Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Never Run Short of Crawfish;

Getting Intimate With Squid


From my secret seafood news source, I got this strange crawfish tale. 

Down Pensacola way, a fellow named Larry Wayne Kelly went ballistic when his favorite hometown seafood center, L&T Seafood Market, ran out of crawfish. And when I say ballistic, I mean that literally.

After ragingly phoning the store 11 times in short succession, and repeatedly being told “Still no crawfish,” Kelly lost it – right after his final call found the crawdaddyless shop had closed for the day.

Jumping in his pickup, Kelly rushed to the market to re-express his aggravation -- by driving by the front of the store, letting loose with round after round from an AK-47 assault rifle.

After duly peppering the place via drive-by rapid firing, he slammed on the brakes, got out of his vehicle and began to selectively shoot at the shop -- seemingly intent on targeting specific areas of the storefront. He might have reloaded a couple times but, oddly enough, nobody in the neighborhood was hanging around to take notes.

The closed market had no employees within, though live lobsters in a large tank in the front window were all trying to hide behind each other.

One cowering lobster was overheard telling another, “I warned you, Melvin, never say things can’t get worse.”

Seemingly satiated after blasting the market back to the Stone Age, devout crawfish devotee Kelly surrendered to arriving police without incident or detailed explanation.  

In the aftermath, the shop was mighty shot-up. “It's got a lot of holes,” owner Tommy Nguyen said. “Thank God we weren't here.”

Now the cops have to wrestle with that really big question: Why was the market out of crawfish?

OK, so maybe they’re also a tad curious over why a man decided to shoot a store to hell and back over crawfish.

I’m figuring you can get addicted to most anything. Kelly’s poison was crawfish meat. That’s possibly a first but, hey, there’s some guy in India who can’t stop eating glass and a gal in the U.S. who obsessed with chewing on toilet paper. You saw that show, too, right?

Kelly can be somewhat thankful he isn’t addicted to some vicious street drug. Showing up with an AK-47 to voice displeasure over a lack of a street product would have some significant return-fire consequences. 

Kelly is now trying to crack the tail of a $575,000 bail. Facing decades in the big house, he will likely have to overcome his addiction, cold-crawfish.

SQUID PRO QUO:  There’s something kinda freaky and bizarre about squids. When viewed in a tank, they have this anomalous look of alien intelligence, as they meticulously monitor their surroundings, and even go eye-to-eye with human gawkers standing outside the tank. It’s even been said they’re “very intelligent,” though their math scores are often lower than similar marine life forms in surrounding school districts. 

I happen to like squid – and would never badmouth one, at least to its face. However, there are now many Asians who readily mouth off to squirming squid – in a way that has me fasting toward total vegetarianism.

Wealthy (and weird) Asian businessmen have taken to playfully mouthing the suction-cupped tentacles of live squid – before slurping them into their mouths to devour.

Usually drunked up on rice wine, the daring diners have discovered the squid are a highly interactive meal, sashimi on the hoof. When placed on human lips -- or out-stuck tongues – the confused squid see this dark cave-like place to flee toward. Big mistake.

The live squid-sucking tradition seemingly began at a place called Gasiri, the most popular restaurant in Seoul, Korea. With eight branches, the restaurant covers a lot of territory, as does its squid thing. However, in the past few months, the practice has gone global, popularized in a shock film called “Oldboy.”

Somehow or other, I missed this Korean classic on its release. So, I YouTubed the “Oldboy” sashimi scene, wherein the arch villain contemplates his revenge, while casually toying with lip-clinging squids -- before crunching down on one, as punctuation for his final revenge plan.

To compensate for the seeming squid cruelty, Gasiri owner Eun-hee Sohn chooses to coyly play the nutrition card.

“Live squid is a great source of iron,” he says. “It has an antioxidant effect on your liver.”

Along with trying to fend off future PETA reprisals, via nutritional overtures, the 43-year-old Sohn wants to dispel a notion that live squid masticating is only done by 'ajusshis' (older Korean men) and Asian mobsters. He hopes to make mouthing and munching struggling squid a family dining affair, one the kids will also love.

I don’t want to be a stick in the squid ink, but I question what personality traits will be fostered by having kids joyfully chewing on living creatures. No good can come of this. I can already envision a live gently baa’ing lamb being placed on the table, as the family says grace -- while salivating.

I’ll be siding with PETA on this live squid-eating thing.

