BASS AT SCRAP VALUE: To say that boat bassing has been good is like saying gold is simply shiny – and not up to $1100 an ounce.
The tales I’ve gotten about stripering near the inlets have been up there in the ionosphere, which I’m pretty sure is really high.
The problem is how do you really describe a phenomenal bite when all the words like unbelievable, incredible, insane, astonishing, mind-boggling, amazing and righteous have all been used to death and back? I guess I should offer this report from a fellow who was fishing with two buddies and, combinedly, took 42 bass with 31 over keeper size in a few hours time. Now that’s insane.
I might even allow a pro to toot his own charter horn. Using his punctuation, he wrote, “Fishing has been ON FIRE!! In two days we caught 181 bass and about a dozen blues. Do I have to say NOW IS THE TIME TO GET OUT THERE? This is silly fishing. In fact this is not fishing, this is catching. If you want to bail them call me now! This was all the action you wanted. Simple drop your jig. Wiggle it. Fish On! Both days we limited out with the biggest fish being 19 LBS. 6 oz. We were in only 30'-35' of water with fish so thick we even snagged a few. Unreal!! Let's get back out there!! Capt. John. Seafood Charters, seafoodfishing.com.”
Yet another pro report read: “…Late in the week we shifted gears to run along the beach looking for fish that would respond to jigs, and were majorly rewarded both days. Friday I had Scott Fritz out with brother-in-law Ike and buddy Pete Haupt, and the guys used A47's to jig up 50-60 bass in boxing their limits from the beachfront along Island Beach State Park. Saturday's trip was even better, with regulars George Selph and Bob Keller culling their limits from among roughly 70 landed bass. Add in the occasional jumbo blue, and you've got jigging action at its finest. Capt. Jack Shea, barnegatbayfishing.com.
Here’s an eelgrassroots e-report: “Lots of bass north of the inlet. There were fleets north of the CG station and also halfway up to the bathing beach but out a mile. I ended up spending most of my morning 1/4 mile north of the inlet making drifts from 15' of water out to 30'. Ended up with eight bass, seven, which were of keeper size. I had 7 spots and caught fish on all of them but had trouble getting anything to take my jig presentation. The two fish I kept were loaded with sand eels but still happy to stuff a spot in. WP.”
This latest short-lived blast of northeast wind will rock the boat for this phase of the bass bite but it seems very likely we’ll quickly resume a pattern of boat bassing to rock the rafters. Personally, I’m hoping it shift a bit southerly, as in right off LBI.
BE-GOOD BRIDGE: The ongoing cosmetic work on the Causeway Bridge – no, they are not suring up the span in any way -- is impacting many an angler in a gnarly way, mainly fishermen trying to get off the Island right after dark. Brutal backups have been hell – and there can be hell to pay if you decide you’re going to scoot past all the backed up traffic and try to nose in at the front of the line where it merges into one lane. I’m told you can get ticketed for that bullishness. More dangerously, I heard from workers on the project that many vehicles drive the single open lanes at 60 mph, all but brushing their legs when they’re work near the open lane. Also, the tires from those high-speeders kick loose rocks up at a dangerous velocity. Yes, I realize that ricocheting rock thing is calling the kettle black since your vehicle and mine have been repeatedly hit by flying gravely pieces from the work. Still, those guys have a nasty-ass job up their at the top so let’s give ‘em a brake – and avoid a ticket that has double fines and double points since it’s in a construction zone. And, yes, you have my permission to judiciously use ignoble hand gestures toward those drivers intentionally zipping by everybody just to get ahead of the pack at the bottleneck.
DON’T FLARE UP: Hey, I don’t want to have to tell you kids again, don’t fool around with frickin’ flares.
Over the weekend, there was a 10 p.m. sighting of a flare roughly 7 nautical miles off Beach Haven. The Coast Guard quickly received three landline (land-based) calls and one radio report from a boat out at sea. The Coasties launched into their rapid rescue mode, sending out the cutter Ibis, and also a chopper. The two craft searched all night -- and even into the next day. After daybreak, personnel on the cutter conducted on-water interviews with vessels in the vicinity. No one had any info at all. It ended up being tagged a “suspicious” flaring, possibly a hoax or even an onboard over reaction to passing problem.
