Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
TSUNAMIS SELDOM SLEEP;
FEED ALL THE WILDLIFE
Small things first.
This column is a tad a-kilter due to my inability to get on-line at deadline time, midday Tuesday. Comcast’s fiber optic cable to LBI was gnawed clean through by either Godzilla or Big Foot, depending on which of those two technical explanations you got from the Comcast front office -- along with the message that you’re probably overdue on your bill. They just routinely use that bill thing to shorten conversations. Works for me. “Uh, I gotta go. I think I hear someone in my attic. Probably the same person that’s been stealing my Comcast payments.”
Closer to reality, the cosmic Comcast cable was, in fact, gnawed through by the Atlantic City Electric folks.
As Stafford-ites know, those energymeisters have been placing mega-poles through Manahawkin and out to LBI. Short of beyond-aggravating traffic snafus along Old Bay Avenue, they’ve been doing a super stellar job. No power outages. However, Murphy’s Law of Averages tunneled on-scene, right next to Bonnet Island Estate, Rte 72.
During a boring, the boys sorta hit something they shouldn’t have hit, namely the fiber optic cable that lights up our Internet – and the phones of many Islanders. There was this huge sound of breaking glass, followed by all the workers instinctively taking off so they wouldn’t get blamed.
Eventually the workers sheepishly sauntered back and resumed their work to enhance the electrical flow to the Island. What couldn’t be allowed was the digging down to fix the crippled optic cable. Somehow or other, electric power won out over saving the Internet. Go figure.
To Comcast’s credit, it flew into the emergency mode. Miles and miles of aboveground cable, from mainland to LBI, acted as a quick fix. They had to be motivated by the realization that not having the cable up by the start of the NBA finals this evening could lead to a massive customer meltdown.
ASKEW SIGNALS: Also earth shattering in an LBI way are the new “horizontal” traffic signals on the Boulevard within my Ship Bottom homelands. They have me sore. Literally. My neck is so damn tender from having to twist my head way over sideways just to read those traffic lights.
Being a newsman, I muscled my through to the Ocean County man behind the reconfiguring of traffic signals (see related story this SandPaper). He told me that the 90-degree shift is all about clearance. This first got me thinking he might be selling the signals at a discount price – I’ve always wanted of my very own. Sadly, his clearance had to do with high-profile vehicles driving beneath the signals – and occasionally not quite making it. Apparently the our traffic lights oft get smacked silly by the likes of top-heavy trucks, trailered boats, and, as many mobile anglers know, fishing rod tips.
It’s not clear how many LBI signals will be part of this initial changeover, but in the long run, I can see nearly all of LBI’s signals turning Japanese. And my neck aches continuing.
TSUNAMIS NEVER SLEEP: It’s always with great fanfare that the hurricane season is launched. But what about the tsunami season, which seldom sleeps?
I bring this subject up, first and foremost, to alert one-and-all that every single smartphone, as of this week, is automatically equipped with a Weather Service warning system, like the one that squeals like greased pig during weather alerts. Yes, you’ve now got it on your smarty. Of course, you can always opt out -- if you’re, like, Amish or something, where you can’t know the future. But who in bloody hell wouldn’t want to know if a tornado, flood or, yes, a massive tsunami is headed your/our way? Guess what’s coming to dinner?
This new smartphone admonition app happened along just as I was taking in a whole slew of new videos of that insane Japanese tsunami. Seriously spooky tsunami stuff.
My big-wave fear comes from Canaries. Would that they were merely birds of a feather. I’m talking the Canary Islands and one particular mega-sized ledge that hangs loosely over the Atlantic ocean.
Per the National Geographic Channel -- and also this scientist or that one – this hunka chunka tsunami fodder is truly teetering on the edge of a brink. Some morbid-type geologists say it might take something as small as a real canary lighting upon the edge to tip the slide-way scale. The tidal wave that could accompany such a landslide would be roughly 50 meters, which doesn’t sound horribly bad here in America, until some egghead whips out a metric conversion chart and announces that’s a 150-foot wave. I knew we shoulda switched to the metric system.
Such a wave would be more than enough to ruin our day. Face it, a paltry 20-foot tidal wave would power-wash LBI back to the Stone Age -- and still show up on the mainland at 19-feet, 11 inches. Recall: A Canary Island-bred tidal wave would be 150 feet -- a wee bit of overkill. OK, so maybe that’s a bad choice of word.
As for warningness, a buck-fifty Canary Island tsunami would be coming at us at upwards of 500 miles per hour – and even faster if it decides to move in kilometers per hour. (I told you, I haven’t got this metric thing figured out just yet). Math would then gift us with a whole few hours to pack all our belongings, including that new living room ensemble from Whalons; go over to the bank to empty the safety deposit box; transplant the entire garden from the ground and back into those black plastic holders; photograph and inflatedly evaluate any items being left behind, for later insurance compensation; loose the tied up kayaks to fend for themselves; and unplug the refrigerator. And who the hell know where the cat’s at? (See below)
That evacuation time frame had kinda eased my mind. Then, didn’t I have to go and chat with the fellow in charge of tsunamis at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly. Talk about a dose of cold water. He knew tons about the entire tsunami warning system, having visited the planet’s premier (and only) facility for finding and tracking geological upheavals, located in – you cannot be serious! -- Alaska. I’m sorry, when it comes to alerting me about tsunamis, I prefer to have a crack team of scientists poised, day and night, atop, like, the Ship Bottom water tower.
