Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Famed Perry world-record largemouth ‘Yaking for Sharks; Targeting Triggerfish Expectedly, the great folks with our US Coast Guard – and our “Coasties” are some of the best anywhere – didn’t have much down time over the weekend, as boats of all shapes and forms simultaneously took to the water in a display of watery wildness seldom seen beyond the coastline of Somalia. Per usual, it was hot-rodders, like personal watercraft, that needed the most attention. Many boat anglers wouldn’t mind offering those watercraft some extra attention -- in the form of firepower. One incident that the USCG handled involved kayakers up a creek without a paddle. Actually, it was a lot larger than a creek, as currents way stronger than their arm paddling were whisking them around. I had only written in here a few weeks back about the total loss of mobility a kayker undergoes when a paddle goes astray. And an un-tethered paddling device has this uncanny knack of drifting off on its own – as I learned the hard way, many years back. The Coast guard saved the kayaker’s day. I’m hoping the many folks now getting into ‘yaking will always buy a device that assures a dropped or misplaced paddle stays near the vessel. I even recommend a smaller collapsible paddle be placed in any hold space. Sidebar: There is now something called a Tempo Fisherman, created by the Viking Kayak (www.vikingkayak.us). It is a kayak equipped with a very frisky and cleverly integrated saltwater electric motor, replete with pedal steering, battery box and speed control. Despite the added mechanical power, it is still first and foremost a paddle-able kayak of the sit-atop variety. There are those who might think that neutralizes the yaking concept. Not really, especially for an angler. You keep all the stealth and shallow draft of a kayak but can call on the motor for a quicker return to the start of a good drift or back to a suddenly distant put-in point. If you want to check out one of these enticing (for me) vessels, go over to Wet Creek Kayak and Canoe, just off Route 9, across from Tip’s Hardware in West Creek. And make sure to stop in and say :Hey” to our good buddies over at Tip’s, which carries crossbows, now legal for deer hunting. I bring up kayaks as an oddish lead-in to the developing nearshore shark fishing. Folks seeking dusky/sand bar sharks (Carcharhinus obscurus) and closely related brown sharks (Carcharhinus milberti) near Little Egg Inlet have been having a blast fighting (and releasing) toothy characters up to 5 feet long. And a very careful release is a must, brown sharks having diminished to an average size one-third of what they were a few decades back – a sure sign of a collapsing species. The kayak angle has to do with an emailer who is fully fired up to go sharking from a kayak. I told him, “Go for it” -- but make sure to bring along a video camera since they’re always looking for new footage for the TV series, “World’s Dumbest …” Actually, he wasn’t looking for my blessing. (I’m pretty sure he heard I lost my monsignorship a few years back after those inflated allegations that I was part of a shark-fighting ring.) He instead simply wanted to know if even a “harmless’ shark might become less enamored with harmlessness when hooked in the mouth while being dragged toward a boat. Damn frickin’ straight! Browns and duskys have some significant dentures and when in a pure panic, dollars to donuts, they’re in no mood to play by book rules. “Here, I’ll show you harmless!” I should add that I’ve hooked a couple sharks (above and beyond dogfish) from my kayak. In both cases, I got a royal ride, as both of them freely dragged me along in the ocean. I was eventually bitten off in both cases, though I had the larger of the two right up to the ‘yak and was pondering my next step – which I failed to come up with. Easing even an exhausted shark, one that seems as long as the ‘yak, to within an arm’s length away, as it’s slashing white teeth glitter on the steel leader … Sufficed to say, some of the shortcomings of sharking from a yak come into focus real fast. As for going after some of those catch –and-release inlet sharks, give it a go. Get more info from local tackle shops. A short heavy-duty boat rod and a strong but simple reel works well when sharking from boat. In fact, a really fun retro set-up for smaller sharks is a vintage bakelite side-plate bait reel married to a 5- to 6-foot translucent fiberglass rod, so popular back in the 50s, sold through the likes of Sears. Seeking info: For the past couple weeks, I’ve been restoring half a dozen slightly greenish colored translucent Fiberglas boat rods. A couple are old Pfluegers but my favorites are from a company called the Fishing