Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Dogs Are the True Rat Pack;
Have Healthy Happy Flashes
Last week, I verbally pussyfooted through the feral cat predicament in Harvey Cedars, as much to stir the readership pot as to actually address the issue. The latest polls show my readership took a bit of a drop from just over 22 million readers down to approximately 9 – and most of those are in Rahway Prison.
I had fully expected the feralists to rabidly and rapidly respond. Instead, I got dumped on by the bird people. A number of them lambasted me for not highlighting the “insane” damage done to indigenous wildlife by feral and free-roaming pet cats.
I was actually holding that heavily documented feral cat threat to wildlife in abeyance – for retort time.
I did get one covertly supportive angle regarding ferals -- from a birder much less. She suggested that the wild cats might “kill a rat or two.”
I righteously corrected her by noting cats kill mice, seldom rats. Rats are big and can actually be very formidable.
Domestic cats, even feralized models, show their domesticity by seldom confronting anything that can even remotely fight back, thus the noncombative Mexican standoffs at outdoor dinner bowls, as feral cats meet possum, coons, skunks and such.
RATS!: I can’t resist a rat sidebar here. These large rodents have killed more people than just about any other creature on the planet, short of mosquitoes. In Europe, plague-ravaged people first tried cats as a rat deterrent but the savagery of roused rats sent all but the gnarliest of cats packing. It was then that the worthiest of rat destroyers came to the forefront: dogs, specifically terriers.
Small, wiry and brave beyond compare, a whole slew of rat-despising terrier breeds were saddled with the ignoble title of “ratters.” Terriers were indeed terrors to rats.
Obviously, rats can reproduce to match most predation pressures, however, it was found that even the scent of terriers in the ‘hood drove rats to other domains. By driving the rodents into more natural surroundings, Mother Nature got a shot at them, via a slew of predators.
Terriers as morosely efficient ratters recently became underground headline news in the Big Apple. A YouTube videotape emerged showing the rat-ripping talents of a Jack Russell terrier – famed as a foxer but arguably the greatest ratters of all time. In rat-challenged section of Washington Square Park, a lone Jack Russell was being loosed nightly by its owner. In the video, the utterly ecstatic terrier killed15 rats – in living color. And we’re talking NYC-grade rats here – cat killers.
It would seem such a night of play for the pup would be a win-win – an exercised terrier and shredded rats. Ah, but to the ridiculous rescue arrive People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Donning their full foolishness regalia, PETA responded in royal rage to the killing of the filthy vermin.
Per the underground publication “The Gothamist,” PETA’s Martin Mersereau said, "Setting dogs upon rats is depraved, sadistic, and entirely illegal. It constitutes an explicit violation of New York’s anti-cruelty laws."
Mersereau and PETA ferreted out portions of New York’s oft-antiquated Agriculture and Markets Law, prohibiting “anyone from unjustifiably injuring, maiming, or killing an animal” or allowing “fights between any animals.” That later one was originally used to quell cock fights.
Sidestepping the boundless moronics of PETA, this story is more an affirmation of the Michael Jordan-quality ratter capacities of terriers.
By the by, I followed up on this story and I was told that this NYC terrier/ratting game involves a society of sorts. The members routinely “exercise” their terriers at a goodly number of locales. What’s more, that 15-rat take seen in the video was a “poor night” for that Jack Russell.
HOLGATE HAPPENINGS: The access point on and off Holgate seems to be holding true, after a design change was implemented by the LBT Public Service crew – which has taken real good care of us.
We may be able to buggy to the end from now until plover times.
As for future Holgate days, I have it on good authority that Army Corps reps have visited the eroded zones and are fully aware of the disappearing act the Island’s south end is performing. What’s to be done by authorities is far less obvious.
Still high on the list of can-dos is the two-bird scenario, whereby deplorably shoaled portions of the Intracoastal Waterway on the west side of Holgate could be dredged and the bottom sand material piped over to the Holgate frontbeach. Such an exchange program would not be part of the ongoing Long Beach Island Storm DamageReduction Project, which has replenished the beaches of Surf City, Harvey Cedars and (shortly) Brant Beach. Work to keep navigable channels open falls under a whole other set of standards and funding.
Complicating that approach to Holgate’s erosion is the fact the portion of the ICW off the south end of the Island is under the stewardship of the state, though Trenton can (and would) call on the federal Army Corps if need be.
Unchanged is the fact that bay-to-beach dredge piping cannot go across the Holgate Wilderness Area. (Piping plovers, yes. Dredge piping, no.) That means dredge pipes would need to extend across the small strip of privately owned land abutting the north part of the Holgate Wilderness Area.
While the fine folks with homes facing the Holgate Refuge would find pipeloads of activity at their back door steps during a Holgate beachfront re-do, the resulting bigger and better beachfront would actually distance their properties from the beach-related goings on, like beach buggy traffic and beachcomber comings and goings. Hopefully Dick et al will see the long-term bennies of allowing pipes to temporarily pass across their properties.
I got a re-mail from the fellow who emailed me last week about piss/softshell clams. He knew about the clamming “blue laws” but figured no one was watching during his quick clam chase on Sunday. That led to my obligatory bloodworm business saga.
