Toxically Tying One On;
Terrapin Time Again
Well, that wasn’t the best sky move to start a fishing week, especially if you’re one of the many boat folks trying to tap the bayside waters for fluke -- and a newly arriving batch of smaller weakfish. Tuesday saw up to three inches of rain in just a couple/few hours. That’s the worst run-off scenario on the books. When rain comes down like bullets, it literally chips the road pollution right off the macadam. That petroleum-based gunk then merges with the over-rich runoff from the recently fertilized lawns on tens of thousands of lawns from Barnegat to Little Egg. A dirty deluge into the bay ensues, one that groups like Alliance for a Living Ocean, www.livingocean.org, is trying its hardest to alleviate through activism and public education.
It will take until this coming weekend for the full effects of that single downspout chocker to dissipate, allowing some normal backbay fishing. Things will clean from the inlets westward, as the ocean flushes the bay -- as best it can nowadays. However, that fertilizer residue hangs out as dissolved nitrogen, delicious to the likes of ecologically dangerous brown tide algae and stinging sea nettles, deadly to any young-of-year fish or crustaceans that tangle with their tentacles. What we need are tens of thousands of shipped in oysters or mussels to filter the water clean. Large containers of them could be placed at strategic locations. Choppers would work best. Hey, the mosquito commission uses them all the time.
COBRA TOXIN FOR INNER PEACE – AND PAIN: As a nature and fishing writer, I get more than my fair share of email spam -- albeit outdoorsy spam, cooked over an open flame before being electronically mass mailed. Only on the rarest of occasions does the crackle of these overcooked marketing schemes grab my attention. But just last week my deepest anti-spam sensibilities were all but hypnotized by a spam topic-line reading: “Author drinks cobra venom to explore the hereafter.”
(Personally, I would have added the music “All the girls in France Do the hootchie-cootchie dance” if I had sent this email.)
This serpenty spam was a hyping of a book entitled, “Travel Within: The 7 Steps to Wisdom and Inner Peace” (O-Books, John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.). It was essentially gleaned from a fellow named Jamshid Hosseini and his wanton swigging of cobra toxin cocktails.
“Gimme another one, bartender!”
“Sir, I believe you’ve had quite enough cobra toxin.”
“Don’t tell me I’ve had enough! And jam those snakes back into your eye sockets.”
Anyway, I got this serpentine spam-mail on that rainy Friday past and, appropriately, the first thing I wanted to know was the exact atmospheric and climactic conditions on the morning Hosseini woke up, stretched a bit, and said to himself, "Let me see, today I think I'd like to rustle up the most poisonous snake known and drink its venom to almost die and maybe bounce back to life." I want to avoid those exact atmospheric and climactic conditions at all cost.
Obviously, it was more likely this guy’s mental atmosphere that precipitated such a semi-suicidal scheme. And I’m sure Timothy Leary would have been proud. Turn on, tune in drop dead. And I’m still convinced being a little bit dead is the equivalent of the proverbial little bit pregnant.
Check out this publisher’s promo, taken from “Hot Indie News” (www.hotindienews.com).
“The original concept of the book came from Jamshid Hosseini, who encountered a near-death experience by voluntarily drinking a concoction of tea and milk laced with cobra venom that produced searing pain throughout his body. He literally died for several minutes and then recovered. During the time he was dead, what he experienced was so remarkable and moving, it inspired him to write ‘The Seven
Steps to Wisdom and Inner Peace.’”
Per the promo “The book is a virtual recipe for peace” one Hosseini hopes “will spread throughout the world, one person at a time, and perhaps even lead a trend toward universal peace.”
Or universal deadness.
I pondered that tea, milk and toxin thing. Instead of leaping ahead to the juicy post-poison hallucinatory details, I had to first ponder what one says as they toast someone about to knock down a death-inducing drink. The obvious jumped to mind: "Here's to your health.” However, if I was about to guzzle a Pepsi next to someone about to go cobra-toxin diving I might opt for a variation of the favored salutation “May the road rise up to meet you” with “May reality rise up to meet you.”
