Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Watch Your Tail, Doodly;
Asian Carp Take to the Air
HOW HOT, EXACTLY? The west wind had LBI flirting with 100 air temps on Saturday. But that number was cool when compared to some surface temps I took that day with my trusty Raytek infrared thermometer, accurate to fractions of a degree.
Keeping in mind the fact that human skin burns at roughly 130 degrees, here are some temperatures off common objects.
Asphalt road surface, Ship Bottom, 138 degrees. Hood of my dark gray truck, 160 degrees. Back stoop, my house (no breeze at all), 144 degrees. Neighbor’s 2nd story roof (light-colored shingles), 144. Beach sand, toward dune: 126. The inside of my truck (dashboard), 142 degrees. Approximately 6,000 feet up (aiming gun toward the clouds), 67 degrees.
GOOD GIRL: The wayward lady English mastiff, on the lam in Little Egg Harbor Township since February, has been corralled. She’s now acclimating to humanity within the very friendly confines of Popcorn Park Zoo, located in the Forked River section of Lacey Township. While she has yet to warm up to her captors, she is very docile, not one bit aggressive.
The wild girl has surely had pups in her life – possibly to an extreme. Her teats are hanging low, possibly the victim of a puppy mill. That last proposition might explain her dire indifference to humans – and possibly life itself.
Despite indications she hasn’t had a litter in a long time, I’ll likely go out to make doubly sure she has any lingering older kids in the woods where she frequented. In the wilds, canine pups hang around almost indefinitely. I’m guessing they might be kinda anxious to see me if their food source has gone missing.
What’s next for the troubled mastiff girl remains to be seen but I can assure the future will be far far better than she has seen to this point.
I’ll keep you posted.
NO BIGGY, DOODLY!: There’s an adolescent whitetail rabbit that lives almost exclusively in my very green and herbaceous Ship Bottom backyard. I’ve donned the lady hopper Doodly -- as in Doodly Squat, which is just what she does all day, everyday. Lady of luxury, rolling in green.
Doodly has hung in my realm since she was knee-high to snowball. She now has little if any fear of humans, often hopping up to within just a few feet of me, as she continuously eats grass and clover. She even gets all but underfoot when I work on power equipment in my out-of-control backyard lapidary and jewelry-making work area. She seems to like the sound of a sander. Also, she might be snuggling up to get her own custom-made bakelite pendant to wear when going out to the hop. (That’s bad, Jay.)
Anyway, I was standing at my backdoor at sunrise on Saturday, sleepily sipping some juice and watching Doodly eating so fast her nose was twitching, when something atop my neighbor’s garage roof caught my eye. A truly huge hawk was perched on the roof’s peak. It might have been a red-tailed hawk or even a northern harrier. For me, hawks are super tough to ID. Whatever the brand name, the looming raptor was seemingly eyeing Doodly with very bad intent.
Snapping to, I noisily swung open the door, busting outside with a hearty, “Hey, get outta here!”
It had an impact similar to yelling the same thing at a bluefish going after a plug. Doodly glanced up at me, all but smiled, and instantly went back to eating. The hawk just about yawned at me, as if offering, “Do you have any idea how sharp my talons are, dude?”
So I stood there, my robe of many colors flapping in an already 85-degree wind. “Oh, well,” I offered myself, plopping down on by back porch stoop, finishing off my mango-orange Naked Juice.
Soon, Doods hopped over to right below the bottom step. The hawk eventually lifted off -- with as indifferent an attitude as possible.
All in all, it was a fine showing of backyard nature. And I wasn’t over-fretting the hawk’s presence – and possible return. That feathered talon-swinger could have easily had Doodly, had it wanted. It was seemingly hot on some other prey, possibly one of the squirrels that hang in the area.
BIG-GAME GAMES BEGIN: It is here. The 2010 BHM&TC’s White Marlin Invitational is on through Saturday.
While I see nothing nasty on the horizon, wind or weather-wise, the canyon zone has a mind of its own. Still, smooth sailing seems to be on the menu – along with Skipper’s Raw.
I should note that nearshore winds could get a bit gusty, here and there -- here being Thursday early a.m. and there being a.m. Saturday. Still, the main weather theme is light and variable winds. So much so, I’d have to say that a lack of winds in the canyons could be a larger problem than honking winds. It sure seems that at least some surface stir helps trolling efforts.
I’m guessing the top sunscreens known to man will be mandatory through the whole tourney. It’s always an easy read as to which crewmembers settled for generic sunscreen: raccoon eyes of the highest order.
Make sure to check out: www.thewmit.com. In fact, you might want to “favorite” that site’s “Weather” page.
I’ll be doing the color commentary via a blog-like daily rundown. That can be reached on the website’s homepage, top-of-page selection bar.
YEAR OF THE DRAGONFLY: I got a double-dose of responses regarding my write-up on the astounding number of dragonflies this summer. Here’s one from artist Leslee Ganss, who lives on an insect-heavy point, bayside Stafford Township. I had been wondering what species was swarming LBI’s dunelines.
