Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report


See Below for more on Mary Lee: 


I was typing away at my desk a couple days back and had this sense that something was nearby, sorta homing in on me. I looked around the office but only saw a lone silverfish making a harried run for a crack in the wallpaper. I spotted nothing. But feeling hung around. And then it attacked.

Turns out a horrific bug had, in fact, snuck into the room. It latched onto me like a pissed-at-the-world tigerbeetle. 

By the next day, my nose didn’t begin simply running, it became an Ethiopian long-distance sprinter.

Out of the blue, my stomach began bitching about everything in sight, warning me, “If you ever so much as think of food again, I swear you’ll be wearing it.”

My eyes simply gave up the focusing ghost and kept trying to climb back into the sockets to hide.

My head took up Ping-Pong -- slamming glowing balls of pain from one side of the cerebral court to the other.

Then came the whooping: deep-throated, lungish and inescapable. With what little remained of me, I issued forth sounds identical to those made by a wildebeest being eaten alive by three lionesses. 

So: Anyone out there got some spare pity? And not that stinkin’ line: “Yep, there’s somethin’ goin’ around.” Who gives a rat’s ass what’s goin’ where? I’m sinkin’ like an influenza stone here.

Tea!? That’s your frickin’ final solution? Then, let me query, oh, apothecarial sage, shall I dip the bag into hot water once, twice or trice?

I must thank the sympathetic stars for Facebook, whoever the hell they are.

All that need be done is weakly open to that website and softly, feebly comment that you’re sick as sin – and, almost immediately, the sympathy flows like rivers of chamomile, geysers of semi-anonymous compassion. It’s like a flotilla of cottony grandmothers begins to hover overhead, leaning over to feel my forehead. 

“Poor baby.”


Of course, no sooner are you splendiferously sympathized upon – crowned with  verbal dollops of soft-eyed attention -- than cyber word arrives, just above, that a kitten and fawn have been photographed, cuddled together, during a wildfire in California. The entire crowd abandons my suffering and runs, hog-wild, to the others side of the Facebook ship. It all but capsizes, as “OMG! How cute!”s flood in like a wave of adoptable bunnies.

Even Warhol couldn’t have foreseen things being reduced to a mere 15 seconds of fame – and sympathy.

ABNORMAL WORKS FOR ME: As I writhed, I got word about something pharmaceutically magical, called Tamiflu.

Reading about Tamiflu, I envisioned a speedy escape from flu-ish suffering, not via the drug itself but via its side effects. I was inexorably drawn to a warning the drug could lead to “Abnormal Behavior.” You’ve seen the commercials, right?

I instantly computed that abnormal behavior would likely be infinitely more desirable than my flu symptoms.

However, before pill popping, I gave in to some sinusy qualms. Unlike apparently everyone else in America, I’m clueless as to the exact look and feel of “abnormal behavior.” I’d like to know these things if I’m possibly going to assume them.

Looking online, I couldn’t find a single glowing example of Tamiful-induced abnormal behavior.  I was troubled by the realization – attainable even when hacking – that abnormal behavior is implicitly, well, personal? Likely egged on by my sickness, I flashed on a “Bevis and Butthead” episode where a doctor asked Bevis, “Are you having any hallucinations?” His answer was, “Uh, no more than usual.”

I then began to picture moms in doctors’ offices being read the side effects their children might experience Tamiflu. The moms were all nodding, knowingly and understandingly, even at that mention of the abnormal behavior.  No sweat, doc.

I’m betting the pharmaceutical brain trusts purposely made that “abnormal behavior” side effect so thought-provoking that by the time the public stops philosophizing what it might mean, the manufacturer will have made a trillion dollars -- and won’t be hurt at all when the drug is yanked off the shelves after thousands of children become convinced they’re cruets of low-fat salad dressings.

Becoming concerned over some of the chemicals that go into low-fat salad dressings, I’ve opted to pass on Tamiflu. However, I have some Tamiflu tucked away -- just in case, someday, I might someday want to explore what I’d be like if abnormal.

PRECHILLED PICKEREL: Got word of some freshwater ice fishing being done by a couple former football players, who had inched atop a semi-private Pinelands lake -- against the heated warnings of family and friends, convinced no ice is thick enough to hold the a couple guys pushing 225 pounds each. Since this segment is about fishing and not ice rescues, the ice obviously held the human heftiness, helped along by the lake being barely four feet deep from bank to bank, except near the old flood gates. 

The portly ice fishermen jigged tiny little Mepp’s spinners and also lowered some small minnies, using ice fishing rods they had gotten as gifts – five years ago.

Out jumped some small pickerel – not that the winterized fish had any preconceived notions of doing jumps that day. Wintering pickerel lose a lot of their usual summer spunk when water temps dip into the 30s. I’ve caught them through the ice and instead of twisting and snapping, summer-style, they just tilt their head a bit and glare daggers. “Really, dude? You don’t have anything better to do in the middle of winter than hook me?”

There’s no doubt these agro-eaters dine regardless of temperature. However, one of the ice anglers made a cool observation. “When I was holding the fish I could see it had a frog, a pretty big frog, in its belly.  It looked like it had just eaten it,” I was told.

It’s actually fairly easy to make out what a pickerel has just eaten. The shape of the consumee can often be discerned pressing against the fish’s belly skin. But where would it have found a frog in such hibernatory times? Off to the natural history books.

