Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

A $912,825 Saltwater Fishing License;

Global Warming Gets Competition

UH, I THINK I FORGOT SOMETHING: If I were to make a story like this up, you wouldn’t believe me for an instant. I could even legitimately headline it, “Saltwater fishing license costs $912,825” and you’d balk -- and make those “pffff” sounds that accompany a “Whadda buncha BS” rating. But just check out this for-real tale.

During the 52nd annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament, held this past weekend, the boat Citation landed a tourney record 883-pound blue marlin. The fish was surely the grand prizewinner in the $1.66 million event. The winnings would exceed $900,000.

Being a top competitive vessel, its crew had hooked, fought and landed the amazing fish by the books. All IGFA mandates easily met.

At the event’s banquet on Saturday night, it looked like smooth sailing into the winner’s circle for the Citation. Instead, a pall fell over not only the boat and its crew but also the whole contest. Word bounced around the hall that something had gone badly awry during the mandatory lie-detector portion of the fish verification process. But surely nothing illegal had been done during the catching of the fish. The crew was comprised of top pros.

Yep, they were top pros, all right, but with one small matter having slipped through the regulatory cracks. A single crewmember was lacking (it truly pains me to say it) his saltwater fishing license. Yes, that diabolical piece of federal/state registry paperwork that has irked anglers along the entire Eastern Seaboard. Understand that North Carolina has had its license in place since 2007.

A recreational saltwater fishing license in NC costs $15. A block of 10 10-day fishing licenses can be bought for $150. Dare I re-mention, the gaffe costs $912,825. I’m wondering where the next gaff is aimed in this tale. There was no word on which of the crewmembers was guilty.

Per a news story in JDNEWS, “It hurts,” said angler Andy Thomossan, 63, who caught the record 883-pound blue marlin. “No record. No money. No fish. No nothing. Yep, it’s a nice ending to the story, isn’t it?”

Thomossan was also quoted as saying, “We didn’t do anything wrong. But one of our people did. He failed to get a fishing license, but we didn’t know it. He told us he had it. He didn’t. So you take a man for his word, you know? I can’t do anything. They made their decision.”

I’m bringing up this story mainly for shock and awe. However, one has to wonder if this entire paperwork registry thing, now going on in Jersey, might not have some ass-bites lurking within.

Per usual, I’m already getting fired up for my role in the annual Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club’s White Marlin Invitational, right around the July bend. My guess is all anglers involved should have their free-but-mandatory saltwater fishing licenses. Of course, that’s for the guys on the tourney committee to establish, but who’s to say that Fish and Wildlife enforcement might not saunter in during the tourney and ask for paperwork. And, remember, the violation in North Carolina was caught in the lie detector session, so it’s not like there’s an escape hatch to dive through when asked if you have a “license.”

SOMEHING FISHY TO GO WITH GLOBAL WARMING: I’ve noticed there is now enough daylight to fish until past 9 pm. I never recall the days being so long. Once again, it must be global warming rearing its ugly head. Who knows how long the days will be once the planet really gets cookin’. (Just joking)

As much as I pull the chain on global warmists/alarmists, even I got an esoteric chuckle from some totally bizarre findings recently made in deep waters off the Falkland Islands. If you’re a dead-in-wool alarmist, you might want to pass on this segment, lest you end up sweating even more end-of-world bullets.

First: Raising sea levels, high ozone counts, dissolving bergs. Everybody is now focusing on those admittedly eerie Earthly happenings -- assumed to be geo-alerts to something cataclysmic coming our planetary way. Well, I’m not so quick to buy into that portentous pork roll. Sure, I’ll agree that something wicked this way comes, as far as mankind’s deleterious impact on our world. However, don’t feed me that “by next week” timeframe, as is being bandied about by abandonists – folks wanting all coastal residents to begin moving quickly but calmly onto the mainland. Dollars to destructive donuts, we can get a generation or two more out of our coastline homeland. It’s worth every minute.

