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The Fish Story

Don't Even Think About It, Abandonists; Coyotes Ate All My Cats, Mann


Welcome to the year 2013. For any time travelers, welcome back.

Of course, there’s no such thing as time travel, nor shall there ever be. We can determine that, logically, because nobody has come back yet; thusly, it shan’t happen, ever – unless we must first reach the future, at least once, before coming back in time. Therefore and ergo, it might be that we simply haven’t reached that future time-travel launch point, ergo and therefore …

Oh, I hope this is not a sign of my brain’s year-to-come.

Anyway, welcome to the 13th year of the 2000s.

That nicety aside, I’ll launch into another year of columnizing with a warning: If you’re not into activism and fighting for the rights to be an Island resident, or a rapt LBI aficionado, you might want to steer clear of this column for many moons to come.

If ever a year was poised to entertain a fevered battle for our right to inhabit the coastline, it’s this one.

Personally, I’ve been fighting an ongoing battle against coastal retreatists and abandonists for nearly two decades now. The late Ken Smith, the “coastal advocate,” was my mentor.

I bring all this up because I clearly see the invisible writing on the demolished wall. There’s surely going to be voluminous Sandy backwash, particularly from landlubbers – as we of a stormed-over coastal ilk tap into government coffers, to rebuild.

To show we’re not going to be bullied by abandonists, all of us will have to display some snarling and gnashing of teeth. Think Sixties. In fact, any of you old draft dodgers still have those big signs, “Hell, no, we won’t go!”

Truth be told, I’m sorta itching to carry on this clash for the coast, this brawl for the beach, this war for the shore, this … Knock it off, Jay!

This go’ round, I bloody well expect all ya’ll to join the movement – the Sand Panther Moment. This is the battle for our very Island existence. Sure, it’ll help to write riled up letters to the editor and ranting commentaries but it’ll be just as impactful to loose verbal fury on anyone near you who begins running at the mouth about the imminent need to withdraw from the coast. Heathens.

Never forget that famous quote: Never admit retreat.

And even if arrogant inlanders should temporarily get the political upper hand, as may be happening in the effort to get funding for NJ storm relief, remember what some dead general once said – presumably when still alive – “We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in another direction.” Once again, I’m not 100 percent sure what that means, but I like the feel of it.

Since I’m going quote crazy here, let’s bring in Kenny Rogers’ line, “You gotta know when to hold ’em … and when to fold ’em.” I can assure doubters, debaters and supporters alike, we’re nowhere near folding time on LBI, much less walk away or run away times.

Our beloved Island is tougher – and sounder – than she looks. Hell, I’ll bet the eelgrass farm we can easily squeeze 10 or 20 more fun years outta the old girl – an old girl that can still strut herself to the tune of billions of bucks a year.

Hell, yes, I’ll slap down that fiscal card to trump the hand of withdrawalists.

You don’t have to be a Jim Cramer (cool dude on “Mad Money,” CNBC) to realize that our magical barrier Island, as a moneymaker, is worth its weight in 24K gold – and at today’s precious metal prices, no less. She’s a white-sanded, sun-drenched Fort Knox, within easy driving distance of the most populous – and wealthiest – regions of the nation. Tourism and coastal real estate remain the greatest on-the-spot commodities of our time. Keep us afloat and just count the ka-ching.

So, how far can we go to keep the LBI money machine afloat? Ahem, I see where they’ve just finished building a new, insanely impressive and effective $15 billion levee system in Louisiana. Hell, we can move LBI down there …  Wait a minute, that kinda defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Still, a lot can be done to keep the tourism factory flourishing.

As for storms to come, we can’t just yield to every damn thing that Earth feels like throwing at us. We’re the master race. The sooner the planet realizes that, the better it’ll be. (Note to planet: Just kidding, dude.)

That’s it, for now, on fostering the fight to protect our LBI homesands. Just stand ready to rally. I’ll signal you: One if by land, two if by sea.

COLD CHOW MEIN: There seem to be perpetual flies in the global warming ointment. This week, one is doing the backstroke in China.

