Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report


Running Into a Crazed Crosser;

Sharking Still a Sizzling Bite




Before this column goes one inch further, I need all you big game offshore fishing aficionados to get up off your procrastinating butt cheeks and register for our Island’s big game claim to fame: The Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club’s 43rd Annual White Marlin Invitational Tournament. It’s approaching at marlinesque speed.

The Captains' Meeting is July 25th, 8 p.m. at the clubhouse. Obligatory partying included. The fishing window runs from July 25 - 28, 2012.

You guys know you’re going to get into the tourney, after all, it’s not just for mere world-class bragging rights but also, way more importantly, for local bragging rights.

And entering can’t get any easier. The event has a truly first-class website. All the necessary data and entry forms are a clear click away at http://www.thewmit.com/. If you can’t write that down, simply Google “white marlin invitational.”

My initial read shows a high likelihood for a serious showing of tuna by event time, including big eye – often a big money fish. To be honest, the billfish scene is a lot less peg-able.

I’ll again be writing for the event and the above-mentioned website. I’ll be doing any info updates that might be helpful to participants. 

WEIRD SKIN THING: A skin cancer study out of Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in Piscataway indicates that the combined effects of caffeine consumption and goodly doses of exercise may be able to ward off skin cancer.

Whodda thunk it?

According to Yao-Ping Lu, associate research professor of chemical biology and director of skin cancer prevention at RU, “We found that this combination treatment can decrease sunlight-caused skin cancer formation in a mouse model.”

Note: I’m not sure why Yao-Ping used a “model” mouse instead of just some scraggly everyday mouse – though I guess models have a lot to worry about, skin-wise. And so do anglers like us.

When it comes to all but asking in skin cancer, anglers are among the highest “at risk” groups under the sun. Who knows how risky it is being both an angler and a model -– yeah, as if.

If this study holds water, the long-established love affair between anglers and caffeinated beverage might actually be lessening our chances of developing melanomas and more.

Hell, even if you’re just good finds with caffeine, skin bennies abound.

Per the Rutgers study, mice at high risk for skin cancer, when placed on a goodly dose of caffeine and exercised with a running wheel experienced 62 percent fewer skin tumors. The volume of tumors also decreased by 85 percent compared with the mice that did not consume caffeine or exercise.

I should touch on what is meant by “mice at high risk for skin cancer.” I’m guessing these aren’t independently wealthy mice that lie on the sunny beaches of Tobago for much of the year. Far ickier, these are laboratory rodents shaved down to their baby-pink skin, then mechanically dermabraded with sandpaper to utter rawness, before being exposed to intense artificial ultraviolet rays.

“I told you we shoulda never left Tobago, Frank. I’m half blind from those damn lamps and now this Ping guy wants me to run around in that filthy wheel. I knew I shoulda married that KIA hamster.”

Anyway, before going all but intravenous when coffee-ing up for pre-dawn fishing sessions, you might want to closely note that the caffeine vs. skin cancer study demanded a little thing called exercise. That’s not quite as easy to brew up.

CRAZED CROSSER: This incident falls well within my “Why does his sh-tuff always happen to me?” category. It occurred this weekend.

No sooner had I written about the ways different folks cross the roadways of LBI – utilizing the controversial stop-for-pedestrian law -- than I get doused with a load of pedestrian crossing attitude the likes of which I had never even imagined.

On Sunday, a man and his two small kids were located on the grass median, heading over to the beach in North Beach. They were literally on the edge of the grass, poised atop that oddly slanted curbing.

Law-abidingly, I hit my brakes, put on my flashers and stopped to let them cross. It was a good church-going day to that point.

The guy went bonkers. I’m talking psycho bonkers.

Without moving an inch, he screamed toward me, “Don’t ever do that again!” It kinda freakin’ out his little kids. I don’t think he realized my window was rolled down, quickly making this a face-to-face, uh, chat.

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what the hell to do in the face of this ranter. So, I yelled, fairly politely, “It’s the law to stop!” -- which it was, but more on that in a moment.

