Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Friday, December 16, 2011: How many bass you want? How about a dozen, a couple dozen, ten dozen? Just boat out off the north end of LBI, cut the engine and cast Avas back toward the beach. Bass ad boredom. And is it that old adage: Too much of a good thing?
I’m not making light of fish so thick you have to keep bottled water nearby so you don’t dehydrate while power-fishing them. I simply don’t understand the perpetual efforts to nurture a species that may very well be outgrowing the ecosystem.
While I’ll alienate many of you by seemingly badmouthing stripers this way, I hope a few of you will return when you realize I believe all could become right in the nearshore marine bio-realm by allowing NJ anglers to keep an s-load of smaller stripers during the fall run, vis-à-vis the way Chesapeake fishermen can now keep fish as small as 18 inches.
I might even get my Stripers Unlimited Christmas card back by assuring that I am your man when it comes to vociferously backing any efforts to protect top breeding stock, via a coast-wide true slot for stripers, wherein all genetically-gifted fish – say between 34 and 40 inches -- are protected.
Final weekly blog: Well, The SandPaper wraps it up for 2011 with a short hiatus that’ll see this column vacationing until Jan. 11. It’s been great verbally serving all you fine folks – and I’m constantly amazed at how many folks tune into this column.
When I return, the fun re-begins, as fishing slows and I get to write on alternative subject matter.
During the holidays, I’ll be staying in touch with hardcore readers via my blog at jaymanntoday.ning.com. And there will be plenty of stuff to cover, from angling to outdoors to whatever.
I’ll alert readers right now that the state is not backing down one iota from making huge areas of Barnegat Bay into “No Wake” zones. The DEP director himself told that to one of my reporters on Monday. If it were any governor other than Chris Christie (short of a hero of mine, former Gov. Brendan Byrne), I’d say groups like JCAA will blow the plan out of the water. That won’t be so easy with The Governeater. He’s already fielded – and easily fended off – the cut-back fury of groups a lot more organized than anglers and boaters combined. I fear it’ll come down to motorized bay users begging the guv for some leniency in wake zoning environmentally sensitive areas.
RUNDOWN: The formerly hyper-decent surfside bassing has cooled a little bit, but I think it is far from over. However, the plugging action has been percolating. The odds are good that we’ll see bubble-ups right through to New Year’s Day, especially with the long-term forecast indicating daytime air temps in the 50s right through Christmas. Sorry, snow lovers, but I’m lovin’ the mildness.
I hope the striper schoolies take their good old time transitioning over to that final phase of autumnal eating, when clams and bloodworms are all they’ll pounce upon. Nebraska Avenue comes to mind for that bite.
Yes, for me there is a frustrating irony that my one yearly vacation always comes as the bass are tailing offshore and daylight begins to think sunset shortly after sunrise.
I had a hot report of afternoon stripers on Rat’l’Traps and also black-backed Fin-S Fish. No word on the locale, but I think it was south. I’m betting the Jap Hole area is about to show needlefish pluggable stripers. That south end zone is traditionally superior during the last days of warm-water falls.
I only had a couple e-mails this week. This was an interesting one: Scott from 28th St. wants to know if you have ever seen or heard of sand eels inside a bunker because they had one that was loaded with them.
Pretty much physically impossible, Scott. Bunker are filter feeders, sucking in microscopic phytoplankton and, occasionally, microscopic zooplankton. It is a total baffler what might have been inside the bunker. By the same token, ocean herring can be utterly loaded to the gills with sand eels, spearing, rainfish, etc. A possibility.
PHOTO EVIDENTIARY E-MAIL: I received an amazing night photo of canines, labeled as “coyotes,” emptying outdoor food bowls left for “critters” by an older fellow lingering in a failing house on the outskirts of the outback.
Turns out the bowl cleaners are everyday dogs. On closer exam, both had on collars.