I also focused on that “searing pain throughout his body” thing and the way it was coupled with the author wanting his enlightenment to “spread throughout the world, one person at a time.”
Well, count me out, Jamshid. I’m guessin’ college dorms are probably your best bet.
“Wow, Sean, you look like s***.
“Yeah, I went to a cobra venom party last night. I think I drank too much.”
“Wow, how dead did you get?
“Well, it feels like I got pretty damn dead.”
“Hey, what you need is a scale of the snake that bit ya.”
“Right on. Let’s milk Hissy and mix one up.”
I also foresee some ugly wars over life insurance claims.
”Madam, our life insurance policy does not cover suicides.”
“Sir, I’ll have you know he wasn’t committing suicide. He had ever intention of coming back from the dead when he was done.”
“Well, madam, it indicates right here that you did not opt to purchase the “come back from the dead” waver. I’m very sorry but you get zippo – unless your ex comes back and resumes his job (snicker).”
Long and short of it, I accepted a free media copy of the book “Travel Within: The 7 Steps to Wisdom and Inner Peace.” I’m quite anxious to see what comes after the “searing pain” but before CPR and the gentle hum of life-support devices. I also want to interview one of the authors (a second fellow, Dave Cunningham, apparently translated the book into English from Cobraese) to find out if one can greatly forego the death thing by, say, merely French kissing a garter snake – thereby gaining just dribs and drabs of inner peace and snakely solitude.
On a parting note, tell me you wouldn’t be sorely tempted to read my already mentally-written book "99 Ways to Die and Come Back to Life.” There’s no way it won’t be a best seller -- right before it's banned from bookstores after folks around the world discover #12 and #27 just don’t work – in a terminal way – and #66 and #89 only transport you to a bad section of Baltimore -- where you wind up deader than dead.
SIMPLY BASSIN’ TURN 20-PLUS: There’s still time to sign up – and fish heavily -- for the final (and biggest) stretch of Simply Bassin’ 2009, ending Sunday, June 21.
This past week the first 40-some-pounder moved onto the board, via Dante Soriente’s 42-0 bass. That cow was taken on bunker in Beach Haven, June 4. It was 47.5-inches long with a girth of 26.5 inches. While that’s the biggy of the tourney, the smallest fish, 8th place, is a not-shabby 30-5. See the event’s leaderboard at www.fishlbi.com.
Bass note: A number of reports out of Brigantine Beach indicate some of the biggest surf stripers of the year. Some very well documented 50-pounders – one possibly over 55 lbs – were taken and, amazingly, released. I guess that doesn’t surprise me that much since many of the prime anglers down that way are astoundingly conservation-mined. More than a few current Brigantiners are former Holgaters, who left the Island in the 80s, when our far south end was shut down to buggy fishing (or beach walking) for spring and most of the summer.
As for one of the granddaddies of local tourneying, the rules for the LBI Surf Fishing Classic are being finalized. As noted before, some very creative maneuvering by the SOC Chamber of Commerce and sponsoring (weigh-in) tackle shops has saved the tourney as we know it. Any changes – beyond the $30 entry fee and minimum size increases for fish -- will be virtually unnoticeable by anglers. Shops will undertake a new computerized method of doing the registrations and weigh-ins.
The tournament committee would like to officially welcome new weigh-in shop and Classic sponsor Oceanside Bait and Tackle: 8201 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach Twp, NJ 08008, (609) 361-9800 -- http://www.oceansidebt.com. Stop by and say hey to store manager Valerie.
TERRAPIN SAVING TIMES: E-question: “Jay,
I need some advice. A northern diamondback terrapin has been wondering our dune this morning, probably looking for a place to lay her eggs. I am amazed it survived crossing Long Beach Blvd. I thought you might be able to give me some advice on helping her survival. I was thinking of taking her up to the Dike at Barnegat Light and letting her go there. At least it will be away from the busy roads here on the island. I've seen other turtles searching for nesting and laying their eggs out in the Dike area.
