jaymanntoday

Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Saltwater License 2011;

Getting’ Down to Givin’

 

As I ready for my SandPaper vacation, Merry Christmas to one, all -- and anyone in-between. The paper (and this column) will be back – and better than never -- on January 12, 2011. For angling blogs during the holiday hiatus, go to http::/jaymanntoday.ning.com.

Odds of besting a Christmas striped bass for the holiday 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 said stripers.

I’ll be one of a few out there jigging and plugging, most likely 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 mudflats open for scratching at low tide.

If you’re not skilled at buggying, do not challenge those backside Holgate ice piles – 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-holding  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 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 a day’s 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 the perspective of a year being above, at or below normal. That 582 above for 2010 indicates a near all-time scorcher.

There, don’t you feel warmer just toying around with those summery numbers? Me either. I will re-venture a guess that January and February will be wet but relatively warm. In fact, don’t be surprised to see a couple freakily warm spells, late winter.

Another way to feel the warmth is the announcement that the spring Simply Bassin’  striper tourney will be held again in 2011. It’ll run from Saturday, May 7 to June 26. 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 by then.

As of now (Dec. 16), a strong 11th-hour push is being made to head off the state effort to force anglers to annually pay $15, in order to comply with a federal requirement to develop a angler registry in 2011. The registry thing is, in fact, the proverbial saltwater fishing license.

The support for a “free license” is in The House, via groups like the Recreational Fishing Alliance -- accompanied by the letter writing rallying of anglers.

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

By the by, even though we call this a “license” it remains, technically, a registration. “License” is far more befitting.

A triumph in thwarting a $15 saltwater fishing license – and establishing a free license -- would NOT preclude the need to obtain one annually. Please ponder that point. I’ve had a slew of anglers supporting the free license while thinking they won’t even have to sign up annually. That is akin to having NO license. As of now, having no saltwater license in N.J. doesn’t even enter into the debate. However (the complexities arise), should the entire Magunson-Stevens Act be rewritten, as is being pursued by some politicos, the whole license thing could be dropped in the future. But that’s not likely by January 1 – when all N.J. anglers must have registered, i.e. obtained a license, if they are going to fish saltwater. And, yes, you will be able to obtain a license right before you’re about to fish saltwater for the first time. It’s identical to a freshwater license.

As I now understand it, the procedure to obtain a 2011 N.J. saltwater fishing license (registration) will go through Trenton. Exact addresses, phone numbers and website pages will soon be created within the existing Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

(TRICK MOVE: If you sign up with the federal angler registry before Dec. 31, you will automatically get 2011 for free – should the effort to get a free license in N.J. fail. Perish the thought. You get that 2011 federal angler registry card the same way you got one for 2010. Just go the federal registry website, answer a few questions and you’re home free. But, whatever you do, don’t tell anybody I told you this trick.)

Restated: Even if N.J. goes the free-license route, you will still need a license, on-person, to legally go out saltwater fishing in the state of N.J. in 2011. Again, just like a freshwater license. Failure to have one would be a citable offense.

In 2011, DEP Fish and Wildlife officers – and even federal officers -- will be issuing citations if you’re caught fishing saltwater without a registration card, i.e. license. Still, I can already hear thousands of guys saying “I thought free meant I didn’t have to have one.” Sign the citation here, please.

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/registration, 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 N.J. without a saltwater license would be disqualified.

But how would someone know if this or that angler didn’t have a license? Need you ask in this computerized day and age? I’m told that even the public will be able to access a website with a list of all registered N.J. anglers. Big brother – and that troublemaking fellow angler -- may be watching.

Charter boats and headboats have a single license/registration to cover all fares. As noted, anyone with a saltwater license from another state will not need to obtain a N.J. saltwater fishing license. In that instance, it breaks from the state’s freshwater licensing. All anglers, including those with a freshwater license from another state, must have a N.J. freshwater license to fish freshwater in the Garden State. That’s where the saltwater thing is more of a registry. If an angler is registered anywhere, the data from that angler will get to the feds. Remember: This entire registry/licensing process is to accumulate data on how much is being caught by saltwater anglers. Anyone in the registry can be contacted for information on what they’ve caught. Currently, it’s primarily by phone.

