Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Dancing Prawns No More;

Holgate Season Builds

People for the Ethical treatment of Animals is pretty much as whacked out a group of weirdoes as you can dig up. That said, I love ‘em. They offer normal-ites like myself (don’t say it) chortles and can-you-believe-thats by the barrelful. They are actually most famed for throwing blood – and where did that blood come from? -- on urban women wearing furs. I especially like the time they commenced to a high-profile blood chuckin’ on some Big Apple upper-crusters outside the Waldorf only to find out the targeted ladies were proudly clad in PETA-suggested faux furs -- but, hey, when blood flows and the fur flies, who’s sweating the little things.

In this column, I have annually done a load of stories on PETA’s juicier exploits, including the time a buncha PETA-ites went to a fishery management convention dressed like fishes, but looking more like crazed satanic demons. They terrified people to the point where authorities had to arrest the PETA fish. “I’m not sure what they were supposed to be but they were scaring people so we had to act,” was a quote offered to the media by a police sergeant.

Face it, the buffoonery of PETA-ites has become legendary. You pretty much have to be five cans short of a six-pack to be a bona fide member of this posse. And that’s what has me personally fretting my own sanity. I’ll explain.

Last week, I got an email telling of yet another seemingly innocuous PETA target: a hardworking highly conscientious restauranteur in Sacramento, Calif., named Danny Leung, owner of the upscale Nishiki Sushi.

As with most sushi aficionados, Danny is always in the market for a way to get the freshest and rawest seafood into the mouths of his well-heeled, equally well-dentured clientele. That moved him to fancifully feature “dancing prawn” on his menu. We’re talking alive and kicking shrimp, by any other name. And that entrée is where my self doubts began twitching, not unlike the sushi-fied shrimp.

When I first heard the PETA complaint about the “cruelty” to prawns, I was ready to rollick and roll over yet another act of PETA asininity. Then, I was forwarded info on “dancing prawns,” which led to a fitful bout of self introspection – elicited via numerous double shots of “Nitrous” Monster Energy drink. I found myself (this pains me) agreeing with PETA. Say what!? Surely, this is yet another portend of the planet’s polarity changing.

I’ll begin by duly noting that “dancing prawns” are now fully off the menu at Nishiki. Seems that Dan (mis)took PETA as some powerful government agency of some sort or another. Mighta been a translation malfunction. He profusely apologized to some PETA reps who came to his place, then ran about scratching the entrée off his menus – as a slew of his workers scurried out the backdoor, thinking PETA had to be awesomely important agency, considering it had four capitalized letters, one above even the INS (Immigration and naturalization Service) and the DHS (Department of Homeland Security).

Now, to the thing that made me and my compadres at PETA (now, that’s a joke, son) cringe and quiver. Get this: “Dancing prawns” are served live. That’s a bit of cruelness in it’s own right but the thing that get me is the way the pinned down creature is sliced on the diner’s plate and then has lemon juice poured on freshly made wounds, making the animal “dance.”

Oh, damn, that’s bad, Danny Boy. In fact, I think me and my highly official “PETA” jacket might just mosey on back to your kitchen area. See what’s dancing out the backdoor, eh.

SPOOKIFIED LIGHTHOUSE GO-TO: I’m a diehard SyFy “Ghost Hunter” series fan – and equally committed to the half dozen other paranormal shows now floating eerily around out there, including the “700 Club.”

If you imbibe in the addictive GH series, you know that explorations of lighthouses have, without fail, led to some of the program’s weirdest sightings and electronic voice phenomena (EVP).

One of the locales offering odd visions and bumps in the night for Jay, Grant and the “Ghost Hunters” folks was the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, not that far from us as the crow flies and the Parkway flows.

Well, on October 30, that lighthouse – which can be found less-than-cosmically at http://www.abseconlighthouse.org -- is offering a haunted lighthouse climb. I’ll bet anything folks will take these eerie ascents quite seriously.

Admittedly, it could be a bit crowded BUT if recent ghost-hunting efforts have shown anything, it’s the more people in the hunt the weirder the experiences. Some of the most eyeball popping captures of mystical sights and sounds have arisen when the spookiest places were packed with the living. Supposedly, spirits and such draw off the energy of the registered voters at hand.

