Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
The Fish Story
I got a fun-loving communiqué from a fun, older gal – a close church friend – with a contact for Cursers Anonymous, a group meant to reign in royally foul mouths, i.e. cuss buckets. It was something of an inside joke regarding my occasionally semi-off-color columns. While she wasn’t one bit serious, it got me frickin’ thinkin’.
The only upside to my cussin’ is the fact I don’t dare commence with it in public. I’d be banned. It’s when I’m hangin’ out with myself that swears flow like a fine wine vinegar. I probably should face the fact that I’m a very bad influence on myself. That’s proven when I’m alone – and under the unexpurgated influence of yours truly. Isolated, I rapid fire curses like a British soccer fan. When I really get on a swearing soliloquy, I commence to cussin’ like a Frenchman.
The French curse like banshees. In fact, I have it on good authority that all our most vulgar obscenities hale from France. In fact, Americans often make historic mention of this. After cursing out loud, we’ll apologetically add a touch of academics by saying, “Pardon my French.” In fact, as tiny kids, we use the French micro swear oui oui, as in “I gotta go oui-oui.” It might sound cute and innocent but that oui-oui is like a gateway cuss. By the time we’re fully potty-trained, the foulest of French words are flying freely. Note my emphasis on F-based alliteration.
Now, lest I get vile emails from Frenchies in Canada and the Virgin Islands, I’m not saying all French is vile and perverted. Let me see, what are some of the more innocent French words I’ve heard? Uh, how about that ménage à trois thing? That has to do with some sorta fluffy-topped pie, right? Wait a minute, maybe I’m thinking of meringue, uh, à trois. Ah, screw it. It’s a stupid language anyway.
Whatever the origins of my cusses, I believe I have to stop my incessant swearing. So I’m now trying a tried-and-true, three-step, cursing-stoppage plan, suggested at my first Cursers Anonymous class. Yes, I’ve begun the classes. Tediously.
“Welcome to our class, Sir. And what’s your name?”
“Now, correct me if I’m wrong, **** for brains, but isn’t this frickin’ class called … ANONYMOUS!!!? Dumbass.”
“Sir, we have to use some name for you. … What’s that, sir? No, I don’t think we can simply call you ‘Lord Numbnuts.’ It’s really not in the spirit of this class.”
My first class went sorta so-so. OK, so maybe I dipped a bit south when I learned one of the class’s prime mandates: “Don’t blame others for your cursing.”
“Oh, that’s bull****, dude! You sure as bloody hell aren’t sayin’ my curses are all my frickin’ fault.”
I could tell by the hush and the syringe-sharp stares from the class that I was a tad out of line.
“Uh, I’ll just climb down from the top of this desk and just sit here quietly for a little while.” Good thing I was anonymous.
Anyway, there’s this three-step plan used by Cursers Anonymous to eliminate “one’s vulgar verbal issuances.” WTF! Someone should be kicked in the ass for even coming up with that expression. You wanna vulgar verbal issuance? I’ll give you a vulgar verbal issuance you won’t soon forget!
(By the by, this plan is for real.)
THE THREE-STEP ANTI-VULGER UTTERANCE PLAN: Step One is to enlist the help of squeaky-clean-mouthed helpers, willing to stand by you and instantly reprimand you should you openly swear – or even hiss one of those under-your-breath, quiet-grade curses.
At first blush, the idea of keeping a pal around to stave off swearing seemed sorta sound. However, it quickly comes down to incidentals. Exactly how aggressively can this “pal” alert you to the fact you’ve let fly an unacceptable utterance? I’m OK with a pal who waggles a pejorative index finger at the drop of a curse – in a “Get that friggin’ finger outta my face before I bite it the hell off” way. But, just my luck, I’d end up with a mixed martial arts pal, just Jonesing to use physical retribution to correct a verbal transgression on my part.
“Damnit, did you see the way that horse’s ass just cut me off!”
“Ow! That hurt … you son of a bitch!”
“OOOWW! What the **** is you’re problem, you sack of ****!”
“OOOWWWW! That was my frickin’ kneecap, you little p****!”
OK, so maybe the pal approach usually won’t land you in the ER, but it still seems spooky having someone hawking all of my verbal outpourings. Let’s just say I’m taking Step One under careful advisement. (Stupid-ass step if I ever heard one.)
When I first heard Step Two, I misguidedly lit up, convinced it had to do with shooting guns.
Sadly, no random target-shooting here.
