Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
The Fish Story
(Above: Japan snail (left) and OUR snail.
A beautician named Ellie sent me a story she just knew I’d want to groom. It has to do with the emerging financial potential of facial snail slime. At first, I took this tale with a grain of salt.
Seems the gorgeously skinned, insanely experimental Japan folks are going slime-high to win the never-ending battle for the glossiest flesh known to man. The day of the gossamer gastropod has arrived for deep-pocketed Rising Sunners.
The latest costly craze for women is allowing strategically placed snails to slither – or slime or ooze or whatever – across their faces. It is alleged that the slime is sublime and can make one look who knows how many years younger. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never come across a snail that looked prematurely old.
Snail slime supposedly stimulates the skin to produce collagen and other reparative dermal fighters that do battle with photo aging. It also allegedly goes all balls out on free radicals, capable of making one look old as sin.
With snail slime sessions being gobbled up at $250 a pop, my mind is itself a-slime with local snail marketing possibilities. Our bay has more moon snails than Carter has liver spot pills. And ours are kick-ass snails, readily throwing out a helmet-shaped gob of slime-producing meat, called a foot. All they have in Japan are flimsy, snotty little snails, with poofy antennas stickin’ out, all stupid-like. They’re truly wimped out gastropods. Ours issue enough slime to make into a water slide.
Just the name moon snail offers a sell-point – you know, “Eclipse all signs of aging and get the moon snail glow you’ve always wanted.”
What’s more, through intensive personal research, I have established that moon snail slime is loaded with cosmically cosmetic compounds capable of countering everything from crow’s feet to labial fold lines. Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t know a labial fold line if it bit me in the ass but I Googled “Face parts women worry about most” and there was “labial fold lines” big as life – but no longer “big as life” once my moon snails light upon them.
Before you ponder sidestepping the costly use of my fully-trained moon snails – by running out and placing a load of low tide moon snails upon your cheek bones – just remember that a cosmetically uninclined moon snail might just tire of taking the slime route. I’ve seen them more inclined to taste-test a customer’s facial epidermis. “Bad, snail! Bad! You go lay down right now.”
I’m also fully cognizant that foraging moon snails routinely encase a rock-hard clam with their slimy foot and slowly bore a hole through its shell with a drill-like mechanism called a radula. Also, the radula is helped along by an acid secretion capable of eating through the covering of an alien spacecraft. Admittedly, those, uh, side effects could prove, uh, uncomfortable to an undedicated cheekbone.
But, hey, no one said the look of eternal youth comes painlessly. Hell, as we speak there are women out there getting their faces burnt to a crisp by lasers. What’s a little moon snail acid discomfort when successfully keeping up with the pusses of the Kardashians – or that lady on “Real Housewives of Miami,” who looks like she’s actually becoming a moon snail?
For more info, Google “snail facials.”
DEER-FLAVORED PROTEIN BARS: I’m a protein bar devourer of the highest order. Just recently, I came across the Amerind roots of my meal bars.
The prototypical protein bars were created by our very own American Indians. They called them pimîhkân. The “pimi” part means “fat” or “grease.” The rest of the word means, “Buy one, get one at half price.” Not really – in case you hadn’t guessed. Theynever lowered the price. The term pimîhkân has since been Anglicized into pemmican – of which there are still tons of recipes.
Pemmicans were the perfect finger food when Indian scouts went on long and treacherous journeys to off-the-chart places – with nary a Stuckey’s to be found, though there are admittedly some suspicious visual similarities between pemmicans and Stuckey’s Pecan Logs. That could explain the fortuitous fate of a few lost scouts. Lost Indian, chewing on a pemmican, “Yes, it does seem we’re duly lost. I was lost once and it looked just like this. That said, what say we build us a store right here, then fan out in every direction and put up all sorts of signs, saying stuff like, ‘Got Wampum? Prime Pemmicans Just Ahead’?”
Hey, we stole more from the Indians than you might think. But I historically digress.
For Indians, pemmicans truly amounted to survival bars. The main ingredient came from whatever dried meat happened to be hanging around when the bars were being made. Locally, venison from white-tail deer was the prime stuff in the highly desirable “Deer-flavored” pemmicans.
To add some zest to pemmicans, cranberries were often added. This bumped up the price because organic cranberries were always used. Sure, everything was organic back then but the remarkable marketing skills of Indians are often overlooked. “Dried Deer Delight with Organic Cranberry Pemmicans,” spoken of in fireside chants, proves that out.
Anyway, arriving white explorers went wild over pemmicans and quickly claimed them as their very own. “We claim these pemmican protein bars in the name of, uh, us white folks.”