Turns out that a number of hibernating frog species simply lie dormant on the bottom of lakes and ponds, unburied and kinda open to being eaten. Unlike a turtle, which goes sub-mud to overwinter, a frog has to have its skin exposed to breath. Also, it must hibernate near highly aerated water, i.e. spillways and such. Since pickerel are purely motion feeders, it would seem a motionless amphibian could safely while away the winter. Often so. However, on occasion, winterized frogs move about a bit, akin to a human sleep roll. That’s curtains if a pickerel happens to be in the biting vicinity. That’s what likely happened in this case.

But why would this satiated fish still be snapping at a manmade spinner? Peer pressure, plain and simple. It wasn’t hungry but it sure as hell wasn’t going to let some punk grab that sparkling thing dancing in the water. It’s an important concept in all fishing.

PICKEREL LORE: Back in less-chemicalized times gone by, pickerel were an eating fish, often pickled just like herring. In fact, they have an important mention in literature.

 If you dutifully read Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden’s Pond” closely – I lived and breathed it, as a kid – you’ll recall the words, “The perch swallows the grub-worm, the pickerel swallows the perch, and the fisher-man swallows the pickerel; and so all the chinks in the scale of being are filled.”

On first reading, I recall easily relating to the grub-worm -- and all the way through to “fisher-man swallows pickerel” part -- but that stuff about “chinks in the scale of being” must have been written when Thoreau was warming himself with magic mushroom tea.

Anyway, I tasted pickled pickerel way back. It rocked. But those care-free pickling days are gone, driven into no-moreness thanks to factory-spewed methyl mercury raining down from above.

Pickerel in Jersey are so dangerously mercurial you really shouldn’t eat more than one serving – once a month! Double troubling, in the case of pickled pickerel, is how the process routinely uses almost all of the fish. That’s the last thing you want to do when chemical equations are seething through your fish.   

One upside to the pickerel-eating advisories -- posted at every state-owned lake –is how it spurs an almost total catch-and-release mentality among fishers. By the by, largemouth bass are just as bad, bad-stuff-wise.

TRACKING A HUGE WHITE GAL: Mary Lee, a great – and gordacious -- white shark, is a viral sensation. And she’s making headline news as she cruises right off our coast this week.

Not that great white sharks haven’t long been the stuff of tantalizing gab and garish reporting. What makes Mary Lee so damn viral-able is both her insane size -- 16 feet long and weighing in at 3,456 pounds – and the Smart Position Temperature Tag that was devotedly placed on her, September 17, 2012, as part of an OCEARCH effort.

Per the group’s literature, “OCEARCH facilitates unprecedented research by supporting leading researchers and institutions seeking to attain groundbreaking data on the biology and health of sharks, in conjunction with basic research on shark life history and migration.” 

The skin-pinned beacon essentially has Mary Lee pegged wherever she roams. What’s more, through the miracles of real-time webcasts, we’re all welcomed to vicariously climb aboard her back for what is proving to be a fairly leisurely swim up and down the waters along the Eastern Seaboard.

Apparently it’s easy to just that laid back and leisurely when you’re the largest macropredatory fish out there. Macropredatory is a patently technical way of saying a great white shark is alpha to the cartilaginous core. Just ask any fish -- and most marine mammals – who gets top-dog honors just about anywhere within the water column: Mary lee and blood relatives.

There are only two species unwilling to accept great whites as the ass-kickingest  apexers on the food chain.

 Orcas, a.k.a, killer whales, are macropredaory marine mammals that will, seemingly on a whim, ram the everlovin’ life out of any sized great white.

But when it comes to ramming great whites into kingdom come and extinction, up pops a crass little creature that can barely tread water: humans. In a mere three decades, sportsmen and commercial fishermen around the planet have all but nonchalantly the apexness clean out of white sharks.  

Only recently have cooler killing heads prevailed. The planet has actually lent a sympathetic ear toward the plight of all sharks – and great whites in particular. That’s part and parcel to the popularity of Mary Lee.

 In fact, the viral public interest in Mary lee is predictable. She has all the WWW sell points. For the first time ever, we’ve got a maneatingly massive shark showing us just what life behind the jaws is all about. Tens of thousands of Facebookers, Tweeters and internet surfers are following the massive cacharodon’s swimabouts, keeping up with virtually every ping of her tracking device. Still, it’s going to take Mary Lee a lotta swim time to surpass “Jaws” technoshark, Bruce, as the world’s most famous gray suit, Aussie for shark.

While, fan-wise, things have gone swimmingly for Mary Lee, she has put a fright or two into her benevolent researchers, particularly when she nonchalantly angled to within 200 feet of a popular bathing beach in Florida – where her signal was lost. One can only imagine the legal wrangling if Mary Lee decided to do a taste-test of a swimmer while under the electronic patronage of OCEARCH?

As of this week, our big white gal – sure, that’s politically correct – is cruising off Jersey, after hanging kinda firm off North Carolina, in the vicinity of the fish-rich Delmarva.

Looking at the bigger eat’em-up/yum-yum picture, her penchant for Carolina waters means she is onto foodstuff fit for a 3,456’er. In fact, therein rises a gerund angling angle: What might she be downing in such vast volume? She’s too far out for seals and it’s too open to swim down a dolphin. Face it, she’s fishing. To fill a sushi lover of her dimensions, how can you not think in terms of her delicately dwnming overwintering stripers and blues?

Which is fine, mind ya. Someday we’ll learn that we don’t instantly own all rights to every fishery we like hooking into.  Mary Lee has full rights to all the foodstuff she can grab. 

As she cruises off Sandy Hook (Jan. 29), one has to think there could be some belly bound harbor seals. Though great whites eat what they please, Mary Lee was captured when sealing off Connecticut.   

If you want to follow the further and future travels of Mary Lee, go to http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com/.


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