Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Late report: I got disturbing news that our buddy Frank Panzone passed away. What a loss. He was a huge advocate of fishing on LBI, keeping Holgate open and an essential member of the LBI Surf Fishing Classic committee. He was one of the creators of the Chowderfest. Frank had apparently cancelled his usual trip to Florida to remain here for the storm. The family had been preparing to get Panzone's restaurant reopened.
To tweak a line from the Grateful Dead: What a long, strange storm it’s been.
For anyone lingering on LBI, the 100-year-plus Superstorm is nowhere near ended. Face it: It’s been a long time coming; it’s going to be a long time gone.
As to the storm’s strangeness, that might be borne out by looks alone. Curbside displays of destruction continue to grow, almost as if further bubbling up on their own.
The first debris hills were damn impressive – hand-flung by homeowners and friends. Now, the heavy-hitters are on-scene. I’m talking the hyper-chuckers of professional demolition. They are topping off the first wave of personalized wreckage with splintery, plastery demo-grade debris.
As noted last week, this post-storm wave of waste might be an utterly unique vista. Factoring in the population of the NJ/NY corridor, never have so many lost – or simply thrown away – so much in so short a time.
But more on the strange side of things. And this is a cool strangeness.
I can’t count the number of folks I’ve talked to who have finally met their neighbors – by helping them demolish their homes. Turns out that ripping apart someone’s home is an oddly bonding experience.
“Oh, this must have once been such a gorgeous Persian rug. And I love the way it complimented your ruined armoire.”
And even when neighboring up didn’t entail a full-blown house gutting, it’s amazing how formerly non-conversant neighbors can now be seen all buddy-buddy on street corners, comparing damage and exchanging the phone numbers of “good” contractors.
For me, I suddenly have so many more folks to sincerely wave to as they drive by. It’s all good.
While I’m far from a Suzy Brightnose, we’re very likely going to end up a better community after this long, strange storm.
I continue to get e-questions regarding the residual effect of the flooding, namely what might be lingering. First of all, many folks weren’t here to note the fairly decent wash down we got from Nor’easter Athena. That storm rained and snowed down in an extremely cleansing way. Though we did have street flooding in all the usual low points, superficial street stuff – sand, mud, goop – met the storm drain system.
This is not to say you can now return to eating off road surfaces. However, there are very few bacteria that can survive outside without a very mild and organic environment. Those near-freezing temperatures we had, as the snow gathered, was a form of sanitizing.
That said, I’m focusing on just the outdoors.
Homes and buildings that harbored self-contained environments did not experience a natural disinfecting. Although many a building went cold with the loss of electric and gas, it wasn’t chilly enough or long enough to ensure decontamination. Everyone should be doing due diligence in cleansing their digs, especially properties used as rental units.
OVER-EARNEST DEMO-ING: I’m seeing and hearing about homeowners kinda throwing the baby out with the floodwaters. Tons of flood-ites are ripping apart their houses, far beyond likely reimbursements.
Be it over-anxious contractors – rearing to rip over to the next demolition – or, more often, land owners over-reactively removing anything in their homes that might have even heard of the flood, things are seemingly being demolished in a volume that could come back to haunt bank accounts after the final insurances or FEMA numbers pan out.
I was told the same by a recently retired FEMA rep. “If people have enough personal savings to go above and beyond their claims, that’s fine. But I think some might be shocked when the money runs out and they’ve overspent,” he told me, as he stood near his own mountain of ruinedness.
I chimed in that it also seems that too many folks are removing too much unhurt stuff. Where a four-foot high removal of wallboard would work just fine, entire walls are being smashed to smithereens. Even ceilings are coming down.
On bacterial rumors alone, folks are deep-sixing perfectly fine household goods, including costly beds, from the second stories of homes with only first-floor injuries.
My home’s exceptional demo-guy, Jeff, concurred. He echoed the obvious: Use professionals who use good sense – and good equipment.
FLASH IF YOU HATE MOISTURE: Jeff introduced me to the subtle magic of moisture-measuring equipment. Great, one more toy I have to run out and buy.
Jeff methodically pressed a $2,500, handheld contraption to floors and walls in every room I own. I promptly learned how sneaky and underhanded moisture could be. Despite my farming and gardening roots, I instantly developed a distrust of the deep-rooted dampness that was lollygagging around after Sandy’s home invasion, four weeks back.
Fortunately, even the most undercover H2O couldn’t hide from the glowing red eye of Jeff’s moisture-sniffer.
As he floored the device, a red light just about flashed clean out of the machine, accompanied by a purposefully irritating, high-pitched warbling, electronic sound that sure sounded to me like it was squealing, “Holy s***! Look at all this frickin’ moisture!”
There was no denying that profound dampness had hunkered down in my floorboards. Ironically, the wetness was using the same xylem and phloem cavities that had given life to the wood – over 80 years back, in the case of my aging home.
Well, I have to admit it now, it comes down to refloorization. I’ll even spring for some sanitization, though I’m still not sold on that microbial aftermath BS.
Methinks I have even more to learn along the expense-pitted road to recovery.
AFTERFEAR: I won’t even get into the way many recoverists are finding they have things far larger than microbes to deal with when defrocking their walls and woodwork. Turns out that more than a few double-whammied households are meeting long-term termites for the first time. They’d think they would’ve drowned – but nooooo.
BELCHES, TOOTS AND FISH OIL: I have to take a few moments to focus on news topics that are easily as significant as our catastrophic flooding.
First and foremost is news from ranchers that fish oil, when added to feed, takes a huge bite out of the greenhouse gases emitted by cows and such. It’s hard to believe those innocent-looking grazers are killing our planet softly. We’re talking seriously covert cattle here.
