Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday Dec. 16 -- Coldness -- and Coolness toward a Fishing License

Odds of besting a Christmas striped bass for the feast table are incalculable. Seems the odds machine froze solid overnight. I heard of night temps as low as 10 degrees in the Pines. That frigidity doesn’t rule out a bass or two still feeding within surfcasting distance of the beach. It does kinda rule out an overload of anglers seeking stripers.  I’ll be one of a few out there jigging and plugging, most like during shivery trip to Clamland. Speaking of which, the crumby cold has iced up the clamming grounds on bayside Holgate. However, high tides tend to push the broken ice onto the meadows, leaving some mud open for scratching at low tide. If you’re not skilled at buggying, do not challenge ice walls – areas where pushed ice has come to rest. To sidestep getting stuck in the muck and such, I prefer to park my buggy in the sand out near the point, put on a clam-capable backpack, and hoof it onto the mudflats. It’s good exercise and quite the wintry look and feel. Currier and Ives even called me for a snapshot or two.

If you want to feel a little warmer, you can flash back just a few months -- to one of the hottest summers ever recorded. We’ll be closing 2010 at 581 cooling degree days above normal. Cooling degree days are essentially those days you need to use an air conditioner. They’re calculated by subtracting 65 from a given day's average. The average is the midpoint between a day’s high and low temperature. Example: A high of 90 and a low of 70 produce a day’s average of 80 degrees. Subtracting 65 from that gives you 15 cooling degree days. The accumulated cooling degree days for a particular year are compared to long-term averages. That offers a perspective of a year being above, at or below normal. That 582 above indicate a near all-time scorcher. There, don’t you feel warmer just toying around with those summery numbers? Me

I want to offer a news note roughly related to fishing but larger on the beachgoing front. The Army Corps of Engineers is finalizing a game plan to do an “emergency” repair of Surf City’s eroded beaches. Now, it’s a wait-and-see on federal funding. Since D.C. is now committed to maintaining the Surf City beachline -- per the initial beach replenishment project’s terms -- there’s a better than even chance the SC beaches will get drastically enlarged by next summer.

Any emergency repairs this winter/spring in Surf City would be fully financed by the federal government – thus D.C.’s overwhelming refusal to get into any more long-term replenishment commitments like it has sorta inherited on LBI.

It’s important to note that the possible Surf City emergency fix-up is NOT the same as the concurrent effort to get beach replenishment for Brant Beach, Long Beach Township. That Brant Beach effort is part of the much-debated Island-long beach repair project, currently completed in Harvey Cedars and Surf City. The funding of that big-picture effort comes from another funding vein – one that taps the state of NJ for 35 percent of the overall cost.

If the Surf City emergency repair is pumped in, as it was initially, the contractor will be using a finer mesh screening to filter incoming sand, to prevent a repeat of the fuse fiasco experienced during the first beach fill. That screening shouldn’t prevent the sought-after sand dollars from squeaking through to the beach. I was among the many who enjoyed hunting them – along with sharks’ teeth and Lenape artifacts – that showed as the beaches began to erode.

SALTWATER FISHING LICENSE GUESS: Since this paper will take its good old time getting out on the streets, the Trenton-based decision on whether or not to have a for-pay N.J. Saltwater Fishing License may already be decided.

As of now (Dec. 16), a strong 11-hour push is being made to head off the effort to force anglers to pay $15 as part of a federal angler registry in 2011, i.e. the proverbial saltwater fishing license.

The support for a “free license” is there – as is the rallying of anglers.

I’ll hope for the best – and also offer a little educating on a free license. This same info actually applies to a $15 license but let’s think positive.

A triumph in thwarting a $15 saltwater license would NOT preclude the need to obtain one annually, as is the case with any fishing license. Please ponder that. I’ve had a slew of angler supporting the “Free” license while saying, “We gotta get that free license because I’ll be damned if I’m going to accept a saltwater fishing license.” No license at all doesn’t even enter into it – right now.

Restated: Even going the freebie route, you will still need a license on-person to legally go out saltwater fishing in the state of N.J. in 2011. Failure to have one would be a citable offense.

Additionally, you would legally need a saltwater fishing license to fish in state saltwater tournaments, unless you have a saltwater license in another state. While tourney directors might not ask to be shown a license, we all heard about the million-dollar no-license debacle down in North Carolina -- where an angler lacking an N.C. license led to the disqualifying of a fish worth over $1 million in winnings.

What’s more, a state/world record fish caught by an angler fishing NJ without a saltwater license would be disqualified.

And how would someone know if that or that angler didn’t have licenses? Need you ask in this computerized day and age? I’m told that the public will be able to access a website with a list of registered N.J. anglers. By the by, even though we call this a “license” it remains, technically, a registration.

Charter boats and headboats have a single license to cover all fares.

Do not be misled by a small section of New York where existing ordinances give sole right of licensing to certain coastal towns. Unless municipalities already have those laws in place, they can’t fight the registry from that vantage.


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