So why not give bogus information when contacted? That can come back to bite you in the backside. Say you underreport your fish take. That could indicate the stocks are low. You know what happens in that case. Say you over report your catch. That means anglers are taking too many fish. You know what happens in that case. Truth be told, by passing on accurate catch numbers, it allows for a true read on the stocks. That’s not the worse thing by any stretch.

I’ll be updating on this issue in my daily blogs.

NEW SANDS FOR SC?: I want to offer a news note roughly related to fishing but looming larger yet 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. For now, the only thing holding back the repair work is federal funding. Since D.C. is now committed to maintaining the Surf City beachline -- per the terms of the big Island-long beach replenishment project -- there’s a good chance the SC beaches will get manually enlarged by next summer.

Does that mean more expense for the state? Nope. Any emergency repairs this winter/spring in Surf City would be fully financed by the federal government. That’s part of the agreement stemming from the big project. That’s also why D.C. prohibits future involvement in any more long-term replenishment commitments, like it has sunk into on LBI. I won’t go into the utter complexities of the LBI big fix except to say that it’s the last of its type in the nation and, if lost, will mean the taxpayers of N.J. will get stuck with monstrous expenses of future beach fix-ups. My guess is the state will quickly find some way to direct the biggest chunk of replenishment expense toward us along the coastline. And what are the chances that those now fighting the current federal project will pay the horrific difference, i.e. millions upon millions? Zero, even though they led to the loss of the feds paying the lion’s share. What a joke.

It’s important to note that the likely 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 above-mentioned (much-debated) big-ass federal beach repair project, currently completed in Harvey Cedars and Surf City. The money for 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 – as they showed at water’s edge.

WHAT TO GET HIM?: I’ve been getting emails asking what Christmas gifts get anglers all cheery.

About ten years back I did a suggestion list – and haven’t done the same since. I caught very un-Christmasy hell after I unthinkingly wrote about this gal giving her fisherman hubby a new very high-end SUV. Many thought I blew the lid of sensible gift giving. And, I have to admit, they were right as snow. Still, some (lady) givers annually beg me for gift suggestions.

This year, I went so far as to get some suggestions from shop owners. Every one of those tackle shopists came up with the same suggestion/conclusion that I did: Give a gift certificate.

Turns out many shop owners also get their feet put to the perfect-gift flame, with shoppers wanting them to make the gift choices for them. One gal is all but harassing an Island tackle shop to decide on the exact aluminum rod racks to get for her spouse. She doesn’t compute that rod racks can go front, back, in-bed and even on-roof. What’s more, she won’t accept the notion that a mere photo of rod racks, symbolizing her gift, is as effective as presenting the actual thing on Christmas morning.

Anyway, I can always confidently suggest giving fishing plugs as stocking stuffers – or even a main gift, considering what plugs now cost. Plugs can be suitably selected by even the clueless. That’s because many anglers aren’t sure what plugs are what. Hell, give us a plug and we’ll have a blast giving it a go. I’m among those who will gladly admit, “I got a ridiculous-looking plug as a gift and damn that thing works.”

 

For the sakes of fellow anglers, I always e-suggest ideas like a high-end fishing rod gift certificate. I personally reference better brands of fishing rods, including masterfully crafted custom rods. However, I’m always the first to point out that some low-end generic rods are now excellent.

This year, I’m also pointing gift-givers toward what has become a glut of upper end reels, spurred on by the uppity arrival, years back, of Van Staal. Oddly, when I mention the likes of $500 for a reel, I often get a bizarre, “Oh, that’s not that bad.” The hell it ain’t!

I’m not sure it’s every angler’s thing but some of the new handheld GPS units – and even in-vehicle models – are mighty nice nowadays. While they’re now all but mandatory in boats, buggy anglers can mark GPS high-potential spots at low tide then come back to the exact location after dark – without having to leave markers on the beach that alerts every passing mobile fisherman to your hot spots.

GPSs have reached the efficiency point of locating satellites even in our outback.