He shrieked back “It’s not! This is not an crosswalk.”

I knew where he was going and somewhat reluctantly warned, “Then you’re jay-walking, aren’t ya?” I even thumb-pointed back to an official, well-painted crossing point down the road, albeit a distant walk away.

Sidebar: I’m perpetually sympathetic to folks now expected to drag the entire family and loads of beach goods way out of the way in order to reach a “legal” LBL crosswalk intersection.

Anyway, for the sakes of the very cute, albeit rattled little ones (my favorite people in the world), I de-flashed my flashers and drove off, letting the freaked out crosser fend for himself – as a hell-bent pack of traffic in the distance was bearing down. 

I definitely can’t condone this man’s semi-psychotic behavior in front of his kids – nor in front of me for that matter, since I’ve been known to meet psychotica with a untemepred psychotica of my own. However, I’m guessing – for his sake – something has him freaked out to the point he now goes after anyone daring to stop to allow him and his family to cross. Again, this was a new one on me.

This all leads toward my advanced expertise regarding the “Must stop for pedestrians crossing” law. I’ve read it, analyzed it, got feedback from top cops about it, got tons of feedback by police officers about it and, loudest of all, I got pedestrian and motorist responses to it. To say the interpretation of this law is all over the books refers to a very good day.

Did the crazed crosser’s referencing “crosswalks” hold any legal water? A drip or two. How so? If it is not a crosswalk, then crossers-to-be are on the brink of jaywalking, therefore, stopping your vehicle for them would technically be fostering the breaking of the jaywalking laws. Got that? 

However (and a huge one), in this North Beach instance, the no-crosswalk defense would be utterly mute. The crossing man and kids were clearly indicating they were about to step onto the highway. As noted, they were teetering on the curbing, inches from the asphalt. Had the man and kids been standing well up on the grass, i.e. the middle of the median, and clearly not about to a step out?

If there is one inflexible point in the truly confusing pedestrian-crossing law it has to do with folks about to enter a roadway. I don’t care if a crosser(s) is breaking jaywalking laws or is showing total disdain for traffic or is three sheets to the hammered wind, if that pedestrian is seemingly about to enter a roadway, you must stop. That is the exact reason the law was first developed. Admittedly, the law went a tad crazy from there.

TARTARE IN THE RAW: In one of my past lives, I was a chef. I have done a goodly number of years sweating away before the burners. It wasn’t a half bad occupation, except when I was forced to wear one of those classic white mushroom chef’s hat, mainly when cooking in Waikiki hotels. My lovely Hawaiian waitresses would take one look at me and crack up. “Thanks for the confidence builders, gals.” I would have readily exchanged that look for an Anton Chigurh haircut. You gotta be a fan of “No Country for Old Men” to appreciate that.

With cookingness near and dear to me, I enjoy fielding chef-ish emails, most often of a seafood ilk. A tastily complex one came my way regarding fish tartare (pronounced tahr-tahr, with a load of emphasis on the second syllable).

Fish tartare is rapidly becoming the next big thing in seafood dining delights. In a recent issue of the “Nation’s Restaurant News,” tartare was the fastest growing term found on seafood and fish menus across our nation in 2011, up an impressive 25 percent in one year.

The actual email question I received: “Is fish tartare essentially the same as sushi?”

In essence, they’re one and not the same.

Seafood tartare does, in deed, utilize the same raw fish as sashimi/sushi, however, it parts sushi ways when the raw fish gets very finely minced and mated with sauces and herbal or vegetable flourishes. Seafood tartare is pretty much exceedingly chopped up raw fish – and savory friends. 

But why even mess around with delectable sashimi?

In an epicurean vein of thinking (and speaking), it allows an elopement of minced raw fish with sublte spices and garnishes, often cucumber, avocado, chopped onions and carrots. The garnishing sky is the limit. If you’ve ever salivated over the myriad of sushi “rolls” now out there, you can all but taste the potential of further blending those flavors into tartare.   

I once had a tartare made with (Hawaiian) bluefin tuna, pink peppercorns and assorted herbs. To this day I’m not sure if I’ve ever tasted anything so good.