That over-reaction angle is important. Any mariner could experience a situation that seems dire and take to flaring, only to find things aren’t all that bad. If you unnecessarily fire a flare – or even if someone accidentally (?) fires off one -- always notify the Coast Guard of the launch. Saves time, effort and tax dollars.
At the same time, every captain out there has the moral obligation to report flare sightings and, if at all possible, respond to them. Never think like the officers on the ship California, who took flares flying off the sinking Titanic as “fireworks.”
WARM IS COOL: It seemed another fairy comfortable fall week since last I columnized in here. In fact, when the sun did its part, it felt downright unlate-fallish.
At surface value, it sure seems to be a mildish fall, to date. Shows how the skin can lie like a rug, albeit a rug that the average visitor might avoid.
Officially speaking, the average temperature for the contiguous United States during October, 2009, was the third coolest on record for that month, dating back to the late 1800s. That’s according to NOAA’s State of the Climate report. I’m guessing the November data might better show some national mildliness.
Somewhat paradoxically, the planet’s oceans in October were among the warmest ever recorded, also dating back to the 1800s.
HIDE, HIDE, THE DEER’S OUTSIDE: Hide? Why, I’m not afraid of a deer.
Neither is the Elk’s Club over on 520 Hilliard Boulevard in Manahawkin, Stafford Township. In fact, the club wants happy hunters to once again load them up with whitetail deer gleaned from the (now) bow/crossbow and black-powder hunting seasons and the upcoming shotgun seasons. They’ve been collecting deerskins for quite a few years now.
In what I consider a very fine total utilization of a harvested resource, the Elks salt and store the oft-discarded hides, then send them down to some good old tanners in Tennessee, where they go though a final defleshing in hardwood ashes and lime, followed by a tanning step that renders the hides supremely suited for the likes of glove and moccasin crafting. The gloves then go to veterans. Quite cool.
Here’s a snippet from the program’s literature.
“The Elks help thousands of veterans yearly by donating gloves for wheelchair assisted veterans and craft supplies for rehabilitation …
“Hides are transported to tanneries for processing. After cleaning and tanning, the leather is made available in craft kits to veterans to make wallets, clothing, belts and moccasins for personal use or to enter in arts and crafts shows. The program is totally funded by the Elks at no cost to veterans or the government. In fact, ‘Elks leather’ has become a national by-word among veteran patients everywhere.”
By the by, this might be a chance for some of you shooters to give hide cleaning a try.
To drop off a hide, cut off the quick-decaying tail and deflesh as much as possible. Obviously, the more scraping the better. If you want to salt and fold the hides, that would be doubly fine – and an added contribution to the vet thing. Even if you haven’t the time to grab a piece of flint and shave the meat off, take the pelt over to the club, check in with the bartender and add the hide to the heap. You can call at 597-1107.
I had the pleasure (semi-sarcasm) of being thoroughly instructed on how to prepare a deer hide with oak ashes and (gospel truth) the same deer’s brain matter, mashed to hell and back with a long and involved hand squishing action. It’s an odd feel and an even, uh, odder fragrance – one that long lingers; in other words, you don’t casually take public transportation back home after a deer brain-squeezing session. Hey, if you’re not going to finish that sandwich I’ll take it.
I will admit that the incredible whitening that the rubbed in brain goo gives a hide is well worth the odor, which can be reduced by literally shoving an assortment of fragrant herbs your nostrils. Yet another thing one might want to eliminate before going onto public transportation.
“Mommy, mommy, that smelly man has plants growing out of his nose.”
“Susie, it’s not polite to point at the obviously deranged man.”
(See related Elk story this issue.)
WHITETAIL TRENDS: A few weeks back I wrote on the deer status hereabouts – and what is likely a very active hunting season now upon us.
Being an insatiable woods person, I keep damn accurate tabs on the deer stocks, mainly through late-day sightings and tracks on deer trails.
As touched on last week, the move of deer out of wilderness areas is extraordinary, close to a mass abandonment. Many top trackers have noted the same exodus of deep woods deer. A perfect example: The area of the Rte. 539 “Bombing Range,” which I’ve frequented steadily since the Sixties. It has gone from whitetail central – one of the most deer populated areas in the state -- to a veritable deer-free zone. Just last week, there were zero deer tracks near a watering hole where they once gathered so thickly they needed a deli number system just to get at a drink. At the same time, not that far away, along Route 9, household backyards have accommodated literally dozens of grazing deer at a pop. One landowner down that way told me, “I’ve never seen anything like it. I used to see one or two (deer). It’s to the point they aren’t even spooked when I go out to take out the trash.”
