Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Saturday Aug. 18, 2007 -- Coolish front and blasts from the blue

Saturday, August 18, 2007: Waves: Small groundswell out of the south is holding at 2-3 feet; still not sure where those waves are coming from but it’s the first far-south wave action of the summer. Water clarity: Fair – it had gotten pretty murky yesterday but cleared up late-day. Water temps: had dropped but inches back up top near 70.

The front took its time in passing through but the winds have swung and the feel of fall – early fall, that is – will be in the air for a couple days. The weather computers are vacillating a bit over what angle the winds will assume. It had looked like NE winds would quickly follow the front but now it looks like we’ll see a day of offshore NWerlies. These are more workable close-in but a bumpier ride out a ways. The speeds are a tough call also. It doesn’t seem steady winds will be more than 15 mph. No problems.

Hurricane Dean is a monster and will likely head straight into northern Mexico and Southern Texas. It is too early to determine if any residual affects could be carried northward after landfall but most computers now show the storm dying in the mountains of Mexico or possible totally crossing over to the Pacific side. Right about now you wouldn’t want to be owning a Brownsville, Texas, gulf-front home without flood insurance.

Thanks to the nearly one dozen folks who threw me IDs for my caterpillar creature. Best reference was: http://hilarynelson.com/Hobbies/Bugs/HickoryHornedDevilCaterpillar .

It’s great the number of new readers I get almost daily. And my regular folks are what keeps me going so faithfully. And I do get quite a few repeat email questions, as newer readers bring up points of interest. I had two readers over the past week ask about the “small lobsters” they found in the bellies of fluke near Barnegat Inlet. They are actually mantis shrimp, that seem to be out there in goodly numbers this year. These are very lobster-looking shrimp that can get over 7 inches long, though they average about 4 inches. They are sand burrowers of the highest order and are exposed during heavy tidal water exchanges, especially near Barnegat Inlet. The north end of the Dike is mantis shrimp central, as outgoing currents rip past that solid sand zone. Yes, they are very edible – to humans and fish alike. I have never used them for bait but wrote of a fellow who pulled a bunch out of a bass belly and used them to instantly hook more bass.

A writer called to say he has been having at least a fair summer plugging early-a.m. bass. Few if any keepers. I knew a couple/few folks were likely near summer-long glory holes on the beachfront but the overall read remains one of the worst bassing summers in many moons.

Weakfishing remains scalding hot in many backbay areas. I have seen a real drop in my night weakfishing, though I’ve only been putting in an hour here and there. Also, I had by biggest sparkler of the summer, one I couldn’t pull over the bulkhead so I had to do one of those climb-down balancing acts on the horizontal pieces of wood buttressing the bulkheading near the water – holding on with one arm while trying to one-handedly unhook what looked to be a the to four pound fish that fanged me for my kindness as I reached in to remove a pink sassy.

As we get into the late-season thunderstorms, often very radical as much cooler air hits still summerish air, I want to note the change in the Weather Service advice on when to bolt from the beach to avoided being bolted on the beach. The rule is now: If you hear thunder, you are vulnerable. Obviously, that rule is meant to take-in the incredible long-shot strikes – ones that hit as far as fifteen limes from the storm cell itself. Those Weather Service has a name for those long-shots. In a burst of unusually colorful nomenclature they are called “Bolts from the Blue.” That refers to the fact they can strike – and kill – when skies are deep blue overhead.

Even with the stricter read on lightening danger, it really comes down to that common sense of when it’s gotten way to dark and mean-looking to hang out one second longer. I do want to offer one huge bit of advise. As you take-off form the beach, that final stretch as you top the street end sand to head back to home or vehicle, you are at the highest point on the beach at the worst time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people standing, top of dune, waiting for other family members to catch up. Real bad idea. I take that final charge on the fly, not slowing until I’m on the west side of the dune.

As for boating and lighting, I’ve seen far fewer bolt strikes to boats than I have to beaches and dunes – and the people thereon. It’s not like boats are immune by any stretch but they are not nearly as likely a target as, say, a surfcaster walking off the beach with his rods over his shoulder. But boat hits do happen, mainly to smaller vessels (sans cabins) where the drivers are actually the highest points on the water.

Many years back, I chatted with a captain who had his boat’s antenna hit. He got knocked to the deck of his Run-about, as the bolt “bounced around the boat,” his exact description.

In a severe lightning event, it’s prudent to stop, throw an anchor overboard and retreat to the floor or cabin of the vessel and wait out the storm.

If any of you have any other boat hit tales, I’d like to write them up for The SandPaper.

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