Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Weekly Column for Sept. 13-- A-Salt on cop and Illegal fluke tying

Burgers, Bull and Tortured Fluke

BURGER A-SALT ON COP: This is just a quick sidebar jaunt, since this story kinda cracks me up – and makes me very thirsty for some reason.

Years back, I wrote a magazine article regarding the fish sandwiches found at fast food chains. In a taste test, the McDonald’s Fish Filet, made from stewarded North Pacific species, got the top-rating by a long shot. Health-wise they weren’t bad, except for a disconcerting showing of salt. Well, the salt rap sheet on Mickey D just got a lot longer – and infinitely stranger.

Last month in Atlanta, Kendra Bull, an African-American worker at McDonald's, was arrested and jailed for putting too much salt on the hamburger of a cop, who claims to have become sick from the meat. The officer also felt the potentially felonious salting was done intentionally. Bull’s burger tale seems a tad less belligerent, i.e. a lot less bull.

It seems she was in one of those rushes to meet the drive-through demands and spilled a load of salt on some burgers in the making. Concerned about the high sodium spillage, she alerted her manager and the two of them de-salted the beef as best they could. Bull even cooked up a burger and tried it herself. No ill affects.

As drive-through luck would have it, one of the burger scarfers waiting in line was one of Atlanta’s finest. The officer got a salty one. He downed the burger – in its entirety -- and claims to have gotten sick in not time. No mention of what the symptoms were.

A fellow officer returned to the scene of the criminal a-salt and despite a lengthy explanation and apology from the manager, hauled away a stunned Bull. She was charged with reckless behavior. “You have the right to remain salty, I mean silent …”

Bail was set at $1,000 and a court appearance was demanded by a Deep South judge, who refused to drop the charges even after the details of the accidentally spilled salt were piled in front of him.

Can you imagine trying to get a case like that to fly in this part of the country?

Anyway, it took a while but the always-ravenous World Wide Web got wind of the salty strangeness and the blogs began flying out faster than Whoopers at noon. The worldwide e-rancor did not favor the cops by any stretch.

Bloggers feasted on the odd arrest. In fact, many bloggists were cops, virtually all of whom felt the incident left a bad taste in their mouths. There were also a slew of racially charged riffs about the spiced up charges against a black gal.

From my bloggering angle, I have to think more along science lines.

What I want to know is what salt sickness feels like.

Sure, I know all about sodium restricted diets and the light-headedness of high blood pressure but what in the name of blue-green algae was someone with sodium sensitivity doing eating at McDonald’s? Hell, doctors advise hypertensive patients to roll up their car windows when even driving by a McDonald’s at 55 mph.

I will also echo the Internet interrogators by asking, “Why did he eat the whole frickin’ super-salted burger?” Hell, had he played his cards right and skipped the blue flu phase, he probably could have finagled free normally-salted burger and fries for the rest of his life – which, come to think of it, is a bit of paradox.

Anyway, I’m just wondering what’s next. I doubt it’ll be a cop screaming, “Let me you’re your hands, Mister!” over too much powdered sugar on his donut? Then, again …

TORTUROUS DOSES OF FLUKE WEIRDNESS?: This past week, Stu D. caught a terribly troubled fluke that had a monofilament loop harnessing its entire body from one fin flap to the other. Picture a big continuous mono loop -- through-and-through on the right side of the fish and through-and-through on the left side -- protruding from the topside and underside of the fish. It formed an oblong circle – east to west, so to speak. The penetration points had healed over to where the line could move.

But there was more. That vicious barrel-strap loop had a length of flapping leader material attached on the topside. The leader had been broken or bitten off, allowing the fluke to swim off, albeit strapped with a load of lines.

The cruel set-up was seemingly created to allow the captive fish to swim around, to some degree. Someone had been livelining the fluke just for attraction purposes since there was no hook involved.

The fish seemed healthy, all things considered. Stu cut away the line and loosed the thankful critter.

It was surely one the oddest examples of angling weirdness on the books – and one I was ready to tuck away in the realm of one-and-done. Then, after writing about this fish on the daily blog (https://jaymanntoday.ning.com/), I was stunned to get this email: Hey Jay,

I read about that fluke that had the mono line looped around it. I almost got a chill up my spin. I caught a fluke yesterday (Sunday) with that same exact thing. The fluke was maybe 12"-14". I caught it about 3 miles SE of Barnegat Inlet. It had been purposely tied up like that for sure, with a leader portion that had a loop on it for livelining. The fish had begun to heal around the line but it was still on the 'fresh' side. I have never heard of or seen this before. I didn't think too much of it, but now that I see someone else has found a fluke like this, I am appalled… I think maybe a smaller fluke is weighted down as a teaser while drifting for fluke, kind of an attractant for bigger fluke friends to come into your bait spread, if you will. Regardless, this idea is piss-poor! WTF is wrong with some people? Jesse K.”