Reservations are requested 609-449-1360. Things go ghostly between 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm, last climb at 7:30pm. Tickets are $5.00 a pop.

BARNEY CONNECTION: Note: The Absecon Lighthouse is the state’s largest lighthouse at 228 steps. And the tower’s layout will look very familiar to Island folks. It was designed by George G. Meade in 1854, who would shortly thereafter design Old Barney.

That begs the question of Old Barney and any hauntifications that may lurk within. Personally, I’ve never heard a paranormal peep from any spirits spinning inside Barney. Of course, that was likely due to the fact I was breathing so hard after the first flight of stairs that I wouldn’t have heard a bevy of banshees screeching in my ears. Hell, by the time I reached the top I was damn near a decedent myself.

“Eeks, Mommy, look! An ugly ghost on the steps!”

“No, sweetheart, that’s just a gasping man trying to climb the steps to the top.”

“But why is he on his hand and knees?”

(Pant) I’ll have you know, (Pant) I’m using an energy conservation method used by only the most experienced lighthouse climbers. (Wheeze) Brat.

HOLGATE HAPPENINGS: Warning: The bank on the far west peninsula of Holgate (Stu’s Corner) is so steep – and comes up so suddenly when buggying in that direction – that it poses a huge rollover risk. Some guys I know just about found out the hard way. A rollover thereabouts instantly puts a vehicle in the drink, with water 15 feet deep less than a few feet from the bank.

Super high tides have once again overwashed the beach right as you come onto Holgate beach. In fact, that low tide pool is the largest it’s been since its formation in late summer. It’s not a bad thing, mind you. Tons of people have been having a great time with it. It’s a swimming area for kids and adults, a parking area for non-fishing buggies (often family buggies) and a place to practice castnet throwing.

In fact, here’s an interesting email regarding that pool – when it was tinier.

“Jay Just wanted to let you know on Saturday afternoon me, Ron S., Brian D. and Carl R. decided to seine the pond at the Holgate entrance what we got was 8 " snapper blues, spearing, killies, hardheads, 10" and smaller king fish about two dozen, mullet, some kind of jacks about the size of spot and about a dozen barracudas up to 12" their were some other kinds of smaller fish native to the bay just not sure of their names we probably would have got more than what we did but the seine net was four foot high and was not on the bottom the pond was close to five feet deep in the middle…”

I’m told that one of the area’s daily publications is going to do a story on the great disappearing Holgate saga. Even small storms pushes the famed wilderness area closer to the brink of a permanent breach.

As for this fall, the drive down is fairly uneventful providing you don’t mess with high tides, especially the super highs we had over the weekend.

One disturbing buggying incident took place on Sunday when Holgate regular Tony C. arrived at the Rip to find both his right side tires rapidly going flat. A few of us helped Tony change one tire and air up the least deflated one. (Got an air compressor in your buggy?) With the help of Stu D., Tony limped off the beach to do some major patchwork. He had definitely hit something with puncture written all over it. He thinks it might have been a refuge sign buried in the sand with the bolt side up. Sounds likely. As long as that puncturer stays sub-sand we’ll all be going Russian roulette with our costly tires.

At sunset Sunday, I was at the back Rip of Holgate waiting to throw on corncobs. They had been there for days on end. Not this day. I figured out why when I heard a loudish hissing sound. Turns out two dolphins were so close to the beach I could easily see their eyes—and vice versa -- when they came up to noisily breathe. I’m talkin’ less than 10 feet from the west bank of Holgate. Very deep water right up to the bank. They were surely the reason the corncobs had flown the muddy coop.

Knowing I had no chance at mulleting, I sat down and watched the dolphin, which were absolutely checking me out with every surfacing. They were holding in one small area. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were on crabs, considering how slowly and leisurely they were moving. No mullet or herring could be caught at that pace. Then I wondered if they might not be feeding for flounder? I base that on the fact that the hundreds of double-crested cormorant t now feeding in the back rip most often come up with small flatfish in their bills.

Speaking of birds, last week the peregrine falcons count in Holgate was through the ceiling. I saw easily a dozen or more. Some were low-altitude soaring, while others were perched on refuge signposts. A number of them were standing on highpoints in the sand, a popular peregrine hangout for whatever reason.

