Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Jersey Shore Gets High Rude Rating;
Greetings From Our Somali Pirates
I’m feelin’ kinda frisky with all the summerness now abounding on our beaches, ocean and bay.
As I oft note in here, I’m one of the very few locals who gets revitalized, reinvigorated, by tons of people having good beach times. And “tons” is a largely appropriate term -- after seeing the fit of some early-season bathing suits.
All this sand savoring and suds reveling takes me back to those fine decades of the past, when zinc-oxided summer days passed in savory slow motion. Now, time itself has Future Shocked to the speed of light. Face it, after the age of 45 or 50, we all switch over to dog years.
As for angling during this festive God Bless America weekend, it was anything but fireworks – but it was still pretty much a blast on fun-having fronts. “Rundown” at end of column.
SALPS AHOY: The salps are back in town -- those gooey itsy-bitsy jellyfish-ish things that are washing ashore by the trillions or so.
First, we get all technical and stuff. They’re not jellyfish but filter-feeding tunicates. Sure, that’s good to know. I hear the “Cash Cab” will be driving on LBI this summer. Maybe not.
Importantly, salps are fully harmless. They also make wonderful pets that the entire family can enjoy – though it’s often hard to tell if a salp is actually alive or dead. Anybody remember sea monkeys? Same deal.
Salps in the wild are tiny versions of man’s best friend. No, not doggish. They help us immensely as tireless water cleaner-uppers. Each one filters bacteria from the water at a remarkable rate. Now times that remarkability by a trillion or so.
Now here’s the real treat: They’re highly edible – and just be an aphrodisiac to boot.
(Sure I know that’s that ridiculous, my fellow Americans, but my column is big in Japan -- and they’re the ones I want to ponder the epicurean possibility of dining on tiny, tiny, tiny seafoodish things. It’s all part of my complex long-term effort to get the Rising Sunners to help with our mosquito problem.
Follow me here. I’m running with the assumption the Japanese will eat most anything that swims. That in mind, you know as well as me that mosquito larvae live in the water, including backbay saltwater. This surely qualifies the mosquito larva as seafood, per Asian interpretations.
I have no doubt those utterly ingenious fish mongers of Tokyo can devise some mouth-watering ways to serve up “wigglers,” as mosquito larvae are colloquially called. Wigglers meet your doom.
Anyway, if fishing history has proven anything, it’s the way you can kiss the stocks good-bye when a few billion Asians take an epicurean hankerin’ to something.
Go ahead and laugh, just wait till this week’s SandPaper hits the shelves in Yokohama.
TRIPPY TRIPADVISOR: TripAdvisor, a travel website that has taken upon its dot.com self to shed light on the visitablity of every place in the world, just released a national poll that rakes the Jersey Shore over the flames.
TA authoritatively alleges that the NJ shoreline harbors the nation’s third “rudest” beaches, behind only Florida and New York shorelines.
These downbeat findings were based on a puny cross-section, the opinions of 1,100 so-called “U.S. travelers.”
The pivotal points of the poll are utterly alien sounding to LBI devotees, namely the negative impacts of public intoxication, music volume and littering.
Hey, I can’t speak for the mobster beaches to our north or the sell-out beaches to our south, but those ugly behaviors are verboten hereabouts. On LBI, any such disturbing showings are instantly cornered and crushed, via police, beach patrols, locals, damn near everyone.
I probably shouldn’t even run with this TripAdvisor nonsense but it did make national news.
In our Island’s defense, there are no beaches – possibly in the entire nation! -- more de-littered than our. Hell, we sweep, rake and literally manicure the sands on a frickin’ daily basis!
As to that rude blaring beach music thing, I think those pollsters were flashing back to the 1960s. Nowadays, next to all Island beach-ites use personal headphones – often plugged into the highest end music devices. Hell, I half miss the sounds of cool pop tunes wafting across the sands.
As to that intoxication condemnation, if you even think of carrying booze onto our beaches – or, for that matter, saunter onto the beach with a boozed up continence -- you’ll be instantaneously grabbed by the collar and flung off the entire Island, like a drunk being tossed through a swinging door in an old saloon. “And stay out!”