Rod Factory, Saint Pierre, Fla. Any one have any info on that factory? Oddity of the week: Last week’s oddity was the butterfly ray. This week it’s another tropical-ite. I have a report of gray triggerfish out there in numbers last seen in the days of Robin Hood. I have no idea what that means but there is such a load of triggerfish in nearshore waters that snorkelers have been spearing them by the stringerful, in nothing flat. Even as we speak, triggerfish are literally swarming around the Old South Jetty in B.L. I have to think they’re also drifting overt toward the new South Jetty, likely the south-facing end of that jetty. These super-tasting tropical visitors are purely bait-eaters. No artificials will fool them. The trick is to suck them in, mainly via a chum line of grass shrimp -- which gets them biting like crazy. Such chumming is really tough from beach or off the South Jetty end. I’m wondering if a simple bobber and bait (shrimp) technique, cast from the beach, might get anglers into the triggers. Of course, a kayak approach to the area, followed by an anchor up (yes, you should have an anchor on your kayak) and the prescribed grass shrimp chum, would surely work. Also, when conditions are calm enough, you can sometimes ease a larger vessel into that Old South Jetty area. Disclaimer: I take absolutely no responsibility if you don’t know your boating stuff and end up with a buncha Barnegat Light lifeguards helping you off your stranded boat and onto the sand. Taking a safer tack, I’ll bet those triggers are showing on the north side of the North Jetty. Amazingly, there are probably some anglers who wonder who would go out of their way for triggerfish. Not only do they fight like blackfish but also the flavor of triggerfish, baked in the round (whole), is the upper level of top-shelf eating. REEFS GIVE IT UP: Over the weekend, some folks were zipping out to The Tires and larger artificial reefs, looking for any remaining black seabass. Fishing pressure on the seabass has been very heavy. Despite the crush of anglers, a scattering of very decent seabass showed for some folks. I’ll be interested to see if the cleaner bay water that moved in with June storms will lead to a good crop of seabass in the bay. Clean water is a must for a successful spawn. I always enjoy seining baby seabass (and immediately releasing them) since, as young fish, they look absolutely nothing like the mature fish. They instead resemble a type of blenny. Blenny: a very small bayside fish that looks somewhat eelish -- and lives its entire life in small compact places. Eco-Note: I’ve been emailed some information that the concept of using tires for reefs is not panning out at all; that fish and even smaller organisms related to reef growth can’t tolerate something about the rubber. I’ll be researching this further but I can just about assure that you won’t soon be seeing tires for reefs. However, this is not to even remotely criticize the trying of the material. It seemed a great match: too many tires and the a need for reef material. THIS IS GARBAGE … SWEET: I have a tourney to talk about that is total garbage --- and nothin’ could be sweeter. Brian Lodge, mastermind behind garbagefish.com, is having his first-ever tournament, an event that will target the biggest and baddest sea robins, sand sharks (dogfish) and skates. It starts July 17th and runs till July 26th. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second, and third place winners of each category. By way of background, Brian contacted me a couple years back to forward his fascination with so-called garbage fish. He knew I was the man to talk to since I can pull a junkfish outta any body of water (see anecdote below). What I didn’t realize at the time was how far he’d take this fascination with hyping underutilized fish species. To get a goodly gander at his effort, go to http://garbagefish.com. Great stuff, including further details on the tournament. By the by, the event will be donating part of its proceeds to ReClam Barnegat Bay. Per the website: “You may fish by boat, the surf, a bridge, or hand glider. All weigh ins must be caught that day, and not frozen previously. Thermal ionic detectors will be present at each station.” Hey, who knows, there just might be a “thermal ionic detector” on-hand -- though I’d have opted for a hydrogenating cerebellum-penetrating incipancy-detecting device. But that’s just me. Registration fee is $20.00 per fisherman. Per the website, “We request that you do not waste the fish. … See the (website’s) recipe section and after having your fish weighed, please try to consume it.” As to where you can fish, this says it all: “You may fish the ocean, bay, puddle or pond. You may fish by boat, the surf, a bridge, or hand