Also, inexplicably, the sea is not rising at nearly the clip predicted a mere decade back. It will rise, indeed, as it has during every warming phase the planet has bandied about since it was born, billions of years ago. The hike in water height is going to happen as the planet dictates, not as scientists surmise.

Now, to the meat of this columnized morsel. As woebegone warming whets the appetite of overeager abandonists, I’m actually fretting over some deepwater fish findings recently reported in the publication, EarthNews. Get this: Deepwater marine species hitherto known only in the north Pacific Ocean have begun to migrate – with seeming haste – into the southwest Atlantic Ocean, down off the Falklands. We’re talking a jaunt of about 10,000 miles, as the sea crow flies. Some of the Pacific émigrés now being found happily hanging out in the far-south Atlantic include giant rattail grenadier, pelagic eelpout and deep sea squid.

So what, you say -- not wanting to yield your global warming thunder to such actual happenings? For the past few years, scientists (with as little to do as those making a mint by repeatedly verifying global warming) have noted odd pulses in the Earth’s polarity. Polarity is the thing that steadies the whole planet on its axis. It holds us at just the right angle for a well-balanced life within the solar system. In fact, you might have already heard of an imminent “reversal” of the planet’s polarity.

With that cheery thought in mind, these maniacally migrating Pacific fish now off the Falklands have gone to the exact spot that will/would become the magnetic equivalent of where they had been. It’s identical to a football team changing field position at the end of a period, or ice hockey teams changing ice ends after each period, or basketball teams … you get the drift. So is this an augury of upcoming awfulness?

Per usual, I try to imagine that first sea creatures readying to make a migratory move like nothing seen before. An assumed dialogue between a giant rattail grenadier and a pelagic eelpout:

“Hey, Gren. You wanna go watch the sea fans spawn tonight?”

“You mean like we’ve been doing for the past three weeks, Eely? You do know that’s getting dangerously close to rampant voyeurism, don’t you?”

“OK, skip that. How ‘bout we swim up behind sharks, bite their tails then tear back into the crevices and yell things at them -- you know, Monty python-like?”

“Oh, that’s really mature, Eely. No, I actually I have something different planned for tonight.”

“Yeah? What’s that, Gren?”

“Truth be told, I have this overwhelming urge, an uncontrollable compulsion as it were, to swim to the other end of the planet.”

“Yeah, right. So, Gren, how ‘bout we sneak up on some sleeping squid and tie all their tentacles together then yell ‘Fire!’?”

“Fire? Eely, you do realize we’re under the sea, right?”

“Hey, whadda squid know? Ink for brains.”

“You’re not like the other fishes are you, Eely?”

“Maybe not, Gren, but at least I’m not goin’ around sayin’, ‘Oh, I think I’ll go out and swim to the other side of globe today,’ like a certain bottom-feeder I know. ”

“Whatever, Eely. I’m outta here. Other end, here I come.”

“You’re ridiculous, Gren. Sand dollars to donuts, you’ll just wind up falling over the edge of the ocean.”

“Possibly Eely, but I cant get over this urge. It’s like I’m being magnetically drawn down there.”

“Oh, hell’s bells. Wait up. I’m getting tired of all that sea fan groaning and moaning anyway.”

I bring up this very odd fish migration to show how easy it is to swim headlong into doom and gloom. However, by simply applying science over hysterics, the monumental migration can be explained by the deep down effects of melting ice caps. It is highly likely that the melting has led to enhanced deepwater global currents, possibly even the freeing up of shallows once blocked by ice. A veritable causeway may now run from cap to cap. Pacific species can now circumnavigate the planet by simply going with the flow. In fact, on a smaller scale, there seems to be shallow North Pacific species of fish now traveling under the Arctic and over to the North Atlantic, using waterways frozen solid only a couple decades back.