BUGGY BANTER: Up above, I noted the night fishing potential this fall. That helps to focus on yet another utter essential for the well-tailored beach buggy.

Headlamps rule. Sure, we all know about the life-and-death usefulness of a kick-ass flashlight -- better yet, a million CP (candlepower) handheld rechargeable spotlight, which can now be gotten for 20 bucks. However, a headlamp is in a league of its own essentialness, especially when lighting up the situation and still leaving one’s hands free. It allows for the likes of hook removal and even delicate brain surgery.

When getting your headlamp, don’t go skimpy on this potential lifesaving item. Outdoors stores carry a huge array of steady improving headlamps. You’ll need a bit more than 20 bucks, though. I use an Apex waterproof headlight ($60) or a Princeton Tech Apex Pro ($90)).

I still have an old headlamp I used the time I did a little after dark spelunking

No, you don’t have to cover your kids’ eyes. Spelunking is the ill-conceived pastime of needlessly climbing into caves -- until you can’t go forward or backwards and an entire army of rescuers and TV camera crews is needed to dramatically pluck you out of the bowels of the earth.

Hey, that’s just what happened the one and only time I went caving. It was supposed to be a veritable cakewalk, an entry-level spelunk. Decades later, I’ve yet to forgive my buddy, who led the adventure. I did have some on-scene revenge of sorts. He was bellying immediately behind me when we got trapped. Even with time and air running out (not really), I got to punishingly kick him about his face and balding head. “Cakewalk, huh!?” Kick, kick!

What had gone wrong?

It began with a panic attack befalling the one gal in our group of seven. She got the “clausies” (claustrophobia fits) and went into panicked gyrations – inside a tunnel the size of a sand crab hole. She actually managed to got stuck, bodily. I kid you not. Fortunately, others behind her backed out and ran for help, apparently stopping for a quick brewsky at a nearby watering hole. At least that was my theory on why it took so long for help to arrive.

Thank heavens for EMTs. Those guys managed to wedge themselves in the tiny tunnel and put an IV in the gal so she went, for lack of any better word, limp.

Gospel truth: I never had so much as an inkling of claustrophobic before that and now …

CLASSIC CHAT: The first biggish bass has been entered into the 2010 LBI Surf Fishing Classic. It was a south-end fish and a way-after-dark hookup.

Per the Classic website (lbift.com), “Week One”: Ryan Dellane, Manahawkin, NJ, NJ, Striped Bass, 31.25, Bunker, Holgate, 1:00 AM.

There was another decent bass also taken around the same time, almost exactly where the biggy came to light – make that, came to dark. That fish was also a middle-of-the-nighter.

There’s still time to get in on the Classic-related pig roast. It’s being held 3 PM this Saturday at the Oceanside Bait & Tackle shop, 8201 Long Beach Boulevard, Brighton Beach. Admission is free with proof of registration in the Classic. All others pay $15.00. The roast will include live Music, food and beer, raffles, giveaways and VIP Guest Speakers.

RUN-DOWN: Bass are showing along the beach and near inlets. There also seems to be a trend toward bass showing after dark. It has some folks wondering if we might be getting back to the old days when the best bassing was post-sunset – and beyond, i.e. wee hours. That late fishing suits the 9-5 working-class angler. With Daylight Savings expiring Nov 7, the night fishing concept will loom large for nearly half of the tourney, which ends Dec. 5.

I managed two small stripers today on vintage Red Fin plugs. I was near where the big bass was caught the night before. Both my fish were very thin and had small red sores. The blemishes looked different than the larger weeping welts we sometimes see on bass haling from the Chesapeake. Still, it’s not a good thing for fish to have any visible skin ailments. That’s because it’s seldom simply a skin infection. Most often it indicates some internal disease or immune weakness. Please drop me an email if you catch stripers showing skin problem. Remember: When being fought, bass often get skin abrasions from fishing line. Those are patches of redness, often from having scales radically ripped off.

Small blues are back, including the ones just big enough to keep for dining. Those tiny snappers are still out there in packs, clearing a hook of even large chunk baits in very short order. There were some cocktail blues, couple pounds, caught along the beachfront.

The seabassing has been borderline spectacular, with many wreck anglers culling out small fish for better models.

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