The basis of Step Two is to learn the life things that make you cuss to beat the band – the same friggin’ band that sits right the hell next to you at a high school football game and has to explode in sound at the drop of helmet.
“That’s a two-yard gain for Johnson.”
“Bazoom!!!!!!!!!!” The band explodes with a deafening, ten-second burst of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.”
“That’s it! I swear I’m gonna shove those instruments up every one of your …” Whoa, Jay, whoa. Trigger alert! Think Step Two.
“Ahem, thank you for that musical interlude, children. That rushing yardage was, indeed, worthy of a congratulatory musical punctuation.”
See, I already progress with success. Friggin’ straight, dude. Doh!
It turns out I have run-of-the-mill triggers and then I have hair triggers. Hair triggers are appropriately named because they get into your head.
Turns out, I have more hair triggers than an Israeli artillery battalion – and I chamber new ones daily. Take for immediate instance last night. I go to my beloved Chinese buffet. It’s getting a bit late and the line is down to me and one older fellow lollygagging in front of me, but oddly intent on holding me at bay. Turns out he was the famed drop-off – let off at the doorway to scurry inside and hold a place in line for the others. Did I mention I was the lone line at the time? Then arrives his entourage. I swear there musta been over a dozen of ’em. They all scoot pass me, somewhat triumphantly, to join their anchorman. Then, they began paying – separately! Each one counts out the exact sommabitchin’ change, down to the friggin’ penny! I stand there waiting and waiting and waiting. “WTF!!!!” Oh, sure, you’re gonna blame that one on me, too, right? Bugger off.
Back in class, all that trigger-searching seemed exhausting. I was getting discouraged. Then came the swearing salvation in the form of Step Three: The Curse Jar.
The first time I heard mention of the curse jar, I conjured my concept. I pictured an empty, half-gallon mayonnaise jar, the type you see overflowing from trashcans outside of restaurants. You grab one, rinse it out (or not, since it is curse jar) and then keep it at the constant ready to put over your mouth to curse inside – slamming the lid shut so nothing escapes.
Admittedly, I first worried about driving along and suddenly finding it necessary to hold the jar over my face – with both hands. Then it hit me: If women motorists can talk on the cell phone with one hand, hold a cup of hot coffee with the other and steer using who knows what, I can surely hold a mayonnaise jar to my face while tailgating an old fart who just insanely pulled out in front on my entire lane of fast-moving traffic to then drive 25 miles an hour below the speed limit, answering my horn blasts by pointing to the “Handicapped” card hanging off the rearview mirror. “The frickin card means you’re physicallyhandicapped, not mentally handicapped, you numbnuts!” I could jar all of that. No sound, no foul.
But, lo and behold, the curse jar is not for catching curses. However, turns out it holds an equally appealing concept – and might just offer me a foolproof retirement plan.
As you likely knew before me, the curse jar is a random container that gets endowed with monetary compensation every time one issues a curse. It’s cash for cursing, a swear-based savings account. My bank’s jingle: ♫ Sommabitch, I’m gonna be rich. ♫
OK, so maybe the purer intent of the curse jar is to punish one’s swearing, meaning you eventually have to give the jar of befouled mullah over to some organization or charity. Screw that. I earned that money fair and friggin’ square. Besides, what organization wants potty-mouth money? Put your hands down. You’re a disgrace to your organization.
While I’m surely profiting from Step Three, the overall cure-your-cussing classes are having an impact. I’m a more personable person for it. I now find myself handling those fast-arriving triggers in a glowingly swear-free manner. Just yesterday someone cut me off while driving. Nary a swear slipped from my lips. Instead, I shouted, “You good for nothing, maggot-infested, bottom-feeding, worm-sucking, lowlife, scumbag, syphilitic, gravy-sucking puddle of rat urine!”
When my class heard this, everyone stood up and exploded in unexpurgated appreciation – clapping and exchanging high-fives. I’m likin’ these guys and gals. In fact, I went in to sign up for the next class and it turns out they want me to teach a class called Creative Non-cussing Verbal Utterances. My first lecture will deal with the properly timed issuance of the non-obscene “syphilitic gravy-sucker.”
I swear I’ve found my calling in life.
WEEKLY RUNDOWN: First of all, don’t panic. OK, so maybe we’ve never seen a fall stretch this quiet on the striper front. Remember my guarantee: We will be catching big-ass bass. And I’m not straying from that assurance one little bit, though I should mention that I didn’t actually specify what year we’ll be seeing those bass. A small technicality, but one worth noting.
