Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report


Probing Gas Pains;

Gusts In the Wind




I GOT OPEC PAINS: In an effort to fire up anglers to thing about fishing in 2011, I chatted with a few casters about what could be a catastrophic gas price explosion at the pump. Face it, we’re already seeing petrol costs partying into the wee hours, i.e. 3 to 4. It sure looks like they’ll be staying up all night, looking for ways to get even higher. Gas prices on speed. 

I’m not an overly paranoid person (though I definitely don’t like the way your looking at me), however, I’m convinced that the current gas price blasts come to us via the shadiest of the OPEC gangsters. It’s the result of the most devious gouge-‘em game plan since the First Iraq War.

A few years back, the boys in black ooze thought they could just randomly raise the price roof -- and take the ceiling with it. They were certain fat cat Americans would obediently conform and buy. Well, we didn’t. In an admiral example of supply and up-yours, we saw the oil producers’ profit margin head for the heights and craftily surmised that price per barrel hikes were all a dastardly guise to help the king of Dubai build an artificial archipelago shaped like a palm tree – accompanied by manmade islands forming a map of the entire planet. I kid you not. Check out  


The fact Americans saw through gas prices based on blatant profiteering really pissed off the boys dripping in black gold. In response, they secretly called in their top mercenaries, knowing they’d have to start playing rough if they were ever going to drain $5 a gallon (and onward) from the pockets of price-pouty Americans. But how to make huge prices per gallon seem sane? Think conflict. Americans are such suckers for conflict.

With mere pocket change, OPEC-ites snuck tons and tons of dissidents onto Egypt and Libya, i.e. places that wouldn’t hurt them a bit if burned down in headline-catching unsettledness. By the by, it’s amazing how cheaply you can get thousands of unemployed Middle Easterners to rally, acting as if they live and breathe whatever cause will buy them a bottle or two of arak. I saw TV clips of women in Cairo, babies in belly slings, laughingly talking or texting on cellphones, as the “riots” flared. Dock them a day’s pay.

Admittedly, OPEC’s adding a twist of “democracy” to its scripted rioting was sheer genius. What price democracy? Obviously over $5 a gallon.

As we speak, even the Bushes are eagerly rubbing their hands together, all but certain that massive “democratic” fuel cost increases will rule the pumps and win the OPEC day. Yes, this means I’m convinced there’s no way around summer gas prices that’ll make us squirm. Personally, I’m looking to cover gargantuan gas price hikes by, now and again, zipping off the Middle East to make a few extra bucks as a hired rioter.

Cairo International Airport:

“Mr. Mann, what will you be doing during your stay in our country.”

“Uh, rioting and possibly visiting the Sphinx, time permitting. ”

“Very good. And here’s a free currency converter should you like to spend your rioting profits to enhance your stay here.”


FREE REGISTRY RULES: I know this is politically heavy banter but please give it a read through -- since it’s easily the largest fishing issue of the year.


Firstly, I am still fairly astounded that the state has assumed the costs of implementing the federally-mandated angler registry. I embrace it with both arms – while looking away thinking, “Let‘s just hope this lasts.”

It’s uncertain how much the registry will actually cost NJ – if anything.


The organization behind the free-state effort, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, is rallying to cleverly/insightfully pay for the registry by using funding the state will get for having just such a registry in place. (Think that through real fast and it comes clear.)

I’ve heard – from RA’s Jim Hutchison, Jr., -- that it’s a fully allowable move to cycle back federal funds to the state’s advantage. Some federal folks told me it’s not even remotely kosher. I side with RFA.

The whole intent of the registry is to count and question anglers. Hell’s bells, we’ll soon be doing just that. Advantageously, anglers won’t have to pay to play in NJ. (Read that through moderately fast to here the poetrics.)

So, who cares if the money to cover the state’s costs comes from anglers or, instead, federal funding sources that first require participation in the registry? (That one you wanna read through slowly. Take notes along the way.) 

Not to worry, the feds won’t figure this move out.

Just kidding, D.C.! That’s all I need is an IRS audit demanding I explain how I deducted a $5,000 split bamboo fly road as a traveling expense. Hey, it came from Europe. There had to be some sort of traveling thrown in there, somewhere.

