Buggying Ready to Roll;
Kayaking Going Techy
Well, it looks like it’s just us now. The Island heaved a sigh of relief as the weight of summer was lifted off it’s back in a single outpouring of outgoing traffic. Obviously, weekends will remain rowdy for months to come but the abiding sense of easier living is obvious this year, as the seasonal population departure seems a tad more distinct than other years -- likely the result of Labor Day being as late as the calendar allows.
As a hardcore kid person, I want to be among the many sources offering an alert to drivers: school is back in. The danger lies not in the school buses stopping and going but in the kids heading out to the bus stops, often a tad sleepy and possibly not as alert during street crossings. And you better mind your driving Ps and Qs when in the presence of school buses. Locally, most towns keep a cop car trailing the buses. That seems to get the attention of motorists in a big way. Thanks to the cops and towns that take that extra measure of school safety.
Ponder point: With virtually everyone claiming to be such good drivers “all the time” why do they drive so differently when there’s a cop behind them?
This week’s column is another one fully immersed in angling angles and fishy stuff.
BEACH BUGGY BANTER: The Holgate Wilderness Area is open to mobile angling buggies. A permit can be gotten directly at the Long Beach Township PD. In the past, we had to register with the police then walk over to town hall to purchase the permit. Now, it’s done right there with the PD dispatchers. Quite nice.
Newbie Note: To get a LBT permit, you have to present the police your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. A check must be made out (in the case of LBT it’s $50) to the municipality.
The beaches of LBI look very good for buggying. This is not to say an overnight storm can’t take that all away. One thing I try to do (in this column and on my daily website http://jaymanntoday.ning.com/) is to keep a real-time update of buggying conditions. I could use your help. Please keep me email handy (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know about any critical problem areas. It’s not being over dramatic to say it is sometimes a matter of life and death. I’ve seen overnight cut-aways (erosional drop-offs) that could easily prove fatal if a buggy went zipping onto a beach thinking all was well in the world. I often write about just such a scene years back in Brant Beach. I was heading on the beach before light and for no known reason I had this sense that something was wrong up ahead. It was an uncanny sensation since nothing visual was amiss. I stopped, walked out and only a few feet up ahead there was a straight-down 10-foot drop caused by overnight wave action. I don’t think it was a survivable plunge. Oddly, there hadn’t been a huge storm or anything. It was simply a beach area inclined to instantaneously erode. Still is.
Per usual, Beach Haven will open its beaches to buggies on September 15. However, Long Beach Township will continue to open its non-Holgate Wilderness Area beaches on October 1. That date, which has been in place for many years, actually flies in the face of some serious talk of the township going to a September 15 opening for the portion of LBT beach between Osborne Avenue (adjacent to south Beach Haven) down to the parking lot at Holgate, an area we call Jap Hole.
The possibility of opening that Jap Hole stretch early was a safety issue, as buggies, after September 15, are forced to exit south Beach Haven beaches to get down to the Holgate Wilderness Area entrance. At the heavily-used Holyoke Avenue and Osborne Avenue buggy exits, mobile anglers have to de-beach, pulling up onto areas that often have pedestrians and traffic hanging out thereabouts.
Newbie note: Even though Beach Haven opens on September 15, it is total folly to try driving those beaches on weekends, right into October. The number of beachgoers that settle in around Centre Street on sunny weekends is damn near what you’ll see in August. I can tell you from firsthand experience, those post-season beach-ites also come loaded for bear, attitude-wise. They’ll lay right over preexisting buggy tracks – the only buggy lane -- and just try to get them to move a few feet to let you by. Many years back, I had folks plop down right in front of me as I was driving slowly through very tricky loose sand near the Seashell. By the time I got out and asked them politely to move – they outright refused, bringing tears to my eyes -- some other equally arrogant folks had plopped down behind me. Gospel truth. I had to resort to calling the BHPD, who I thought would surely side with the beachgoers. Man, did that police officer lay into the frontal folks who wouldn’t move. He was mainly mad over the way those beach Nazis even challenged him about having to move a mere few feet. I actually felt so guilty over the incident – I’m not big at all over fusses and such -- I slid off the beach at the next exit and haven’t buggied with weekend crowds there since.
