Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Feb. 11, 09 -- Weekly blog ... ready to dine on sea kittens?

Catching some rays down south Big Bass From Beyond; Love Those Kitten and Chips The most apropos fishing news I could find for this weekly go’round has to do with the striped bassing to our south – the land of rockfish rednecks. And some of this is kinda dramatic stuff by my thinking. In recent years, we’ve been both stunned and frustrated by the astounding take of winter monster stripers (over 50 pounds) down Chesapeake Nation way. We’ve been semi-mortified at the dockside display of huge fish that really shouldn’t have been kept in such ungodly numbers. While there are some indictors things may have slowed down there – slowed in the sense of fewer 60 pounders (after nearly 20 were recorded last year) -- here’s some highly informative data gleaned from exchanged emails between big bass data master Tony Checko and Lee T., an expert on stripering down south. Email from Tony to Lee T.: “Haven't heard much about big bass being caught in your waters this year, especially since the fantastic catch last Dec 07-Jan 08 tournaments. One or two so far is all I heard about. Have I missed anything? Tony Checko.” Lee’s response was very indicative of not just the numbers race down there but offered important ecological and legal insights. “I think so far this year the tournament has registered more than 100 (bass) over 40, with several over 50 and a couple of 60s. Water at the oceanfront has dipped way below 40 degrees, 37 in some instances. Most of the bait and fish have gone out past the 3-mile line. Not to say some charters don't break the law and still go get them. Lots of them have been doing just that. “I think we're going to see fewer and fewer real giants in the coming few years with all these sows that recreational anglers have been killing the past couple of years. One guy who had a 64-pounder in early January told me the fish had approximately 15 pounds or roe in it. That's a lot of babies that didn't get born. Lee T.” Lee had a follow-up email that further focused on the illegal taking of bass in the EEZ: “Our biggest problem here with over-the-liners is the Maryland and Delaware charter boats that come down here for the winter to take clients out. They violate the 3-mile line a whole lot more than the locals. Don't get me wrong, we've got a few around here who gladly join them in illegal waters, but it's mostly the out-of-towners. Lee T.” A huge congrats to Lee T. for telling it like it is, especially his insight into the tragic taking of “sows.” I now exclude him from all my future redneck jokes and jibes. Also, that EEZ thing is sorta fascinating. We fought to prevent harvesting out there to keep commercialites from tapping into the stocks but it now seems that zone might be serving as something of a sanctuary for larger bass. Works for me – until recreationalists flagrantly violate the law and keep bass beyond 3 miles out. I’m a tad surprised the law isn’t stepping in to hook violators. With GPSs and real-time satellite imaging it would be a snap to snag anyone even inching into federal water. BITE OF NATURE: Tuesdays are pretty much a loss for me when it comes to getting in some outback time. It’s a sunrise to midnight run at The SandPaper, as we put the week’s copy to bed. Grabbing my essential dose of outdoors time on Tuesdays is shot. As I headed to the deadline grind this past Tuesday, it was nature that zipped my way, offering a poignant midair episode most often seen in wilder environs. Coming out of the Ship Bottom 7-11, I noticed a flock of maybe 20 pigeons flying a bit oddly. There was also what I first took to be a straggler bird flying above them. The tightly balled flock would fly a bit right then reverse itself 180 degrees. Then they’d all bear left, then right. That’s not common flight patterning for generally lard-ass doves – of which pigeons are a type. Whenever I see animals acting oddly my first thought is an approaching earthquake or sneaker tsunami. In this case, it was that straggler that told the true tale. On closer examination, it turned out to be a hawk. It was a smaller raptor but it was as big and bad as they come to this flock of what was essentially corralled food – fast food on the fly. It wasn’t a question of whether one of the pigeons might soon be a goner, it was purely a question of when the ax would fall and which one would be the day’s big loser. As the frantic flock juked left then right, I could all but her each one saying, “Please don’t let it be me.” Well, one must not have said “please” just right. When the hawk made its fiercely fast move, no amount of zigging and zagging would have made an iota of difference. It was slow v. blistering fast. The impact of hawk upon its chosen pigeon created something akin to a feathery fireworks-like explosion, followed by a deceptively peaceful fallout of post-impact down and plume. As the surviving pigeons instantly reorganized and bee-lined back toward the Causeway bridges, the hawk and its McPigeon breakfast headed to an extemporaneous roost over toward The Fishery condominiums. I afforded some human-ish sympathy to the massacred pigeon, while tipping my hat to the terribly talons of nature. After that expected dose of nature, I was off to my office roost -- with a Red Bull Cola and Wholegrain Goldfish in my clutches. VINEGAR WITH THOSE KITTENS AND CHIPS?: I debated forwarding this wacked out news story since I’ve always been told that one should not encourage total nutcases, lest you egg them on to greater and greater levels of full-blown freakiness. But, how does one pass on anything that involves eating kittens? I now firmly believe that the perpetually psychotic group PETA (People for an Ethical Treatment of Animals) holds their regular board meetings in various mental institutes to garner policy ideas from the patients, especially those with cells surrounded by razor wire. And it was most likely from a patient known as Crazy Cal the Kitten Eater that PETA got the brainstorm that led to one of the most frickin’ insane moves this nutso group has ever made. Just ask Huw Jones, owner of the award winning “fish and