BASSING BONKERS: The 2011 Simply Bassin’ tourney has gone bonkers. That’s good, by the way. Of the eight top spots, six fish are over 40 pounds. Most of those 40s have been caught in the past week, as highly motivated surfcasters have waded out to sandbars to foul-hook schooled bunker, to then use the now-famous snag-and-drop routine. Those surfmasters have essentially gotten into boat-type fishing while still technically being on land.

Simply Bassin’ fully accepts those surfside snag-and-drop fish. However, a snag-and-drop fish is NOT IGFA legal. When you bring in that 80-pound potential world-record fish, using the snag-and-drop technique, you’re SOL, record-wise. Kiss good-bye to a half-million $ in sponsorships. And, yes, the IGFA uses polygraphs. 

Another big mention goes out to veteran kayak angler Bobby Capri, who got a 43-pounder and 30-pounder in his yak, per his mom, Michelle. I got that info on my Facebook Wall. Email me to get “friendly” on Facebook.

I had a Tuesday call from a north end angler who had what was surely (to him and a couple witnesses) a 40-pound-plus bass get off in small shorebreak. Sobbingly, he said he actually might have over-played the big fish. “I was tiring it out but probably could of gotten it in sooner,” he said. Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

By the by, his line didn’t break. Instead, a mint-condition hook (unbent) came back with that telltale bit of white scraggly mouth meat on it. That’s the famed lip-hook signature, usually the result of a side-mouth hookup breaking free. The caller failed to tell be his bait.

Fluke email: Had some killies left over and an hour to kill midday on Monday. Figured I'd try for fluke in the surf at a hole I know of while the family took a walk on the beach. Jig and squid on bottom with a teaser above with Mr. Twister and a killie. Slow stop and go retrieve. Got 10 with one 19-20" keeper and one 17" almost. Everything but one on the teaser/killie. Saved a lot of gas compared to the boat! Steve..      


The cow-nosed rays are moving in -- in force. I'm not sure this is good or bad news. An angling pilot I know saw huge schools moving northward from the Delaware. They're likely here already. Being a top angler, he also noted some were "enormous." I can't mention his name since he was on-duty -- and not really supposed to be fish-watching, per se. I'm not going out on a guess limb by predicting an insane ray -- and even shark -- year, nearshore. The ocean has been astoundingly alive so far, the baitfish are insanely thick and I don't even want to guess at how much sun-heating we'll be getting -- with air temps having already broken 90 a couple times.


SHARK SCENE: I’m not sure where to go with all the shark news I’ve been getting – definitely not into the water with an open wound.

First, fellow columnist Jon Coen told me of a Coast Guard-confirmed great white shark off Island Beach State Park, a hair’s breath away from here, as the shark flies. It was huge and whitey-like, though it’s really wasn’t the best great white conditions out there at the time. Then again, who’s going to tell a 30-foot great white what conditions it should or shouldn’t prefer?

It gets weirder yet, via Capt. John K. (Pop’s Pride), who went out to a favorite crosscurrent area about 30 miles east of LBI and, in nothing flat, hit one brown shark after another. It was the first time in his illustrious captaining career he hit nonstop browns in June. He also took a 45-pound-ish bluefish tuna and a mako.

It seems pretty certain we’ll be neck-deep in sharks this summer. The cause of increased sharkiness? It could be conservation, stingray flocks, uncountable bunker pods and even an overall increase in other edibles. The stingray/shark connect is documented to the hilt. As I coined, rays are pizzas with wings to sharks.

I have to think that the limiting of nearshore bunker netting has also had a very positive impact on all other species in the sea, sharks and whales definitely included.

Face it, when the bunker were scarce and scattered, predatory species like bass, blues, sharks and various marine mammals, were forced to dine on less foragey swimmers, including their own young and those of other gamefish. Now, just think of the number of desirable fish able to grow up, as predatory-sized fish delight in easily downed, highly nutritious bunker.

By the by, it’s now been fully documented that menhaden/bunker can literally engender a healthy biosystem – when not knocked to hell and back for low-profit human usages.

BEANS AND BUNKER, PERFECT TOGETHER: You might not know it but the remaining Garden State’s farms always round out the growing season with crops of soybean. While the ultra-fast growing legumes seem a world apart from our angling realm, they’re vicariously becoming a boon to coastal fishing. 

As NJ anglers are lovin’ incredible bassing, due in huge part to increased nearshore bunker pods, increased U.S. soybean production could marshal in even better days for bunker stocks.

To make the connection, I have to go percentages on you. 

Over half of the seafood consumed by humans now arrives via aquaculture efforts, the colloquial “fish farms,”  -- with shrimp, clams and crabs now included. Aquaculture seems an ideal solution to over-harvesting of wild seafood. We make our own.