“Seaside dragonlets, males and females. We have had thousands here this season and virtually no mosquitoes -- and a lot less greenheads. They perch on any available vertical spot, including fingers held up.”
I’ll repeat what I wrote last week: dragonflies are all good, unless you’re a small insect -- or have relatives that fit that description.
Dragonflies not only down bugs to beat the band but they also scare them clean out of the region they’re patrolling.
To be expected, there are many folks who mistakenly assume these often large, even ominous-looking insects must be capable of swooping down to sting, bite or wing-slap humans, should the moment move them. Nonsense.
Admittedly, there are volumes of homespun yarns accusing dragonflies of executing perfidious deeds, ranging from attacking human eyes to one old wives’ tale my grandmother fervently believed: certain dragonflies could sew your lips shut.
Gospel truth: I was taught, in no undue terms, that it is essential to cover one’s mouth when any and all dragonflies are a-swoop, anywhere within sight. “They’ll sew your lips shut tighter than a doornail,” I’d hear Grandma say, albeit muffled by her hands being held over her mouth.
If I didn’t take evasive hand action in the face of circling dragonflies, my grandma, mom or one of my aunts would nobly slam one of their hands over my mouth, more often than not knocking my tiny ass three feet backwards in the process. I got to dread dragonflies more for the human hands flying about than any sewing action by the insects.
I was later greatly relieved to later find it was only “darning needle” type damselflies that did the sewing shut of lips. Despite the entire lip-sewing concept being obviously utterly absurd, throughout my adolescence I sure as hell wasn’t willing to risk it -- and possibly blow my chances of ever wordfully wooing girls. I actually never got as far as wondering how I would eat or drink with sewn-shut lips. Hormones are like that.
Closer to reality, dragonflies do indeed have choppers that most every insect out there fear and loathe. Nonetheless, these winged bullies of the insect skyways are actually pretty damn passive when within the human realm. They simply do not attack.
That said, I can assure you -- from first hand (right ring finger) account – that, when grabbed, a dragonfly will try to escape, via flight, then turn and commence to chompin’.
Check most any dragonfly websites and you’ll repeatedly read that a dragonfly’s jaws “can’t break the skin.” Well, check out this finger. Oops, wrong one.
I’ll tell ya what, you decide whom to believe, my first-finger experience or the murmurings of some sulky scientist, who has numerically hypothesized that the jaw strength of a dragonfly can’t hurt you. I have absolutely no doubt you’re with me on this one, especially when factoring in tales I’ve gotten lately from folks seeing dragonflies so big they thought they were birds. Go ahead, koochie koo the cheeks of a dragonfly with 12-inch wingspan.
CRAZED CARP INVASION: How about this totally freaky invasion of Asian big head and silver carp. They’re advancing like Mongolian gangbusters, moving up the “Mighty Mississip.” There are now millions atop millions of these semi-nutso fish frothing atop Old Man River and its tributaries. The Great Lakes are in their crosshairs, so much so that the problem has reached Congress.
Years back, I read about this carp-based eco-fiasco, spawned when two carp species were imported into Louisiana from China – in a highly unadvised attempt to control algal growth in badly degraded waters. As if it couldn’t have been foreseen, a series of floods and hurricanes loosed, and then further loosed, the carp. The seemingly innocuous algae-eaters broke from the ranks of biological control species to highly invasive species.
However, nothing can portray the fearsome and freaky extent of this carp invasion like seeing the insanely overpopulated fish in action. For me, seeing became believing during an episode of “Monster Fish,” aired on The National Geographic Channel, Saturday night. The show offered some of the most insane fish scenes known to modern man. You can check out the episode on the channel’s website, under “Flying Carp.”
Insane scenes include footage of literally thousands of these invasive species taking to the air when spooked by boats. It’s kinda hilarious, at first glance, as boaters get battered by fish going as high as ten feet into the air -- some fish landing inside the vessels. Of course, it’s all fun and games until someone gets a dental re-arrangement compliments of a 30-pound carp cruising at human face altitude.
That face-level threat has surfaced in an unusual way. River areas once famed for perfect water skiing and tubing conditions are now all but watersports-free. It’s easy to see why. A ski-boat would spook carp skyward just in time for a skier to meet them eye-to-eye. Who knows what would wind up in the lap of a tube rider?
Truth be told, I’d love to gear up – padding, helmet, hockey mask, the works – and give suicide skiing a go in the most carp-ful river areas. That would be too cool, trying to bob and weave through carp. Of course, I’m guessing it would take some lengthy explanations when I’m forced to seek medical insurance coverage. Just my luck I’d get an answering service in Calcutta.
“You have reached Last Chance Insurers. My name is Blatu. In which way may I help you?”
“Well, Blatu, I kinda injured my solar plexus when water skiing through a buncha flying carp in the Mississippi River.”
“Oh, my, gud!”
“Oh, so you understand my claim, Blatu?”
