Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report


 I’m glad to see all y’all made it down for the holiday weekend – and apparently all y’all’s friends, relatives and distant in-laws made it down to boot.

I know every year it’s one of those “most crowed ever” knee-jerk responses to this fist big summerish weekend.

To me, Memorial Day Weekend is like a practice weekend – loosening up for serious summer weekends beginning in late June, i.e. school-out. But, this year, I got some semi-nonanecdotal reports from the likes of churches and bars. We were pushing the limit’s limits when it comes to folks jamming into the pews and onto the bar stools. And a goodly number of holidayers tried both, based on the woozy countenances of collegiate-age churchgoers I saw at mass. 

I remain one of the few hardcore locals who perpetually and damn-near honestly revel in the sudden tourist showing surrounding Memorial Day. It’s one of those flashback things to when I was amid the rowdier returnees. Of course, I was annually coming back from Hawaii so I was already well practiced when it came to sliding into sun-and-fun settings.

Nowadays, after oft-dreary winters spent hereabouts, I thoroughly enjoy the charge of energy that suddenly returns to the Island for that last Monday in May. 

As for the traffic, I’m far less endeared with that aspect. It was oft atrocious out there.

Note: I can assure that texting and driving is not dead – though some of the proponents may soon be if they keep performing the texting tango, swaying between lanes on the Causeway, while looking down in rapt messaging mode. How motorists can drive while fully focused on their laps, feverishly pushing letters, is baffling. Oh, come to think of it,  they can’t frickin’ drive that way!

ONE “H” OF A FREAKOUT: Before I get to the fishiest of things, I have to share the freakiest of things. The following is a spot-on true.

I was visiting an angling buddy and his wife over the weekend. They invited me over to appraise some vintage jewelry the family had inherited. I’m pretty decent at it. I’m not overly decent at going from testing gold to having a mind-boggling freak-thing saunter in on me -- as it did, via three very attractive young teenage girls, the daughter of my buddy, along with her two girlfriends.

The gals sashayed into the room struttingly displaying their just-purchased Summer 2012 bathing suits. Nothing overly dramatic, mind you. The bathing suits were very tasteful, even athleticish. I threw out some fitting compliments – young girls love the hell out of that – and (truthfully) went quickly back to ogling and coveting a totally gorgeous set of diamond and platinum earrings, circa 1920s. Hey, I got my priorities straight, dude.

I was only vaguely listening in when one of the young gals bemoaned, “I still think it makes the backs of my legs look lumpy.”

I glanced over. It didn’t.

The daughter chimed in, “When we’re done prepping, you’ll look fine.” 

That seemingly unassuming remark would lead to one of the oddest mixes of freakiness  and flakiness I’ve ever chanced upon.

There’s many a time I wish my explorative, unrelenting, journalistically questioning mind would, well, mind it’s own business. This day would prove the adage: Closed ears catch no flies – or whatever.

Looked up over my 5-power jewelry glasses, I caught mom’s eye. “What’s that ‘prepping’ thing all about,” I asked innocently.

The mom blushed a bit, adding a head-shaking giggle. I would have never guessed I was cruising headlong toward Freakyville.

“They prep their legs and butts before they go to the beach,” the mom smiled, throwing in one of those shouldery “Whadda ya gonna do?” gestures.

“Prep?” I asked, chronic curiosity now in the driver’s seat. 

“They gob Preparation H all over themselves,” the mom explained, way too nonchalantly by my estimates.

I knew instantly there was no punch line here. She was serious.

As I’m inclined to do when my brain gets nailed by an ice ball of freakiness, I assumed my finest catatonic stare. Inside, I thought: “Maybe I just sorta heard wrong.  Quick, Jay, what rhymes with Preparation H?”

That’s when I got double-barreled. The mom, likely responding to my shocked stare, went on. “After they put on the Preparation H, they wrap themselves in Saran Wrap.”

Oh, come on now!

Now, I went into my fully-stunned, glazed gaze mode. The mom saw this. In a proofish move, she called her daughter in and whispered something to her. The girl bolted off and was back in nothing flat. She was double-fistedly holding about a dozen tubes of Preparation H, an odd look of pride in tow.

I now resorted to my advanced training. This was now survival, i.e. sanity survival.

“You run that on yourself?” I weakly asked.

“Yep. And this is the very best Prep H, you can get,” she all but gushed. “It’s Canadian Prep H.”

“Canadian?” was all my mouth allowed to ooze out.

“Yep, check it out.”

With surely more pride than anyone has ever displayed when squeezing out a line of hemorrhoid medicine, she deposited a long line of white goo on the back of her hand.

“Feel it,” she ordered.

I touched the stuff like a snakeaphobic might touch a pinned down petting zoo serpent.  

I had no idea what I was feeling but shook my head affirmatively, in what I hoped was adequate appreciation. “Uh, why Canadian?” I asked.

“Oh, theirs is the very best, way better than ours,” she said, in a manner oddly reminiscent of debates over hockey teams.  

I could only guess that the Great White North is on the cutting edge of dealing with the maladies associated with long winters of sitting around. But I still couldn’t help but think, Poor Canada. Columbia has cocaine. Mexico has marijuana, Asia has poppies. Even South Africa has diamonds. But Canada, it’s got …

Driving warning: As you’re traveling westbound on Rte. 72, from the hospital (SOCH/SOMC) westward, the shoulder of the road has been milled almost all the way to Rte. 539, making it a couple inches lower than the highway’s driving surface. Should your tires slip over the sharp edge between the roadway and the roughed-out shoulder lane, it throws your vehicle into a bit of steering fit. I drive a big truck that can handle stuff like that pretty well and when I’ve slipped onto the shoulder precipice, I definitely have to tighten my grip on the steering wheel. A smaller sedan traveling at higher speeds? Could get spooky. Not long ago we had a bus go out of control on Rte. 9 (Barnegat) due to a similar milling thing.