Firsthand Reality: I've had visitors from literally every corner of the world – and a few that seemingly haled from some hitherto undiscovered planets. With no coaxing on my part, all of them spewed forth about how friendly the people were as they hung out here on LBI.
One of the more memorable LBI ratings came from a gal first-time-visiting from the Baltic nation of Lithuania, a former Soviet holding. She was genuinely taken back, damn near frightened, by the way total strangers would say “Hello” as they passed her on the street. Such spontaneous greetings were absolutely unheard of in her native land, except maybe when approached by a KGB guy.
Another LBI praiser was a Japanese buddy who stayed an entire summer. On a daily basis, he came back from the beach reveling in how many people he met -- many of whom he later kept in touch with from his home in Kyoto. Hell, in a few months he had ten times the friends I did after 40 years. Of course, he knew how to make really good sushi.
Another visiting gal lost her mom’s gold pendant on the beach. A total stranger came to my door to pass on her plight. By the time I arrived with my metal detector, you’d have thought a newborn had been lost in the sand. There had to have been two dozen beachgoers, all on their hands and knees, meticulously sifting the sand – some folks she had met earlier, long with a slew of spontaneous helpers-out. If that’s rudeness …
Hey, I'm not saying were’ perfect. I’ll be the first to admit that there might be a restaurant here or a business there that advances a bit of an attitude. And, there just might be some negativity occasional cruising the Boulevard, due mainly to that jackass up ahead. Buy, hey, nowhere’s perfect – there’d be no place to park.
MORE FROM SOMALIA: Some readers might recall my writing about an expatriate Somali gal, now an NJ’er, who communicates with me regarding those famed mascara-less African pirates. Well, she made her first LBI visit of the season and we had a chance to nostalgically reminisce about life in the old country. That’s always a lot harder for me since I’ve never been anywhere near Somalia. We did have the pirates somewhat in common.
Lest you think those Indian Ocean buccaneers have flown the crow’s nest, new figures released by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), indicate that pirate attacks were the highest on record for the first three months of 2011 --142 worldwide, 97 off Somalia.
Per usual, my NJ Somali assumed a semi-sympathetic tilt toward her pirates. Being a Pittsburgh baseball fan, I guess I’m a tad more receptive than most when it comes to the softer side of high seas piracy.
Here’s the latest: Foreign nations, ours included, are taking sometimes cruel and inhumane advantage of Somalia’s lack of a Coast Guard – more exactly, its lack of anything resembling government. But it’s way worse – and far different -- than you might hear on American news.
Egged on by the relative success of commercial fishermen, having their way with the waters off Eastern Africa, professional scumbags have sailed in.
It has been fully documented that barrels of horribly toxic waste are being covertly dumped off Somalia, Kenya and thereabouts. Photographic evidence proves many barrels have washed ashore. Some have disintegrated and sickened a people whose lives are already sickened enough. The World Health Organization is even investigating reports that coastal Somalis may have been exposed to nuclear waste, via washed in barrels. What kind of frickin’ nation would do something like that? Please don’t make it be allies of ours.
One unconfirmed story passed on to me is actually a bit of a sick chuckler. Somali pirates captured one of the largest vessels ever hijacked, managing to overpower some professional fighters on the huge ship.
Sidebar: Lest you think the African pirates aren’t trained in the deadly arts, they’ve been fighting wars daily, for decades. Sadly, you can get very good at it all too quickly.
Anyway, the pirates with the big boat booty had high hopes that they had bested a colossal fish-factory vessel. They were stunned to discover they instead had a ship loaded with vats and barrels of some hideous waste, about to be deep-6’ed.
Unbeknownst to them – at first -- they had landed a gold mine.
Seems the owners of that criminal vessel were more than willing to pay maximal ransom to get their ship back – and outta there, ASAP. It’s anyone’s guess where that putrid and poisonous waste ended up.
Still, the Somalia “National Volunteer Coastguard” – which the pirates have dubbed themselves – targets fishing vessels. And, it’s kinda clear that many/most/all those fishing boats are openly and illegally harvesting seafood in that nation’s EEZ waters, contrary to International Law.