Just try to tell those dragon-fearing folks about the absolute proof-of-warming winter we had last year. They’re currently undergoing the coldest temperatures in 30 years – and the red mercury in their thermometers continues to drop.

Many areas of Cathay’s coastline are frozen solid. Over 1,000 ships are stuck. Wal-mart must be panicking its ass off. For the first time since being built, sections of the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway have been closed because of heavy snowfall.

Point to ponder: Because China is run by dyed-in-the-silk commies, the government there could have easily conceded to global warming predictions and unreservedly forced trillions of Chinese to instantly abandon their lifestyles – in rapt anticipation of the fire-breathing warming to come. Paramount Leader Hu Jintao’s boys could have de-populated the nation’s 9,000 miles of coastline. Imagine the egg-drop soup on the leadership’s faces as the entire warming-ready country shivers in state-issued khaki shorts, watching their Peking ducks freeze to death.

I bring that up to prove the folly of knee-jerking people away from their lifestyles – and locations – based on global warming theory alone. Hell, that’s something even commies wouldn’t try.

PUDDYTAT DOWN: Over the vacation, I was electronically revisited by a gal who has been nagging me about her constantly disappearing cats. She wants me to track down the culprit(s) punking her puddytats.

Why she chose to hire me, an intense dog person, I have no idea.

Don’t get me wrong, pussypeople. I’m also an animal lover. On a good day, I consider cats a damn decent sorta pet. But they are, indeed, solely pets. Dogs are profound family members. Just try to get a cat to do Brian’s part on “Family Guy.” End of story.

Anyway, this gal is thoroughly convinced coyotes are eating her cats and openly professes to wanting all coyotes destroyed, if not worse – as if, there’s some secret de-coyote-ing button.

This go-round, I got a tad testy with her. I uncoyly pointed out her penchant for keeping free-range cats. I then brought up outside cats as the number one killer of birds – by a suburban mile.

That’s when a head-shakingly pathetic irony arose – as it often has before. “When cats kill birds they’re just responding to their wild instincts,” she said, haughtily.

So let me get this straight. It’s fine for your lazily owned, free-range cats to kill birds as part of the nature order of things but if your cats, in turn, get killed by coyotes, the coyotes should be exterminated for being murderers. WTF is wrong with that picture?

We agreed to disagree and I headed out into nearby woods to do some sleuthing. I quickly came across pedestrian clues as to what might have disappeared her felines.

After finding absolutely no tracks or signs of coyotes within a mile’s radius of her house, I sniffed out a couple ex-cat carcasses residing along a nearby high-speed highway. They didn’t match the description of her cats – or any other life form.

Far more significantly, it turned out the gal had northern-transplant neighbors with a flair for setting up humane animal traps adjacent to their property lines. All were freshly baited. That was huge. A mystery solver, if ever. Cats are suckers for traps. It’s not they’re too dumb.

Cat mumble: “This is so obviously a trap. These people can’t truthfully think I’m unable to negotiate it with one paw tied behind my back.”

Clank!

“Oh, you gotta be kidding me!”

I had to break my troubling findings to her. I then asked if she had been checking the animal shelters. She hadn’t, being so thoroughly convinced coyotes, not northerners, were the culprits.

By the by, I’ve never once seen cat fur in the scat of NJ coyotes. Plenty of rodent, rabbit and deer hair, the last more often from savaged road kill.

LESS GREEN TO BE GREEN: NJ’s strictest-in-the-land fertilizer control law will have folks – from professional lawn care types to backyard garden warriors –watching the nitrogen count when applying vegetation-enhancing chemicals. The law is meant to rein in what has become a double-dose dousing mentality when it comes to applying fertilizer. Per the NJDEP, as of Jan. 5, “All professional applicators will be required to undergo training and become certified through the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University. “Also, for home lawners, … all fertilizer product for turf must contain at least 20 percent slow-release nitrogen, and zero phosphorus unless a soil test demonstrates a need for more.”

I guess his means the fertilizer police are now watching. I’m told they often dress like shrubberies.

