Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

June 20 Weekly Blog -- Tuning Into Freaky Fishing

SOUND BITES GO FISHING: In lieu of actually catching fish, I often spend bite-free time devising underhanded ways to lure in the likes of mega-cow bass. Since most of my fish-coaxing brainstorms get me nowhere when it comes to mastering those mini-brained gill-wagglers, I also think up ways to simply mess with their scaly heads -- a bit of a payback for the way fish go out of their way to taunt me, personally.

Then, the other day, I came up with a bitingly brilliant way to one-up toothy plug biters. I contrived an incredible payback idea while listening intently to my toothbrush. No, the brush wasn’t subliminally talking to me – at least not the way certain pinecones and better quality duct tape does. Instead, my toothbrush was fully rockin’ out, singing the famed single “We Will Rock You” by Queen.

If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi Channel shows like “Ghost Hunters,” you’re likely thinking I had somehow homed in on the disembodied spirit of Queen’s lead singer, the late Freddy Mercury. Well, Freddy was definitely singing in my head but he wasn’t manifesting through hazy spiritual corridors loaded with cold spots and electromagnetic fields. However, he was in-brain via something damn near as freaky, compliments of Hasbro, the toys people.

I am the proud brilliant-smiled owner of a Tooth Tunes toothbrush, equipped with a tiny computer, an MP3 player and a three-minute Queen song, contained within a microchip the size of your average 12-pica sentence-ending period.

And here’s the freaky part: The brushes have stiff bristles to conduct sound waves from the MP3 computer into your head bones.

I kid you not.

The teeth are bombarded by the sound wave vibration that then travel into the jaw bone, which conducts the sound – words and all -- up to the inner ear bones and … well, Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise playin’ in the street gonna be a big man some day; you got mud on yo’ face, you big disgrace, kickin’ your can all over the place … We will, we will, rock you!”

All that accented with a pervasive taste of Gleem toothpaste.

Tooth Tunes are rocking the dental industry. Fastest selling toothbrushes since the introduction of those vibrator brushes that double as drink stirrers – and who knows what else. To reads about them: http://www.hasbro.com/toothtunes.

Currently, there’s a growing Tooth Tunes selection of songs. Famed artists are being approached about writing songs specifically geared for, well, dental hygiene, I’m guessing. Hey, anyone remember Spooky Tooth?

Word has it that Ozzy Osborne is more than ready to rock the enamel. Can you picture heavy-metal kids manically head-banging while brushing their teeth, holding the fingers of their free hand in the sign-of-the-devil arrangement? I’m guessing that would get the brush into those hard to reach places.

The reason songs have to be tweaked for the Tooth Tunes toothbrushes is to assure a selection covers a three-minute play time, assuring that rock ‘n’ brushers get the American Dental Association’s recommended brushing time.

Now, onward to my gleaming fishing idea.

OK, I know we’ve already had TV lures that issue sounds that “Fish find irresistible!” You know, those plugs that are “Banned in at least 11 states because they catch too many fish!” (Of course, we also know those gimmicks catch squat, regardless of frequency.) But what about a plug that simply messes with the head of a hooked fish?

Imagine this 18-pound alligator bluefish blasting your brand new metal Lure Tunes spoon and the instant the hook makes contact with the slammer’s teeth, a Metallica song suddenly blasts into the fish’s ears. Yes, fish have ears. Who knows what’ll happen? I, for one, want to know.

Besides my quasi-scientific interest in how fish will react to Lure Tunes, there’s the commercial fishing angle, as in anglers willing to buy any new gizmo out there – the freakier the better. Plugs that transmit songs into a hooked fish’s cranium? We’re talking a potential billion-dollar industry here.

I’ll bet anything that bluefish anglers will swarm to Lure Tunes equipped with songs from the group Blues Traveler, or any song with the line “Tearing me apart.” Hell, the potential of Lure Tunes geared toward blackfish is through the rhythm and blues ceiling. I think I’d go with the Four Tops “Reach Out, I’ll Be There.” And how about famed songs like the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’” for highly migratory species? I’m sure just about any song form the rock group Phish would be apropos. The future of fishing never sounded better.

My only concern is the truly overwhelming urge many of us would have, while shopping around for new lures, to bite into the hooks on a Lure Tunes plug -- you know, just to make sure we’re getting what we paid for. I can hear the dispatcher now, “Ambulance 47. We have another Code Dumbo at Fisherman’s Headquarters. Seems this guy’s got all the hooks from a Lure Tunes plug jammed into his jaw. You can take your time, though. It’s a country and western song. Let him suffer.”