The theory has played out – imperfectly. On our way to farmed seafood products, the process turned a tad too fishy.

It quickly became apparent that the fish meal and fish oil required to spawn sustainable aquaculture was, itself, from the sea -- primarily from reduction fisheries, mainly raising menhaden. We were harvesting almost as much wild forage fish as we were aquaculturally. Just ask any fishermen about the folly of annihilating forage fish that way. 

So, up steps the U.S. soybean industry. Turns out this once-humble bean species is poised to anchor the aquafeed business – one worth billions upon billions of bucks. Soy gold. 

Back to the fishing front, the impact of replacing seafood meal with soy meal is colossal. It will surely down the demand for menhaden products. More bunker, more fishing. Thanks bean.

HOT, GREEN AND BITE-ACIOUS: Whadda ya call the dog days of summer when they hit in springtime? I guess the “puppy days” sounds adequately cutesy but there’s nothing tail-waggy and licky sweet about spring temperatures going too-quickly torrid -- before offering but a taste of those ideal in-between days. Easy to forget what a brutal and ice-fanged winter we had.

One up side to the gushes of heat is the way it has loosed the annual vegetation, particularly mainland. Although it’s merely observational, there are outback sections of Ocean and Burlington counties, I have never seen so lush and green – and now bursting white and salmony where the mountain laurel blossoms have taken over center stage.

As a tent camper, it’s a lung-filling delight to stick your head out of that canvass cocoon and take in the early a.m. layer of pure plant oxygen, breaths of primordially perfect air – before rolling back inside and sleeping in until the high sun superheats the tent to where you’re dreaming about being cooked alive by Jersey cannibals. 

Unfortunately, I have developed a sadly sound theory that boundless bugginess is directly proportional to great gushes of spring greenery. Anyone having done any pinelands time recently – or even passed too closely to wooded areas – will abide by this crawly correlation. It’s a jungle out there. The main marauders are mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers and gnats. Soon to arrive are black flies, greenheads and deer flies (easily the most aggravating Pinelands pests) 

Where staying hyper-hydrated has long been my abiding decree when hot-weather woodsing, I now make sure I’m all but overstocked with bug repellent. Without it, adequate fluids are a non-factor since you’ll be outta there before serious thirst even takes hold.

For freshwater anglers, the battle of the bugs is tooth and nail. For saltwater casters and legions of crabbers, the bayside can be as bad as anywhere in the wilds.

USING THE HARD STUFF: While I have gone through all sorts of exotic – and Consumer Report applauded – rare-name repellents, the quickest grab for me remains “Deep Woods” Off!, pump spray, 1 ounce. It is now up to 95 percent DEET. There are many other products with a high DEET content but it can take Amazon or the likes to get to them.

If you’re serious about battling blood-sucking bugs, you need DEET at this maximal level -- 80 percent, at least. However, take it from an expert, you need to know how to use the concentrated stuff. You can’t just go spraying it all over Tarnation; it’s wasteful (at 8 bucks an ounce) and a tad dangerous, via inhalation and over absorption.

When applying the hard stuff, think thin.

For arms, spray repellent a couple times directly on skin, then hand spread it over exposed skin, making sure to hit the oft-missed triceps area. It doesn’t tale much.

To do the back of the neck and ears, spray once or twice onto palm of hand then rub back of neck and ears. Throat area next.

With the face, if you’re leather-skinned like me, hand spread DEET lightly on forehead and cheeks – nowhere near the eyes. If you’re thin-skinned, do a test spot to make sure you can take DEET-95 without welting or screaming.

For exposed legs, use the same spray into hand then apply method.

Note: I’ve reverted to wearing ultra light, loose-fitting long pants instead of shorts when doing hot-time outback sessions. Believe it or not, you can stay cooler with long “breathable” pants than in shorts.

Once hand-applied, DEET-95 can work wonders – but the prep work ain’t over yet. Many a mosquitoes has a long proboscis, able to get through a sweat-dampened shirt. That’s when you need a lower-DEET spray, lightly and evenly applied over the outside of clothing.

That sure sounds like a load of work to prep for outdoorsing – or even backbay fishing -- but, if you think about it, it’s no more (and maybe less) work then fully applying sunblock.  

Avoid: I really don’t like the repellent exposure levels when black flies are swarming and beach folks spray their entire bodies in repellent. Even if it’s a low-level DEET, it’s the large coverage area that can actually get you feeling woozy or stomachy. Sorry Avon “Skin So Soft” fans, it sucks when push comes to bugs. 

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