Added newbie note: When driving around beach sprawlers, always take side-slipping into serious consideration. If you’re driving where the beach slants at all – and you take a high line around sunners – you can slide as much as five feet sideways, should you lose traction. For some reason, folks get irritated when sand-spitting tires wind up a few inches from their well-tanned foreheads. Commonsense: Beachgoers have the right of way.
Elsewhere, Harvey Cedars will open on schedule Oct. 1. However, there is the possibility/likelihood of a beach replenishment project taking place (anytime) before December 31. I believe that project can also technically take place in the spring of 2010, though the dredging company fielding that project seems more intent on an earlier start. I’ll get more info from the chief on how the town will handle buggies once the project starts. I doubt there will be any refunds.
Ship Bottom will open on September 19th, the third Saturday of the month. I’ve found very few drive-along problems on that borough’s beaches. In fact, I’ve kinda noticed a lot more amiable type beach folks hanging thereupon. The hang-up points in Ship Bottom are the often very tough beach buggy entrances/exits. I use the last one on the north part of town. More commonsense: It helps like all get-out to smile and wave at nearby beach folks, especially the kids -- who think it’s cool to have buggyists wave to them.
Surf City is opening the “end of September.” That’s the best I can do. I called the borough’s listed police department number and got the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, where I was briskly directed to a Surf City town number, where I was just as briskly directed back to the county sheriff’s number, where I was directed back to Surf City – and so on, me and that Quaker dude on the oatmeal box moving on, ad infinitum.
SURF CASTING LOOSED: The lifeguards are pretty much gone so most of the beach is there for surf fishing. Of course, during weekends and sunny times, casting discretion is a must, as mid-beach areas (twixt the jetties) will still be swum by day-hoppers and those cashing in the cheaper rental rates of fall -- and don’t forget the folks who finally get to use their beach homes after having to rent them out for summer.
The old problem of bathers unknowingly being whisked down the beach and toward cast-out lines wont be going away, so that discretion card must also be played in those cases. It’s frothing folly to get all bent out of shape when bathers unknowingly drift toward your lines. The lack of lifeguard flags to rein them in makes free-floating folks all too likely. Keep in mind, those in-surf frolickers don’t know what the hell’s going on, fishing-wise. As for them seeing your fishing line, hell, it’s transparent for a reason. No, not to fool swimmers. But fishing line does just that. The best/only thing to do when swimmers are tumbling along toward your spiked-rod fishing zone is to simply issue a polite verbal alert. Pointing alone doesn’t always work. Did I mention the line is transparent? So, all swimmers see is some semi-crazed guy in waders seemingly pointing out invisible thingies -- though that would be enough to get me changing directions real fast.
Truth be told, you actually cannot claim a piece of beachfront for your very own fishing pleasure. The bathers have an equal right to usage. That said, they don’t have to act like numbnuts, either.
KAYAKS ADVANCING: Checking out the latest issue of “Kayak Angler,” I was all but knocked over by the number of entrants into the kayak-building realm. What’s more, I couldn’t believe what those once simplistic craft can now do when motorized and fully accessorized.
Thumbing through the magazine, I relished every ad for the “ultimate” fishing kayak and the accompanying must-have gimmickry. Being the ideal consumer, i.e. schmuck, my first instinct was to second-mortgage my home and buy a couple dozen yaks for assorted usages. Fortunately, reality is always quick to doll out ice water wake-up calls.
Unable to read the kayak magazine’s fine print after a through reality soaking, it hit me that I already have three paid-for kayaks somewhere in my backyard. Admittedly, the yaks are covered over by a combination of herbs gone wild (mint can be savage) and some of the most attractive poison ivy plants on my entire block. Still, kayaks seldom go bad, even when deeply rooted to the ground. What’s more, the most modern accessories work just fine on even olden yaks. I bring that up for those who might ant to try the sport at a “used” level first. Used yaks usually float and paddle just fine.
