. Hunters who regularly contribute to that program during other seasons (bow, etc.) can arrange for their usual drop-offs.
Don’t play dumb by thinking you can take a rifle shot should you spot a black bear, like the one recently seen near Chatsworth. That controversial bear season only applies to North Jersey counties. Shoot one down this way and face fines that’ll ruin your Christmas -- and much of 2011.
(Donations greatly appreciated. Jay Mann, 222 18th Street, Ship Bottom, NJ 08008-4418. PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org)