That second report turns weirdness into worriness.

My initial guess was the bound undersized flatties were rigged to attract sharks. The vibrations and blood from the wounded flounder would likely call in the men in gray suits. A hooked offering of some sort was likely somewhere nearby. That might also explain why these bait-fluke were getting bitten off at the leader. However, why use flatties as a dinner bell for sharks when the old standby of bloody chopped chum works admirably, worldwide? Could it be that these fluke really were meant to lure in larger flatties in an odd Judas sheep sort of way?

Then I got this read from another emailer: Hi Jay, I can't dispute that the fluke was maybe being chummed/livelined, but how about this theory: Some numbnut was trying to keep it captive/alive in his lagoon so he could "grow" the next world record over the next few years? Lots of loons out there. Joe Z.”

Whatever the butt-end purpose of this fluke rigging, the use of undersized fish means the user(s) was fully breaking the law. And I concur with others that this is a pisspoor livelining concept, even with legal fluke.

Anyone else have any insights into this odd chumming/livelining/aquaculture process? Contact me.

EASY TO SWALLOW:The 2007 barn swallow arrival – our own Capistrano thing – is making an LBI showing of cloudlike proportions, especially on the far South End.

These small top-flight flitters are perennial fall time sky fillers but this year they are taking their migration mustering to some new levels. Not only are here early – despite very hot, unmotivational moving weather – but their numbers are through the ceiling.

I’ve watched them closely for maybe 30 years and this year’s gathering is one for the books. Over the weekend they were not only super-swarming right above the shrubberies of what’s left of Holgate but – and very oddly – they were also stacked way up there, far higher than they usually feed. Maybe they were using a deli like numbering system, the up-high birds waiting for the others below them to hurry up and get done.

There are those folksy types who contemplate the yearly swallow showing as an indicator of the severity of the upcoming winter. Perish the thought, hippy dudes. We’ll be going into a nuclear winter based on the earliness and the numbers of swallows now showing. Besides, that contradicts my far more accurate winter-severity forecaster I procure by measuring the tail lengths of the mosquito larvae residing in the assorted 5-gallon buckets filled with rainwater in my backyard. My Anopheles larvae tell me it’s going to be such a mild winter we don’t even have to bring in the exotic potted plants this year.

(Sidebar: It’s not just an in-state joke but a national designation that New Jersey is the Mosquito State. We have 63 species of mosquito, including the salt-marsh mosquito, considered one of the most aggressive bloodsuckers on the planet. We should be truly proud of this distinction and I’m sure Jon Bon Jovi will pen a mosquito pride song to go along with his “Who Says You can’t Go Home Again?” maybe call it “Who Says You Can’t Get Bit Again?”)

HOLGATE HAPPENINGS: No news is good news as far as Holgate is concerned. No glowing problems during this first open week.

Things are still doomed down there, mind you. The egregious erosion remains in place, much as we left it in the springtime. We are surely losing the famed undeveloped south end of the Island, but, for now, it is an easy run to the tip – be it via buggy or leg-power.

There are currently no serious pinch-off points -- those are the skinny beach areas that get overwashed during high tides and prevent safe passage.

The cove right at the entrance, where the Forsythe Refuge signs hang out, will be hugely problematic once fall tides and storms kick in.

The worst overall erosion is near the Osprey Nest, marked by a large telephone pole with a nesting platform. There is virtually no land left between the oceanfront beach and bayside meadows just north of the Nest. Only 10 years ago that pole was 150 yards west of the beach, in thick shrubbery. It is now all but on the frontbeach. That demonstrates what amounts to a 50 percent loss of the entire Holgate landmass -- in just a decade.

As for angling down Holgate way, it might take a while before things go classic thereabouts.

Although we all agree that just being in Holgate makes it a good fishing day, the far South End hasn’t really taken off as far as larger fish are concerned.

A decent showing of small fluke was in the suds over the weekend but from here on in that bite is off limits with the closing of the summer flounder season.

