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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Mar. 4, 09 --- Weekly Blog -- Daily reports returning soon

A Celled Cod Uses Up Its Minutes




CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?: This is a story about a lost cellphone. So far, so normal. Hell, I routinely lose mine. In fact, where the hell is that thing?
The difference between my routine loses and that of businessman Andrew Cheatle, 45, was the fishy way his surfside loss of cellphone played out.

While horsing around with his dog on the beach, right at the water’s edge, Cheatle’s Nokia decided to take a dip on its own. Cheatle went through all the known motions to recover a drowning cellphone but couldn’t save it from the pounding surf.

“I was messing about with my dog and my phone must have fallen out and been swept out in the swell,” Cheatle was quoted as saying.

Now things get both bizarre and hypothetical -- before they embark down the yellow brick road of total weirdness.

The cell not only went skinny-dipping in the shorebreak but it was apparently whisked into the deep. This assumption will become obvious after a bite or two, so to speak.

After some last gasp stabs at finding the phone, Cheatle realized it was goner. Before abandoning the search, he assumed that old it-might-wash-up frame of mind. In an above-normal calling up of hopefulness, he spent days (thereafter) calling the cell’s number, just in case someone found it washed up on the sands and miraculously massaged it back to life through CPR – cellphone resuscitation.
“I kept calling it but I gave up hope …” said Cheatle.

I need you to remember Cheatle’s calling-himself effort because it plays into my sense of how weird this tale can go – even above and beyond what I’ll tell you next.

The phone was indeed found. By a cod. Well, technically, it was found by a commercial trawl fisherman, Glen Kerley, 45, who was cleaning said cod after netting it. It was a decent-sized fish, pushing 25 pounds and about 40 inches long.

Finding the slimed over cell in the stomach of the fish, the astonished fisherman decided to give the phone a go. No go, though. Even though it obviously hadn’t been lost that long ago, the thing wasn’t up to snuff – as is often the case after anything is taken out of a fish’s belly. Just ask that biblical dude whom a whale swallowed whole. For his first week back in the Old Testament, all anyone could get him to say was the Hebrew equivalent of “Holy, s***!”

But back to the cod and Jonah-esque cellphone.

The fisherman had the techno-smarts to remove the cell’s SIM card to see if it still held the owner’s personal directory. He placed the card in a less soggy cell and, lo and behold, he fully recovered the fish phone’s directory. He was then stunned and even a tad frightened when he read through the contacts and realized all the phone numbers went with names like Hal the Halibut, Frannie the Fluke, Betty the Bounteous Bass, Ed the Idiot Eel. Here, it really was the cod’s personal cellphone!

OK, just checking to see if you’re actually reading this story.

The numbers on the SIM card were quite human. And the first fully human phone contact the fisherman focused on was an oft-called Rita Smith, which just so happened to be the girlfriend of the phone loser. And it then just so happened to be when Cheatle and girlfriend Smith were in the midst of shopping for a new cellphone that her cell rang. It was Kerley calling. The fisherman tried his best to concisely explain to the unknown woman that, well, “You don’t know me but I’m a fisherman who found a big-ass cod with a cellphone in its stomach and it had your phone number stored in it. The fish didn’t have your phone number, mind you, the cellphone inside the fish had your number inside it. I, uh, didn’t know if this was maybe a friend of yours. Not the fish, mind you, but the owner of the phone inside the fish and …”

(That, of course, is my wild guess at the essence of such a phone call -- had I been making it.)

I’m also guessing that, at some point, Cheatle asked, “Who is it?” To which Smith may have said, “I’m not sure if it’s a stalker or my old college roommate, Ramón.”

In reality, Smith turned the phone over to Cheatle when she heard the word “cod” repeated several time by the unknown caller. Seeing this was a manly word, she figured her boyfriend might be able to make sense of the caller.

He did, immediately. And he was as amazed, as we all are – the story is now flying through the World Wide Web -- when he heard his lost phone had been eaten by a fish and recovered by a fisherman. What’s more, after some cleanup the swallowed-and-released cellphone recovered enough to accept its old SIM card. With media in tow, the loser and the fisherman met up and the soon-for-fame phone was returned to the rightful owner. It is still working perfectly – and swears it will never go swimming alone again.

Though the story ends here – except for its flight through cellphone celebrity – my wonderment fails to be fully reeled in.

Follow me here.

