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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

A Horse-thrown Tacklemaker and A No-No Mako


Before I edge into angling for the edification of those who insist a “fishing column” should touch on fishing now and again, I have to share a cerebral trip I took back to olden times, when men were men and merry-go-rounds were, apparently, a formidable force to be reckoned with.
My retro-romp began during some deep research on a fellow who made fishing tackle way back in the day.
I’m an avid collector of all things collectible, including a slew of dumb-as-dirt things to accumulate. Technically, I’m an obsessive/compulsive/ fixated/infatuated /crazed/ habitual/neurotic/irrational collector of anything that enters my line of sight. Old fishing stuff is way up near the top of the few thousand genres I gather. Unfortunately, better angling collectibles are now being trolled through rarified auction air. Tiny plugs are selling for hundreds of dollars. That forces me to go grassroots when stuff seeking. As I do with many of my collectibles, I forego monetary layouts and instead go out and dig slightly corroded yet highly-cool oldies from aged dumpsites. I occasionally dig angling items, some items dating back 50, 100 even 200 years – the oldest being lead sinkers, common back to colonial times.
Anyway, I recently found a small piece of corroded tackle with a brand name I had never heard. I researched into the wee hours of Google and actually dug up some provenance for my find. And it got non-angling interesting real fast.
The fellow who made the tackle began production when recovering from a devastating fall from a horse.
I read only as far as the fall from the horse and leaned back in my chair to lasso images of them-there hard ridin’ days when nasty falls were all just part of a raw leather lifestyle.
I shoulda stopped readin’ right then and there -- my fishin’ tackle-makin’ wrangler gingerly galloping off into the sunset and onto my digging tool, so to speak.
But I just had to have more nostalgic background. It was that further read that put a very non-“Hi Ho Silver, Away” ending to my gallop into the past. Gospel truth: The tackle-maker had, in fact, fallen off a horse -- a frickin’ merry-go-round horsie!
(The shattering glass sound of a fully nullified nostalgic flashback.)
Turns out the fellow had been riding his trusty up-and-down merry-go-round steed and leaned out to grab some sort of brass ring that manly men grabbed for their kids or spouses back in the day. The dude blew it big time, to the tune of head, back and shoulder injuries.
In an effort to redeem at least some sort of nostalgic retrospect, I (much less enthusiastically) pursued the idea of how things were more clear-cut and less whiney back in the day. Can you imagine what would befall an amusement park in this litigious day and age if someone fell off a ride trying to grab some dangling trinket?
Back in those days, my friends, a man knew just what he was taking on when he decided to mount a merry-go-round. There was the ride -- and there was that ring. The hazards were pretty much unspoken, though ominous indicators pervaded the park or circus where the dangling-ring rides were offered. When standing at the ticket counter, a man about to mount a ride, would solemnly say “three kids tickets” then pause before adding “and one adult ticket.”
On hearing that “one adult ticket” the cashier would look over top of his reading glasses. “You sure about this, buddy?” A subtle head nod meant the man was going through with it. The cashier would then pull three green “Kiddy” tickets from a large spindle then slowly reach over to the spindle with blood red “Adult” tickets. As the cashier pushed the tickets forward, a rush of odd and ominous music would begin as the merry-go-round began warming up -- the kids also warming up, yelling out loud enough for the entire park to hear, “Our daddy’s gonna grab us a ring! Our daddy’s gonna grab us a ring!”
Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay, tacklemaker.
SHARK BITES BACK: I’m getting informational dribs and drabs about a bizarre incident that occurred down at the 29th Annual South Jersey Shark Tournament held last weekend in Cape May.
Seems a participating boat rushed excitedly in with a big “mako” that the captain and crew were sure had big money written all over it. It didn’t take dockside tourney folks more than glance to utter those always chilling words “Oh, ****” -- alerting the boat crew that not only weren’t they in the money but they were in way over their heads. Their “mako” was a frickin’ great white!
And it wasn’t only tourney personnel cognizant of the mistaken identity. Before the fishing vessel could hightail it outta there – with their non-mako in tow -- the Coast Guard arrived and confiscated both the boat and the great white. I’m guessing the captain also had some explaining to do.
As you likely know, the great white shark is now so federally protected that you better not even look at one wrong should it happen to pass near your boat.
