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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Weekly Blog -- July 18, 2007 -- Poison me please

AND TASTE GREAT, TOO: While it’s proverbially suggested that we pick our own poison, I’m inclined to believe it’s the poison that picks us.

Hell, a few years back I heard a mild rap at my front door, opened up and there on the front stoop perched this frightened and forlorn little can looking cute as a button – it’s hair all spiked out. “And who are you, little fellow,” I asked.

“I’m an energy drink, Sir, but nobody wants to try me.”

“Aw, poor little guy, come on up here. I’ll give it a guzzle,” I said, followed by, “Whoa, tasty little bugger.”

If only I had seen that seemingly innocent can confidently throwing a wink over at the energy drink monkey lurking in the bushes.

Approximately 20,000 energy drinks later, the walls of my house are now golfball dimpled from my bouncing off them, compliments of quadruple-caffeinated, triple-taurined, hyper-ginsenged, bountifully-B-vitamined, notoriously niacined, super-sugared, freakily-flavored fluids in cans that began as tiny mouthful sizes and have now grown to dimensions once known only to serious Foster Lager drinkers.

But when it comes to poison picking, I’m not even in league with those fugu blowfish eaters in Japan.

A while back, I wrote in here about fish farms in Asia growing these drab-looking blowfish, technically members of the huge Tetraodontidae family, to assure a goodly supply of this puffer’s potentially toxic flesh.

These Asian blowfish are so deadly that a single puffer could kill 30 people without even resorting to marital arts.

Still, the potentially lethal puffer meat is venerated by Zen master self-poisoners, who ingest their chosen toxin sashimi-style, i.e. raw and thinly sliced.

Well, I got a great email from a NYC sushi chef who resides on LBI in his spare time. He gave me wild insights into the famed fugu eaters – and the sushi chefs that tenderly prepare the fish’s teetering-on-toxic flesh.

I already knew that it takes huge amounts of touchy technical training to become a qualified fugu readier. I also knew that a failed fugu chef could be sent to prison if he allows excessive toxin to leak into his sashimi, delivering a diner to that great sushi plate in the sky. What was wild to me has to do with the rush folks get from eating fugu.

Here I thought – and had written – the fugu attraction had to do with the fabulous flavor of the fish’s flesh, so tempting that eaters would tempt fate just to savor it.

Nope. It’s far freakier than that.

It seems that a favorable fugu dining experience includes a buzz that offers odd lip tingles and even a woozy giddiness. And folks pay $500 an ounce for this? Hell, the last time I got any sort of tingly aftereffects from a meal I wanted my money back and some sort of gift certificate.

But the entire fugu thing doesn’t end there.

Doctors have discovered that small dosages of the fugu poison – in amounts somewhere between lip tingles and nonstop hallucinations of old Godzilla movies -- can treat previously untreatable chronic pain.

How would you like to be in the test group as the doctors try to home in on the exact fugu poison dosages tolerable to a human?

“Can you hear me now?”

And when this fugu poison medicine hits the market will the medicine bottle label say, “Take one pill daily with rice and wasabi. Do not drive Toyotas or Subarus when taking this drug. Minimize the amount of sake ingested while on this medication.”

THERE’S NO DE-BAY ON THIS MATTER: I wanted to note a proposed development for bayside Holgate.

A Holmdel firm wants to build townhouses and a marina on an undeveloped, un-bulkheaded portion of bayside Beach Haven Inlet, as Holgate is sometimes called.

At this time, I’m taking no stance on the project, though that could change as various “Save the …..” groups get involved.

What I have to forward in good consciousness is a state law that demands no net loss of public access to the bay. In simple terms, anything built on the bayfront, heretofore, must offer an easement (along the water) for full public usage. Anything less than that is beyond unacceptable – it’s illegal.

Some of you might recall the highly fishable frontage in an open lot north of Hochstrasser’s in Ship Bottom. It’s gone now. I feel it was stolen away from the public when neither the DEP nor the borough made much of an effort to enforce state mandates requiring full public access to areas adjacent to the bay. Admittedly, the land was under a tax lien so the borough was hyper to sell it – and to turn a blind eye to public access. That was also during a time when the DEP was all but abandoning its involvement in controlling coastal building. We won’t even get into the pathetic piece of unused street-end land the borough offered as public compensation for the lost lot. Still, back then, that developer got his way by simply offering to build a new bulkhead. How bogus is that? How does building a bulkhead neutralize the public’s right to access the area? It doesn’t. And it can’t happen again.

While that may be water over a corroded dam, any new bayside building damn well better offer a load of leeway for common folk to reach the water’s edge.

This Holgate development will test the resolve of Long Beach Township and the State of New Jersey. More on this as it hits the planning board phase.

