Thursday, December 11, 2008:
OFF-SEASON NOTE: Yes, it’s quickly approaching off-season times, though this is actually one of my busier fishing times, as I try for all I’m worth to nab a couple “Christmas bass” – a yearly self-challenge.
During the cold (hopefully not cruel) months, I’m always looking for blog ideas of an angling or outdoors nature. E-mails and e-questions are prime sources of launch points for some blogizations, as you’ll see below. A great way to support this site is to shoot me a comment or question. Per usual, there is no need give anything more than your initials or email name -- if you want to stay anonymous.
This is the ideal thankfulness time of year to offer a deep thanks to those who contributed donations to the site this year. I assure that every penny went into efforts to keep the site up and running for another year. That stint of insane gas prices put a royal hurt on my updating activities, as did the failed mullet run. Also, a $2,500 bearing and brakes replacement bill also ravaged me. The work (thanks to Eddie’s Getty, Causeway, Ship Bottom) was needed to repair damage done by beach driving. My thankfulness: The shot bearing s had one of my front tires so unstable that it could have easily busted off. Having hat happen on the Causeway or Parkway could have spelled doom. By the by, my NING site (jaymanntoday) has ads but they are NOT mine. I may opt to upgrade that site and use a very (chosen) few local fishing businesses on my websites.
Email and response;
I came down from PA on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to do a little surf fishing. I was looking to be at a jetty around dark and, after observing few rods from Ship Bottom on down, I settled on a street end in Beach Haven…sat down on the bench at the top of the dune crossing, and put my binoculars on all those boats a quarter to a half mile out. Twenty - thirty of them, drifting and trolling. I couldn't make out fish getting caught but from your articles this fall, I figured it would get better on the beach as dusk approached. As I gathered my fishing gear from my car back on the street and headed for the beach, I walked up on two guys at the dune bulkhead who gave me a sheepish look, as they proceeded to fillet two stripers, about 22-24 inches long. They had just arrived in a car from someplace else; they did not catch them on the beach, not there anyway. I minded my own business and walked to the jetty area. After about an hour between 3-4 PM of casting a Black Bomber "recovered slowly" per recommendation on your site, and chatting with another fisherman there, I had wet feet and was cold enough to head for the car to warm up.
As I came back over the dune, there was a full grown Cooper's Hawk up on the light pole right over where the two guys had been cleaning the fish. It was looking down intently, right at that spot. It saw me and swooped down across the street between two houses and probably headed for Holgate and Cape May. There were no carcasses there on the wooded bulkhead, but there were bloodstains. I have observed the taking of shorts before down there and I have read your items on the topic. And also your article advocating legal taking of more shorts to balance out the fish population. But I was disappointed and a bit demoralized to see that. “
(The surfcasting remains inexplicably paltry. I’ve switched to small white jigs late-day and have at least managed a couple miniature bass – and a load of unknown swipes that don’t seem to be stripers.
As for that other more sinister issue, this time of year is actually fairly famed for the stealing of shorts.
I absolutely don’t condone illegal keeping of undersized fish, even if they’ve swallowed the hook.
My only caveat about sighting and appraising a catch at a distance — and I realize that’s not the situation you’re writing about -- is the way fish can appear undersized when they’re right on the 28-inch mark.
I note that for a few reasons.
Firstly, a fish in the hands of a large dude (or a more, uh, portly angler) can look mighty small. Hell, I’ve seen some trophy fish look less than dramatic when the holder is a big dude.
I also bring up the size reference thing since I personally only keep bass that are as close to the 28-inch mark as I can get. If it happens to be a skinny fish, even I’m surprised at the smallish look of what is, in fact, a legit take-home. In fact, under crowded conditions, I’ll often make a larger than needed spectacle of my measuring of the fish, just to let any distance onlookers know I’ve done the math and it added up, fair and square. And, yes, that same high profile measuring can be a clever distraction, however, in the majority of cases it’s a sign of legitimate size analysis.
Finally, I sincerely prefer that anglers not be overly judgmental or aggressive when out there, mainly to keep the fun factor in place. This is not to say that serious breaches of the regulations shouldn’t be duly reported – as I’ve done in the past (in truly heinous violations – but there’s a point where paranoia and spying become the angle of the day and the outdoors experience goes the way of anger and irritation. Again, I can tell from your email that you took the high road. But many guys get disproportionately steamed over such a sighting. Life is too short for that s***. J-mann)