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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

A Coyote Growls in Gotham,

Tracks of World-class Wildlife

A coyote in Harlem. Sounds like a good book title, eh?

Last week, a not so Wiley coyote – actually a Wilena coyote -- found itself stuck in an urban quagmire. The decidedly suburban beast was spotted scooting hurriedly around Harlem, frantically trying to get its GPS working, mumbling, “I’m thinkin’ this is not the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Reservation.”

The perplexed canid was seen by a load of urbanites, many of whom had only recently been watching “Life After People,” a TV series wherein humanity suddenly disappears and wild creatures move in to take over.

I like the way one observer put it: “The coyote actually looked a lot less peculiar than some of the people I see in this neighborhood.”

Animal control officers were alerted and, after a dragnet, the metropolitan misfit was cornered in a cemetery. The young female coyote was humanely subdued, with the help of a tranquilizer gun fired by an animal control marksman. The officer then had to fend off dozens of requests to buy the tranquilizer gun. “Yo, man, whatchu want for that gat?”

The subdued mammal was taken to the Bronx zoo for recovery and observation. She will either stay on as an exhibit or be released back into the frozen wilds. After chatting with nearby zoo animals about the digs –and its fine food -- Wilena the Harlem Coyote was last seen thoughtfully jotting down a list of compelling reasons she is far too dangerous and unpredictable to be released back into the wild -- where her last meal was the rotten entrails from roadkill ‘possum.

By the by, this coyote was the third one captured deep within the concrete chasms of Gotham, going back ten years.

Historically, these crafty canines have repeatedly been seen making forays into even the thickest urban jungles, arriving primarily though sewer systems. Citizens, believing the coyotes are hungry scraggly dogs, often feed them.

This up-and-personal human interaction has some coyote making themselves overly at ease in downtown terrain. A couple years back, a healthy full-grown coyote nonchalantly passed through a propped open door of a Chicago Quizno’s. Once inside, the customer-like canine stretched, did one of those tooth-displaying yawns and plopped itself down near a soda machine, seemingly reading the overhead sandwich board. It hung there for 40 minutes, until someone thought to maybe call animal control. Many of the patrons calmly finished their sandwiches with the coyote hanging out nearby. It allegedly asked one lunch-eater, “Hey, bro, you gonna finish all that Number 4?”

"It wasn't aggressive at all," Quizno’s restaurant manager Bina Patel told the Chicago Tribune. "It was just looking around."

Wildlife experts and animal control personnel are seeing more and more of this aberrant animal behavior when well-meaning people pander coyotes.

“Ninety-five percent of this problem is a human problem, and we really need to focus on that 95% to solve it," said Nicole Rosmarino, of the ecological group WildEarth Guardians.

TRACKING WORLDCLASS CREATURES:

While on the subject of wildlife watching, I got a short tracking session in after the recent snow show. Off Route 72, Barnegat, I came across eastern cottontail rabbit tracks. This nonindigenous (Old World) species often pussyfoots atop deep snow -- to get to any higher-up vegetation. I’ve come across these hares well under the thick snow, essentially submarining around out of sight, eating grass within tiny hollow-outs.

Little known fact: Rabbits are crepuscular, which makes no sense to the rabbits but means they’re busiest at dusk and dawn, pretty much resting throughout the day and night. Nice work if you can get it.

I also came across red fox tracks.

Camouflaged by its own commonness, the red fox is one of the coolest creatures we’ve got in our NJ wildlife catalog. I, myself, didn’t realize this fox species’ world-class coolness until I started researching it, after getting an email from a fellow asking if coyotes eat red foxes.

No way. Not a predatory prayer for the coyote. Turns out a red fox can outrun a coyote without so much as breaking a sweat. In fact, I’ve seen coyote chasing a fox where the chuckling fox intentionally turns around and runs backwards, making all kinds of lewd remarks to its pursuers.

OK, so maybe I just dreamt that up, but the speed of a red fox can actually be tabulated in superlative terms. It’s tied for 6th on the list of the ten fastest mammals on the planet, capable of top speeds just under 50 mph – and for goodly distances at that. This is not to say coyotes are dawdlers. They can move at about 40 mph, for stints. But, simple math dictates that after an hour’s chase, a fox will be 10 miles ahead of a pack of coyotes.

“(Pant, pant.) Where the hell is he?”

“(Pant, pant.) I don’t know. I can’t even see him up ahead any more. You and your ‘Let’s go eat this fox. He’s slow as molasses.’”

Not only is the red fox speedy, it’s got endurance to die for. Per nature studies, the red fox’s fast-footedness makes it the farthest-ranging mammalian carnivore in the world. Hell, you might see one crossing Route 72 at noon and it’ll be in Tierra Del Fuego by that night. Obviously, that’s a smidge of an exaggeration but I’ve oft recognized that following the trail of a red fox can take some pretty far-reaching twists and turns.