Turns out our tsunami survival all comes down to the boys in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Admittedly, their equipment is so sensitive that simply dropping a big bag of mulch in Ship Bottom gets someone up there wondering, “What was that clunk down in Jersey?” Needles to say, they’ll have no trouble detecting something big, say earthquakes, landslides and hurriquakes. I still don’t know what a hurriquake is but I sure liked Credence Clearwater Revival. As for comet strikes? We’re on our own.
Once a big-ass planetary knock is detected in Alaska, insanely complex computer systems -- and some local guy named Eddie -- decipher what it might mean -- and if, just maybe, it has spawned a tsunami. After that, there are four grades of advice issued via computer: 1) Ain’t no big thing, 2) Be very advised, 3) You’re fully warned, dude, 4) Nice knowin’ ya. Maybe they’re not written up quite like that.
BUT WHADDA WE GOT?: Sure, there’s that Alaskan big-picture advanced warning system. That’s all fine and good, but what sort of localized tsunami alert system do we have on LBI? You might not wanna know.
Firstly, you can forget the siren system. I’ve again been told that emergency management personnel feel wailing sirens will only panic people.
Damn frickin’ right it’ll panic people. So what? I’m thinkin’ a 150-foot wave already has panic written all over it. Politically correctly, I believe in “Every man and women for him and herself.” I just happen to keep an internalized storehouse of adrenaline at the ready for just such panicful moments.
Of course, I always believe in kids first! So remember that kids -- when there’s only one seat left on the evacuation bus and thousands of us adults all trying to get on. “We want Jay-Jay on the bus with us.” Maybe get a chant going.
So, with no sirening allowed, how the hell do we get warned – short of that smartphone thingy? I’d like to throw my support to what the Japanese folks do as tsunamis arrive: scream.
There’s something enticingly fundamental, primitively efficient, about having a panicked voice screaming over huge loud speakers there’s a tsunami coming, run your sorry asses off! You likely heard that guy in the background on YouTube tsunami clips.
Sidebar: That screaming loudspeakerist concept might be a man thing. Growing up, I was saved from many a catastrophe by someone in my group screaming a primordial “Run!” No hesitation or debate, you frickin’ dropped what you were doing – or thinking – and you ran in whatever direction you happened to be facing. If you ran smack into a tree, you simply bounced the hell off and commenced to running in another direction. We’d go from zero to blinding headlong boy speed before the screamed “Run!” quit echoing. There wasn’t even any looking back. Days later you might ask, “Hey whatya yell “run” for the other day?”
Now to the dismal news regarding tsunami threats. A scientist at the University of Delaware has published a paper warning of the under appreciated threats from tidal waves sneaking up on the Jersey Shore. While not overlooking the massive threat from the Canary Island set-up, he’s far more concerned with closer-to-home geology. He believes there is prime Western Atlantic underwater real estate that is geologically poised to shift into a more comfortable position. Such a rollover could easily send forth a beefy tsunami, one that would be upon us before even we can even unplug the refrigerator.
In that close-in case, it then comes down to you and I learning the indicators that a tsunami is at hand. I place them into the category I call, “If you see these indicators, you’re already pretty much screwed.”
A perfect example is the ocean suddenly going out to sea, as it were.
Bad: “Are those sunken ships sticking out of the mud? Let’s go check it out.”
Or, “Check the size of this striper just flapping around. You think Jay Mann would know if I entered it into the tourney?”
Another sure sign it might just be a tsunami – and this is actually high on the federal list of “Indicators of a possible tsunami”-- is a set of huge waves on the horizon. You don’t say. I would have never suspected …
“Oh, look mommy, I can see England. And it’s coming to visit us.”
Face it, there’s not a whole lot creative that can be done when triple-decker tidal waves looms up off LBI. Sure you can keep that smartphone at the ready, but it’s better to just play the law of averages when here. You have a better chance of being in a plane crash and getting bitten by a Gila Monster on the same day than being run over by a tsunami. Nonetheless, I’m remaining real partial to having those loudspeakers in good working order.
FERAL FEEDING FRENZY: I had a call from a gal incensed over a story she read about folks feeding wild foxes on LBI. To say I wasn’t biting is an understatement.
I put it to her: If anyone wants to feed and pamper their town foxes, just go right ahead. Got a coon you like, or a friendly possum, maybe an adorable coyote? Vittle ‘em up.