Odd tartare sidebar: While one might pin the fast-track popularity of tartare on the way a raw fish entrée fits the sashimi mold, it turns out Harry Potter played a big role. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” had a celebrated scene where “dragon tartare” was served at the Slug Club Christmas party. Just that quickly, the popularity of less dragonian tartare went crazy around the planet. Fish/seafood tartare followed suit.   

SHARKING NEARLY NONSTOP: Sharking continues to have anglers happily circling.

Sharks, including some major brands, are being steadily hooked – and often landed – by beach, bank and boat anglers. Hooking a shark and landing one are two entirely different matters. 

As to the fight of sharks, it’s not nearly as notable as its bite. The pull offered by even a big shark often seems laced with confusion and disbelief, with maybe a touch of fear – if such an alpha animal fully knows fear.

In no way diminishing the battle needed to bring in the men in gray suits (Aussie term for shark), a decent angler with patience and a good command of drag can best even a biggie, many hundreds of pounds. However, the main phase of a shark struggle is a slow-paced give-and-take with the quarry – thus, there are a load of break offs because of anxious anglers trying to horse in a hookup.

It should be noted that “landing a serious shark” is often simply getting it close enough to get a gander -- and a photo or two. Of course, you always have your hard-core landers, needing to get the fish on-board or on-beach. 

Once boarded, a shark is not shy about showing it hasn’t blown its fight wad. In fact, go to YouTube and take in some of the sanguine scenes of anglers boating a shark and underestimating its ability to turn and latch on.

Sharks are one of the few fish that can see out of water. Those documented in-vessel bites are done with vision and foresight on the shark’s part.

One more thing: Odds are the shark you just caught can’t be kept. Release it.

OK HERE I COME: My largest rod-and-reel shark exchanges have taken place during angling sessions atop one of my Ocean kayaks -- though my most critical shark soirées came in the form of full-blown charges leveled at me by hammerheads and tigers while surfing in Hawaii. Ain’t a hardcore Hawaiian waverider who doesn’t have a quiver of shark tales to pull out at parties. 

Anyway, if ever there was a time when conflicting interests set in it was when my kayak was being effortlessly dragged all over the place by a hooked shark. In those cases, I didn’t go the proper drag route. The ‘yak did all the giving and taking. I sat holding the rod – checking how much daylight I had left and how close the shipping lanes we were getting.  

While the dogged low-shake fight of a shark is fairly telltale, I always have that irksome urge to at least see what exactly is hanging at line’s end. That curiosity can instantaneously morph into, “This is just frickin’ stupid,” especially when a dark and truly ominous shadow slowly rises up beneath my now-Tonka Toy vessel. I’ve truthfully had a couple “I’m gonna need a bigger kayak” moments.

Before any of ya’ll consider kayak sharking, it is the definition of unstable boating, particularly in the face of an animal that is unsure of what’s going on – and on the verge of becoming really pissed off that it’s being dragged upward by this obnoxious yellow floating thing. All my kayaks are yellow to add visibility in the face of high-speed vessels.

As I wrote about years ago, I fought in a shark that was absolutely every inch as long as my 12-foot kayak. I swear it came up to the surface just to eyeball me. It seemingly did not like what it saw.

Gospel truth: I cut the line and damn if that bugger didn’t hang right there, just glaring – fully aware it was free to go. As I oft do when fully freaked, I conversed. “Just kidding’ dude. Have yourself a nice day. And I’ll just be paddling back to the beach now – and moving to Oklahoma.”

KINGFISH COMETH: I noticed the south end of LBI has a good showing of kingfish. No reports of same mid- to north-Island regions.

I have to admit that these sandcrab-loving panfish – studies show their bellies are often loaded with small sandcrabs -- have often shown a decided preference for the Spray Beach to Beach Haven to Holgate surf zones – though definitely not to the complete exclusion of other Island areas.