FISHY FACTOID: A goodly number of us have fished for ocean herring. They’re a fairly good chunk bait and an excellent livelineable.

When unhooking always crazed herring, you can’t help but notice a sparkling rainbowish scale residue always flying off the fish. It’s quite colorful, though tough to rub off hands and clothes.

Well, at some point in herring fishing history, an angler (turned cosmetologist) saw gold in that sparkling herring slime. He parlayed it into quite the look.

In fact, you can steal a quiet chuckle when you see your gals sporting sparkly cosmetic items -- any item with an ingredient called “pearl essence” or, more tradmarkishly, “pearlessence.” 

Yep, that would be good old herring scales being worn on faces, shoulder, arms,  wherever. To this day, the best cosmetic companies find herring slime a leading source of the glint and glimmer blended in many upper-end cosmetics.

While I can see the cosmetic pizzazz in rainbowy herring scales, I want to run a far more angler-useful approach to utilizing these glowing scales. They are an exceptional enhancement when plugging, chumming and even chunking. 

First of all, it’s easy as all get-out to collect these scales. While in the midst of hooking (light gear) a load of herring – the area around Little Egg Inlet is famed for holding them just about year ‘round -- immediately chuck them in a 5-gal bucket, maybe a third full with saltwater. After filling your needs, hand agitate the bucketed herring. Now remove them but save that sparkling, albeit slimy water. Admittedly, there’s a bit of a yuck factor involved here.

Now, pour the water through a fine mesh noodle strainer. I use a better stainless type. The Dollar Store models rust.

You’ll end up with an impressive gob of highly fishing-functional scale-age. How so?

When combined with a little carrier oil, namely bunker oil (or any other fish-essence oils), it can be slathered atop bunker chunks; finger-forced inside bunker chucks; added into chum; spooned out separately when chunking/chumming (even offshore), squeezed onto plugs and plastics; or, poured into a hot tub to give it that sparkling look.

They truly work.

By the by, the scales are best preserved by being stored in a tightly lidded jar and refrigerated.

SWOONING OVER SPOONINGS: Bunker spoons have been ruling the troll again this spring. As recently as this past week, huge bass have fallen for these fairly unlikely looking trollables.

The history of this large flattened piece of metal can be traced back to around 1950, when crudely made homemade models were pretty much an insider secret.

I have seen a wide array of early bunker spoons. Quite collectible. They really were just simple pieces of cut stainless steel sheet – maybe 8 inches long – in an elongated diamond shape with slightly rounded ends.

Early homemade bunker spoons often had single hooks attached to the end, via split rings. I have an older example with a long-shanked hook welded onto the under side of the spoon. I have another where the hook is screwed on, much like early freshwater spoons.

While a few vintage bunker spoons dangled a treble behind, the one-hook approach seemed to evolve into today’s look. Bucktail adornments came later, tied directly onto the hook, or as a separate teaser next to the hook.

While a 60-years-plus history behind today’s bunker spoons give this artificial a solid angling background in its own right, the general shape bears a striking resemblance to primordial spoons, like the century-old Eppinger line. In fact, some new bunker spoons have the applied eyes right where Eppinger placed the famed red glass eyes.

Whatever its watery roots, once metallic-only bunker spoons have suddenly assumed color patterns of every sort, led by Tony Maja models.  

So, why the flood of these bunker look-alikes onto the marketplace? Uh, could it possibly be the flood of bunker now out there?


What’s more, with bunker around here for easily nine months of the year, these oft-costly artificials have a huge window of trolling opportunity.

Though I’ve never tried it, apparently fluke go crazy over bunker spoons that are allowed to sink down toward the bottom. 

Here’s an email that lead to this segment:

“Jay, Got my biggest fluke (seven pounds) ever while coming in through the inlet. We were trolling for stripers and were doing a slow turn to head back out again when it hit my silver and red Maja. Though it was foul-hooked it was definitely going for the spoon. And we’ll be cooking it whole. J.T.)

By the by, a trolling spoon can be plugged from the beach, particularly the “peanut bunker’ spoons, which are 5 to 6 inches in length. They can be fast or slow retrieved, jigged lightly, jumped off the bottom and (a favorite of mine) sped forward then suddenly slowed, allowing for a wobbly drop toward the bottom.

One of the ultimate usages of a bunker spoon is when kayak fishing. A paddle speed keeps the spoons down deep and add a super ride ands fall effect when paddling the yak.

SIMPLY BASSIN 2012: The big bass news is the quantum leap within the 2012 Simply Bassin’ leaderboard.

Mark McAuliff hauled in 45/5 cow, taken in the Holgate area (non-refuge zone).

The oddity (for me) was the mega-bass went for clams. I’ve never been big on clams as a trophy-fish attractant but Mark stuck to his bait guns and after landing and releasing an estimated 25-pounder earlier in the day went Wowsville with his largest bass ever. His wife was on hand for the action.

It was weighed in at Jingles, where he’s a regular.

That puts the Milford, NJ, angler is a commanding lead in the tourney – and the running for top prize money.

As for those who might feel the bar-raising fish could nullify their chances, we’ve had years in this event when 40-pounders were norms. Get crackin’. This proves that key fish are in the suds. 

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