“Oh, not even remotely, Sahib. I just learned about the Mississippi River in first-grade and now to actually hear it spoken of. Amazing.”
Anyway, back in the Mississippi, a totally weird thing about the flying carp is the way this flight-or-flight behavior is unheard of back in Asia. Per the show, Chinese scientists literally refuse to believe the bighead and silver carp fish are flying. Of course, they’re still stinging over that melamine thing.
I’ll wager the fish don’t go airborne in China because they’ve sweet-and-soured the species to the brink of extinction. On the other side of the abacus, the Mississippi carp are packed in like sardines. That can lead to goose flight. What can happen, as is the case with forage fish hereabouts, a fish impulsively goes airborne after being rudely poked by an adjacent fish, which had itself been privately poked by another. Why do they go so high? Hey, goose flight is purely spontaneous. I’ve seen it in bars.
The NatGeo show also highlighted a “redneck” carp rodeo, where Midwest folks -- pissed at the exotic outlaw fish ruining their waters – now have a retaliatory tourney. Boatloads of kinda-anglers compete by motoring madly around, spooking carp skyward and scooping the biggest fish possible out of the air. The fish are then ceremoniously destroyed, after awards are given to those fast-net folks who caught (literally) the biggest and baddest carp. As to the impact of such tourneys, I sense the brain cells of those involved in the event are being destroyed faster than the carp. Still, this is yet another thing that would be fully cool to try in the Mississippi headwaters, as evidenced by a photo I saw of some Midwesterners using baseball bats to swinging at flying carp.
As to when the carp invasion will end – or if it will make it to December 21, 2012 – might lie in the fish market. Despite a carp having the boniness of a New York model, the flesh is tasty to the T. Getting Americans to pull a few bones before chowing down could pout the fish on the menu boards – a sure way to knock the population for a loop.
(While I’m an alarmist to the nth degree, the way you describe the infestation it sure sounds like an overload of isopods, possibly related to the massive eelgrass mats in the bay and inlets. Isopods thrive in those mats. The small parasites are obviously aggravating to bass – and redness near point where they hook on confirms that -- but are not even in the ballpark with the potentially deadly mycobacteriosis, which manifests in larger sores and sometimes-gaping openings of the skin leading into a fish’s internal organs.
By the by, you’ll often hear these parasites indicate bayside bass but that’s not consistent with the life cycle of most isopods, which suffer in high salinities found in the bay.
I have seen bass going airborne, landing on their sides, in an effort to knock off the aggravating isopods. My guess is once these fish hit cooler water (be it deeper down or come fall), the hitchhikers will abandon ship. One wonders if isopod outbreaks (and there are dozens and dozens of varieties) will increase with a warming ocean. J-mann)
RUN-DOWN: Fluke count remains insane. I catch heat when I suggest there are simply too many of them out there but I assure there are, in fact, too damn many of them, plain and simple. The weakfish count is hideously low. The few weakfish that make it through the summer will be surely get slaughtered by fluke – if they haven’t been already. I will be noisily proposing huge increases in summer flounder allotments for 2011. They may even have to drag me out of meetings kicking and screaming if Draconian cuts aren’t made in minimum size limits.
Email: “Jay, I noticed your mention of unheld rods catching bigger fluke and I have to agree 100 percent. My son and I caught about 30 fluke and only the dead stick had keepers though I lost a monster I hooked on my jigging rod. I had it right next to the boat and I stupidly tried for a tail first net. Yes, I know better. I also could have waited for my son to land the fish he had on so he could net mine. Lessons learned. By the way, green gulp rules.”
I’ll note that very little else is exploding on the nearshore angling scene. A few striped bass emails indicate there are resident fish around, most reachable early in the a.m. or near Barnegat Inlet. Some night stripering is being done but I’m not allowed to mention that, so I won’t.
Charters and headboats are using their expertise to find black seabass, but that fishery is also lacking the luster it had a few years back.
Triggerfish are near structure and jetties. Snorkelers are seeing them on LBI groins/jetties. This week we have the first really clean water in many weeks, so divers should be able to spear some triggers for dinner. Let the blackfish go, guys. It’s way to hard to tell underwater if that tog in the cracks is minimum size. Besides, the tog spawn is still going strong.
Email: Jay, What’s up with the kingfish and blowfish? I was the one sending you emails on how good fishing for them had been (a couple summers back). There’s almost nothing out there now. …
(I still think it’s bycatch destruction to our south, shrimpers. However, I’ve been getting very alarming reports from scientists working Barnegat Bay and finding dangerously high nitrogen levels, easily enough to whack the water chemistry needed for successful spawns. J-mann)
Rays are few and far between, though the clearer water may show they’re still out there. Skate are everywhere. Dogfish count is down a bit but still plentiful enough to drive fluke fishermen crazy.
A nice sheepshead was caught on bait, near Causeway bridges – from kayak. Huge tog was also taken. Angler also kept a load of bergalls that he cooked in the round – to high praise of diners.