It’s utterly astounding to see only one weigh-in for the LBI Surf Fishing Classic over a fairly crowded fishing weekend, though that one fish was a 30-2 beaut taken in Loveladies on plug by Rob Vallone, a hardcore caster.
Rob’s striper was the second north end cow bass taken on a plug in a week’s time.
LATE-BREAKING HOOKING: The Harvey Cedars area continues to produce sightly stripers. Brian Schmidt of Manahawkin took two nice bass there, using bunker. The biggest – a 31-pound, two-ounce, 43.5-incher – now leads the LBI Surf Fishing Classic. See http://lbift.com/, click on “Fish Log.” On new screen, click on, “Click here to view catch data!”
A non-Classic bass was a hefty 35-13 taken by Jake, also in HC. That hookup was interesting because Jake had the fish first swirl on his plug right near the beach. It didn’t go full Monty. He then did a low-motion flip of the plug, close in, and it got nailed – a perfect example of a “following fish,” drawn into the shallows. Gotta take it slow and easy when recasting for a fish in that close. Quite exciting.
Hearing about those better bass might seem a contraction to my opening bemoaning of slow stripering. Not so. The number of skunked casters I came across while driving the beachfront was pretty much unanimous.
The lack of an autumnal bluefish run is perplexing but not yet troubling. They surely should have arrived by now, but with water temps still in the 60s, the high-metabolism slammer blues (not liking warmer waters) aren’t about to jump in around here. There is some slammer action to our north. My guess is they’ll be making one, possible speedy, pass through our waters. At the first sign of them, maybe as early as this week, it’ll be time to target them full-bore. I’ll gladly take a bass break for the best fight that nearshore angling has to offer.
But to rebound toward the conviction of better times a’coming, the Sea Shell’s Striped Bass Derby, held over the weekend, had a slew of very nice stripers for boat fishermen: Two fish in the upper 20-pound range, four over 30 pounds and one over 40.
I’ll be trite by saying those weigh-ins indicate the fish are out there. However, in recent years, that “out there” concept has been brutally frustrating for surf anglers, as bass hang within eyesight of the beach but just don’t make sweeps of the swashline (shorebreak area) to eat.
My theory: With the protection of nearshore bunker from factory ships, the close-in bunker balls have seemingly enticed a lot of beachline fish to swim out, just beyond surfcasting distance, in both spring and fall. Ocean stirs are the cure for that. Storms and (particularly) sustained south winds rough things up real fast, knocking around the bunker baitballs and forcing the related bass to resort to sucking clams by moving toward (surfcastable) shallows.
By the by, smaller bass can’t always compete for the big bunker in baitballs and are more inclined to mosey off to move in close to the beaches for clams, worms and spearing, mainly late-day – during what has become the golden half hour of schoolie stripering at sunset.
I SCORE – A TAD: Last week I had a damn-decent spurt of sunset bass while jigging an unflavored, sand eel look-alike plastic tail on a Kalin ¾-ounce, cone-shaped jighead. In very short order, I had a 28-incher, 29-incher and 30-incher. They were all very fat, most likely from furiously feasting on sand eels.
Sand eels are the fattiest and most oily forage fish out there. Nothing plumps up gamefish faster than sand eels. An interesting sideline to that is how slowly sand eels are digested. They’re slow burners. I say that based on striper stomach contents I’ve seen with three or four degrees of sand eel digestion taking place – from recently downed sand eels to the very well digested ones. The most digested ones are mighty disgusting looking, but show the bass are still deriving nutrients from them.
CORNCOB MESSAGES: I was plugging and jigging jetties over the weekend and saw a couple small pods of corncob bunker absolutely flying by. There were bubbles coming off their tails they were hauling ass so fast. Now, I’ve seen more corncobs swimming past than the average Jay, so I can tell you these were moving at a pace far beyond their standard brisk migratory speed. I first joked to myself, “Man, they’re late for something,” meaning they’re running behind, migration-wise. Then it hit me that it’s actually quite common to see them passing by right around now. It wasn’t lateness spurring them on. Then my inborn optimism kicked in: I’ll bet anything those over-accelerating fish had seen something just north of here that scared the socks off them, so to speak. Make’s sense. Almost getting sucked in by 50-pound bass or 20-pound blues? Those buggers aren’t going to slow down until they hit Lauderdale. They were signaling that something big was coming right behind them. Thanks, guys – and sorry about all those years of netting you.