Why the shift? Food and build-out.
Many wilderness deer have lost their historic territory to tacky-tacky homes and shopping plazas. (Hey, deer have history, too.) At the same time, other deep-woods deer have become enticed from their home bases by, literally, the aroma of those greener pastures presented by encroaching clear-cutting humanity.
And why should a deer stay in the South Jersey outback, where they’re forced to contend with the scant resources that have kept the population in check since the days when the true locals, Native Americans, roamed?
When wilderness deer get shot, it’s a sheer uphill struggle to repopulate. Add to that, greater-than-ever hunting pressure and it’s no wonder the wilds are losing the whitetails.
As to those happy-as-pigs deer now eating heartily on the managed greenery of mankind, they have tons of spare time to reproduce. And that creates a big baby boom problem. The near-humanity deer population is getting high on what is essentially an unnatural food supply.
Here’s an apropos read via literature from the Progressive Animals Welfare Society – a sincere (as in non-crazy) wildlife conservation and protection group.
“Reproduction rates may also be affected when an artificial food source is readily available. In the wild, the number of animals being born is often directly related to the amount of natural food available. The number of animals surviving will also depend on how much food is available. This is nature's way of keeping a balance and making sure there are not too many animals in one area. When an unnatural food supply becomes available, animals may produce more young and soon there may be more animals living in the area than what the natural food sources can support. If that food source is no longer available, animals may starve to death.”
I’ll note here that despite what PETA – and to a lesser degree PAWS – feel about hunts being cruel and inhumane, without them we’d be knee deep in deer dung – and starving yearlings, come a cold winter.
Just as significantly, a deer population gone gonzo can negatively impact other forms of wildlife, while endangering motorists, as deer do their last-minute road-crossing bolts. There is also the grim Lyme disease problem. Deer ticks are a factor/vector in the spread of the disease to humans. With deer all but snuggling up to mankind, the Lyme spirochete can move about freely.
By the by, from here on in the deer know they’re being stalked. They’re way more inclined to spook – and make rapid road crossings. Keep a night eye peeled for them. And remember it’s not the deer you can easily see crossing the road in front of you that’s the high-impact problem but the second or third ones following the first – right as your vehicle gets there.
SICK PUP: A seriously ill juvenile seal came ashore in Surf City last Thursday. Bill M found it and appropriately alerted Standing Center reps.
The little guy didn’t look good none to chipper. It allowed me to move in within a couple feet for cellphone shots. By law, that’s a no-no but in this case it was in conjunction with getting some data for the marine Mammal Standing Center.
The Center did come up to rescue the stranded marine mammal and has it down in Brigantine, where it has yet to eat on its own, though the fine folks down there feel pretty good about the seal soon feeling pretty good itself. You can see the progress of this seal by going to the marinemammalstrandingcenter.org homepage, click on “Stranding Info” then click on “Strandings.” Cursor down and see all the seals the center is treating.
Regarding seals, we’ll be seeing a load of them this winter. That’s based on a huge repopulation up north, in the Canadian maritime. What’s more, public outcry against sealing has reduced demand to an all-time low – though the Asians are still scarfing them down as if the world will end in 2012.
By the by, the fiscal loss (sometimes for native peoples) from lost seal-blubber and fur sales is so severe in Canada that just last week that nation’s parliament began eating seal meat in some sorta showing of seal-eating of solidarity. Not one of those folks trying the meat said it tasted like chicken. In fact, per video reports, a couple parliamentary folks gagged and spit it out in front of news cameras, one gal needing to run for a nearby bathroom.
There is actually far more gastronomically disturbing news, sure to rock the early-rising angling realm. Kellogg Company has timidly announced that there will be “severe shortage” of Eggo waffles from now right through the winter. This is due to storm temporarily knocking out the company’s prime waffle-making plant in Atlanta, while another factory worked so hard trying to keep up with Eggo demand that it literally began falling apart. It is closed indefinitely for repairs.
This sudden need for breakfast material in America has caught the eye of the Canadian government, which is toying with the idea of a product called Seal-Os, a meaty toaster delight that comes six to a package – with the colorful image of a fat seal balancing a beach ball on its nose on the wrapper. Over the top of the seal is the product’s motto “It’s kinda good and stuff, eh?”