Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Tuesday, December 21, 2010: I’m officially on vacation. Now what?
Seems the weather will remain blustery and aggravatingly cold. The upside is we’re now done the longest day of the year. Days get longer from here. In other words, we have winter on the run.
There are still small bas in the surf, per an angler who busted away from a get-together, went to his street and with thawed clams and landed a 26-incher, just south of mid-Island. He was not only bundled –and only out for a short time – but had a carafe of steaming hot spiced apple cider -- with an emphasis on the “spiced” part. That get-together was heated by Holgate. The family had gathered “a truckload” of firewood washed up on the beaches of the south end. For those of you who have never burned beach wood, the older pieces (driftwood) often offer incredibly colorful, near psychedelic, spurts and flares, usually issuing like tiny geysers from knots and worm holes. Quite cool to watch on a lazy cider-sweetened evening. I won’t ruin the effect by getting into the chemistry behind the display.
Pearl for thought: I recently had a fun “pearl” chat with professional clammer, Dale P. Dale told me his bayman dad had found a satchel’s worth of clam pearls over the years, including an exceedingly rare pure black one. Dale and the other kids in the family got to play with them.
As most folks know, everyday hardshell clams can contain amazing pearls – some as large as small dimes (small dimes?). We’ve had articles in The SandPaper featuring some of the world-class clam perils found locally. In fact, it sure seems to me that Jersey is the leading clam pearl state.
After we did a write-up on the eye-opening pearls found by the late Mikey Fisher, I got half a dozen phone calls from other folks who have found one or more. The largest I had ever seen was shown to me by Bruce J. They were mainly royal purple in color, though they can also be purple striped on off-clor white.
I’ve never kept a clam pearl but absolutely remember finding one – the hard way. Harkening back too many years, I still cringe remembering how I chomped down on something rock hard in a clam – and just about breaking a tooth. I was furious and spit out whatever it was – thinking, at the time, it was a large piece of shell. That made absolutely no sense since the clams I was eating had been carefully steamed open and there hadn’t been so much as a granule of sand or a tidbit of shell in the dozens of other clams I had eaten to that point. I was way too worried about my tooth to go back into the trash and check on the culprit.
Anyway, I was told (By Mikey) that a way to tell if a clam might have a pearl is if the shell is wavy, a sign it had been damaged many years back. On an average clamming dy, you might come across one or two wavy shelled clams. Many folks throw them back because you can’t get a knife into them to open. On very rare occasion, you come across one that is utterly deformed.
After I got that pearl-hunting tip, I had a couple clamming session where I eagerly set aside a goodly load of wavy clams. They produced nada.
Dale wasn’t sure about the wavy clam thing but he did note that his pa had a couple clamming locales (near Tuckerton Bay) that seemed to produce way more pearls than other areas.
Then, I found a website with an most amazing clam pearl: http://www.nordskip.com/clampearl.html. Check out that pearl! Then look closely at the clam it was in. Wavy gravy all the way.
As for that satchel full of clam pearls, Dale and the family have no idea where it got.
I’ve heard the Japanese pay top dollar for clam pearls. Of course, they also pay top dollar for jellyfish sushi.