Of course, any minor sympathies I have dissolve when hijackers kill fishermen if ransoms aren’t met? I can’t stomach that. Murder, plain and simple.
By way of counterpoint, I’m reminded that, if the pirate was on the other foot, America would be less than judicial in its reactions.
Just imagine a massive fleet of foreign vessels illegally and arrogantly coming into American waters to steal our fish stocks – or to dump waste! I can assure that our military’s first shots would be across the bows and the very next rounds would foster an irreversible leaden end to the trespassing. And we’re seemingly becoming well versed at burials at sea.
By the by, Indian Ocean pirates are, more than ever, being cheered on by Somali people.
A fishery irony lays between the lines of a letter my Somali friend got from home. Her brother writes that since the pirates have sent many foreign fishing vessels packing – instead of packing out -- local fishermen have seen fish stocks going through the ceiling. See how well conservation works? Full-auto weaponry can have that effect.
(See Nasirah, I told you I’m not afraid to write both sides. لحب و والسلام . That roughly means peace in Arabic. Oddly, they have no exact word for peace. I don’t like the sounds of that.)
RUN-DOWN: I saw massive fun-fishing flotillas overwhelming prime locales, ocean, inlets and bay.
Many ocean-based boats were on search-and-snag missions, doggedly looking for nearshore bunker pods. They were banking on big bass down below. Sadly, bunker-shadowing stripers were a no-show. Unlike months past, the cellars were bare. No bass, no blues, no sharks. As one boat captain sardonically radioed, “At least I’ve got enough bunker to crab the rest of the summer.”
A little more upbeat was a report I got from snorkelers diving the near insanely clear water around Barnegat Inlet. They did spot a few decent resident bass lazily cruising the rocks. However, that that hometown striper population was nothing close to what it had been at this time last summer, when speargunners were taking 40-pounders.
My thinking is those large Barnegat Inlet bass will be filtering back in by month’s end, having been among the biomass that drifted further to our north -- but will surely recall the fat life off our coastline and sidle back up to the inlet jetties.
By the by, I have a theory -- now being documented by science -- that many of the big spring bass we just blasted (under bunker) have fully fattened up and moved southward, not northward.
It sure seems a goodly chunk of our massive spring striper biomass sulks into cooler, deeper waters off the Delmarva, likely for the entire summer haul. I’d like to think they’d come back this way as fall approaches but tagging studies show that our fall bass seem to be returnees of that portion of the stock that went northward.
We do have excellent past research – books full of data -- on bass movements along the Jersey shore. The thing is, it might all be changing.
Looking back as much as 100 years, our vital nearshore bunker have never been so protected as now. Feeding here has become so fillingly fruitful, bass stocks might very well be abbreviating their annual migratory movements. Bass had been forced to move past us and to the north, following spring feeds, including now-gone mackerel and herring schools. Now, Jersey is as far as they have to go to fatten to their stomach’s content.
Nature is intrinsically and eternally a tireless conservator. It dictates: If you don’t have to exhaust resources – burn fat, as it were – don’t.
Once fattened to rotund fullness, virtually every beast celebrates a jam-packed belly by cozying into a cool relaxing place. Again, my guess is the cool drop-off in the ocean off the Delmarva.
Is anybody hitting any triggerfish or filefish near the beach? I got word that a load of them came in on the onshore winds.
Those ENE winds downwelled our water temps into the mid-70, before settling in around 70 degrees in the shorebreak.
For newbies to this blog, downwelling is the opposite of upwelling – and a scientific term. Instead of sucking up cold bottom water the way upwelling does, it pushes solar-heated surface water onto the beach, where it essentially stacks up and can get near record-breaking water warmth. I heard of an unofficial 80-dgree temp just to our south.
Onshore breezes have also led to eye-opening phenomena near the inlets, especially Barnegat. Water so crystal clear the Bahamas say they want it back. One angler described an air-clear view of the bottom over 15 feet down. Admittedly, that is not good news at all for fishing, except fluking – a species that feels it’s never too clear when it’s time to eat.
A big push of kingfish is just to our south. These are breeders so go easy on them.