I’m not going to get over critical here but who in their right mind would enter a broad-spectrum shark tournament without a full and updated command of which shark is which?
How costly might this mis-ID be? It can lead to fines up to $45,000 and even loss of vessel – though I think those are very upper-end punishments. Still, a serious hand slap of some sort is needed, just to send a message to the organizers of the many shark events up and down the coast.
It is actually easiest to hyper-learn all keepable sharks, from nose to tail. Yes, you can begin with the thresher. Then, any shark that’s not familiar looking is just not in the game. Sure, you can eventually learn all the sharks in the sea but I’m guessin’ you might want to first assure the shark you’re entering into an event isn’t what you might call Coast Guard material.
Again, I’m only getting the most primary of reports on this incident. If you’re the captain or crew of that vessel, I’m sure you have your side of it. I’ll gladly publish same. I sure don’t like hearing that confiscation crap – when this sure seems like an obvious case of simple mistaken fish identification. Fines are order, though.
TOO MUCH BUNKINESS?:
The following email reflects a very common sentiment right about now.
“Jay, the other day we came across acre after acre of bunker right off the beach. Can there be too much bunker for bassing?
Bite your tongue! There can never be too many of these oily stock-building baitfish. And we especially don’t want to have such a flagrantly anti-conservational concept flapping about for bunker industry lobbyists to see.
Sure, a veritable sea of bunkies might make it tougher to find the specific pods harbor the most big bass beneath. But, where is it written – or even desired – that every single drop of a snagged bunker must mean a huge striper on the line? In fact, one of the reasons I personally lobby for much more lenient laws on taking smaller stripers is the potential for an overabundance of bass to eventually lead to a sheer boredom factor for fishermen – as other species decline in the face of an overwhelming bass mass.
My concept of the bass biomass going bonkers might invite the notion that too many bunker could contribute greatly to an imbalance. Not so – at all. Bluefish, weakfish, fluke, red drum, large sharks, Spanish mackerel, large diving birds, raptors, a variety of marine mammals and assorted varieties of humans (anglers, crabbers, nearshore net fishermen) all thrive when bunkers thrive. It’s a hackneyed expression but it’s all good – when bunker are bountiful.
REEF RE-SALVATION: The on again/on again fight to save the reefs is, uh, on again. The effort, now into its second year, keeps missing the legislative boat, as the State House boys and girls seem to keep sidestepping the issue under the guise of “Just haven’t had the time.” Actually, it’s always a distasteful issue, knocking the livelihood of one group to profit another. But, in this case, those thousand of folks in the recreational fishing industry greatly outnumber the very few commercial fishermen impacted by the a ban of commercial gear on the artificial refs. A ban should be a no-brainer. Of course, we’re talking politics here, where no-braining is part of the job description.
Here’s the plea from the Reef rescue, http://www.njreefrescue.com:
Now is the time to RALLY FOR OUR REEFS!
Let's show Trenton's legislators that WE WANT OUR REEFS BACK now!
Why are commercial trappers allowed to dominate reef sites we paid for!
Why are we plagued with loosing rigs on fixed gear costing us each hundreds of dollars annually!
Why should we have to worry about dodging trap markers or loosing anchors?
Why are anglers & divers being denied access to a resource designed for hook, line and spear fishing!
Why isn't the DEP complying with the approved NJ Artificial Reef Plan?
Why is the State jeopardizing $1.9 million in federal funds by turning their back on this problem?
Why are 'ghost pots' ignored and continue killing reef fish every day?
Come hear what the legislators have to say about NJ's reefs.
If reefs are important to your organization, have representatives attend this important event.
Here are the event details:
When: June 26, 2009, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Clark’s Landing, 847 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ.
WHAT: Subs, Drinks, 50/50 and more!
WHO: Hear from the organizers that started this effort, the legislators who
continue to fight Trenton for it and the fishermen that need it!
TICKETS: reefrescue@yahoo.com or peterg@njoutdooralliance.org or call: 973.454.0315
Donation Requested: $20.00.
ETHAN-GNAW:
The first effects of ethanol in summer gasoline were disturbing to mariners. The longer range effects are becoming downright caustic. This is what I’m getting from loads of boat fishermen now experiencing the multi-season eat-away impact of this gasoline additive (required by the federal government) on their vessels.