If folks can feed feral cats, why not feed the few remaining forms of real wildlife hereabouts? And if I get even one call from you bird lovers, squawking that foxes kill birds, I’m gonna rip you a new you-know-what. There wasn’t a bloody peep from all ya’ll during the recent crusade to pamper and protect feral felines in HC.
No, I’m not out to skin feral cats here. Those undomesticated domestics have won their feral place in the Island sun, so much so that as quickly as some Harvey Cedars residents are now trapping them for trespassing, the town is bailing them out of the animal shelter, and paying a hefty fee to boot.
Since all those trapped and registered ferals now have personalized ear tags, akin to a “Get Out of Jail Free” accessory, they’re not only mandatorily sprung from the pound but are also manually returned to LBI. They’re back in the well-fed-and-feral business in nothing flat -- returned to the very area where they were just trapped.
Weirdly and sadly, properly domesticated cats, true buddies to all of us, better not accidentally go astray and get nabbed by The Man. Those cool cats are almost immediately deprived of all nine of their lives when in-pounded, condemned to death row from the get-go. Their ears are the death of them.
Overheard in the animal shelter:
“Hey, Tabby, what’s your make on that guy in the white coat that just walked in holding a syringe?”
“Well, Tigger, ya see this weird earring I’m wearing?”
“Yeah, Tab, I was gonna ask you about that.”
“It kinda means I couldn’t care less about good old Dr. Death there. You, on the other hand, shoulda thought first before you ran off just as your family was about to leave the Island for the season.”
“Uh, maybe I can still catch up with ‘em.”
“I’m thinkin’ not. Here comes the good doctor now.”
Wanna fully protect you in-house, soul-mate feline? Fake that the bugger’s feral. Get it registered and ear clipped as a wild and wooly Island tiger. Then, if it ever accidentally goes astray, it’s butt is instantly saved upon capture. No sooner will it hit the pound then it’ll be hand-hurried back home. Face it, it’s damn good to be feral around here.
RUNDOWN: I see a goodly number of stripers were caught in the surf. Nothing overly major but it shows the all the bass didn’t die of syringe ingestion. Somewhat expectedly, I got some upbeat reports from folks getting nice bluefish in surf and inlets. When it’s a tough go out there and you really aren’t expecting to catch much bringing home some eater blues can make it all worth it.
Per always, word got out about the drumfish in the surf – many through Jingles website – and newbies want to now how to target them. Short of going to the part of the Island where they’re being caught you really can’t try to single them out in the surf, at least not the way you can near inlets and in the backbay. Black drum forage pretty much what stripers forage – and often in the same locales, though drumfish are not quite as adept at foraging during heavy currents, a striper forte. I have seen smaller black drum favoring the zone quite close to jetties, almost tog territory. However, while distance swimming (with mask and flippers) I’ve often seen them on the outward side (oceanward) of sandbar, snooting along the bottom. Unlike stripers, drumfish are spooked easily in the presence of bathers and swimmers. As oft noted, bass usually couldn’t care less if a human is nearby, thus their relative susceptibility to spear guns.
Back when surf clams were a common collectible – not sold by the piece -- drumfish anglers in boats would flip out an almost absurd-sized gob of clam – by hooking pieces after piece of clam and running it past the hook eye and up a foot-long piece of leader.
When fluke are being found they’re running big. Take advantage of that whenever possible. You know as well as me we’re quickly moving in on dismally low percentage days of summer fluking. I can’t see how the bottom won’t be caked in fluke again. It is far-and-away the most common gamefish out there, even more so than bluefish.
SYRINGE SCARE: Yes, I got a few calls about the syringe-based beach closings over the weekend. Let’s see, something like, say, 100,000 calls or so. Exaggerations maybe, but it sure as hell seemed like that many after factoring in Facebook, Twitters, emails and landline calls. Let’s just say it made for an unrelaxing weekend.
Despite being royally pissed off at this North Jersey crap coming ashore, again, I actually assumed a damage control posture by trying to make sure as many people as possible knew from whence cometh the crap.
I wrote a buddy, Jon C.: The public always has to be advised, make that warned, of all such wash-ups.
I'm just hoping to get folks to understand the relationship between heavy downpours, followed by hard NE winds. The syringe and crack vile threat to beaches is real and immediate after those sky elements have aligned.
Importantly, when conditions are normal, our beaches and waters are stellar, world-class -- based on stringent water-testing.
What’s more, there are no ongoing covert dumpings or secret offloadings of barges taking place, as is instantly bandied about with every incident like this latest one. Our finely tuned state and federal agencies, supplied with the planet's finest satellite eyes-in-the-skies equipment, simply wouldn’t miss big-ass sinister stuff taking place in bays and the ocean.
On the other hand, when it comes to terra firma, the street litter and the filthy fallout from drug-users is damn near untraceable. What’s worse, we will continue to suffer wash-ups until massive infrastructure changes are implemented to our north.
Why not join the likes of Alliance for Living Ocean to help fight for a cleaner ocean?