So, we leave the terror of an impending switch in the planet’s polarity – pulling the plug on most life forms -- and settle into far more comforting end-of-world global warming route. Life is good.

OCEAN TEMP NOTE: Ocean water temps have been toying with the mid-60s but are inclined to drop very quickly with a south blow. Even 8 hours of honking southerly winds can usher in water temps as low as 50, as surface water is blown away and bottom waters well up to meet the call. This upwelling occurs much more quickly in spring and early summer, since cold water is just slightly below the surface. A way to get a feel of the bottom water temps is when unhooking an ocean fluke. Those fish can be freezing cold to hold while unhooking.

By the by, the warming of ocean water along the shoreline/beachline is via solar heating -- and the accompanying ambient air temperatures. Warm water along the beach is not the result of “the Gulf Steam moving in,” as you’ll hear people claim. The sun, all on its own, can quickly work wonders on surface waters. A series of days with air temps in the 90s, a beating down sun and light winds can jack water temperatures up by ten or more degrees.

REMOVE BYCATCH -- OR PAY: I got a report of a bay angler, D.J., who recently went out to check on weakfish – and wound up getting popped for an undersized blue claw crab.

D.J. had done the famed pre-weakfishing ritual of dragging his grass shrimp net/dredge along the bottom. The first thing he noticed was the amazing showing of grassies (grass shrimp) on the west side of the bay. He had quarts within a few pulls. Unbeknownst to D.J., he also had a tiny bycatch hitchhiker, a mini blue claw crab.

Shrimped up, the angler headed out to see how the weakie stocks were looking, not really that interested in even the one allowed take-home fish.

Before he could get a good read on the bite, along comes the man.

Despite a mere handful of Marine Police and Fish and Wildlife officers to cover massive areas of the state’s waterways, it sure seems they show up with the regularity of beach badge checkers. In this case, the enforcement officer arrived aboard a very generic looking bay boat, one that took on a whole different flare when the uniformed officer was suddenly standing at the hull, pulling up to D.J.’s boat.

Not that D.J. was overly concerned. Sure, there was that minor issue of not having renewed his dredging license for 2010. OK, so maybe that wasn’t so minor. However, it was when the officer took to combing through DJ’s shrimp haul that things got citation-esque. Just like that, he found the sole undersized blue crab among the mix of crustaceans. Hell, the crab was only about four inches short of the 4.5-inch minimum size limit for that species. There’s gotta be some leeway, eh?

In one of those “I’ll tell what I’ll do” thingies that cops are so clever at spontaneously devising, the “No License” transgression was reduced to a warning, whilst the crab offense was filed. It translated into something like a $75 dollar fine.

Even though the dredging of grassies will be at an all-time low this summer -- with only one keeper weakie a day -- many anglers still net shrimp to chum for stripers, mainly around rocks and bridges. And I’ll be the first to admit that during hauls it’s a load of work to loose creatures other than the targeted shrimp. However, those ultra small flounder, sea bass and blue crabs are each violations in waiting. The math can get to bank-buster levels if you’re really careless. Also, get that license. The officer you come up against might not be big on warnings.

ANLGER IS REALLY BURNT UP: “Jay, Had a fair day fishing for fluke (LEH). We got the better fish by switching to jigs and hopping them. … Have any cures for a wicked sunburn. I used loads of lotion and my white skin still went pure red. It was ugly … Allen.”

(It’s all damage control when the damage is done, Allen.

I assure you I’m a bad-burn expert of the highest order. I’ve peeled my way through a lifetime of brutal pre-tan burns. Check out a wintertime NJ face that has suddenly been subjected to eight hours of surfing under a tropical Hawaiian sun. I did it annually – for decades. “I’m sorry, sir, you can’t come into the restaurant looking like that. People are eating.” Hey, the people eating lobster shouldn’t have any problem with my look.

Anyway, I promise you there is absolutely nothing better to heal sun-savaged skin than Noxzema -- all but gobbed on if your skin, can take it.