Sadly, red foxes can’t outrun bullets. The non-bothersome species is a common target of the type hunters only out for bloodletting. I’m in full accord with hunts that help keep certain species in check or bring food to the table but shooting red foxes is just trophy seeking. Hey, if a hunter is so damn hard up for a crafty target, why not go after some of them-there Taliban? I’m thinking a trophy hunter’s bravado will instantly evaporate when a targeted species returns fire via an AK-47 or rocket-propelled grenades. “Sorry, I thought you were a fox!”

While we on the rambling subject of world-class wildlife, we should take a fond – albeit fleeting -- glance at our peregrine falcons. When we see one of these birds perched hereabouts, as we often do in Holgate, it’s a bit hard to register that we’re looking at the fastest moving creature on Earth. And here I thought the Jersey Devil held that honor.

With new laser-based speed measuring devices coming into popularity, straight-line speeds of a peregrine have oft been recorded at 180 mph. Then, get this, when it swoops down its speed reaches 270 mph! Imagine taking a beetle to the face at that speed?

I oft tell the tale of seeing a falcon fully annihilate a hapless pigeon. A bunch of us were fishing winter flounder near Hochstrasser when I looked over toward the nearby bridge, following a commotion among that span’s resident pigeon flock. I can’t say I saw the falcon in attack mode, per se. It was more like a dark steak, a bit similar in speed and look to a trail left behind a nighttime meteorite. The impact of falcon and pigeon couldn’t be missed. Feathers flew like a July 4th chrysanthemum firework going off. Soon, winds carried a snow squall of feather onto our fishing spot. The falcon had lit upon a dock piling, a naked pigeon in its talons. Ouch.

SNOW GO: It’s hard for me to conjure up anything overly positive to say about this saturation bombing by the snow gods. The piled up wads of whiteness block me from most long-distance outback activities.

If push comes to eco-shove, I guess I can highlight the benefits of thick snow as a boom for the Pineland’s water table. Also, slow melting snow cover enhances the formation of vernal ponds -- springtime wetlands, essential to the survival of our state’s amphibian populations. The frogs will surely shine this spring. Ahhhh, spring …

On an uglier eco-note, I’ve read studies indicating that the prolonged and repeated use of salt and gravel on roadways leads to run-off so rich in minerals it can unbalance the chemical makeup of waterways, especially brackish zones.

As for the storms themselves, this many nor’easters in succession are surely causing nonpoint source pollution, washed from roads and lawns, to hit the bay. However, the inflow of ocean waters, pushed bayward by northeast winds, is also helping to purge the bay, leading to an ecologically refreshing water exchange.

An oddity of the weekend storm, ocean scallops washed up on the beach in Ship Bottom. That’s very unusual. In fact, I’ve never seen a single stranded ocean scallop on LBI’s sands, though it’s not as if I’ve dedicated my life to seeking stranded mollusks. The ones that came ashore were whole, though frozen from exposure. Still edible? Give ‘em a try. Let me know.

ORVS, FREE NO MORE: Email: “What’s your thoughts on the new registration requirements for all off-road vehicles, especially off-road motorcycles? J.D.”

There is off-road riding and there is off-road rallying, J.D.

Huge difference -- and one I witnessed just last week. I was hiking a dirt road that has become ORV (off-road vehicle) central. As I was about to turn into some thick woods, an entire family of roving quad riders passed by. It included mom, dad, teen-ish Susie and Little Johnny. The group somehow resembled a mallard duck family coolly cruising along. These were real nice profoundly polite ORV folks. In Fact, Little Johnny, atop his very downsized quad, gave me a high-five as he passed.

Then, less than five minutes later, I was scrambling out of the way of whining dirt bike riders, as they flew by me, fishtailing and spewing forth enough dust that I had to cover my mouth – and stem the flow of evil words about to fly forth. I admit, the young guys did, in passing, offer me friendly waves, but hey.

That was symbolic of the two different worlds of ORV’ing, the later damaging the sport to the current critical point.

Dirt biking the fire ditches and back trails is not alien to me. Back in the day, I often rode the Pines on sundry ORVs, primarily an ornery three-wheeler I owned for many years. I roamed far and wide atop that quiet cruiser. It was so subdued, noise-wise, I often snuck up on wildlife – that would scream and throw things at me for scaring them so badly.

I also owned a slightly noisier mid-size water-cooled 2-stroke dirt bike, which I had equipped with a “silencer” exhaust system. Even at full-throttle, I was well below 90db – and rode it in such a way that I seldom peaked anywhere near that noise level. That was a lot faster than my three-wheeler, so I could safely zip away when pissed off deer began throwing rocks at me.

I got out of dirt biking after my ride was flagrantly stolen down in North Carolina. I was livid. The sloppy Joe southern cops that showed up couldn’t have cared less about the theft of my dirt bike, except at that one sensitive point in their non-investigation when I angrily hissed, “It was probably one of your redneck kids stole it.”

“What chu just say, boy?” responded one of the deputies.

“Sir, I said ‘It was probably one of those red-legged grebes stole it.’”

“What the hell’s a red-legged grebe, boy?”

“Uh, they’re really famous for stealin’ dirt bikes, Sir.”