SPOOKED SPEARING THEORY:

Email from a 10year-old gal: “Jay, the other night I shined my flashlight on the water (near Barnegat Inlet) and hundreds of small fish began jumping around. Were they being chased by bigger fish?”

Nope. They were spearing going nuts over your flashlight beam. That bizarre reaction is very well known to many beach buggy anglers. We’ll pull up at the water’s edge, at places like Holgate, and our headlights will detonate thousands of baitfish that literally explode into the air.

There are a few theories on why the spearing do this.

Most folks prefer to hang in the comfort zone of rationality by saying the baitfish ballistically jump out of the water because "They're scared of the light."

Obviously they're scared of the frickin' light! Boring.

Now onto my eloquently exotic theory based on phosphorescence.
At night, these petite baitfish are so often put upon by gamefish, they're hyper-tuned to the look and feel of the water just prior to a consumptive attack, be it bluefish, bass, weakfish, their own shadows. More often than not, the tracks of arriving attackers are marked by the glow of agitated phosphorescent planktons and such. The gush of light related to headlights or flashlights is too damn close to a blitz glow. The spearing instantaneously respond by going airborne. Not unlike someone sneaking up behind you and screaming, “Spearing!”

Cool theory huh?

Run-Down: Bluefishing continues to hold its own despite the heat, with the inside of both inlets seeming to be the best gathering points for these always-game go-getters. Most are cocktail sized, 2-3 pounds. Offshore, headboats and charters can blast big blues until patrons’ arms go numb. That biomass is amazing.

Bassing is boring along the beach when using bait. Cleaner waters coming up this week should allow resident stripers to get at clam gobs and bunker chunks. Maybe some keeperage.

Speaking of bass, I had a jetty plugger tell me that there are usually a few small stripers to be had early day. He uses small swimmers at first but ends his sessions with an Ava jigs to get some depth and distance. The plugs seem to get slightly larger bass than the metals.

AVA INSIGHT: By the by, Ava jigs work very well when drifting for fluke, especially when heavier weights are needed during faster drifts. You can attach squid/minnie combos to plain-hook Avas (sans surgical tube) or hook the bait onto tubed models – red tubes being most popular. When working fluke, the Avas can be lifted lightly off the bottom but seem to work best when allowed to just bounce along the sand. The nice thing about them is their effectiveness in high-wind conditions. Fluke will readily come off the bottom to hit Avas should currents lift the metals up a bit. One helpful adaptation is the placing of smaller hooks on heavier Ava jigs.

The bunkerballs are way up north. They offer some bass on a pick-the -winning-ball basis. I had an e-report of a 40-pounder taken up off Seaside. The only bass shagging the chosen bunker pod.

Related e-report: “SEAFOOD SCORES WITH A 42 LB BASS! I was out with Dave of Connecticut and his family. The fog was thick but we were able to find this nice cow. It must of been still hungry as it had 3 big bunker and a whole snail in its stomach. We were 10 miles north of the (Barnegat) inlet in 40' of water. We marked a few fish and some bait and found this nice big one. It was a long ride home in all the fog, but everyone was glad they were going home with some nice fresh bass fillets. Capt. John A. Cafiero, www.SeafoodFishing.com.”

Crabbing is good but not scalding with backyard traps still reigning over cast-out traps and string-baits. Bugs at mainland crabbing sites are so bad it’s neigh impossible to hang in there without a coating of 100 percent DEET.

Fluking is fairish and highly off-and-on. Virtually evey good report carries tales of instantaneous fading of action, sometimes for hours. The surf fluking is very slow. With this frigid water in place, that trend may continue for awhile.

Black seabassing remains good to very good on the reefs and wrecks. The fish aren’t huge (like a few years back) but it’s easy to get a slew of them for dining .

The one-a-day keepable tog is often large.

I chatted with a weakfishing regular and things are not good out there, period. I was worried about that when I saw no new weaks coming in after the spring spawn.

I’ve been writing about the odd lack of kingfish and croakers in recent years, alluding to a possible resurgence in the down-South shrimp-netting industry to the south – a destroyer of those fisheries. What I hadn’t been processing was the hideous impact that the shrimping industry might also be having on small weakies. I apologize to that industry if it is somehow not to blame for the recent precipitous decline in kingfish, croakers and weakfish (historically tied to the bycatch of shrimping) but I still feel something is in play down that way. The loss of habitat to the south – and even locally – is also a surefire contributor to reduced young-of-year fish.

Where to fish: One area that remains high-po (potential) is Double Creek. The run from west to east (and over to the banks) offers plenty of go-to sites. Seems bluefish have made a summerlong home in that channel area. South end is seeing the Grassy Channel area offering a good selection of fluke and blues.

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