Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Friday -- Big waves; no clamming allowed

Friday, September 02, 2011: One of the year’s bigger angling weekend is going to be a tad iffy for surfcasters and folks navigating the inlets. We’re still holding onto a ton of swell action – 3 to 5 feet, medium-period out of the east and north. What’s more, we’ll be seeing a serious-ass long-period groundswell by as early as late Sunday. Those Hurricane Katia waves will be very powerful, way more than the Irene swells. The reason is simple wave hydrodynamics. Distance is one of the most notable factors in a swell essentially organizing all its strength into one compact package, so to speak. Irene waves while very obviously wind driven, and close to the source, were short-distance travelers, created pretty much after the storm passed Cape Hatteras. Not shortchanging some of those 15-foot swells, they didn’t have their full-juice capacity churning due to their “short duration.”  The swells being generated by a fairly distance Katia are currently being issued straight at LBI and have plenty of distance or organize – again, to compact energy. No one feels this distance factor more than wave riders – and any unlucky mariner who happen tom meet up with a breaking wave. Expectedly, low tide is when such swells maximally expend their pent-up force.


As I always note with hurricane swells, they can be notoriously intermittent. In surfing lingo, the flat side of those intermittent swell periods is called a lull – and can last from a few minutes to even an hour or more. The term used when a swell is fairly steady is “consistent.”


I realize this is not a surfing column but not understating these concepts has proven deadly to many mariners. I kid you not. I can recall at least a dozen local fatalities over the years when boaters – usually exiting the inlets or hanging near the shoals – have fatally misread the swell conditions by making hasty calls, by moving into impact zones during hurricane swell conditions. We’ve had a recent couple fatalities within the new and improved Barnegat Inlet when huge hurricane swell have broken inside the inlet. Before the new South Jetty was built, fatalities from huge waves breaking on vessels were a way of life down here. ,


I always get fully furious when mariners caught and sometimes destroyed by large waves say they were hit by a rogue wave, as if it hit them and then there were no more waves afterwards. It’s a built-in excuse for having made a bad read on conditions.


A rogue wave is absolutely, totally and scientifically a different wave animal. It is a hideous and deadly open-sea nightmare wave, believed to be caused by a hugely complex combining or colliding of different swells and/or opposing sea currents.


A huge set wave during a hurricane swell is not even remotely related. It is simply the largest waves in an ongoing swell. And they can be inordinately larger than other waves in a given swell. I spent much of my life chasing these waves – and more often than not ended up was petrified and thoroughly overmatched when I finally found them. Still my best times ever.


Anyway, keep waves in mind at all times if you’re heading oceanward. Remember that nasty little shoal maybe a hundred yards NE of the North Jetty in Barnegat Inlet. Either stay strict within marked eastbound channel or make the hard left, don’t split the difference and head NE during big swells.


HOLGATE UPDATE: There isn’t a lot new on the Holgate entrance repair schedule.  A press release issued by Long Beach Township mayor indicates the sand is on the way but even if it’s on the fast track, it’ll be well into next week – target day is next Friday – before we can get on.


There was touch of confusion among some folks thinking this trucked in effort will be a beach replenishment fix for the entire drive on area, down to the Forsythe summer fencing. While that big a fill-in would cover a whole load of exposed and often ferocious looking steel and concrete artifacts, I’ve nothing about such a costly extension of the initially planned work. The tucked in material is simply to make a drive-on lane to allow our vehicles to simply reach the beach. 


Also, there is little information on what the beach is like down to the Rip. Some boat anglers looking from just off the beach say it looks as eroded as ever but also seemingly drivable. The end at the Rip seems big and firm.


IMPORTANT: NO Clamming until further notice.

The Department of Environmental Protection today reminded commercial and recreational harvesters that all shellfish beds in the state remain closed as a result of the passage of Hurricane Irene.

The Department of Health and Senior Services urges commercial and recreational harvesters, certified shellfish dealers, and the public to observe all harvesting restrictions because ingesting shellfish from closed beds could potentially cause illness.

The commercial harvest ban has been in effect since Aug. 27 due to concerns about degradation of water quality in more than 720,000 acres of shellfish beds in the state's ocean waters and estuaries. Bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels are filter feeders that can accumulate harmful bacteria carried into waterways by stormwater.

Testing this week indicated that bacteria levels exceeded the federal criteria set to protect the public in the consumption of shellfish.

The DEP will continue to test waters at shellfish beds across the state. Once the water meets the federal standard, a minimum of seven days must pass before the tissue is tested to ensure no bacteria are present in the shellfish. This process ensures bacteria have had a chance to be flushed from the shellfish.

The DEP works with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure that shellfish are safely harvested in state waters.

The DEP monitors, classifies and enforces shellfish regulations in 425,830 acres of estuarine beds and 295,857 acres of ocean beds.

The DHSS Food Safety Program regularly inspects shellfish processing plants to ensure they follow regulations that outline health and safety precautions. Shellfish samples are regularly collected from harvest areas, certified shellfish dealers and retailers for bacteriological examination.

The program oversees a certification program which requires all wholesale shellfish dealers to handle, process, and ship shellfish under sanitary conditions and maintain records verifying that the shellfish were obtained from approved areas.

For results of water tests conducted this week by the DEP, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/bmw.

Note: The harvest ban applies only to shellfish such as clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, etc. and does not apply to crustaceans, such as crabs.

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