Is this the best I can do for this turtle. I would hate to see it as road kill on Long Beach Blvd.
I have been in that fix myself. Here's the primary problem: There is no easy way to change the instinctive signals being monitored by this lady terrapin -- sounds a bit like a gal on the U. of Maryland basketball team.
If the odds of survival for this egg-carrying terrapin are otherwise slim and nada, I think it might be a good idea to redeposit her in the vicinity of The Dike in High Bar Harbor, or even the public portion of the natural area in Holgate, adjacent to the Forsythe Wildlife Refuge. This is not to say the waylaid lady won't then think to herself, "Do you believe this? I finally get to where I want to go and they drag me off to who knows where. Now I have to get all the way back home. I swear I’m done with egg laying.”
On a far more scientific angle, the vigilant folks at the Wetlands Institute (www.wetlandsinstitute.org), Stone Harbor, have been minding the diamondbacks since 1989, part of that group’s Diamondback Terrapin Conservation Project.
Coordinator of Research at the institute, Ilene Eberly, said this past weekend was like a shotgun start for the terrapin’s seasonal arrival. Just like that, the reptiles were “coming out of the woodwork,” she said.
I tried getting some insights on how LBI folks might aid and assist egg-laden terrapin in reaching their destinations. The first thing Eberly emphasized was public safety when stepping out to assist a street walking turtle.
I swear she heard about those turtle-saving times I’d stand in the middle of the Boulevard holding my arm up like a crossing guard – sans safety vest or one of those cool hand-held “STOP!” signs. And as zippy as I am, it was only last second dive-away bailouts that kept me from becoming the crushed one instead of the terrapin.
So, per the Wetlands Institute, always abide by the “Look both ways” mandate. Or is it “Stop, look and listen?” Whichever, abide by it.
Eberly noted that the Institute has had people who actually rescued terrapins off the Parkway! Forget about it. Even I’m not that fast.
Anyway, safely helping a terrapin cross the road is still a small step for mankind, in a humane sorta way. The trick to such help-alongs is to keep it brief. Except in instances where up ahead is sure doom for the traveling turtle, it’s best to just let it go on its merry genetically- programmed way – once you’ve hand-delivered it to the other side of the road. No, you don’t hustle the turtle across the road through verbal commands and little nudges to it backside.
So, what about those nests inconsiderate terrapins have rudely chosen to place in your backyard – once open marshlands?
You can actually cage them in fro their own good, providing you’re around many weeks later to keep a close eye open at hatch time. I’ve seen this cage-in method done with amazing success – namely, my amazing success. And I got such a rush when the hatchlings looked up at me and yelled, “Daddy!” – that was until that whole paternity suite fiasco reared up years later.
Back to reality, it is also possible to transplant terrapin eggs if a nest is in an untenable spot – like the backyard volleyball court I play in every summer. However, a steady hand is required when conveying eggs.
Terrapin eggs are laid just so. Sunnyside up, so to speak. The yoke migrates early on and cannot be rotated thereafter. Egg transfers entail meticulous non-traumatic removal from the de-chosen nest, upright un-jostled transport to the new spot and mimicked placement of the eggs into a you-made 6-inch hole. That legwork is followed by a cover-up with sand. Note: Make sure your nest site has relatively clear access to the bay. Hatchlings are tiny little guys and gals. Even a stand of seemingly scattered phragmites could mean no way out.
As for hatchlings themselves – and many are found as the summer wears on – they can be placed in some freshwater (they are often found dehydrated) and held until night for clandestine after-dark release. This gives them the best chance against the likes of brutally gluttonous gulls. Remember those laughing gull scenes from “Saving Nemo”? Enough said.
By the by, the folks at Wetlands are as dedicated to conservation as they come BUT they simply can’t accommodate terrapin rescue calls from all over kingdom-come.
