Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

A Sparrow’s Trails and Tribulations;

No Godzillas on the Immediate Horizon 




INSIDER NATURE MOMENT: I was backyarding with my binocs, hoping to grab sight some bird rarity migrating northward. Nothin’. So, I settled on watching an up-close sparrow that was feverishly, almost crazily, seeking a perfect blade of dry grass for its nest. 

It was amazing. The male bird would bounce around, picking up blades of grass in its beak. He would then go all cross-eyed looking over each seemingly identical piece before angrily spitting it out. He went through at least ten pieces of grass before nervously choosing one and flying off. Within a minute or so, he was back to the frazzled picking process.

We talked:

“What’s the hell’s up, man? You look kinda crazed.” 

“Oh, the little lady’s pregnant again. And if I don’t bring back the perfect frickin’ piece of nest grass, she thinks I’m somehow suggesting she’s fat. It the same old song evrytime. ‘This piece sucks! So you think I’m fat, right!? And who do you think got me fat, you piece of buzzard crap? My nerves are shot, dude.”

“Brutal, buddy.”

“Damn straight. What’s worse, she is fat. She’s frickin enormous. She looks like she could supply Fort Dix with omelets for the next month. And here I’m supposed to fly in with one of those cherry ‘Geez, you’re still barely showing, Hon.’”

“I feel bad for you my friend. Hey, here’s an idea. Go back to the nest and find out what grass blade she thinks is perfect. Sneak it back here and I’ll grab a whole mess of blades and cut them to the exact same size.”

“Whoa. What a concept. You think it’ll work?

‘Worth a try. It’s better than spending the night sleeping on the roof of the birdhouse -- kinda like being in the doghouse on the birdhouse.”


“Forget about it. Go grab that piece a grass.”

“OK, I’ll go for it. And I have to thank you. I’m surprised you’ ddo this for me? You know, I’m just a common house sparrow. There are millions of us.”

“Hell, I’m just a common human. There are billions of us.”

“Gotcha. Stay right there I’ll be right back.”

“Alright, I’ll go get some scissors. And here’s a tip, this time tell her how gorgeous her boobs are looking. Works every time.” 

“Uh, what are boobs?”

“Oh, that’s right. Sorry about that.”

“No, seriously, I’ll tell her that her boobs are cosmic if it’d help.”

“No, just forget the boob thing. Maybe say her feathers are all a-glow, throwing off rainbows of light, like tiny prisms.”

“Like what?”

“Just go get the blade, dude. And here’s a piece of jelly donut to take back to her. It’ll work even better than saying her boobs look great.”

“There’s those boob again. What the …”

I have a very cool backyard.

BEYOND GODZILLA: You gotta flash to olden B-grade Japanese monster movies to get a little extra from the recent upbeat report that the Fukushima nuclear power plant blowout has not produced the doomsday flow of radioactive contamination more than few freakers-out had predicted. That encouraging bulletin arrived via a “renowned international team” of researchers -- none of whom anyone has actually ever heard of, short of a few close family members.

The important thing is they truly are experts and knew almost instantly what to do when faced with studying the aftermath of crippled nuclear plant smoldering next to the ocean. They began taking water samples -- left and right, out as far as 400 miles.

A Korean scientist dubbed Sven by other researchers – most of whom found the Sven thing so funny they barely got any research done when he was standing nearby, headed up the water gathering.  Hundreds upon hundreds of assorted water samples were gathered and meticulously placed into their very own MENSA-approved beakers.

Not long afterwards, a ship’s cook suggested they really outta do something with all those beakers of water.

“Like what?” queried an irritated researcher.

“Hell I don’t know,” answered the cook. “Maybe test them for radioactive isotopes and stuff. You want more gravy on your fries?”

No extra gravy flowed that night. The illuminati went wild over the prospect of playing with isotopes and rushed off. 

The isotopic research was so factful that the group co-published their findings in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rather surprisingly, nothing overly unexpected was going on in the ocean off Japan. Sure, there were slightly elevated levels of radiation in ocean currents moving out from the accident site -- and hotspots were a possibility – however, the amounts were not only non-alarming but the impact on marine life was apparently minimal.

Things were so upbeat that lead author of the study, Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (and allegedly the “Sven” namer”) got into the sci-fi spirit of the situation by announcing to the media, "We're not seeing the strange Godzillas or three-headed fish. The effects are going to be very subtle."

Little does he know that deep in an ocean abyss off Fukushima, the ever-so-sublte smell of radioactive isotopes has flared the nostrils of a partially buried, long dormant, thought-mythological beast – with the monstrous head of a fanged dragon, the slimy body of a colossal moray eel and the legs of insurance salesmen. One of its huge eyes, the size of a Japanese import, has opened -- bright red with a huge neon green slit-ish pupil. While, back at the lab, a female researcher in a tight white skirt is unaware she’ll soon be placing the back of her hand up to her mouth before launching into a blood-curdling scream.