For years, I had been fully plagued by handhelds that took forever to find enough satellites to function in the Pines. Of course, I usually used entry-level waterproof GPSs. Then, recently, I was loaned an absolutely kick-ass Garmin Oregon 400T 3-Inch Touchscreen Handheld GPS Unit with Preloaded Topographic Maps. Spoiled me for life. It’s a touchscreen that precludes the insane menu-searching, button-pushing requirements of cheaper models. However, it’s up around $600.

Closer to reality is the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Color High-Sensitivity Mapping Handheld GPS. It clocks in at a bit over $200.

By the by, if you want to shop handheld GPS units, I suggest you first explore the Garmin zone. No other brand wins more praises and prizes than Garmin.

Hey, if you do get an Oregon 400T, can I borrow it on alternate Saturdays?

Something that not every angler has is a kick-ass flashlight. No, not some plastic one you have to smash to get the light out of it. A top gift is a military/police variety torch (British expression). Needless to say, a killer flashlight can be a lifesaver. The ones that charge in the vehicle are the most functional.

I have a number of flashlights -- and torches, since I’ve gotten a couple from London. They serve various purposes. My Surefire military beam model can light up other planets. It can seriously damage human eyes so this one isn’t for checking on the nursery.

The best small tactical flashlight is surely the Streamlight Luxeon-LED Scorpion, called the “the brightest, lightest personal flashlight ever created.” Run $40. A couple dozen can fit in a tackle box -- though I have no idea why I had to try doing that.

Somewhat surprisingly, one of the best tweener-sized flashlight sis the Craftsman 160 Lumen, 6AAA K2 LED Aluminum. That, too, is about $40.00

Oddity torches include any number of powerful blacklight UV models. I use these to collect rare insects and spiders at night in the woods. Yep, some bugs glow real well under a blacklight beam. By the by, those glowy crawlers are a blast to collect then place on your shirt before walking into a crowded bar that has blacklights flooding the place. Gals love that manly, crawly, poisonous bug look on a guy. (And I wonder why I’m still single.)

For this year’s go-get-‘em flashlight, I have to recommend the small but kick-ass Fenix TK12 R5 (280 Lumen Cree XP-G LED) Flashlight, picked Flashlight of the Year by a number of online rating services. Lay down $65 and up for this beauty, depending on any extras you want to throw in at gift time.

There are a huge number of websites fully dedicated to nothing but flashlights. They’re kinda freaky when you wonder what all those members do with all those flashlights. While on the subject of beams for Christmas, think about a sweet – often very affordable – headlamp, one worthy of any degree of darkness. I give the seasonal nod to the Lenser 7497 H7 LED Headlamp. The company has higher end model headlamps but this model is rated the best brightness-for-the-buck. Obviously, there are tons of other headlamps to check out, so feel free to spend days on end trying to sort through the assortment.

OYSTERS FLAMBEAU: On Thursday, an 18-wheeler loaded to the gills with tons of oysters caught fire on the Southwest Freeway in Houston. The entire load went up in flames; as big an oyster bake as Texas had ever seen. Of course, the caustic emissions issuing forth from the blazing trailer done ruint all the bivalves.

So how did the big rig go up in smoke?

The driver blamed an abandoned mattress. He told police he had run over the wayward box spring mattress. It apparently became stuck and “the friction must have started the fire,” he said.

Now, I’m neither an expert on driving 18-wheelers nor the physics of friction surrounding box springs traveling under an 18-wheeler at 75 mph, however, I’ll bet the ranch that it takes a goodly amount of travel time and a helluva load of dancing friction sparks for a 7-foot mattress to fully ignite an 18-wheeler. In other words, “Why the frig didn’t you pull the hell over when you first hit it, numbnuts?!”

I just have this sneaky feeling the driver mangled the mattress, then mumbled, “Screw it. I’ll pull it out at the end of this Carrie Underwood Christmas CD.” Then, I picture him bouncing along singin’ “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” at the top of his lungs -- as an army of cars beep like crazy  about the flaming oysters jumping out the back of the truck to save themselves.”

 

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