glider….” I’m up to my gills in stuff to do so I might not be able to ace this event but I’d sure like to see folks get into such a cool cause. And what better way to familiarize yourself with the high edibility of underutilized fish species. Make sure to keep everything iced down the same way you would top-shelf catches. This event is, of course, a perfect match for both my fishing specialty and my conservational cants to come together. I’ve always been a junkfish magnet. Gospel truth: A couple falls back there was a bass blitz of epic proportions going on, mid-Island. I was throwing a Wildeye jig, the catchingest thing being used that day. On every side of me, folks were either pulling in big bass or were busy fighting them. I cast out my Wildeye, jumped it on the bottom and had a fish on in nothing flat. As the gathering crowd looked on in awe – and even cheered on landed bass -- don’t I drag in a frickin’ sea robin of epic size. I swear the crowd went kinda hush. I tried to covertly whoosh it back into the water. I quickly cast out again, hooked up immediately and ain’t it another frickin’ sea robin! The crowd went sarcastically wild. I trudged back to my truck, grabbed my care and went on to get some incredible shots of anglers catching big bass. UGLY WORDS AND ISOPODS: Email: “Hi Jay, Two things: 1.) When the debris washed up on shore last week, a lot hit my beach in North Beach. I picked through it for hours and hauled 3 full bags of trash off the beach. There was no medical waste in it, other than inhalers, band aids, etc. I'm annoyed by alarmist reports like this: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pennsylvania/20090703_N_J__searches_for_source_of_waste_on_beaches_1.html. You nailed it. They should have asked you. 2.) Next, the surf is full of bugs that swim. Today was full of them. Normally they don't bother me but today they were so thick, they were crawling on me, and were in my pockets when I got home! What are they, and do they have any impact on surf fishing? Jim.” I'm pissed as all get-out over those malicious "medical waste" lies recently published under the cloak of a quote by a firsthand observer. I think that observer must have had some sagging summer rentals in a Pocono property. Had the wash-up been medical waste, like that BS in the quote, I'd be the first screaming bloody murder about it. As for allegations that the public wasn’t notified, that’s kinda true but not totally so. I wrote about it in my daily fishing column (http://jaymanntoday.ning.com/), even as the stuff was washing up. At The Sandpaper, my phone rang off the hook, as beachwalkers called in. Alliance for Living Ocean, of which I’m a board member, also instantly fielded concerned phone-ins. I bring that up to assure there was a grass-roots scrutiny of the problem from the get-go. I talked to folks with public works right down to citizens who took it upon themselves to pick up. There was, indeed, some nasty crap coming ashore but nothing close to what was alleged in the above-mentioned website quotes. On to less malicious matters. Those frisky little buggish swimmers sneaking into your britches are good old isopods. They’ve been happily swimming around for millions of years and will be around for a billion or two more. For years on end, they can be very scarce in nearshore waters, and then they move in like overly grabby gangbusters. Ironically, this current showing very likely relates to the first part of your email. It’s a good bet this flood of isopods came in on flotsam -- and were smart enough to abandon ship when things got way too shallow. Though isopods are pretty decent swimmers for their size and shape (not that hydrodynamically sound), even moving at full blast they can’t cover more than 50 feet a day. Then, along comes a wave and pushes them 150 feet backwards. So, for the long run, they become ultimate hitchhikers, jumping aboard almost anything that passes by, including humans. The ones now in our waters are a long way from deeper water and trying like crazy to find any outgoing mass transit. That brings us to the trickier in-water question about these freeloaders: do they just grab on for a ride or do they also go a step further and also take a taste of that upon which they're riding? While some studies suggest isopods that mount humans are only in it for the transportation angle, many surfers and I beg to differ. We’ve felt the grab isopods use to just hold on. We’ve also felt a much more mosquito-bite-ish feeling when an isopod has comfortably settled under, say, our bathing suit waistband and delivers more than a mere hold-me embrace. Even the friskiest of isopods present absolutely no danger to humans in the water, unless (distastefulness alert) one happens to be down