chips” shop Finnegans Fish Bar in Wales. Mr. Jones arrived at work to find a from PETA’s European director Robbie LeBanc. It read, “We're proposing that Finnegan's adopt a new name - Finnegan's Sea Kitten Bar - to reflect the gentle nature of the creatures which it serves as food.” The premise is that catching and eating fish is the same as torturing kittens, sea kittens as it were. “Here kitty, kitty.” Being of fine English mettle and refinement, Jones unwittingly tried to discretely address the request as if dealing with sane folks. He tried to sensibly explain that all the fish used in the shop were from species within sustainable yield parameters. He didn’t realize, at first, that PETA seldom houses itself within the parameters of sanity much less sensibility. Ironically, Finnegans had just won a prestigious award for “Best Chip Shop,” due in large part to its adherence to the highest eco-standards. '”We won the title of best chip shop in Wales 2008 precisely because we are so ethical. All of the top 10 UK chip shops they have written to were chosen by the Sea Fish Marketing Board for supporting sustainable fish sources. So I guess that means they have egg on their face,” said Jones. Again, Jones displays a trust that he’s dealing with a fully-decked organization. If he only knew that a PETA member finding a poor helpless piece of egg on his or her face might self-destruct. Hmmm. After doing his homework on PETA, Jones got into the popular spirit of PETA bashing when he joked, “I think whoever decided to do this just needs a good battering.” Atta boy, Interestingly, I used to catch sea catfish down in Florida. They weren’t real popular table fare except when eaten young, i.e. sea kittens. DROP THAT ARTIFACT!: A short while back, I made a passing reference to collecting Indian artifacts down Graveling Point way. Turns out my loose use of the term “Graveling Point” got some legal panties bunched for an attorney from the Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Actually, I guess his concerns were fairly well founded since Graveling Point itself is fully within the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge. Most folks should know that the hunting (or even disturbing) of artifacts is strictly forbidden in virtually all refuges. However, in my write-up, I also made some geographical references indicating I was actually scratching around in the sands closer to the Graveling Point parking area (end of Radio Road), meaning I was most likely fully within Little Egg Harbor Township. I was using the Graveling Point name in the wider sense of the location. Still, I apparently loosed some concerns so I want to assure Wildlife Service powers that be that I was not on refuge property. At the same time, I want to offer a friendly warning to the many anglers soon to be stripering on what is official refuge sod banks of Graveling Point: you cannot remove – or even search for -- Indian artifacts. Note: There were, in fact, some decent Indian finds made on Graveling Point many decades back, long before it was owned by the feds. I’ve seen some collections that include fabulous finds from there, though many of those pieces came from down toward the front beach. JELLYFISH FOR MY ACHING JOINTS: While I get royally pissed at the Japanese when it comes to their seriously suspect fishing practices, the nation as a whole seems to have some real sharp cookies. No, that is not the source of fortune cookies. Japan often come up with answers before the question even arise. For instance, I’m pretty sure that no one had ever asked: How can we use jellyfish to make bone joints stronger? (No, you didn’t ask that just last week.) Seems some proactive Rising Sun scientists have discovered that protein extracted from the nation’s despised Nomura's jellyfish is highly effective in enhancing the density of cartilage in joints, particularly joints damaged by age or injury. These findings have an ingrained timeliness since flotillas of Nomura’s jellyfish are currently ravaging the seas around Japan. And being invaded by Nomuras is no picnic. They are the world’s largest jellies and commonly grow to over six foot wide (across the cap) and can weigh in at over 400 pounds. When they’re drifting about en mass, they can put a terminal hurting on commercial fishing. They’re breaking the nets of commercial fishermen. Upwards of 1,000 Nomura’s can sneak into a single haul. You do the weighty math. What’s worse, the poisonous tentacles of the jellyfish ruin any fish products in those same nets. By the by, the Japanese have never seen a jellyfish explosion like this, dating back to the times of dragons and Richard Chamberlain playing Anjin-san in “Shogun.” Being good Japanese, they blame the Chinese for the jellyfish attack. I kid you not. Theories being forwarded by Japanese researchers include the ugly impact from China’s just-done Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, which has increased the phosphorus and nitrogen flow into the waters between Japan and China. Such over-nutrification creates the perfect soup for jellyfish to breed within. The Japanese also assert that more and more ports along the coast of China have led to a plethora of pilings and bulkheads, upon which jellyfish larvae cling. The Japanese even call the kettle black by pointing to China’s overfishing, and the related elimination of natural predators, as the spark behind the jellyfish blast. For good measure, global warming is used to heat the stew over why Nomura’s have gone wild. Anyway, the way-aforementioned scientific findings regarding high medical possibilities from the protein within the gelatinous bodies of Nomura’s jellyfish may have an interesting trickle down effect on us. The Nomura’s jellyfish’s closet known relative – many marine creatures being unwilling to admit to a family connection -- is our very own lion’s mane jelly. In fact, the academically enticing ingredients in Nomuras are far more concentrated in our lion’s manes. Quite cool. Sounds like floating gelatinous gold to me. I’ll soon have a set of jellyfish nets at the ready – once I figure out what the hell they even look like.

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