To cash in on these sought-after panfish,  grab your light gear, small hooks, banks sinkers, bloodworms or fake-o bits, and give dog-days kingfishing a go. Premade kingfish rigs work like a charm.

I used to spend hours and days kingfishing. I noticed I could quadruple my success by keeping the kingfish rig moving slightly, via a slow retrieve. That retrieve also helps show where a school of fish is hanging – and they do school very tightly.

By the by, like any panfish, it’s not the worst thing to release smaller ones – even though there are no regulation regarding minimum size or bag limits with kingfish. The state record is 2-pounds, 8-ounces taken in Margate in 2003.

IBT (I’ve been told): Kingfish heads are lethal as shark bait. I’ve also heard that big bass can’t resist those heads, though we currently have way more big sharks than we do big bass.

Dining-wise, kingfish flesh is as good as it gets. I’ll even match it with fluke, tuna and the likes. To get maximal meat, cook in the round (headed and gutted) and peel off skin. Loads of luscious meat. Filleting cuts total meat take almost in half.

RUN-DOWN:  Weakfish – you remember them, right? – are showing in what appears to be highly impressive summer numbers.

Now, I’ll throw ice cold water on this highly hookable arrival by emphasizing you can only keep one sparkler of at least 13 inches a day, per angler. 

Weakfish stocks remain hideously low. This is yet another species – along with black drum, sheepsheads, channel bass, tog -- that once ruled the biomass roost hereabouts, dating back to the early days.

Weakfish may very well be down to what amounts to a last ecological gasp. What makes things double doomsdayish for the species is the way the stocks are not even remotely responding at a concerted conservation effort by coastal states. Thusly, we’re as near to a moratorium as you can get.

That said, what can be made of the damn decent showing of weakfish now arriving? We can maybe make a new start at rebuilding the stocks. These just-here fish are spawners.

I did a paper many years back highlighting Barnegat Bay (and also the Mullica River Basin) as among the last areas of hope for weakfish deliverance. I suggested that any signs of stock recovery would likely first show hereabouts. That premise had to do with our ideal water conditions, chemically speaking. Sadly, Barnegat Bay has since lost a lot of its idealness due to pollution.

Importantly, seeing a nice one-time return of weakies into our region is not an indictor of an overall large-zone recovery of the species. I bring that up in anticipation of some NJ anglers saying, “Look at all the weakfish in Barnegat Bay, we should be able to keep tons more now.”

We learned for stripers that there is no overnight recovery.  

Onward to a species that is surviving just fine, thank-you. Fluking is simply as hot as it gets, even by historic standards.

Lest you doubt, a few decades back you could keep just about every fluke you caught. Just frinkin’ imagine if you could now keep any fluke over, say, 10 inches. Tell me we wouldn’t rewrite some fluking history books.

But we do have a season (May 5 to September 28), a high minimal size (17.5 inches) and a bag limit of five fish per angler.

Anyway, for the umpteenth week in a row, the decent number of keeper fluke has been nearly annulling the super-high throwback ratio. It’s the Pavlovian concept of behaviorism. By simply sprinkling in some positive reinforcement (keeper fish), an angler will stay fishingly happy until the cows come home – due to that approaching thunderstorm.

If you want tog get a simple feel for the fluke presence, work the suds. Early a.m. and late day, you can sidearm shorts, left and right. Don’t worry about hurting your arm hauling home a stringer of keepers. I jigged a slew of them and didn’t even reach the parking lot of the take-home ballpark – even after using a rolling pin on the largest of them. (I didn’t)  

The bluefishing has gone kinda crazy toward Barnegat Inlet. Loads of ‘em having been making passes. And, yes, when they’re around, they can even menace fluke baits.

Make sure to invite a few cocktail blues home for dinner. Blues at that size are always excellent eating. What’s more, any bad chemical stuff found in larger blues is, at most, minimally present in 2- to 3-pound blues; couple that with the remarkable health benefits of eating fish and bluefish filets excel.

Striped bass are highly scattered – and oft absent -- along the surfline, though select beaches seem to be holding something akin to striper cells. Anglers using clams or bunker 

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