Despite the standing belief that bovine issue forth methane via a rear emission system, in less-raunchy reality they actually belch out over 90 percent of their gases. It sure adds up. Twenty percent of the Earth’s methane comes via livestock burps and toots.
Hey, we really shouldn’t make light of it – even though a day’s worth of gas from one cow can generate enough power to keep a 100-watt light bulb glowing for over two months. No, it’s not as simple as screwing 100-watt bulbs into the front and back of cows. At least I don’t think it is. Even if it were, People for an Ethical Treatment of Animals would have a cow over incandescently lighting up the ends of cattle. On the other hand, what a sight that would be, driving slowly through cattle country at night – especially around Christmas, when they swap out the bulbs.
But I digress.
Some recent findings indicate that methane from livestock traps 20 times as much heat as carbon dioxide, putting their emissions up there with factories, in the eyes of the atmosphere.
Enter bunker oil. Adding just two percent fish oil to cow feed reduces cattle gases by one fifth. What’s more, the omega 3 fatty acids from fish oils perk up the heart and circulatory systems of livestock, which improves meat quality. Less gas – and gristle.
SNAIL AWAY PAIN: The U.S. has approved the medicinal use of cone snail venom to treat the worst pains known to man. A millionth of a gram of this toxin is a thousand times more powerful than a gram of morphine. I’m not totally sure what that means in terms of, say, a headache or a sprained wrist but it seems mighty impressive overall.
Just the mention of a cone snail strikes a nerve with me. I’ve been petrified of those suckers for ages. Simply put: You do not mess with cone snails.
When I issue an ultra-warning about an animal, you know it’s authentic. I’ve been stung, bit, poked and stabbed by most everything out there. Just here in Jersey I’ve been on the wrong end of a black widow spider, a timber rattlesnake, a nasty-ass American eel, bumblebees, squirrels, chipmunks, sea gulls, horseshoe crab tails, a crazed praying mantis, virtually every fish a-swim, an array of “soldier” ants, the entire spectrum of local wasps and, very memorable, a pissed-off whippoorwill. It was at night and that stinkin’ whippoorwill swept down and bit the hell outta my head while I was doing what must have been a very convincing imitation of a competing whippoorwill. It bled like crazy.
While I can’t even enumerate all I’ve been attacked by in the tropics, I always avoided cone snails there like the plague. Hawaiians taught me that – punctuated with tales of the snail’s tiny, toxic harpoon having been known to kill even massively large men. Making it even uglier is the way they sting, which can barely break human skin, issuing a pin prick of toxin that slowly sickens a victim, then takes hours, even days, to finally do him in. Hell, I’m hyperactively disordered. I can’t wait around for toxicity like that.
Now it turns out that cutting a pinhead drip of cone snail poison into 100,000ths offers a pharmaceutical painkilling portion capable of utterly nullifying insufferable pain – while conveniently skipping that dying-over-days part.
Just as amazingly, the folks over in the Make-It-Ourselves Department can’t replicate cone snail poison. It turns out the only way to get snail poison is to manually squeeze it out of a snail. What a weird-ass worksite that has to be. And I can assure that “draining cone snail harpoons” will never be a conversation point on one of my résumés.
SOME REAL GOOD BARS: The beachside sands continue to evolve in the aftermath of the storm.
This past week, with its kick-ass west winds, exposed super-sized sandbars rearing up at low tide, mainly off replenished beaches. I haven’t seen dry sand bars like these since the 1960s, when they were fairly common.
This sandbarization is part of the longer-term beach replenishment process.
Pumped in sand is not only meant to plump up beaches and dunes but is also preordained to integrate with the near-beach, sub aquatic bottom environment.
After storms – be they super or not so much so – the sand moves out to sea and then migrates back toward the beach, theoretically speaking.
Of course, theories are notoriously slow-movers. I’m guessing – far quicker than theorizing – that we’ll see some sand reinforcement from less natural transferences. Fire up the sand pumps, Keith.
RUNDOWN: Loads and loads of small stripers were taken from the surf over the weekend. I had fish and copious hits during my micro-session late-day Ship Bottom. Folks I talked with on the beach were getting shorts on clams, bunker and even herring chunks.
Much like fluke fishing, it doesn’t take long for folks to get over the initial excitement of actually catching something to wanting some take-home material. To their credit, a couple folks had a couple bass just fractionally below legal limits but dutifully threw them back. One super nice Hispanic fellow who had chucked back a 27.5-incher was a tad frustrated when I told him it is legal to purse the tail (squeeze the two tail tips together) to get the final fish length.
BUCK ABOUT: I did some tracking time over the weekend. I was mainly doing some size checks on active bucks – based on tree rubs.
I came across signs of some big boys taking off velvet.
You can often estimate the size of bucks by finding scratch trees and then measuring how far back the rear legs were when it was rubbing. Also, the depth of the hooves can indicate the deer’s weight.
Once again, the biggest deer are flush to humanized areas, where they graze on well-kept yard grasses and tasty, imported shrubberies. Suburbanized deer fully realize it’s safer closer to humanity.
Come autumn, there is a fully discernable shift in the deer population in Ocean County. Large numbers of deer all but migrate from forested regions to “safety zones,” as signs often read. Sure, that also reflects the die-off of vegetation in wooded areas but there is unquestionably an effort by deer to mosey on outta free-fire zones.
By the by, the big wind named Sandy loosed acorns like crazy. That acorn showing began with the mild winter, leading to a huge yield. While teeming acorn counts mean fatter deer, they also indubitably lead to increases in humans contacting Lyme disease. It’s a well-documented interplay between acorns, mice, ticks and deer. Hunters beware.