To be continued … 

(Note: Uh, some liberties were taken with the above press release – since science can sometimes be a tad boring -- though Buesseler really did offer that Godzilla quote. Quite cool on his part.)

WAY WARM: As if we needed confirmation, NOAA just reported “Unprecedented March warmth.”

It was a sizzling 8.6 degrees above normal, nationwide -- excluding Alaska, which was still freezing its collective ass off. Only January of 2006 had a higher monthly upward aberration from the norm. Every state in the nation had at least one record warm day in March. In terms of weather stations, that translates into 15,272 warm records broken.


The northeast just had the warmest weather in 118 years. Averaging 44.4, that’s 9.8 degrees above normal.

Optimist-of-the-season award goes to my little buddy Harley, 6. Newly into snowboarding, he was talking to me about this uneventful winter/spring. He said, “We haven’t had any snow …” then paused, and eagerly added, “… yet.”

GOING CLOUD: This column will soon be soaring in the rarified air of the famed “cloud,” as The SandPaper makes a huge launch into cyberspace. 

Currently, the paper is in the final phases of launching an online presence that will be as visually fine as anything out there. I kid you not.

Our online edition will make it possible to easily open up the latest blazing edition of The SandPaper -- from anywhere in the world.

Personally, I’m hoping my column goes big in Japan and also, uh, Zimbabwe, not to mention Perth, Down Under. Maybe there’s an outdoors columnist there who’ll brother up with me.

Damn, the world has gotten so small you can fit it in the palm of your hand, since we’ll also be viewable on advanced mobile phones.

When we’re in our new online format, I’ll be able be to display extra pics, entire video clips and pass you through to YouTube or Google stuff.

We could be up and running by this weekend. Check http://jaymanntoday.ning.com/ for updates or type in the address thesandpaper.villagesoup.com. 

I’m constantly offering website addresses in here? When we launch, those complex web addresses will be a mere quick-click away.

PLEASING PERCHING: The V.H. and BHW lagoon boys are banging the perch, including a good showing of larger female fish. I stopped by during a slight lull but heard word of some of the best perching in years. Sorry, these sites are so tight and crowded I can’t let on with any thing more than “lagoons.”

That upbeat perch report sent me to some assorted secret spots to wet some test lines.

At my backbay, brackish water locales, I seldom go the full-blown grass shrimp chum/bait route. Instead, I go ultralight and throw white plastic grubs, small spinners or  even larger gold “darts.”

I only had a couple fish near the Bridge-to-Nowhere and nary a taker (short of largemouth bass, at a customary hotspot. I also got two very healthy herring (released of course).

In the past, my secluded sites activated much later than the lagoons. That leads me to wonder if white perch might not overwinter in the deeper lagoons or low-current bay holes. Then, come spring, they just drift a stone’s throw away, into the more brackish lagoon. That overwintering thing seems to be proven out by perch scales in the scat of off-season otters and, to a far lesser degree, muskrats.

SHELLFISH CLEAR-UP: I just want to freshen up everyone’s understanding of the state’s recreational shellfish license, formally known as a clamming license. With this documentation, you can keep up to 150 shellfish per day.

Notice the term “shellfish.” That looms kinda large. That 150 cap is now one of those aggregate things. The count includes hard and soft clams, oysters, bay scallops and even mussels. And it gets a tad tough with mussels since I’ve seen mats with hundreds and hundreds attached. Still, that’s the 150 recreational shellfish limit. 

And for the umpteenth time: Yes, you need a clamming license to pick washed up surf clams off the beach, even though they’re meant for bait. Washed in clams are always highly questionable when it comes to safe edibility.

SCALLOPS STILL SHOWING: If that scallop thing sounds a bit odd to some, oyu haven’t been in-bay in recent years. Those delectable little scallops are out there in numbers worthy of an occasional pick, due to a moderately impressive return of the blue-eyed bay bivalves. While it’s a viable small-scale fishery, it’s unable to handle commercial pressures, short of commercial baymen keeping 150 not-for-sale scallops.

Oyster populations are also on the mend. However, if there’s any shellfish you need to know personally, it’s the oyster. By that I mean it’s vital to known the water in which they live. It’s a tricky item to eat on the half-shell, putorty-wise. 

The local oyster beds are scattered and extremely well hidden, often only showing during blowout tides, mainly in winter and spring. Personally, I dive to find the beds in summer, to be harvested safely in winter.

The problem with oyster beds is how easily a single numbnuts harvester can obliterate an entire oyster ecosystem through lackadaisical picking habits. Even a conscientious shellfisherman can literally destroy an ancient oyster bed. 

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