Ironically, in the spring/summer issue of “Kayak Angler” there is a blurb on modifying an older kayak to take a brand spankin’ new motor. The example pictured in the piece is the exact vintage Ocean Kayak model I own, right down to the bright yellow color.
That said, there are surely some kick-ass new models out there -- and they aren’t wallet busters, as the suddenly jam-packed industry works out its own level of profitability vs. competitiveness. Truth be told, there isn’t a better time to buy one.
The down side to going great guns over a new kayak is which one to buy? Hell, I had a hard time back in the day when there was only one model to chose from. Again, just read over the likes of “Kayak Angler” and ponder the 100 or more models. You’ll quickly notice that the race is on for the ultimate electric motored kayak. With lithium batteries all the rage, there are small rechargeable motors that carry on further than most yakers intend on going.
The one caveat I offer in spades is never buy a kayak unpaddled. It’s pure folly to buy without a try. One size does not fit all. Part of the brutally tough call that manufacturers have to make is what size vessel comfortably accommodates the most body types. The finest paddle vessel known to man might not fit you. Having to perpetually worry about tipping over ruins the fun. By the same token, settling into a bulked up clunker of a yak is another fun-killer.
While I once used Jersey Paddler for all my yak testing, many local Southern Ocean County kayak dealers can offer a more personalized service.
WORLD SERIES RE-HITS THE SURF: I want to give an early head’s up to one of the most historic fishing tourneys in the nation.
The 63rd running of the World Series of Fishing will take place Saturday September 26, hosted (as always) by the Long Beach island Fishing Club, Harvey Cedars.
While this tourney is famed for its team competitions, it is fully open to individual anglers. In fact, single anglers pay only $15 to take a place among some of the best surfcasters going.
Team fees are $50 if you sign up before September 15. It’s $60 after that. There is a $5 daily beach buggy fee, which is collected at registration.
The angling action usually runs from Harvey Cedars through North Beach, through Surf City, and into Ship Bottom.
There are three sessions. After each session, this fast music plays and everybody rushes to another site, if you don’t have a seat when the music stops … No, wait a minute, that’s something totally different. Still, the idea is to get anglers to different sites to have the best chance of coming up with winning numbers, based on credits given each landed fish.
Only the first 40 teams and a limited number of individuals will be accepted, so sign up early. Go to http://www.asaconline.org/Clubs/Teams/LBI/lbi.htm. Or, for more details, call John at (856) 220-2082, or Bob at (267) 994-7423.
OH, THAT ITCH: I got this itch and ooze email in August but I kinda saved it until now since it is more an angling matter for Holgate anglers – even though the incident took place toward the north end of LBI. Personally, I have to lather myself in pure DEET just to write about this.
“Jay - while seining spearing for fluking I came in contact with something unseen and nasty. I now have dozens of blistery welts that itch like crazy. Any thoughts on what it is? … I had welts on my feet, which were inside aqua shoes, my ankles, wrists, and stomach. Stomach was the worst concentration and coincided pretty will with our maximum seining depth …”
My utmost pity to you, my friend. I have been to that itch-ified hell all too often, as have numerous other anglers. On one occasion, I came close to needing hospitalization to keep from going crazy. (Don’t say it.) I have lifelong scars from this cruel condition.
As to the culprit, I have been given two possibilities. The most likely is a blow-in of chiggers from nearby meadows. They apparently get blown into the water, then wash onto the mud by the katrillions. Chigger infestations have been confirmed in the area around The Dike (High Bar Harbor) and, particularly, Holgate. I once took a white towel and dragged over a known don’t-trod-here site and there was no doubt that chiggers were a-swarm. No hardened Holgater walks the mud flats or bayside shallows without footwear or lower leg covering.