Seems a distant neighbor routinely allows his dogs to go for a quick run each night before bed. They were both bolting, to beat the band, for the overflowing bowls. After a quick frenzy feed, they just as quickly bounded home right in time for the master’s whistle to come back in and curl next to a warm fireplace. Dogs are cool – and fast.
Obviously, this is not to say that massive numbers of coyotes aren’t out there, but I’ve long felt that many “coyote” complaints are domestic dogs out and about.
With very little on my Christmas vacation to-do list, I’ll once again try to hand-photograph some local coyotes or, better yet, some coywolves. I’d really like to be able to use (afford) motion-activated nature cams, of the sort that got the above-mentioned picture, but virtually every hunter I know using them has had them stolen in nothing flat. The latest one I heard of was a brand-new cam recently placed on the old Cox property along the east side of Route 9 in Eagleswood. The hunter had just put the thing up and it – and a deer stand – was gone. If you have any insights on those stinkin’ thievers, let me know.
PAST/UPCOMING SURF FISHING CLASSIC: The post-event meeting of the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic’s committee focused on a whole lot of chatter over one sticky weigh-in issue. While I really can’t/won’t talk in details, I can assure all contestants that there is a nonstop effort to make this eight-week contest flawlessly fair. And to the credit of the event, very few weigh-ins have needed full committee reviews, going back decades. Nonetheless, the committee is currently focusing on yet another way to further the integrity of the Classic. A proposed regulation would allow a weigh station or individual weighmaster to hold any fish that might present even a jot of confusion or controversy. The weigh-in could then be kept at the shop for study.
The rationale behind such a rule is quite sound, especially for folks like myself. A fish can offer a world of info, particularly how long ago it was caught and, in some cases, where it was caught: surf, boat, out of state.
The committee also reconfirmed its commitment to utilize a polygraph test if necessary. I was among those pointing out how the polygraph has been easily and successfully employed in big-dollar angling events, including the Island’s own White Marlin Invitational, run by the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club.
There was a sense that this year’s Classic was one of the best ever when considering there were days and even weeks when two top fish had to be decided by fractions of ounces or, eventually, fractions of inches. That’s friendly fishing competition at it finest.
The dates for next year’s eight-week Classic: Oct. 6 through Dec. 2.
The meeting also set the dates for the 2012 spring Simply Bassin’ contest: May 5 through June 24.
For fun I thought I’d list the weigh-in numbers dating back to the start of the Derby/Classic. See the accompanying table.
WOOLY MAMMOTH COMETH: I’m a fanatical dinosaur hunter. Technically I hunt “dino” remains, which I’ve dug across our nation and also in Central and South America. Thusly, I was among the legions utterly mesmerized by the movie “Jurassic Park.”
Distractingly, I had my mesmerization tempered a bit by some glaring paleontological inaccuracies, not the least of which was a hideous anachronism at the very get-go of the show.
The entire premise for the movie/book centered on the extracting of dino DNA held within blood-sucking insects found inside amber. Inexcusably, insanely so, the opening scenes of JP focused on amber being mined in the Dominican Republic. While that tiny island nation’s amber is the most dramatic on the planet, size-wise and visually, it dates back a mere 22 million years. Dino DNA, particularly from the once-extant creatures vividly on display in “Jurassic Park”, dates back to, say, 150 million years ago. The error is obvious. All dinosaur action ended abruptly about 66 million years ago. I therefore lived the Jurassic Park experience in my science fiction-watching mode. It was something of a dead end theory, as scripted.
Now, though, an astounding DNA tale, one mirroring Jurassic Park’s genome theme, is rearing up in Russia. Although not totally dinosaurish in nature, it’s a hair-raising first step.
The ongoing melting of the ice in Siberia has exposed easily the most perfectly preserved wooly mammoth remains seen by modern man. The bone marrow, the finest source of the massive creature’s paleo-DNA, is in mint condition. Enter the astounding advances in DNA extraction and cloning. Among the utmost experts in those fields are Japanese scientists. Sprinkle in the fact the Japanese are dyed-in-the-wool dreamers when it comes to rearing up huge, out-of-the-ordinary creatures and a race is on to clone a wooly mammoth – within five years! Helping the cause are Russian and American scientists.
