Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Does Anyone Speak Husqvarnan?
The Wildest of Invasive Species
Well, there’s no longer any doubt that our weather has assumed a full-blown freak mode. And it could very well keep its freak on until the fall running of the mullet.
In just one week, and excluding the immense storm the Friday before last, we were nailed three times by ferocious, ferrous-scented thunderboomers.
I just had to include that “ferrous-scented” thing since I read reports of -- and experienced myself -- an utterly odd metalish smell in the air at the height of the largest of the T-storms. That phenomenon, also described in a scientific report as “a coppery/iron-like smell,” was recently reported from other Eastern Seaboard areas getting blasted to bits by bolts.
My theory as to the source of the smell focuses on the tons of suspended dust particles in the air – the result of hurricane-force winds mixed in with the storms – being vaporized by lighting bolts hot enough to live on the surface of the sun. The smell is very similar to that hovering around steel mills.
FROM JUPITER, WITH RETURNS: My latest motto on buying things has gotten quite simple: Never buy anything used – or new.
Last week, I splurged and bought a fairly upper-end Husqvarna chainsaw. It looked mighty sweet as it wooed me with its blazing orange body and its plastic-wrapped tongue sticking out of the box – shiny chain at the ready for those special times, alone in the woods.
I had opted for a better brand name chainsaw since, well, I couldn’t miss, right?
Off to my SB backyard I rushed.
Long story short (for now), once I got it unpacked, oiled and gassed up, my gorgeous “couldn’t miss” buy became a bitch and a half.
Understand, I’ve had me quite a few quite-used chainsaws in the past and never once couldn’t I start even the oldest of them. They’re generally bad-ass machines when it comes to stayin’ alive. Gettin’ ‘em to still cut is a whole other animal.
So, here I go and indulge myself via a choice, brand new, big-name saw and the bloody thing won’t so much as throw me a sputter worth of ignition -- after dozens atop dozens of pulls. I went so far as to call in armed reinforcements, after mine tired. These guys were pros. And they all walked off snarling at me for not buying a Stihl. “I’ll be sure to remember that,” I hissed, as they stomped away, one by one.
At that disgusted point, I did the unimaginable. I pulled out my cellphone and actually called an 800-helpline – a mortal sin among manly men. I’m not sure what I was thinking, other than the fact Husqvarna is a famed kick-butt line of power tools and surely has a helpline of manly proportions, manned by guys who can assemble a chainsaw in the dark of a nuclear winter – with bare hands.
Instantly encouraging, I got through to bona fide human – or so I first thought.
I’m greeted by a gal (ahem) with a cosmically bizarre accent, one I immediately pegged as being associated with life on one of the outer moons of Jupiter. It even hit me: This entire frickin’ company just may be Jupiterian. Hey, you tell me where else in the known universe they use the word Husqvarna.
Despite a language barrier measurable in light years, I tried to explained the problem with my blippin’ chainsaw, using a more universal word for the word “blippin.”
After feigning a full understanding of my explanation, my helpline Husqvarnan proceeded to reel off questions that only individuals having fully mastered the intricacies of power tools could ever put forth, i.e., “Sir, did you put fuel in the unit?”
You gotta be kidding me.
“Uh, that’s the stuff that makes it go, right?” I actually said.
“Yes, sir.” She responded, with that famed Jupiterian unconcern.
“Then, yes, I did add fuel, ma’am.”
“OK, did you put oil on it, Sir?” she continued, blowing the question a bit by technically asking if I had put oil on it, not in it.
On it, in it – at this level of technical contact, mere prepositions become fairly interchangeable. Hey, we’re trying to fix an advanced problem here, not inadvertently demean English-challenged extraterrestrials.
“Yes, ma’am, I pretty much put oil on it, in it -- you name it,” I offered with a pinch of sarcasm, lost on non-Earthlings.
“OK, Sir, did you pull the starter rope?”
Now it was getting harder for me. I had to manually hold my hand down so I didn’t slap myself on the forehead and gasp, “Pull the frickin’ rope! How could I have forgotten? Thank-you, so much.”
Instead, I exhaled a resigned “Yes, I pulled the rope, many times” -- and even shook my head in the affirmative, as if my Jupiterian could somehow see me across millions of miles.
Sidebar: I’m not sure why, but instead of getting pissed off during inane situations like this, I start to get flighty. In fact, at some point in that conversation, I sorta lost track of my actual answers, as opposed to the wise-ass cracks jumping into my head as quickly as she would ask the likes of (gospel truth), “Sir, did you in any way abuse the unit?”
What the frig is this, the DYFS phase of Husqvarnan questioning?
Through a tortured smile, I said “The unit remains fully unabused, ma’am.”
At this point, I slowly drifted away from the chainsaw and headed toward my lush garden, where I began idly weeding, my cell phone shouldered up against my left ear.
It was somewhere between the sage plants and the plum tomatoes that, out of the blue, some truly Earth-shattering words landed: “Sir, you should return the unit to the store.”
“Pardon me, ma’am?” I shockedly asked, weed in hand.
“Sir, you should return the unit to the store.”
“Can I quote you on that, ma’am?”