Imagine this cod sucking up the cellphone near the shorebreak shortly after it was lost. Being a schooling fish, it would have gone through its natural post-meal routine, which is to swim into some deep hole with a load of other cod, where they all quietly sway in place to do some digesting. Now, remember how Cheatle began making calls to his own phone? Just picture that thing going off in the cod’s belly. The look on his face as the swallowed phone not only rings but also vibrates. Not that I can fully imagine it but I kinda can; the cod cocking his head sideways as the cell first rings, then leaning the other way as it rings again, mumbling, “What the hell?” By the second call, he can only rub his belly with his fins, as other nearby lazily idling cod begin glancing uncomfortably over at him while leaning away. A gal cod he had hoped to woe during mating season finally hisses something like “You’re disgusting” and swims off. So maybe I’ve watched “Finding Nemo” one too many times.

I hate thinking the poor cod had to bite the dust to bring this story to light but he’s getting way more than a human’s 15 minutes of fame – and has given me some material to write about during these slow angling times.
And what if that cellphone had one of those designer ring tones, maybe a riff from, “I shot the Sheriff,” can you just imagine the other cod … (Drop it, Jay!)






READYING FOR SIMPLY BASSIN’ 2009: I’m in the midst of getting the forms ready for Simply Bassin’ 2009. The paperwork should be out in the shops earlier this year, hopefully.
This top-fish event offers some goodly bucks to the 8 largest bass taken during the 8 weeks the contest runs.
It also adds a spring stimulus to get out surfcasting with the first sign of fish.
Per usual, the contest runs right through what has become the onslaught of the year’s largest stripers. As I oft mention in here, the event also offers me a super read on what’s happening in the suds. I pass that data on via http://jaymanntoday.ning.com/, which will soon be switching over to daily blogs – after going weekly for the winter.