And we’ll give them plenty to ogle over. We spread fertilizer as if cosmic forces have commanded us to grow a rain forest in anticipation of B’alam (Mayan jaguar god) returning.

That free-fire fertilizing is now citable. I’m not sure what the exact charge will be, possibly, “flagrant over-fertilization,” though that charge might already exist in the artificial insemination realm. I have to check on that.

From a fishing angle, fertilizer can be some mighty foul stuff when abused. It’s akin to giving steroids to algae. Bad algae can annihilate bay-residing fish, including young-of-year weakfish, tog, blackfish, fluke, flounder and baitfish, just to name a few.

Arriving in our bay via storm drain runoff from hyper-fertilized homes and gardens, steroidal growth nutrients play no favorites, being equally willing to nourish bad-ass algae the same way they hopped up the green, green grass of home. The big difference – and this takes a trip into the mind’s eye – there’s no one routinely taking a Husqvarna lawnmower to the bay. Just imagine your chemically perked lawn unabashedly growing, madly. Good-bye fertilizer, hello Agent Orange.

Plaudits to NJ for trying to nip over-fertilization in the bud. Still, despite hefty fines, it’ll often come down to you and your push-around fertilizer dispenser. Saving the bay starts in your backyard.

MEANWHILE DOWN UNDER: I was e-mailed a story out of Australia where a severely scorned senorita, Angela Potter of New Zealand, got horribly even with her angling ex-lover by selling off – eBay style – his long-gathered GPS coordinates, pinning down some of the Land Down Under’s hottest fishing spots.

While that’s a freaky revenge in its own right, that angler must have been renowned for his hotspots. Angela got $3,000 for that where’s-where info. I can only guess there were some sunken, gold-bearing ships in among those sites.

The one up side, Angela has washed her hands of the entire affair and promises not to give the coordinates to anyone but the auction winner.

As for the winner, does he now want to fish without fail or profitably divvy out the sites, eBay-style?

FLEA TO SRMS: Let’s think marketing, as in the 2013 Southern Regional High School Fishing Flea Market, taking place this year on Feb. 16. The way time has accelerated to just this side of the light speed, that date is only a short hop ahead. Still, there is time to sign up if you have stuff to sell, particularly handcrafted plugs or olden tackle.

The SRHS Fishing Club sponsors this annual launch-into-angling preseason event, the largest fishing flea market in our corner of the county. As of now there will be over 90 tables.

The show will again be held in the Southern Regional Middle School cafeteria, running from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $4. Children under 12 are free with an adult. Door prizes will be awarded all day.

For additional show or vendor information, contact Bob MacMaster, 609-597-9481, extension 2256, rmacmaster@srsd.net.

RUNDOWN: The ocean is right about where it should be for this time of year. Water temps are 40 degrees, give or take.

Storms, including the recent blows, have kept the beaches a bit bruised but not nearly as bad as right after Sandy. In fact, as I’ve written before, the sand from replenished beaches has fanned out, especially showing up in places like Ship Bottom.

That begs the question of beach buggying. The authorities I’ve asked, agree: “Don’t ask.” Since things are still a big tad disheveled around here, I don’t re-ask. Come spring, though…

No, there is no chance of getting any sort of carryover on 2012 permits that couldn’t be fully used due to closed beaches. Towns are going to be suffering to make ends meet as it is.

You might as well take a minute out to renew your free saltwater fishing registration.

Weather word: The all-controlling jet streams have drifted north, inviting in above-normal air temps. In fact, there is an uncanny similarity to the big-picture meteorological look we had all last non-winter. However, we have already seen signs of the Canadian-Polar jet being more than willing to make the insta-dip southward – in a heartbeat.

For now, there should be some sheer thankfulness that we aren’t seeing any of that above-mentioned Chinese bitterness. So many of our homes are still beyond vulnerable to a wicked cold snap. Too many houses are missing insulation and have pipes hung out to dry, so to speak.

Coincidentally, the coldish nights we had last week were just what the doctor ordered for knocking down post-storm microbes. It’s not a cure but it’s one helluva sight better than post-Katrina, when torrid temperatures made homes into multi-room Petri dishes.

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