“Sir, you should return the unit to the store.”
“Bless you my child -- and also all the people on your moon.”
In the oddest of ways, the helpline had actually worked.
Long story again shortened, I instantaneously rushed back to the store, and literally oozing confidence knowing that an actual Husqvarnan told me I could freely return my unit.
And even the lady at the “Returns” counter – a seeming Earthling – was duly impressed when I explained who had sent me.
Visions of a new machine danced through my head, until “OK, sir, please wait. I’ll have one of our employees come and look at the chainsaw.” So she IS one of them.
I was sorely displeased. “You dare disregard the dictates of a Husqvarnan princess?” I left unspoken.
Fairly quickly, employee “John” (likely code name) arrived -- vest, nametag and all. He nonchalantly grabbed the unquestionably faulty unit and asked me to follow him outside. I fearlessly followed -- eyeing the best direction to take off screaming, if need be.
Near some large alien-looking shopping carts, John placed the saw on the ground, crouched down and sorta loomed over it with his body.
Though sorely tempted, I made no disparaging sounds as he pushed and pressed all the thingies that need pushing and pressing before a chainsaw starts up. Been there, done that … fifty frickin’ times, Johnny boy.
Then, with nary a glance toward me, he pulled the start rope three times. …
Why even finish this story? All y’all know full well what happened next: The bloody machine fired up as if it was the finest Husqvarna unit ever made. After gassing it to the max a couple times, John looked up at me and shrugged his cocky little shoulders. Actually, he wasn’t cocky at all. John was supremely kind and gentle, considering the situation.
Manually killing the engine, which I’m sure would have mockingly run for days, he handed the top-shelf chainsaw back over to me, even offering some words of consolation on my problems starting the thing.
With stooped shoulders, I slowly shuffled across the big parking low and back to my truck, chainsaw loosely hanging down from my hand. It was getting dark. Stars were starting to blink on. I looked up and kinda smiled. Somewhere up there, Jupiter would soon be coming into view.
WEIRDLY INVASIVE CREATURE COMPENDIUM: In recent weeks, I’ve been working on a highly scientific journal, documenting invasive species common to summertime in our region.
Along with the two species listed below, I’ll be including new invasive creatures in future columns.
I would greatly appreciate any sightings or information you might be able to add to my research.
Please remember (!) the creatures I’m describing here can be very dangerous, even under normal circumstances.
INVASIVE SPECIES J-1: The red-faced total-tourist line-whiner.
These are one of LBI’s most ubiquitous creatures.
A strictly nonresidential species, they can most often be spotted at any Island store or business where a line forms.
Despite being a highly-invasive species, red-faced total-tourist line-whiners characteristically assume a dominant demeanor when in a crowd, displaying a bodily posture that seemingly insinuates superiority over other creatures, particularly any ahead of them in line, including those of their own species.
Most easily identified by red-ish skin colorations and tensely pursed facial features, these anxious creatures are often seen performing sublte squirming dances within a line. Experts contend that the longer the line the more detailed and animated the red-faced total-tourist line-whiner’s dancing displays become -- though contradictory studies indicate many specimens will quickly abandon the “squirm dance” and adopt a far less animated glaring continence, similar to that displayed by certain species prior to attack. Foot tapping is highly common.
The calls of red-faced total-tourist line-whiners are complex, ranging from huffs and random air expulsions to full-blown whining sounds. Stronger vocalizations include simple calls resembling, “this is ridiculous,” or far more complex issuances, like, “Would you just shut up and pay the clerk, lady.”
Advanced studies are currently being done in response to what appears to be a growing population of total-tourist line-whiners. Most notable is a study, currently under peer review, entitled “Defining Behavioral Trends of Summer Line-whiners Common to Long Beach Island, New Jersey,” by Dr. Rowley Richenbacker of 18th Street in Ship Bottom.
The doctor writes, “We tend to accept the notion that red-faced total-tourist line-whiners only act-out when on line, however, my research on both captive and feral specimens indicate their aggressive self-righteous traits often extend to numerous phases of interaction with other communal species,” said Richenbacker, jokingly adding, “Face it, they can be a bitch in almost any situation.”
INVASIVE SPECIES J-2: The flip-flopped know-my-pedestrian-rights lollygagger.
Note: I saw a few of these bizarre creatures just this past weekend.
These primates, primarily seasonal, are often difficult to distinguish from the far more populous and indigenous smile-faced can’t-wait beachgoes – as they concurrently scuttle beachward, primarily along east-west roadways. However, flip-flopped know-my-pedestrian-rights lollygaggers thoroughly differentiate themselves upon reaching crosswalks and similar roadside areas. It is there that they openly demonstrate one of the oddest on-road behaviors known to human nature.
At crosswalks, lollygaggers will cause traffic to stop by aggressively entering the roadway. Once atop the roadway, they will suddenly abandon the rapid forward motion displayed up to that point and assume what one expert in lollygagger behavior has described as “a sloth-like pace” in crossing the road.
A New Jersey researcher recently documented a lollygagger intentionally coming to a complete stop, midroad, to feign self-grooming.