There is absolutely no quick and easy solution, short of buying one of these newer motors that seemingly have the upper hand on ethanol-related corrosion.
I bring up this ethanol issue not to rub it in, since nothing can legislatively be done for this year, but to make sure you pay more attention to (constant) motor maintenance -- and to recognize that breakdowns are seemingly a greater possibility now than they were even back in the olden putt-putt, pull-start motor days of the past.
I won’t mention any brand names but a marine assistance membership is surely an excellent and reasonably priced investment.
RUNDOWN: There are big bass to talk about but none to write down in the Simply Bassin leaderboard.
Important: The Simply Bassin’ 2009 tourney goes to June 28, not Father’s Day as I previously wrote. I forgot the event was stretched to accommodate the timeframe, i.e. it didn’t fit between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Margaret at Jingles weighed in a number of surf stripers up to 44 pounds. These were taken mainly by weekenders just out for some fun. This is not to say the action was brisk but when a bass came calling it usually came in a big way. Folks using clam gobs are readily finding just-keeper bass for BBQ ing along much of LBI.
The LE Inlet has bigger bass (also to near 45 pounds) being caught in whitewater of the shoals. The trick: motor to mid-Island, chase some bunker pods, throw a tassel of live bunker in the live well then scoot back to the shoals to swim the bunker.
As for those often-bountiful bunker pods, most lately off Surf City, there are bass to be had but not that many fish and not all the time. It is surely not like last year when the odds favored the anglers. It is still very much worth the snag-and-drop effort. Also, if snagging is coming up empty turn to larger jigged plastics (lots of tail) at a drift or umbrellas or spoons at a slow troll. I wrote of an angler who boated up off IBSP, couldn’t garner a touch dropping live bunker to the bottom then switched to a large Spro with white plastic worm and got his only two fish of the day –exactly where he had nothing on bunker. The bluefish ended his tackle tactic. One slammer was just under 19 pounds on a hand scale.
Surf City Bait and Tackle had local surfcasting quietish overall but one nice 20-pounder came out of Brant Beach. The cool part about that catch was the angler who took the fish was right in the midst of a conversation with a passing cranky-ite grumbling that there were no bass around. Whadda ya call this, dude?
Talking with Valerie at Oceanside Bait and Tackle, the weekend looked big, especially in the face of 2 folks hauling in stripers over 40.Customer Antonio G. bought his traditional 10 clams, went beach bound (Brighton area) an parlayed the bait into a massive 44-3. Yep, that was in the suds. From the same batch of suds (more toward Brant Beach), Rob L. bested a 41-5. Other less weighty stripers also made the scales. And bass weren’t the only lookers at the shop. A father and son team weighed in two black drum in the 20-pound range -- and released others even bigger. Those drum fell for clam baits. Considering the fish were all taken at the same spot, it doesn’t leave much doubt they were traveling a mixed school, possibly port spawn.
BL Bait and Tackle also saw quiet-ishness early week. The upside of North End angling was the two big weakfish -- 11-4 and 7-2 pounds -- off the jetty. Similar sparklers were also taken inside the jetty – on live spot. Weakies love spot, no doubt.
North End fluking is a 6-1 ration, with the best action close to the inlet.
If you’re ocean fluking outside Barnegat Inlet, head out to 55 feet of water then closely monitor the water temps, especially if south winds kick in., The warmer water holds the better flatties. The onshore could blow in water to the upper 60s.
By the by, the early-week east winds will drive the cleaner ocean water further back into the bay. Look for fluke from Sailboat all the way back to BB and BI. Weaks will also follow that path – if they’re arriving fish and not departures.
I frequently reference that super lecture on weakfish given many years back. The speaker explained the astoundingly complex spawns, i.e. coming and goings, of Barnegat Bay weakfish. It’s a veritable revolving door of coming and going weakies, extending through much of the summer.
By the by, small spike weakies are often an independent biomass. They are non-spawning but still a vital part of summer fishing. Also, I have taken huge weakfish (usually rogues) in and around Myers Hole (inside Barnegat Inlet) from June through October, so tiderunner-grade sparklers are around all summer and then some.

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