Anyway, in the wake of RFA’s registry razzle-dazzle, New York is making overtures to match the successful effort of NJ to fish free and prosper – proper from the million$ added to the state’s revenues via anglers.

Here’s a blurb from an RFA release: “New York State Sen. Lee M. Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced plans to repeal the state's controversial saltwater fishing license fee. Newsday’ reported Sunday that Zeldin's speech at the Suffolk County Boat and Sport Fishing Show this past weekend highlighted the senator's plan to replace the tax with a free online registration compliant with federal regulations. …”

That’s is HUGE to me. I’ll go party-pooper here by saying one of the things I don’t like about Jersey’s freedom to saltwater fish is the way it could attract tons of out-of-state folks. I worry most about the Empire State and its many very mobile fluke-fishing aficionados – more than willing to trailer a boat to the Garden State, to tap the resource at no cost. Obviously, that’ll empty our newly enhanced fluke bag limit in a New York minute. Of course, New Yorkers would be able to fish here free if they have their NY license. However, more than a few NY’ers will say, “Screw this state. I’m going to do all my angling in free NJ.” Yes, the NJ shops will love it.

Importantly (!), overages will now be fully seen under a registry system. Gone are the days of going over allotted poundage without having to pay the following year. 

I’m actually way more understanding of Pennsylvania angler coming here to fish freely. We have a really good long-standing relationship with those fishing folks, who not only travel a costly distance to get here but buy heavily during their angling stays. 

Legal note: Since the registry set-up came through the Legislature, it is not nearly as easy to change as if it had come through the Guv’s office, i.e. through DEP rules and regulations. To get it overthrown, it’ll take a long and tedious trip through senate and assembly committees and the full house, followed by governor’s signature. The mere workloads and landmines along the way, makes it seem we’ll have a real decent grip on the free registry for a fairly decent jaunt into the future. 

THIS YOUTUBE OFFERING IS UTTER GARBAGE. THANKS: My buddies over at garbagefish.com have already launched their Third Annual Garbagefish.com Tournament.

This big game event, better make that bit gamey event, is a month-long tourney that begins July 1. It has become the talk of the angling nation – more exactly, a minuscule angling nation off Angola where unrest has some anglers totally trapped and pretty much talking about anything at this point. But, hey …

To hype their newfound funky-fillet fame, the garbagefish.com-anians have spared no expense (and even less, in some instances) in taping a digitized 4-minute YouTube spot.

At over 39 views, it’s already has instant YouTube classic written all over it. And, yes, those are cameo back appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Joel Gray, Linda Lovelace and the very-late Bishop Milton Sheen -- to mention just a few. Who says garbage fish tournaments aren’t a big-ticket draw?

Interspersed among the video’s guest stars are written quotes from the likes of ESPN radio: “If you fish one tournament a year, this should be it.” The usually stodgy New York Times said of the garbage fish tourney, “A stroke of genius run by some rude and witty fishermen.” The Fishermans Magazine calls it “an excellent tournament for kids.” And a guy named Sal in Lacey Township said aliens abducted him during the Second Annual Garbagefish.com last year.

You’ll be duly impressed with the video’s music soundtrack, which I’m pretty sure was penned and recorded by the men and women at garbagefish.com – who then passed it on to Eminem to see if he could do anything with it.

For those of you living under a rock in search of car insurance and haven’t heard of this contest, the garbagefish.com tourney is unique in the way it urges anglers to battle it out for bragging rights to the biggest of our beloved sea robins, skates, and dogfish. Prize money this year is estimated to be somewhere under $500,000. 

By the by, the easiest way to take in this epic video is to zip onto the www.garbagefish.com, or, go to YouTube, type in words “Garbage Fish,” and click on the second video on the column. 

Most of all, make sure to enter this year’s event. You never know, you might be landing a huge skate and find your line has wrapped around the line of none other than The Boss.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE WIND: Despite winter having lost it frigid fangs to a more seasonable mildness, the sky has continued to flex its muscles in another way. Howling winds have been the story over the past month. Try six different and separate weather events offering winds in excess of 60 mph. And we’re not talking just five minutes of kick-ass gusts. I’ve recorded three different wind events that lasted over 24 hours.  