and out for the long count, as in seriously deceased – in which case some isopods move in for some, uh, deeper exploration. Yuck. It’ll now take a serious storm event to get those isopods off our back this summer. By the by, likely the most common crawling creatures you’ll ever come upon on land are those grey roly-poly pillbugs, found under just about anything ground-based. Those are isopods, kissin’ cousins to the marine isopods. They just don’t swim as well. PERRY AND THE LARGEST LARGEMOUTH: When it comes to world record fish, we of an upper East Coast Ilk indubitably hoist the Al McReynold’s 78-pound, 8-ounce striped bass as the holiest of high points. That fish was caught in 1982. Other coastal areas revel over world record drumfish or even sharks. However, across the nation – and, to some degree, around the world – the most famed world record is a 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass (32.5-inch length and 28.5-inch girth), caught in a Georgia lake by George Perry. It was caught way back on June 2, 1932. The fish was caught on the only plug Perry owned, a Creek Chub Perch Scale Wigglefish. At 77 years old, that record-breaking bucketmouth had truly stood the test of time. Then, along comes Rising Sun angler Manabu Kurita. This year, the Japanese angler caught a 22-pound, 5-ounce largemouth. Kurita caught that most American of species in (it hurts to even say it) Lake Biwa, located in Shiga Prefecture (west-central Honshū), northeast of the former capital city of Kyoto, Japan. And it isn’t as if Kurita can’t dance. He’s been a professional anglers for years, representing the Deps Tackle Company in Japan. On the surface, it seems that extra ounce would make Kurita’s bass the new world record. Well, not so fast. The International Gamefish Association, the world’s only accepted gamefish record keeper, has a strict rule that fish vying for a world record must beat the standing champ by over 2 ounces, otherwise it’s a tie. A tie, eh? Well, that sure make it interesting since there is easily a million dollars in cash prizes and promotional perks to anyone breaking the record. However, simply tying it? That ain’t nearly as sexy. What’s more, neither is Manabu Kurita. The best shot of the record fish shows the young angler, with his orange-dyed hair and wild sunglasses, looking as if he’s about to bite sushi chunks out of the raised world record-ish fish. The ragin’ Japanese angler about to share the world record for a largemouth couldn’t be a further cry from good old boy George Perry. Interestingly, the famed Lake Biwa Restaurant had largemouth bass on its daily menu. Sidebar: Like every fabulous fish ever caught, the Perry largemouth bass has had deadbeat detractors. I have read many accounts of the monster fish – including the writings of top authority Bill Baab of the Augusta Chronicle. I fully believe the fish is 100 percent the real deal -- and every ounce of 22-4. That viewpoint is shared by virtually anyone willing to do homework on the hookup, as the IGFA did in recognizing the record. As for alleged inaccuracies in the weighing of that back-in-the-day fish, it should be realized that scales were actually super well made and accurate as all get-out. Somewhat oddly, the integrity of the Perry bass is often questioned because of the lack of hoopla over it. Firstly, there was an adequate fuss, it just took longer to show itself back in those Great Depression days. Perry’s catch instead evolved into a stunner, primarily via a “catch certification” from Field and Stream magazine. It literally took weeks on end just to get the issue out, so to speak. Secondly, in the big scheme of worldly things, the fish was really nothing for Perry -- or anyone else -- to fudge the facts over. It wound up being worth a mere $75 in fishing plugs. Interestingly, the fish might not have even gone public if Perry hadn’t been told about a “big fish” contest being run by Field and Stream. Often asked: Why wasn’t it stuffed? Again, it just didn’t seem that big of a deal to Perry et al. In fact, the fish was eaten with little added fanfare – except, maybe, a spontaneous beer-enhanced toast common among a buncha good old boys feasting on “one helluva big ass” fish. A few years back, the integrity of the Perry fish was buttressed by some eye-popping visual verification. A heretofore-unknown photo of Perry’s monster bass was published in the Augusta Chronicle in 2006. One place to check out that pic is at: http://www.mrlurebox.com/GeorgePerryBass.htm. Wow! What an astounding look at that world-record fish. I’m trying to get an enhanced copy of the photo for framing. Not only does it show the size of that beastly bass but it also offers a very cool look into rural (i.e. redneck) Georgia back in the day.