RUN-DOWN: I happened to notice we got some snow Sunday night into Monday. While we often have one helluva time handling snow and ice, the road crews throughout the region did a just-fine job of clearing the way for normalcy.
Interestingly, over the decades I’ve seen a high correlation between colder than usual winters (this one has been that) and significant March snow events. Considering we were barely into March for this recent whitening, I hope that doesn’t mean we still have a chance for another event before the month lambs out. I think not.
Looking at the long-term weather computer projections, by late this week we should see some very significant mildification (that’s a very technical scientific term – I just made up). I’m one of those who will wholeheartedly wave a pseudo-fond farewell to the northern jet stream -- bringer of foul and frigid things -- as it drifts way up into Canada. And after that jagged little jet stream turns leave, I often throw in a hand gesture fully unrelated to a wave.
Our 9-ish inch snow will likely impact the move out of bass from the Mullica River. Snowmelt is a coldifier (made-up highly scientific term number 2). It can keep the waters of the Mullica in the bone-chilling realm for much longer than, say, a cold spring rain and the accompanying runoff.
In some ways, that slow seepage of snowmelt into the river could elongate the Graveling Point annual spring bass fishing.
While I’m far from an expert on that tricky estuary, I’ve gotten some pretty good reads on the way that migratory Mullica bass in spring move out ever so slowly; inching out, then drawing back, then inching out. In humanesque terms, that seemingly wary exiting might be seen as hesitancy on the part of the bass to rush out and possibly get caught in an ice cold and/or deadly situation. However, stripping away the humanization we way-too-often enrobe fish within, that slow exit from the river likely involves no directed thought by the fish. They are simply – and, in a way, mindlessly -- responding to subtle instincts ticking within. Instincts often take the slow route.
It should also be remembered that the bass in the Mullica are younger so they don’t have a load of experience under their stripes. What’s more, they lack the time bomb urges associated with springtime mating. Fish on the mating move plow headlong for all they’re worth.
Related email: A while back I was asked if the bigger striped bass caught at Graveling Point in the spring were river fish moving out or fish moving up from the far south. My answer was, “Yes.”
I have seen evidence of keepable Graveling Point bass being Mullica winter residents – based on stomach content and super good skin condition. Other Graveling keepers are surely southern fish, from possibly as far away as the Chesapeake, based on tags, along with sores and fin rot common to infected rockfish.
As to whether or not big fish routinely overwinter up the river, the bad old days of “jacking” (foul hooking) bass as they moved up river in late fall, proved there were some bigger models in the mix – along with thousands of small fish. I have seen some historic photos of jackers surrounded by literally hundreds of bass they foul hooked in a mere hour or so, all from one small bridge over Mullica’s winter waters. There were a couple bass pushing maybe 15 pounds.
FLUKE REGS ON THE MOVE: The final moves to establish the regs for Fluking 2009 take place during a NJ Marine Fisheries Council meeting this Thursday (March 5) at 4 pm in Galloway Township (see below for directions).
The Marine Fisheries Council must pick from among all-bad possibilities and come up with one that is relatively less painful. The poundage allotted NJ recreational and commercial fishermen is set. No more debate there. We must reduce our take of fluke by 4.1 percent. The recreational sector must package its federal allotment by establishing open season dates, a minimum size limit and a bag limit.
It would take this entire column to list the options to achieve that 4.1 percent cut. Fat chance on me doing that when I have a cellphone-eating cod to write about.
A super read on the options at play for 2009 can be found at our buddy Scott Albertson’s website (http://www.scottsbt.com/fishing/report.htm). On that Scott’s Bait and Tackle page, go down to Thursday, February 26. Scotty explains what he’s looking at as he participates in the final-decision process.
The final part of that Feb. 26 entry reads: “The last two option sets offer the least offensive solutions. Fluke fishermen all agree that unsubstantiated tighter regulations are not good; it’s a matter of trying to come up with the least bad,” per Scotty.
Here are the last two option schedules:
A:
18 inches 8 fish June 6th – September 7th
18 inches 6 fish June 1 – September 7th
18 inches 4 fish May 31 – September 7th
B:
18 inches 8 fish May 23 – September 1st
18 inches 6 fish May 23 – September 4th
18 inches 4 fish may 23 – September 4th
I always hyper-encourage fishing folks to attend these sensitive state-level meetings but I do so with a caveat: If you intend to speak, you must have your smarts on. In the case of the summer flounder, you cannot stand up and start espousing some pie-in-the-sky plan to have the season open forever with huge bag limits and a 15-inch minimum size. That’s a waste of everyone’s time, especially at this crucial final-decision junction. Mull over the options as established by state officials (and listed on the above website or on state Fish and Game websites) and feel free to offer input on why you prefer one option over the others. I repeat: No coming up with new options. Way too late for that.
Directions: To reach the meeting at the Galloway Township Branch of the Atlantic County Library, 306 East Jimmie Leeds Rd., Galloway, NJ (609-652-2352), take Garden State Parkway south to Atlantic City Service Area (signs are for Roy Rogers, food, fuel), mile marker 41. Take service road to Jimmie Leeds Road. Turn right on to Jimmie Leeds Road and go about 11/2 miles. Library is on the right in separate building behind the Municipal Complex.
TO YOUR HEALTH: Move over Vitamin C, there’s a new anti-cold letter in town.
Scientists have taken a quick move down the vitamin alphabet and have discovered Vitamin D may be just as important as the famed Pauling-proven Vitamin C when it comes to staving off respiratory infections, this according to the University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Children's Hospital Boston.
These findings came via the largest U.S. study ever done in search of a relationship between D, colds and such. The report appears in the February 23 Archives of Internal Medicine.
Looking at the sickly side first, folks with the lowest Vitamin D presence in their blood had the highest incidence of colds and cases of flu. Individuals already suffering from chronic respiratory disorders, like asthma and emphysema, really suffered when their vitamin D ran low.
"The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu," says Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, UC Denver Division of Emergency Medicine and lead author of the study. "Individuals with common lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency."
This D data is worthy of “Fish Story” mention because anglers are as close to D as it comes – and in more ways than one.
To those who dabble in vitaminization, Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. Get this: Sun exposure like we often get daily here at the shore, produces a continual daily dose of 10,000 IU. We’re D’ed to the gills, a very good thing, especially when considering we need 3000-4000 IU per day to be healthy, wealthy and wise.
The D—pressing problem comes when the sun don’t shine, as in right about now. In winter, our bodies zip through D at a brutally brisk rate of 3000-4000 IU per day. We glean nothing from sunbeams. Enter the other way anglers are near to D.
Eating fish is incredible when it comes to D-ifying one’s self.
Amazingly, just one tablespoonful of cod oil delivers 1,360 IU of of D. Salmon, cooked, 3½ ounces offer 360; mackerel, cooked, 3½ ounces, offers 345, and tuna fish, canned in oil, 3 ounces, offers 200.

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