The other lower likelihood as to these fierce skin attackers comes from a single article I read years ago. A PH'd wrote about some horribly invasive parasite related to bird (duck or goose) feces that could befall humans wading in warm shallow water. The description of the related welts and the near insanity-inducing itchiness from these skin-burrowing fecal-based parasites was totally identical to what we have suffered through. Only last year, I wrote about this possible parasitic culprit and had a dermatologist call and swore the condition was, in fact, the result of chiggers. It’s all academic. There is no solace – or relief – knowing the ultimate cause of why you’re up at 3 a.m. attacking your skin with a belt sander to get at the itch.
RUNDOWN: All this talk about the overfishing of seabass actually has new folks targeting them, trying to see what the sudden interest is regarding these growingly popular meat fish. And they are “meat fish” since they are surely not caught for sport.
Bass are showing, barely. Try plugging and jigging your street end jetties.
Cocktail blues are a far easier find, especially around both inlets. They seem to be rapidly increasing in numbers.
The last five years or so, we’ve been taunted and toyed with by big stripers and slammer blues that take their good old time in getting here for the fall fun. I’ll repeat that all this current northeast wind has to speed things up quite a bit. Sure, the downwelling keeps warm water in close to the beach but the overall lack of serious solar heating helps the cool-down in the long run.
Here’s an oddly cool e-report:
“Just wanted to tell you we caught a female Mahi Mahi under my neighbors boat. We were working on his motor and saw it swim by. His daughter put on a piece of Gulp cast it out and caught it. It is now in a bait pail now and doing well! Just thought you might want to know. Joe T.”
Here’s an e-response to a segment I wrote regarding sushi and such.
“Jay, I will eat any trash fish I can get my hands on, but the tragedy is, I am such a poor fisherman, that I cannot even catch a sea robin, and I desperately want to. The sea robin, or at least its cousin, the gurnard, is an essential element in the traditional French bouillabaisse, and I have been dying to get my hands on a few to try to make an authentic version, but after three trips to the inlet with my son E-man, not a single sea robin. Any hints for the sea-robin angler? Do people jealously hold the secret of their favorite sea-robin hot spot? Will they laugh at me if I go out on a party boat and keep the sea robins I catch? Patrick.”
(Patrick, nobody laughs over what is kept on headboats. Chuckles, yes. Get this: Any effort to catch sea robin right about now might be construed as fishing for fluke, since that is one of the better methods to raise robins. However, I assure you that simply fishing a piece of meat on the bottom will sooner or later lead to winged ones. Yes, gurnard are so very similar to our robins, except the taste. Go figure. Make sure to frequently stop by garbagefish.com.)
Speaking of fluke, I had two emails about folks keeping summer flounder in obvious violation of the regs. “We all watched them. They were keeping them until someone actually told them they couldn’t. They claimed to not realize and motored off. I saw them later at it again so I called the state hotline with the boat’s registration. …” wrote one witness.
For the fiftieth time, I want to totally discourage that confrontational approach. Yes, they were likely breaking the law but you just never know what you’re dealing with when confronting someone on the open water. I’ve seen way too many boaters who lose their frickin’ minds if anyone dares to say a thing toward them. Add beer balls to that mix and only bad comes of it.
Another email about (possibly) the same illegal flukers, asked a very good question, one that I haven’t a clue about: “Can we call local cops to bust people we know are breaking fishing laws?”
That’s a good one, eh? I will note that a few years back I saw an officer warn snorkelers in the surf (jetties) who were keeping too-small tog. All that was requested by the folks who called those police was to offer a warning to the snorkelers. It so happened, one of the responding officers was an angler.
As to whether or not a police officer can issue a summons to someone breaking Fish and Wildlife laws, I have to think that, legally, they absolutely can. By the same token, I have seen local and state police hold violators until Fish and Wildlife officers arrive. My guess that’s more of a jurisdictional thing – and the fact the Fish and Wildlife officers likely know the best way to go about properly summonsing culprits.