BLOODY SURVEILLANCE: I used to have the only bloodworm business in all of NJ. During low tides, I energetically dug our fairly common smaller bloodworms, solely to meet the demands of LBI’s once-flourishing springtime winter flounder fishery. My prime digging spot was a wide-open stretch of mudflats frequented by scratch rake clammers.
At the height of the flounder season, I had to dig on Sundays. Making hay when the flounder shined. I instantly leaner that digging on Sundays draws a crowd. During just one two-month season, I was separately confronted by marine police, Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers and even local police. All had been called by nearby fuddy-duddy homeowners squealing into the phone, “There’s a man illegally clamming in front of my house. Please hurry.”
Even when I proved I was worming not clamming, Fish and Wildlife folks weren’t thrilled with my Sunday mudslinging. I heard they even tried to get a regulation against any and all bayside digging on Sundays. Hell’s bells, I was the only one in the whole state doing it and they wanted a brand new law added to the books. That’s NJ, if ever.
By the by, I quit the bloodworm business when my favorite mudflats suddenly sanded over, the kiss of death for “spearchucker” worms -- a weird bloodworm nickname I always kinda liked.
Weird nature note: Bloodworms are likely the only creatures on the entire planet with solid crystalline copper fangs, technically jaws. They have four of them, which are literally shot out to imbue prey with poisons within.
I’ve had the honor of seeing bloodworm fangs under an electronic microscope and, sure enough, they’re crystalline copper, as if mined out of the earth. They are fiercely hard and are seemingly able to activate the toxins the worm uses on prey.
Per University of California Santa Barbara researchers studying this worm weirdness, the amount of copper in a bloodworm’s fangs should cause it to instantly keel over dead from copper poisoning.
Herbert Waite, UCSB's professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, theorizes that the remarkable crystalline metallic hardness of the worm fangs is an evolutionary adaptation to its burrowing and prey-seeking lifestyle. Bloodworms shoot out their fangs at remarkable speeds. A miss is often still a hit – on rock hard quartz sand. “The worm is going to miss its prey a fair number of times," said Waite, “That means that its jaws are being abraded by gravel. So they need to be made of more robust material …”
So who cares? The federal government, along with various industries, is already ears up as to any uses to which the rare copper exploitation can be applied. “It could be a design prototype for new materials that need to be hard, lightweight, and durable," said Waite.
And to think I can say I knew the bloodworms before they became famous.
HERRING EMAIL: Jay,; Hello and I just read the new regs about herring. What exactly are the type of herring or shad that we catch in Barnegat Inlet? I catch them on small Deadly Dicks and are we going to still be able to fish for them?
(The ones you’re nailing are so-called Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) and are fully EXCLUDED from the new “river herring” regs. River herring are alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis).
THINK YOURSELF HEALTHY: Just thinking of great fishing sessions can make you healthy, wealthy and wise. OK, so maybe I just tacked on that “wealthy and wise” stuff.
I recently read the findings of a medical study on affirmative thinking, done by Dr. Mary Charlson of the Weill Cornell Medical College.
The prime finding was a highly noticeable upswing in the moods and health of patients who regularly took a mere few seconds to recall the best of times, kinda like Reader’s Digest version recalls. If you’ve never had a good time, maybe borrow someone else’s.
The yearlong research was done on 756 patients, randomly divided into two groups: the “positive affect” group and the so-called “control group,” i.e. the dark side. Actually, the control group just went on living as they always had, sans doses of prescribed positivity.
The upbeaters were encouraged to generate good thoughts, particularly upon rising in the a.m. or when “obstacles’ arose throughout the day. A solid sprinkling of just-for-fun good thoughts was also part of the “positive affect” group’s day.
Sure enough, the overall health all but soared within the group that took time to flash back to the likes of fine fishing hookups, memorable sunsets, perfect waves, magic moments.
Yes, the more sickly control group was eventually let in on how to think on the bright side. They were first taught the Monty Python’s song, “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK …” No, wait a minute, make that song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
It’s really bizarre but of all the amazing instances in my life, the first happy-place flash that jumped uncontrollably into my mind when challenged by this study was the kids-time cinema scene of Dr. Remus singing “Zippity doo dah, zippity aye.” The next closest happy-place flashback was the time I ran, laughing hysterically, through fresh concrete while a whole slew of enraged workmen chased after me. That was about a month back.
"This simple approach gives patients the tools that help them fulfill their promise to themselves that they will do what's needed for their health," says Dr. Charlson. "For example, if it's raining and they don't feel like exercising, these strategies can help them get past this mental block and into their sneakers."
The script, created by Dr. Charlson, is now in the public domain and free to use. Here is an excerpt from Positive Affect/Self-Affirmation Script:
First, when you get up in the morning, think about the small things that you said make you feel good, like _________. Then as you go through your day, notice those and other small things that make you feel good and take a moment to enjoy them. Second, when you encounter some difficulties or are in a situation that makes it hard for you, think about things you enjoy or proud moments in your life, like __________________________.