If you’re ready to go the long-term rescue route, there are numerous websites offering every suggestion in the books. The only rescue effort that’s verboten is keeping one in an aquarium, at least here in Jersey. Since diamondback terrapins are on the iffy list, survival-wise, you need a permit to keep them as a pet. And the state doesn’t hand thos permits out very easily – or very quickly.
Hey, if you and the kids have a successful terrapin rescue, especially via that cage route, let me know.
RUNDOWN: Bassing has slowed a bit, to be sure. It is down to what’s happening out there day to day. But, changes have come overnight on a number of occasions, most often erupting off of IBSP and to a lesser degree outside Little Egg Inlet.
The most upbeat surfcasting news is coming off the beaches of the south end – up to the south part of mid-Island (got that?). A 42-6 non-tourney bass was taken in Beach Haven by a visiting family just testing the local waters. It went for clams.
Last week, Brigantine went wild with surf bass into the 50-pound range – including some that were photographed and released.
Point of interest: It is far more likely that fish being caught in Brigantine, i.e. the other side of LE Inlet, will cross over to Holgate then move up LBI than the fish being taken off IBSP coming across Barnegat Inlet. That’s not just based on migratory trends this time of year. It applies during all fishing seasons -- with a lower likelihood at the very end of the fishing year. Hey Simply Bassin’ 2009 could see a 50 in the next few days, based on those Brigantiners.
The weekend also saw a slew of sizeable surf stripers being taken at an other-guy pace, i.e. many folks saw real good fish caught by neighboring surfcasters. I had both skunk reports and kick-ass reports from the same area, always symptomatic of a very selective bite.
The boats toying around within the testy water of Beach Haven Inlet had fish into the 40-pound zone. XYZ forewent targeting bunker pods – for a snag-and-drop – and instead walked some eels, besting bass to 42 pounds. That crew had something like 14 fish in a day’s work – two trips.
PLEASE: DO NOT try to work the BH/LE inlet’s outer shoals unless you’re totally familiar with those dodgy, even deadly, waters. That holds especially true on days when visibilities are down. Most of all, do not follow the leads of other boats you spot out there. It might be the place to be for them – but not for you.
A spattering of weakfish are just now arriving. Great Bay, Little Beach and Grassy are showing a few. These seem to be either smaller fish for the second spawn (after the big fish are done) or non-breeders. They are maybe a couple pounds with a rogue spawned out tiderunner fattening up in the vicinity of The Dike.
Speaking of the Dike, fly fishermen should be working that zone, late day. The flats are warming and those arriving smaller weaks should be drifting onto that skinny water as the sun slides – and boat traffic lessens. Bass are also at the far end of The Dike.
For the many flukers, it was easy hooking and fair to terrible keeping.
Easy come: A fellow sent me an email about a beautiful 18-inch fluke be caught in the surf. The hookup got him fired up so he went to a high-intensity cast-and-retrieve, common to proper fluking. While slowly retrieving a strip of bunker, he saw some nearby beachwalkers gingerly releasing a fish back into the water. It was his prized fluke. He was dismayed – but not upset. At first he thought it was just some anti-fishing types but heard from a nearby sunbather that the fish had apparently worked its way out of a sandy hole the caster had made and was half way back to the ocean when the walkers saw it, assumed it had somehow accidentally grounded itself and carefully let it go. “I could see the trail the fish had made. It really was a long way from my bucket,” he said, noting “I didn’t catch any more and had to buy fish for dinner.”
Small blues remain AWOL. Now and again someone comes across a flare-up of them but absolutely nothing like where they should be. That is very weird, fully unexplainable though it aligns with a not-so-good past fall.
Also barely showing are kingfish and blowfish. Again, unexplainable.
I had been wondered why no big sharks were being reported when I heard of huge threshers outside Little Egg Inlet and got this email: “Jay
I was up at IBSP today for a birthday party. Went up to the beach around A-7 and watched a LARGE thresher shark smack some bunker through the air. By the looks of the tail, it was a 400-500lb shark. Cool thing was watching a local osprey flying out to swoop in on some easy pickins of stunned bunker…Joe H.”