I was so blown away by the recurring gustiness, I contacted my buddies at the Weather Service to see if, in fact, anyone is keeping track of the windiness this winter. Not happenin’.

As I half expected, data collecting by the meteorologists focuses primarily on air temps, barometric pressures and even wind chills. There are no charts or graphs or historic juxtapositionings of how the winds of one winter compare to the winds of another.

One of the weather folks in Mount Holly did say he’d try to get together a “small craft advisory (SCA)” rundown of this winter, ending in a few weeks. SCA’as forecasted indicate winds between 26 and 38 mph of at least 12 hours. That’s a start to wind-rating a season. However, just because winds are forecasted doesn’t tells the whole tale of an anemometer’s (wind gauge’s) day. In fact, it was during recent SCA conditions that we saw gusts to the 50 mph point over a dozen times.

The real story of a day’s worth of wind would be the average 24-hour wind speed. And that can be done – in retrospect. The historic wind data collected daily at places like the Atlantic City Airport can be called up, going back possibly 75 years. Once in-hand, averages and highest gusts could be graphed out and compared.

If you think about it, the arrival of wind power will soon demand some understanding of wind trends. Even the likes of the NJ DOT would like to know which months, on average, are historically the windiest -- and crew up for blowdowns.


EMAIL MATTER: “Jay, My dad had entered the “Striped Bass Derby” (now Long Beach island Surf Fishing Classic) almost since it began. He passed a few years back and my favorite photo of him is him standing in front of a huge sign that reads “Derby Score Board.” He’s holding a big striped bass and behind him the board has information like “Daily High” and “Weekly High” and so on. Can you tell me where that picture was taken? It looks like it might be at a bait shop. …”


Funny you should ask. I’ve recently been going through dozens and dozens of vintage fishing photos from LBI, dating back to my dad’s times. Quite a few of the black-and-white pics show derbyites posing with their fish in front of that same famous sign. (I’ll include one of those photos in this column space).

Among surfcasters it is, indeed, a fully famous sign. It was not in front of a tackle shop but, instead, on the site of the current Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce (formerly Board of Trade) building, 9th Street (inbound Causeway), Ship Bottom. 

The sign fronted the incoming Causeway and was at its post from roughly the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.

Those boarded numbers you see in the photo were the pertinent leaderboard data from the in-progress derby. Look closely and you’ll see the number changing was a painstaking, manual, number-by-number process, done at least once a day.  

In the Derby’s historic golden days, all competing fish were weighed in right at the Board of Trade. Hoisting and weight-reading honors went to a single weighmaster! That was when bass came in by the truckload, since the minimum size was way down there. In fact, between 1955 and 1967, a rough average of 2,300 bass were weighed in annually, the high point being 2885 in 1957. 

It might be said that sign – and its eventual demise -- marked the switchover from the olden Striped Bass Derby days to the modern Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic days, when bluefish and even weakfish (for a few years) became part of the event. 

Would it be cool to go sign again?

At virtually every Classic Committee meeting the concept of a new sign rises up. I’m among many who would love to see a big bold vintage sign rise again in all its former wooden glory. But, face it, it’s not your father’s Island any longer. The logistics – and effort – needed to run the sign is way more than might meet the eye, especially when factoring in the DOT’s reaction to a Causeway stretch where motorists might slow to a crawl to read the sign. 

Far more problematic is the “who” behind a sign. 

I hear anglers confidently guarantee, “All you need is someone to come every day and change the numbers.” Who? Eight weeks. Daily. Keeping track of all the latest weigh-ins from all the shops. Volunteers ain’t what they used to be. As for the Chamber folks, they  have a harried enough schedule. In fact, we’ve been working to remove some of the paperwork burden the 8-week event offloads on those in the office.

Of note, it wasn’t so much the sign itself – and its numbers --- that made it coolly magical. It was more the concept of a Board of Trade home base coupled with a single weigh-in site, where anglers met, gabbed and longed to catch a fish that forced the weighmaster to adjust the numbers upward. That cozy concept splintered away long ago.

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