Pemmicans became the go-to food of all explorers, even those who went to the North Pole. Arctic Circle explorer Robert Peary wrote in his book Secrets of Polar Travel, “Too much cannot be said of the importance of pemmican to a polar expedition. It is an absolute sine qua non. Without it, a sledge-party cannot compact its supplies within a limit of weight to make a serious polar journey successful.”
Of course you wanted to know the roots of protein bars. Where else but here?
EAGLE-EYED CAPTURE: Jim Verhagen of Reading From the Northsite website fame nailed an eagle this week – in a very good way, that is. He fully photographed the off-and-on bald eagle that has been gliding the Holgate skies. I’ve only caught in-the-distance glimpses of the unusually large eagle, which is very obviously leg-banded, per Jim’s close-ups, seen at http://exit63.wordpress.com.
The green color of one of the raptor’s leg bands indicates it’s a N.J. bird. This time of year you never know from whence cometh any raptors.
Our license-plate (under) funded N.J. Endangered Game and Nongame Species Program has been placing state-specific green bands on the legs of state eagles since 1987. Banded at six weeks of age, the eagles get a green N.J. band on the right leg. The band has a letter placed over an ID number, both in white.
The bird’s left leg gets a silver federal band. The federal band quickly turns from bright silver to leaden gray. No, that is not some sort of political statement. At least I don’t think it is.
The data on N.J.’s banded eagles goes into the National Bird Banding Laboratory at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland.
On rare occasions, high-powered scopes allow spotters to read the band numbers of a bird in flight. That would have to be a mighty steady spotting scope. I’ve tried to read those eagle leg numbers (Mullica River area) using the best and most powerful tripod-ed binoculars. The most I have ever gotten was a close up view of a wary eagle with spiked head feathers glaring down at me, real angry like, hissing, “You lookin’ at me? You … lookin’ at me? I don’t see anyone one else around here …” That eagle just happened to be a Robert DeNiro fan. Hey, it was a freezing cold day, I was standing for hours on a frozen-solid river and I was getting kinda bored, so maybe I spiced up my written spotting report a bit.
Disconcertingly, the N.J. band information mainly comes to the fore when a bird is, let’s say, de-skied. Per a report from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, “Most of the information that comes from these bands is from injured or dead birds.” For that reason, eagle-based radio transmitters are now the greatest source of in-sky information about our state’s soaring bald eagle population. The transmitters now use the latest GSM technology, the exact same science behind cell phones. “Hello, this is Bald Eagle NJ23H. Anyone down there know of any good bunker schools off Holgate? … Hello? Can you hear me now? Good. As I was saying …”
Just to show how well the N.J. Save the Eagles effort is going, approximately 160 young eagles fledged in our small state this year. While most of those are along the Delaware, an increasing number are going left coast; working their way up thisaway.
BUGGY BANTER: The beaches of LBI are drivable but have gotten trickier after those beach-eating south winds. Main trouble spots are south Brant Beach and Holgate.
Holgate took it on the chin. All it took was one, stinkin’, south wind gale to take huge bites out of the road to the Rip. The entire front beach went from decently drivable to the brink of the drink. Even the entry point, where the get-on and get-off had been a breeze, took some serious ocean washover, leaving sink-sand and a pond up-beach of the wavelike.
Farther down range in Holgate, many stretches now sleep with the fishes during everyhigh tide. In fact, astronomical high tides are downright undoable. Some sand recovery is to be expected this week, as less aggressive winds and waves allow for the super slow return of sands lost to the south winds, which never fully give back what they stole.
Elsewhere, the Ship Bottom lake has formed again, though far smaller than last time. Still, the chance of buggy-devouring sinkholes has returned to the beaches on the south part of town.
LOCAL WHITE SIGHTS:
I recently wrote about a shot-down albino moose and immediately got reminded that we have albino deer hereabouts – and in seemingly growing numbers. However, our examples of white animals worth shooting on sight are a tad less albinic.
Our white-like deer aren’t utterly albinic. They have more of a gray/white/mottled look. In technical fact, they’re not albinos at all. They’re something known as piebald, I assume from the words pie and bald. Go figure.
Piebald patterning in deer is officially characterized by large areas of unpigmented fur, though there can also be patches of ultra-dark fur to boot, piebaldly speaking. The pigment is there. In scientific terms, the pigment is just messin’ around
When a piebald is heavily dosed in white, it can almost pass for an albino. It then comes down to pigmentation. With true albino deer, there is no pigmentation coming into play. They have pure white fur and pink eyes – and, sadly, a nasty slew of physical manifestations, not the least of which is some of the poorest eyesight this side of cave dwellers.
