Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Sat. Jan 23, 10 -- Winterish slowdown, fish die-off and T.W. plugs

Saturday, January 23, 2010:

While winters are always a bit of a wasteland when blogging, this current stretch is particularly lacking in any warm and fuzzy subject mattes. There is plenty of dank legislative stuff, though even that is momentarily just sitting there.

Looking a little too much like a booby prize, I got my “Thank you for registering” National Saltwater Angler Registry.” I’m not sure why but when I first opened the envelope it looked like a Shop-Rite credit card.

I’ve gotten loads of links and even some first-hand photos regarding the recent die-off of fish in Florida. I’ve never seen anything like it, particularly along the lines of how large some of the fish were that died. I don’t know that such things are officially verified but I was told that a state record snook washed up dead of thermal shock.

In case you’re wondering why those fish didn’t simply move into deeper water, it just ain’t that easy in many areas of the Sunshine State. I’ve done a lot of time in the Banana and Indian rivers and those amazing long waterways have virtually no deep water anywhere – that is, deep enough to hold thermoclines capable of fending off the cold water sinking down from the surface.

I’m guessing that the deeper manmade lagoon saved a load of marine creatures, including at least some manatees, though a sad record was broken when a final count for 2009 showed 429 of the huggable marine mammals died, with a record number (56) dying of that cold snap. At the same time, a record number of 227 manatees made their way to Blue Spring State Park (St. Johns River) where the percolating springs supply much warmer water from down below. Conservationists in that area are now fighting to stop the tapping of those springs’ famed pristine water. It is being frivolously drained off for everyday human usages. Not smart, since the area is, as proven, a last resort for sea cows in desperate need of the an escape from deadly cold snaps. Obviously, the creatures either instinctively or cognitively know to go there in a crunch.

I’ve been admiring a slew of super plugs I recently got from master plugmaker Tom White. I had made Tom a couple pendants for his grandsons, using coyote teeth and bakelite. Tom, in turn, gave me half a dozen popping and swimming plugs, a couple of them in my favorite “02” shades. While I usually protect the plugs as collector art pieces, I think I’ll be putting one of these to actual usage -- since they catch fish like nobody’s business. Tom actually dislike when his creations don’t hit the water at some point. For that reason, I traditionally give T.W. plugs an underhand flick into the bay, quickly retrieve them before some trailing bluefish can get their slimy teeth into them, then rinse them in freshwater, dry with a hair blower, give them a quick car polish shine and hang from the top of my mirror where my humble collection shines. I’ll get a photo of my latest T.W. plugs in here soon.

By the by, I met a guy in jury duty who is insanely into collecting custom-made plugs. He’s into the hobby to the tune of $100,000. I believe him since he whipped out his cellphone and showed me a wall that looked downright freaky, holding thousands and thousands of plugs. I then had to suffer through over a dozen photos of the plugs. When he segued into pics of his grandchildren, I suddenly heard the men’s room beckoning. I know that a couple of our local collectors, including Chris and Dan, are also up there in the six-figure expenditure range on their plug collecting hobbies. I want to do a story on that type collecting for The SandPaper. Guys?

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