Another researcher reported a nearly identical “stopping behavior” from a “rather large lollygagger” that not only stopped but also openly feigned “an object-seeking behavior by sorting through its belongings.”
An unconfirmed report by a novice investigator had a Surf City lollygagger cross approximately 84 percent of a roadway only to stop, turn around and return to the side from which it had begun. If proven, that sighting would be the furthest forward progress/return incident ever recorded.
During road crossings, virtually any outside addressing of flip-flopped know-my-pedestrian-rights lollygaggers can evoke a myriad of hand- and arm-waving gestures, directed toward any stopped traffic. If further challenged, the species has been known to produce an assortment of fierce squawking sounds, generally uninterpretable, though some recent recordings taken by Rutgers University doctoral candidates have isolated a repeated call resembling, “I know the law.”
Experts advise that any effort by traffic to slip past an on-road lollygagger can cause the species to assume an attack posture. While this is most often merely a feigning mannerism, some specimens have actually attacked vehicles with thrown objects.
While flip-flopped know-my-pedestrian-rights lollygaggers are fairly common, there are strong indications their population could rapidly decline due to behavioral patterns that include stepping in front of oncoming traffic.
As is the case with many invasive LBI species, the law strictly protects flip-flopped know-my-pedestrian-rights lollygaggers.
YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BRUCE: Talk about a toothy turnaround.
“Jaw”-ed to the point of near extinction, great white sharks, now being spotted off New England, are literally being cheered on by an unlikely collection of folks, the likes of which you’d never expect to see celebrating as one.
Commercial and recreational fishermen, conservationists and Save the Seals folks, state and federal officials are all delighting in the latest sightings of great whites in NE’s nearshore waters. That’s the same waters harboring increasingly huge populations of seals.
While it’s easy to see why fishermen and public officials want to see the sharks come ashore to naturally cull the seal population – believed to be slowing the comeback of codfish -- even the most hysterical PETA-type people have to acknowledge it’s proper for nature to have its way with the seals. Even the most militant conservationists surely realize the inescapably inane position they’d find themselves in if they actually began campaigning to save nicer animals from meaner animals – with the ultimate goal of have having only butterflies rule the world.
Thusly, great white sharks are now, somewhat unbelievably, being joyously greeted. In fact, it was to utter fanfare that George Breen, a pilot with a company called Cape Cod Shark Hunters, recently reported spotting the season’s first great white in shallow water.
Not that great whites aren’t still being targeted by humans. In fact, they’re getting nailed left and right – with high-tech satellite tags. The tags will allow admiring folks to know just where their beloved sharks are roaming -- when not devouring seals.
It’s a living case of sharks going from worst to first. Kinda cool.
RUNDOWN: Hot, hot and more hot.
That does not bode well for fluking in the suds, though I’m betting that further-out ocean fluking will pick up, as the bay hyper-heats and the fish move out into cooler surroundings. Of course, smaller fluke – and their lower need for dissolved oxygen – will hang around the inlets and just inside the bay. Look for a 25:1 ratio on bay and inlet keepers.
Still no major indicators that the recent onslaught of storm runoff is negatively impacting the bay. Of course, there’s no guessing what the chemical change in the water has done to young fish and other pollution-sensitive marine life.
Sharks remain a target of quite few folks. I wish I had the patience. They’re prowling close in and further out. Congrats to Joe H. for his fine hook-and-release of the men in gray suits. If you haven’t been schooled in shark ID’ing, instantly release everything.
I should note that fishing has already assumed its summer unpredictability posture. I’m thinking inlets areas are the best chance at variety.
Any folks familiar with chumming grass shrimp (other than for weakfish), it might be the best way to see what’s down there saluting. Blowfish, weakfish and triggers could be in the bayside mix. Inlet-wise, chumming shrimp might draw in triggers, bass and small mahi.
I’m kinda surprised the massive showing of mahi, seen just to our south a couple months back, hasn’t hit our nearshore and middle waters. There are some mahi bulls are showing offshore.
I’ve gotten more pics and reports of stingrays, other than cow-nosed in our zone. If they’re rough-tailed rays, they can get so big it doesn’t matter what gear you’re using, seeya later line. If they’re southern rays (sometimes a generic term for a few species), they’re akin to cow-nosed, with slightly less empathic “stings.”
A gal I know tried cooking up a couple cow-nosed rays and, per her, “It didn’t work very well.” She didn’t do that freeze-first method, though both her and I have seen numerous recipes for fresh unfrozen ray wings. Her meat got rubbery.
During black seabass sessions, big blackfish are being taken-and-released as bycatch. I sure hope those mega-blackies make tons of tog babies. It’s the only hope for the species.
By the by, I had an official tell me that, so far this year, they have not had excessive problems with the taking of undersized blackfish -- often by Asians filling the insatiable public appetite for damn-near-live fish products. However, he was referring to the likes of jetty anglers and headboats. There are still surely numerous nefarious bottom fishermen working wrecks and rocks, secreting away virtually any and all hookups. I got word (from NYC friends) that larger bergalls are also showing. Those are, of course, quite legal to keep -- but what’s the odds those bergall-bearing anglers are only keeping legal fish?