Obviously, being slight of sight is not the best thing for a wild, heavily preyed upon animal. For instance, a squinting albino deer nonchalantly walks between a dozing pair of coyote, announcing, ‘Boy, that was some good grass we were eatin’ last night, eh, guys?” It then saunters off and into the brush.
“Hey, Lou, wake up! Did you just see that?”
“A talkin’ white deer with pink eyes just walked right the hell by me … big as life.”
“Yeah, right. Just shut-up and go back to sleep.”
“Were we eatin’ grass last night?”
Health-wise, piebalds can be fit as a fiddle. As to remaining healthy well into the future, there’s that high-visibility burden. Which might explain them often being ostracized.
“Oh, great, it’s Mr. Here-we-are.”
“Hey, I told you, he can work for us, like an early warning system. Just don’t stand too close to him, for cryin’ out loud.”
Just this summer, I saw some seriously piebalded deer near Route 72, toward the Stafford/Barnegat line. One was pushing 80 percent white. A couple others feeding nearby were mottled but far from what might be called your standard buckskin-colored. It seems that once one piebald traipses into the genetic pool, more are born into the system.
By the by, virtually every deer hunter I know is hesitant to bag an albino – or anything of the sort, i.e. piebald. Bad luck to bag one? Take a shot and see – chump.
GOBBLER GUEST: My odd wildlife interplay of the week took place toward Bass River. I was on my knees digging a small bottle dump when up struts a fully fearless turkey hen, proud as a peacock. She quickly and nonchalantly strutted within a few feet of me, foraging among leaves and making minor gobbling sounds. Whenever I tried to communicate, her gobbling immediately loudened and she’d turn up her rooting in the leaves.
This big gal was surely a wild turkey. Her gangly looks gave that away. However, someone had undoubtedly shooed away all her cautiousness – via food, I’m sure. I would throw something over toward her and she’d high-foot over to check it out; a sure sign of former feedings by humans.
When I headed out of the area, she turkey-footed along with me for a short distance before suddenly veering off into the underbrush. And when a turkey slips off the beaten path, there is absolutely no seeing it thereafter. I just hope she has the good sense to keep an off-path, low profile when Thanksgiving rears up.
RUNDOWN: Okay, so maybe it is time to panic.
It is the worst surf fishing autumn in likely over 60 years. I’m basing this on the documentable Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic, originally the Striped Bass Derby. This year is bordering on freakily bizarre. Proof: Eleven fish – total! – entered into the Classic for its first four weeks. No, that has never happened before. But it’s all good. This event is not based on numbers. The Classic is purely a measure of who had the best day/weekend/week/segment fishing. No fish? No problem. C’est la angling. Tomorrow’s bass or blue will loom that much larger, so to speak.
For example: Congrats to the latest lone entry into the Classic, a 27-0 bass bested by Joseph Guarini, Beach Haven. It was taken in the Queen City.
Many folks are no longer grumbling over the lack of fish – they’ve just given up the grumble, going from denial to anger to bargaining to acceptance. Not that the acceptanceisn’t spiced with some lingering grumbling.
Now, it’s down to those of us who do that balancing act between work and patrolling the beach for fish. That is most often characterized by full-blown work vehicles – with company names on the sides – holding rod racks, loaded and ready.
Interesting late-start sidebar: Note, when driving over to the mainland, that the foliage is just now beginning to reach full fall color. In those way-late hues, you might also see what’s ailing our angling. Autumnal things are far behind schedule. The other day in the woods I was swiping away mosquitoes. I even heard some spring peepers (frogs) that had totally lost their seasonal bearings.
I’ve gotten a slew of comments from folks saying they’re seeing bass swirling in the shorebreak but can’t get them to bite. I’m close to certain they’re seeing the fairly numerous ocean herring now arriving, chasing small spearing. Herring can make a very decent surface splash/stir – which looks even larger when seen by anglers Jonesing for any action at all.
As for the no-show bluefish, there are so many long-term factors affecting the pulsating population of this species it’s nay impossible to ferret out what might be called a single-season reason for their not showing. Not only can they come-and-go over a mere few-year stretch, but they can also go for huge time slots, even decades. In the case of bluefish, it would be too easy – and too inaccurate – to blame overfishing. There’s way more in play. In fact, I can make a strong case for ecological attrition due to the perpetuation of what I call highly favored species, like fluke, bass and even weakfish. All those heavy-eaters feast on tiny snapper blues, not to mention the famed bluefish cannibalism factor. As ferocious and aggressive as bluefish seem, it’s not easy being one.