(By the by, I was told that you cannot even have a rod rigged for fluke once the season is kaput. That means curved hooks — known as wide gap or Kahle hooks (specifically shaped for flounder mouths) are verboten. That’s does not include circle hooks which are always legal – and the ay to go whenever practical.)

Not unexpectedly, bluefishing is hot down toward the Rip and inlet. The problem is the blues are sub-cocktail, often mere one-pounders, only slightly above snapper size. There are some 2-3 pounders in the Rip during rising and higher tides. A baited hook almost always means a bluefish take, often within seconds of it hitting the water. Plugs get a rise from the slightly larger blues, though at a very slow rate.

Small stripers are out around the Nest and again near the final approach to the tip.

A couple keeper weakies were caught Monday at the west peninsula. They went for live mullet fished midday during slack low tide.

Over the weekend, boat-based partiers dominated the shoreline of the back cut. Those often heavily-geared folks – BBQ equipment, lounge chairs, games, even beer kegs -- disappear during the week and will go for good with the chillier air. No need mixing it up with them, even though they park right here we fish and collect bait. There is a new refuge sign placed right there, warning against certain activities. Another sign says, “No Dogs.”

Over at the Rip, slightly larger blues (cocktails) and a few kingfish have been taken. A slow go though.

Pieces of foam from wrecked boats are scattered along the beach toward the Rip, a grim reminder of the tragic boating accidents of late.

Weird sighting: I saw my first magnificent frigate bird as it flew northward over the west peninsula. What that huge bird was doing so far outside its Florida/Caribbean range was known only to that wayward flier but best of luck to him – and his buddy, Chessie, the wayward manatee.

RUNDOWN: Fishing is perking up, as well it should in September. Croakers, kingfish and spot (yep, spot) are now in the swash.

Here’s a fun e-report: Hi Jay,

…When I wandered up to the beach this morning to check out the conditions before lugging up the fishing gear, I quickly realized the weed had subsided, the water was still chocolate looking but very improved… I caught my first croaker of the year and saw two other anglers also catch a croaker. I also caught two little spots on the kingfish rig. Bob T.”

Spots? Wow. That might actually answer a question dating back to last spring, when folks were getting their bait pecked away to nothingness by some mystery biters. At the time we assumed either blowfish or kingfish. As you might know, down on the Outer Banks the spot drive swash anglers crazy as bait stealers of the highest order. Being a swash angler of the highest order, when visiting Duck or Corolla I drop down to hooks that are small by even freshwater standards. Spots galore. And none too happy when they were called into duty for drum fishing.

As for those highly desirable kingfish, they are strictly balled up. There are a few Island beaches (within Harvey Cedars, Brant Beach and Town) where anglers are managing between 5 and 10 of these feisty bottom feeders that many of us rate as the best tasting nearshore species out there. The size range is all over the place with a few takes approaching state record size (taken near Barnegat Inlet) while the majority of surfside fish running kinda small. Overall, the kingfish action is still very much down from a few years back when every street end had its quota of kingfish.

By the by, I don’t use the shorted form of “kings” for kingfish since the regal king mackerel already has that mimicker locked up.

Bluefish rule the roost, regardless of where that watery roost resides. There are blues of every size, shape and hue out there. If there is any subtle change in that summer-long bite it is the nearshore showing of sub-cocktail blues, maybe one-pounders. They are coming out the gills – much to the building chagrin of many. As I monitor the marine bands on my scanner, I’m hearing the expletives leak in as blues move in regardless of what anglers are targeting. I heard one very colorful expression when a fisherman radioed, “The damn blues attacked from all angles. They came right up and paint the water around me. Big mammas.” Not sure if that was a recreational or commercial transmission but I like the language.

STONE’S THROW TROLLING: I got this interesting email about insider trolling: This time of year really opens up to a type of fishing I really enjoy I call it coastal trolling (a bit different then inshore trolling) for it involves trolling even closer in. We target false albacore, bonito, and Spanish mackerel and blues. These fish are fun to catch on light trolling 15-LB outfits. Sometimes you can catch them right off of the Bell Buoy and do not have to run out to the Ridge or the Lobster Pots. For some reason this style of fishing does not get much thought compared to destination-fishing the reefs. Kids love it and it is worth giving it a shot. It also pays to bring a spinning rod to cast to those false albacore if they ever make the beach blitz this year. Christopher D'Orsi”

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