SUPER SIMPLY: The spring Simply Bass Tourney wound down on Sunday. The event ended up with three fish over 40 pounds. The 40s-and-beyond went to Chris Rich (46-5), Patrick Phillips (42-14) and Robert Misak Sr. (42-0).

There was a stretch of controversy over the winning fish. It arose after it was learned that another angler had possibly illegally grabbed Chris Rich’s 46-5 cow, caught at night, as the fish was being washed up onto the wet sand. If the fish had been grabbed too soon, it could be an assisted landing, and thus disqualified.

I don’t have time to go into all the incidentals, but all the details of the hooking, fighting and landing of the bass were passed onto the International Game Fish Association, the planetary authority on what does or does not qualifies as a legal catch. IGFA is the final word on world record fishes.

Two different authorities at IGFA interpreted the incidentals of the Rich striper and both unwaveringly said it was a clean catch – and would have qualified for IGFA record books had the fish been large enough. They were familiar with similar scenarios in other parts of the country.

As I noted in my previous column, IGFA advised that it doesn’t even approach becoming an assisted landing until another person literally wades out into thigh deep (or deeper) water and all but stalks a hooked fish – a fish that is fully upright and swimming freely. That could not have happened with the Rich fish since it was caught at night with some larger surf. Wading out thigh-deep in the darkness with breaking waves would have been pure folly. Great fish, Chris.

In a later column, I’ll go into the essence of when another person can legally assist someone fighting a fish.

A huge thanks to all those who entered the event. The six-week spring tourney once again gave a super insight into the whereabouts of big spring bass. I’m sure we’ll see many of the Simply Bassin’ entrants in the famed Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic this fall.

Here’s the final standings of Simply Bassin/ 2007 (for more detail go to (https://jaymanntoday.ning.com/ and go to blog on Simply Bassin’)

1) Chris Rich, 46-5

2) Patrick Phillips, 42-14

3) Robert Misak, Sr. 42-0

4) Chris Lagrossa, 34-0

5) Jason DelPalazzo, 33-13

6) Paul Haetel, 28-13

7) Rocky Saraullo, 27-0

8) Greg O’ Connell, 26-8

RUNDOWN:The switch to light and offshore winds (early this week) knocked down a fairly aggressive ocean. The subdued waves helped surfcasters, most of whom were using clams, to get back to comfortably fishing for bass in the swash and groin zones. Problem is, the bass have not bounced back that quickly along the beach. Sure, little stripers are out and about in abundance but fish over 25 pounds may have sniffed out the increasing presence of bunker out a ways from the beachline.

And those big bunkies are balling up again – in a big way. While it is easy to locate these bait balls, especially when winds are light (and the water is crystal clear), the bass take beneath them has gotten very iffy. This slowness below the balls is being reported by many folks. However, the bar has been set pretty high when it comes to fishing on bunker, so “slow” can mean only a couple big bass taken. One boat I know of had three cows in the mid-30s – pounds, that is! – and one over 40. That captain had the gall to report “kinda slow” fishing. He kinda caught hell from others in the chatroom he frequents.

EEL APPEAL WAY OFF: During volleyball on the beach Saturday, I chatted with longtime surfcaster Manny, as he was being frustrated by what seemed to be stripers offering some serious swacks to his clam bait but unwilling to make the big commitment. We chatted bassing and Manny talked about the not-so-distant days when eels could nab every cow bass in the vicinity.

Not anymore.

Manny had a right-on theory on why eels may have fallen out of favor with the bass. Noting the stocks of American eels is way done (proven in recent stock studies), Manny felt the stripers simply aren’t as familiar with the snaky creatures. It is a “fishing from the hatch” concept in reverse.

This is not to say bass won’t slurp down an eel, they simple aren’t heavily tuned to them – or the eels usual place in the water column.

Live bunker are far-and-away the ‘hatch’ now. The bass have their eyes tuned to them. Should a huge surge in eels come along on the heels of a population increase, these slippery baits will return to glory.

A belated wow-congrats to Brian Dress for his 56-4 (you read right, 56 pounds, 4 ounces) while boat fishing South End. I believe he was aboard the Bounty Hunter. I’d like to see a picture of that fish.