No, the Alberto-Culver company does not give me my very own Hovercraft for endorsing their cold white Noxzema cream. The stuff has simply been the ultimate sunburn relief goop for almost 100 years.

Invented by Dr. Francis J. Townsend in 1914, the formula was first called "Townsend R22" and was for sole purpose of sunburn relief. It was when Dr. George Bunting took over the formula -- and began mixing the stuff in his bathtub -- that it hit the shelves and the many uses of the seriously smelly stuff came to the fore. Initially, eczema sufferers raved about its benefits, so Bunting cleverly combined the words “no eczema” and came up with a name that could be taken in many ways – and used in just as many.

Another seriously helpful thing for your sizzled skin is to keep it watered down. Using a fine mister or one of those aerosol water products (like Avian), just keep the skin damp. You can couple that with the Noxzema. Repeat watering, while watching TV or whatever.

All that might sound very high-maintenance but I once read a study suggesting that a single bad sunburn can sow the ugly seeds of future skin cancer. I believe, the more you help heal a burn, the lower your chances of that wound – and a burn is a bad wound – will lead to the Big C.

Obviously, prevention is the surest and safest way of fighting skin cancer. But, I have yet to find a sunburn protector – I don’t care if it’s SPF 1000 -- that can utterly protect lilywhite skin from a blazing ozone unencumbered summer sun.

RUN-Down: Here’s the unofficial final leaderboard for 8-week Simply Bassin 2010 tourney. Congrats to all.

1) 49-06 - Dante Soriente

2) 42-14 - Jason DelPalazzo

3) 42-9 - Tim Stumpf

4) 41-12 -- Shawn Taylor

5) 38-6- - Todd Callan

6) 38-4 -- Kenny Niel

7) 36-7 -- Kurt Horansky

8) 31-14 -- Gary Naylor

Bassing has been sketchy, to say the least. In the surf, it’s very much a summerish pattern of early a.m., late day and after dark fish. Chunk baits or clam gobs are most consistent catchers. Sunrise is offering fish on plugs.

There remains a flotilla of trollers heading north out of Barnegat Inlet, looking for bass related to bunker balls. Sure seems to be some serious commercial bunker boats out there.

Fluking is surely not where it should be. While the “creeks” in Barnegat Bay have (rare) flatties to 25 inches, it’s not only hard to find keepers but even undersized biters are making themselves scarce. That slowness extends down to LEH and over toward Grassy and such. Again, you might hit a drift that contradicts the entire scheme – but don’t bank on it. It could be the bay is heating so dramatically that fluke are moving outward but running into the very cold bottom waters in the ocean, slowing down their eating urges.

Seabassing is fair but is also sub-par. This doesn’t mean it’s not a fine time to jump aboard a headboat or charter. Those captains will find the action.

Bluefish are awaiting those willing to look for them. Cocktails seem to be thickest around inlet but move in the bay a bit right at sunset.

Panfish like blowfish and kingfish remain critically AWOL. Something might be wrong in the big-picture system.

Weakfish are showing in patches. It’s tough to get a read on the stocks with nobody targeting them. Most are being caught as bycatch by drifting fluke anglers.

I got word that the spearing count is down. Sure, you can see plenty of them but there are usually way more than “plenty.” The folks who know the look of proper spearing stocks don’t like what they’re (not) seeing.

I did a few spot checks on minnies and mummichogs in the backbay. Looks fairly typical for this time of year, though 85-degree water temps in creeks off Road-to-Nowhere (Manahawkin) is up there – and could climb higher as a “heat alert” plays out for the mainland the rest of the week.

I’ve belabored this already so I’ll only note, the greenhead, black fly, mosquito, gnat/no-see-um and eyebug presence on the mainland is simply insufferable. During my killie checks, I had mere seconds to get out, look and flee back to my truck. Hideous!

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