“Hell, I never heard of ‘em.”

“Imagine that, (dumbass)”

“What chu just say, boy?”

As for the current push to sure make all forms of off-road transportation are registered, I’m far more inclined to give a test run to the concept of greater and greater noise reduction for all types of dirt bikes and related ORVs. However, as I’ve oft-noted in here, most dirt bikers defiantly refuse to go the quiet route, feeling it is their inalienable right to make the harshest of noise when zipping through quiet woodlands.

All in all, this registration thing is simply another layer of apprehension dirt bikers will face. But, I assure you they’ll still be riding roughshod out there.

This is a timely question in lieu of all the storms we’ve been having, eating away at beaches.

I’ll begin by assuring it takes a long time to find enough fishing tackle to make even a single payment on a good metal detector, a good one running between $400 and $1000.

To a angler/detectorist working the wet sands after a blow, the most valuable fishing item found with any regularity is a good old Hopkins lure. In fact, after digging drab discolored coins and lead sinkers all day, a gleaming stainless steel Hopkins looks real nice. The fact they now cost up to 8 bucks a pop at the shop, adds some ka-ching.

I currently have 127 “pure” Hopkins lures, found after countless storms over numerous decades. I have shorties, smoothies, longies, roughies. “Pure” stainless Hopkins, older ones made prior to the early 1980s, don’t care about no stinkin’ saltwater – and stay in super shape even after sinking into the briny sand for a multi-decade stay.

Unfortunately, nowadays I get more and more of the modern Hopkins, made of base metal. I’m not sure exactly when the Hopkins Company began using base metal. For some reason, the company wasn’t announcing its quality nosedive. Those of us versed in coastal metal detecting sure saw the change. The debased models showed pits in the surface after only a few burial years. They’re also drawn to a magnet – dead giveaway.

Even the best Hopkins sometimes demand some spot clean-up. The fast-rusting treble hooks that came along for the burial often stain the stainless. It can take some elbow grease to rub off the rust residue, helped by Whink, a product I hype in here for dozens of fishing and boating usages. Whink removes rust from things you thought would forever bear a red FEO2 discoloration.

Outside Hopkins – and a few other far less common all-stainless spoons – the main angling finds are lead-based, as in a myriad sinkers. I’ve found them in 5-gallon bucket quantities. I sell them for scrap – and still have hundreds left over for fishing.

I have dug dozens and dozens of fishing pliers. The high-quality jobbers still work perfectly after a little clean up. In fact, I recently found a pair of out-of-my-range “titanium” pliers two feet down in the wet sand. I hosed them off and they immediately worked flawlessly. Ka-ching to the tune of $200. Other pliers were salvageable only after a soaking in vinegar, a bath in automobile Purple Stuff, a total dousing in WD40 and a wire brush off. I’ve brought some ugly pliers well back to life.

My best fishing-related metal detector find was a very thick 14K gold striped bass money clip with a diamond eye, obviously custom made. Oddly, that was found down in Florida, hardly home to stripers – though home to the thousands of snowbird anglers who flee Jersey to winterize down on the Satellite Coast. Way back when it was appraised at $1,000 – in scrap gold! You can triple that now.

Despite those enticing finds, I always advise treasure hunter wannabes to forget about preconceived treasures. Either you want t got out there and give it a fun-go, the way you might at a roulette wheel, or forget about it. I would say that easily 90 percent of metal detectors become closet dwellers in nothing flat.

(((((((((((((((((()))))))))))))))) JCAA note from Tom F.

If this request for black sea bass is put in place it will only give us a season from May 22nd until September 12th. Even with the increase in quota on black sea bass we are still going to have the most restricted season that I can remember. NMFS still does not have the data for 2009 waves 5 and 6 (September until December 31). This means that they do not have the real numbers with the closure in place. So they use surrogate numbers from 2008. This what they did for Summer Flounder also and I am not sure we really need a 1% reduction. For black sea bass the ASMFC used a 44% for reduction of the recreational quota. When I asked the question WHY!! I did not get an answer that I felt understood. So the good news is we got an increase in black sea bass quota that bad news even with the increase we have no winter and fall season. That means summer flounder and black sea bass will be open and closed for almost the same season. This will cause a huge economic impact on NJ and other states fishing industries and the recreational anglers fishing experience.

Tom Fote
JCAA Legislative Chairman


NOAA Fisheries Service's Northeast Regional Administrator reviewed the New England Fishery Management Council's request for temporary emergency rulemaking to implement an increase in the 2010 black sea bass quota.

Through this action we will help prevent significant direct economic loss for fishery participants and associated industries that would be subject to lower commercial and recreational harvest levels. An additional amount of black sea bass landings will also be able to be set aside for research activities.

Through this temporary emergency rule, NOAA increases the 2010 black sea bass
total allowable catch from 2.71 million lb to 4.5 million lb. After deducting discards, the total allowable landings will increase from 2.3 million lb to 3.7 million lb.

To view the emergency rule as filed in the federal register today, please visit our website:
http://www.nero.noaa.gov/nero/hotnews/

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