And how about those gator blues just outside Barnegat Inlet? Mega-blues well into the teens of pound have blasted just about anything anglers have dropped down, including precious live bunker and herring.

It’s totally uncanny that the slammer blues have hung out nearshore this deeply into June. I have no doubt this is the biggest display of spring blues in maybe 15 years or more. All of us Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic aficionados are thinking we may be back to “the old bluefishing days” this coming fall.

I should note that the catch-and-release rate of big blues is through the ceiling. Even with my cook training, I can’t make anything palatable out of the huge fillets of slammers. I won’t even get into the PCB problems with both big bass and chopper blues.

No sooner did I write that fluke are being tempereratured out of the bay than cooler north winds blew, fluke-ergizing places like Double Creek. A slew of 18- to 20-inch flatties have more than held the interest of inside anglers in both west and east Barnegat Bay. Crowds are less attractive. Vessles have packed into many near-inlet fluke areas. That always means some folks are big winners (Paul P. among those), some big losers and most registering a decent time of it.

Still some frustrating bait stealers in the surf, though the big surf seems to have driven most of them elsewhere.

THE TASTE OF TIME: This past week I had some absolutely delicious BBQ-ed amber jack, taken from the Gulf last winter and fast frozen. It’s amazing that some folks badmouth this species as eating material.

Many of you know that decades past, striped bass was considered inedible by many local fishermen. The working motto was “You heavily season and cook striped bass on a split of wood. Check for doneness. Then, throw away the bass and eat the wood.” Nowadays, many of us know of no better eating nearshore meat fish than small striped bass, even over fluke.

NO LICENSE IN CONN. – FOR NOW: I’ve gotten word that the politicos in the state of Connecticut have rejected an initial bid for a saltwater fishing license.

I’m sure they had good reason to shoot down that legislation, however, anglers in that state – and other states for that matter – should not construe this as a victory for no licensing efforts. It is simply staving off the inevitable.

As I read it, the Magnuson-Stevens Act irreversibly demands an angler registration be taken by each coastal state. That registration – and it is needed -- is meant to home in on how many people are fishing. From that info, management can better determine how much is being caught per angler, providing they take into consideration folks like myself who are basically just out there getting an unwanted sunburn.

Any state that doesn’t develop a registration method will see the feds eventually step in, applying their own data-taking techniques -- and eventually pocketing any related revenue for D.C. to do as Congress sees fit. That’s not a good thing, as you might guess.

It should also be pointed out that a state government could fully absorb the significant cost of taking and annually maintaining angler information, thus bypassing the need for a saltwater license. You tell me what the chances are that a revenue-strapped state government would bypass an opportunity to bring more money into the system – while paying, out of pocket, for data collecting. Less than zero. Hello, saltwater fishing license.

It might be advantageous for Jersey to drag out its saltwater fishing license legislation for as long as possible, primarily to see what other states do – and the results.

As with most saltwater anglers, I see a perfectly crafted saltwater licensing law (or regulation, as the case may be) as a great chance to get severely needed revenue into the Division of Fish and Wildlife coffers.

Any other use of that funding is a profound misuse. Seeing those significant fishing-related bucks diverted into the state’s general fund is unacceptable.

By the by, the behind the scenes scuttlebutt in Trenton (Legislature) is the politicians are, in fact, eagerly eyeing the saltwater fishing license as a money-raiser for the state’s bloated budget. I have that from very reliable authorities.

It could be quite a fight for angler groups wanting to keep all those licensing funds in our fish and wildlife realm. I see an eventual compromise, with a goodly chunk of revenue heading to the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

An unacceptable licensing stipulation is hitting up out-of-state anglers with (much) higher license fees, as is the case in southern states already requiring saltwater fishing licenses. Up here, out-of-staters are not distant, semi-invasive visitors --as is the case in, say, Florida. Folks from Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York, are such regular visitors to our waters they all but qualify as locals. As such, they already put huge chunks of change into the Jersey economy. Driving them away with high license costs would be horrifically counter-productive to the state’s economy. I’ll also admit that a great many of my fishing buddies – including club members and friends to Holgate -- come from nearby states.

STILL REGISTERING: The 10-week Jersey Mates program is still in full swing at the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club’s Juniors Building, located bayside on West Avenue and Berkeley Avenue in Beach Haven.

Registration takes place Thursdays at 6 p.m.

This program is one on of very few training courses on becoming a mate on a charter or headboat.

For more information on this course, call John at 609-290-3349.

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