The work is currently fully under way at Japan’s national Kyoto University, in Kyoto.
Unofficial word has the DNA already removed and a search being carried on for the largest African elephant anyone can find. Through semi-secret processes (patented, believe it or not) the DNA will be injected into the cells of the elephant as part of a cloning process.
Admittedly, a woolly mammoth is hardly Jurassic, having gone extinct a mere 10,000 year back. However, talk about a step in the right resurrection direction. And that’s where I come in – I kid you not.
For years, I was part of an intense amber-collecting effort in Sayerville, N.J. The discoveries being made at an old quarry there had paleontologists from around the entire planet marveling, as we painstakingly – and precariously – dug Cretaceous amber dating back 92 million years ago.
Actually, it wasn’t the amber itself causing scientific waves, but the inclusions, i.e. the stuff stuck inside the amber. That Jersey amber contained organic material, ranging from an entire mushroom to the bodies of blood-sucking insects.
The inclusions in Jersey amber are tiny, requiring at least 20X magnification to see in detail.
Among my most prized personal amber finds are three different pieces containing fully bloated biting midges – identical to our no-see-em gnats. Under magnification, I can actually see the reddened thoraxes of the midges, loaded with what is very likely dinosaur blood. Now that’s the true stuff of a future dinosaur park.
As the cloning of the first wooly mammoth leads the learning way, I have to think that true dinosaurs aren’t far behind. In fact, Komodo dragons, huge extant lizards oft seen on nature shows, would easily be large enough to incubate dino DNA. Once we get by this Mayan calendar challenge, the world is rushing toward being a very cool dino-place.
HIGHWAY FISH OFFLOADING: Here is an e-mail I got a couple weeks back. I have been asked this in the past, but this time I did a bit of research: Is there a law against dumping perfectly good fish on the shoulder of the Parkway?
I’ve been told by the Parkway’s roads department folks that this is actually a highly uncommon practice, despite an urban myth among anglers that virtually every summer Monday finds the Parkway’s shoulders buzzing with jettisoned bluefish.
At the same time, it sure isn’t urban mythicality when I come across dumped bluefish along Routes 72 and 539. It happens, I promise. In fact, I once uncovered an onion bag jammed full with very undersized stripers, maybe a dozen or more. I didn’t get an exact count because my olfactory nerves single-handedly managed to drag my body away from the maggoty drop zone. I swear even the resident coyotes said, “Sure, we’re scavengers, but screw this.” In that bassacious jettisoning, I felt certain it was the fallout from an ongoing illegal fish trade. Something had really spooked the on-the-move poachers before they could reach a hand-off point, usually up near the 72/70 circle.
Anyway, to answer this question I checked the law books and couldn’t find anything saying that blatantly discarding legally caught fish along the roadside is illegal, short of obvious and potentially costly “littering in the first degree.”
Oddly, there is something in the state’s saltwater fishing rules and regulations that, at first, seems pertinent. It’s actually just a heading, titled “Wanton Waste Prohibited.” However, the wording beneath it is strangely disassociated. It reads, “Fish of any species which are purposely killed shall become part of the angler’s daily possession limit and shall not be returned to the water from which they were taken. This does not apply to fish which are released alive and subsequently die.”
Translated, that means you cannot kill a couple bass, go on to catch a couple bigger ones and then get to deep-six the DOAs. However, most other states consider wanton waste in much meatier terms. Succinctly put: You kill it, you use it all – or else. Admittedly, that’s both a true sportsman’s mantra and written law within the hunting realm – and also in Jersey, to some degree. Hereabouts, it is illegal to possess or sell just trophy body parts from a deer or bear unless you’re a taxidermist.
Could such a rule be applied to angling? Not really. We can all question the sportsmanship of an angler whose entire weighty catch goes into fertilizing the garden. I can personally despise anyone wasting fish by chucking them roadside. But no waste laws apply to fish.