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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

  Sunday, January 23, 2011: It’s ranging from cold to wicked cold. With the next storm now slowing down, it looks like we’ll be inside the Frigidaire until midweek. After the rainy stiff midweek, we’…

 

Sunday, January 23, 2011:

It’s ranging from cold to wicked cold. With the next storm now slowing down, it looks like we’ll be inside the Frigidaire until midweek. After the rainy stiff midweek, we’ll first see normal winter temps then, possibly, the expected thaw.

I tried to melt my frozen moods by stopping by to visit former bayman and now artisan carver Alfie S. in Tuckerton. Despite being a dyed-in-the-wool stump-jumper (old time term meaning backbay mainlander), he’s making some of the wildest looking lures this side of Cosmicville. I was blown away by the wildness and workmanship. We’ll be doing a story on both his plugs and ( particularly) fish decoys. Along with technical artsy stuff, we talked plugging as it relates to bass fishing, both stripers and bucketmouthes. It’s all about Bubbas, regardless of the exact species. I hope to get some of his works for myself -- and also for upcoming fish flea markets.

By the by, Alfie has one of the most amazing angling and fishing memorabilia collections in the state and is about to move some incredible stuff. I’ll keep you posted on what’s coming up for sale or auction.

Motoring tip: As the next wintry mix arrives, you might want to routinely pull your windshield wipers off the window to prevent them freezing in place. With today’s stronger windshield wiper motors, a frozen in rubber blade can get ripped clean off the wiper. Not only is this an instant replacement expense but even a few swipes of bare wiper metal on glass can do permanent surface damage. I know from firsthand experience. 

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Before heading back to LBI to take in the Steelers/Jets clash, I took a sidetrack to see what might birds might be crazed enough to be working the flyways over the backbay. I walked onto the meadows and saw zilch-o, north south and east. The winds were so thick with frigidity that not even the toughest birds seemed up to challenging anything above tree-high. Then, just as I was about to trudge back to the relative warmth of my truck, I caught sight of a black speck in the north sky, moving southward. I was about to shrug it off as a way-up there aircraft but I could soon see by its windblown line of flight it was bird. Out came my beloved 7 X 40 B Zeiss binoculars (they’re incredible). On focusing, I realized the somewhat nutso flier was a great blue heron, very leisurely winging along. I should have guessed.

Despite being absurdly long-legged and as skinny as a starving model, these seemingly flimsy 4-foot tall wading birds are made of titanium. I’ve seen them take the worst winter crap we get hereabout and indifferently shrug it off. And those five-foot wings offer some major shoulders when shrugging.

I oft tell the story of finding one which had become embedded in the ice of an outback lake. I rescued it – after finding out the potentially eye-removing striking ability of larger herons. During that rescue, I was mortified when it took off with both its legs still pinned together by a flat piece of clear ice. It all worked out in the long run. The exact same bird was back at the same place a week later. Yes, I could tell it was the exact same one. I was told by a super-experienced naturalist that these nail-hard birds can actually get stuck in ice and literally wait it out until a thaw saunters in. Seems a stretch to me. I’ll always go to the trouble of busting one loose if I come across it iced in.

As the heron flew almost directly overhead, I chuckled at its outwardly mellow expression. I half expected it to give me a quick glance and a wink – which my Zeiss binocs would have easily picked up. It was too busy humming to itself. 

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