Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Thursday, December 28, 2017: Well, the sun is shining like the dickens and the sky has nary a cloud. Oh, also, the ocean is clean and pleasantly colored to mimic, say, Florida. One other small height-of-day note: it’s 17 frickin degrees out there, wind chill single-digiting across my face as I do an outback walkabout just to keep from going all Jack Nicolson. “Here’s Jaaaay!”
If you want to feel a bit warmer, 17 degrees Fahrenheit ain’t all that bad when compared to the concurrent -8.3 centigrade.
I know it’s cold when my still-amazing 2011 Chevy truck’s cruise control won’t light up, at least not until the entire engine runs long enough to shake off the metal-creaking frigidity. Oh, I did get the cutesy Chevy start-up message: “Caution … Ice possible.”
Possible? I left a glass bottle of Kevita Tonic in my truck’s cup holder overnight … and it busted! I kid you not. It froze so hard it cracked. No worry about a mess, though. I just lifted it out and any leaked tonic was rock solid – with some entrapped loose change from the bottom of the cup holder imbedded within. I forsook the financial setback and chose to toss the entire frozen mess into an outside recycling can next to my house. Watch, I’ll need some change and I'll be out there rooting through the recyclables.
THAT’S COLD, DUDE: I must bring up a highly-touchy, cold-ass topic for area homeowners: freezing pipes.
For those of you absentee homeowners, who have the pipes turned off for the season, you have nothing to worry about … until spring. Sorry, but return surprises are a Shore reality.
When I regularly and sensibly went to Hawaii for the winter, there was always an anguish-filled moment of truth when returning home in the spring. I’d fretfully turn the water back on – first at the road, and then under the house – and literally cringe, close-eyed, as if I was worried the mob had rigged the house to blow.
To this day, I recall the times of glorious quietude – short of the odd sounds made by de-hibernating pipes being gushed back into service. I also bear the aural scars of nightmareish spitting, hissing and spraying forth sounds -- as broken pipes cruelly sounded off. “Not this year, Jay!”
If my pipe busts weren’t all that gushy, it was duct tape quick-fixes -- just to buy some in-house time until the plumbers could fit me in their hectic, homes-being-reopened schedule.
During the current Arcticization, area plumbers are both licking their chops and bemoaning what will befall them. While work is always a nice paying proposition, the accompanying shrieking demands of insane customers are not unlike the pissy fits of the exploding pipes themselves. Pity the poor dispatcher who must take the calls.
By the by, it’s good to have a family plumber, via-s-vis a family physician. It helps to know someone when dozens of broken-pipe calls gush in on the first thaw day. As it sounds, a thaw day is the first warm-up, when busts in uninhabited houses let loose with all they’ve got. Over the years, I grew to know my plumbers -- and their families. I was fairly famed for dramatic pipe breaks beneath my 90-year-old, copper-piped Ship Bottom home.
I must somewhat cruelly pass on what plumbers have told me for decades: No house is safe from pipe breaks … none. Nope, not even that just-completed, multi-level beauty that Sandy helped build. It, too, can turn on the waterworks faster than a jilted teenage girl. Sadly, I know of many homes fully water-ruined from burst pipes -- to the point of needing to be torn down. Those catastrophic leaks were via unnoticed broken pipes that went bust in a big way, almost always within empty homes.
By the by, there are home-watch specialists in our parts. They meticulously watch empty houses in the off season. There are also in-home sensors that alert to water gone aflow within.
As to those of us residing hereabouts, there is no better freeze prevention method than the flowing-faucets routine – day and night. I know some folks aren’t sold on this water-wasting method but when it comes to a survival situation, like now, certain finicky conservation concepts go out the window – a window that should now get doubly sealed from the inside. Window kits can be easily found at local stores.
WHAT TO WORRISOMELY WATCH FOR: A sign that you’re getting close to pipe freeze-over is when rusty water shows from the spigot, or fills the toilet. While this can hint of problems all the way out at the street, it still means you came that close to flow stoppage; turn the faucet flows up a notch … in all outlets.
I know of some folks who rig the float arm on the john to get a steady flow going in the tank. Hey, this is about winter survival; pull out all the stops.
Another sure sign you might need to keep the pipes steadily flowing faster is an explosion of air when you first turn a faucet on full-blast; similarly, worry about invasive bursts of air as the water is flowing freely out of the faucet. They’re sure signs of flow woes.
Finally, one of the highly effective moves to prevent pipe freeze is to drag yourself out of bed in the middle of the frigid night to flush the toilet; twice in a row is nice. While waiting for the toilet to refill, do power turn-ons of all faucets, especially the “hot” side, which is sometimes overlooked when “dripping” pipes. If rust or air bursts show, leave the “drip” heavier than it had been. I’ve heard pencil-thickness is best on the most frigid nights.
I can’t believe I’m spending my one yearly vacation writing s*** like this.
FISHING?: I still think that Collins Cove is in-line for ice fishing by early next week, especially with Sunday night’s expected single digit lows.
As you might know, the temperatures in piney areas, like the Mullica near the Parkway, can be much colder than forecasted lows. If we hit 10 on LBI, it’s surely near zero at the Cove. That can lead to deepening ice real fast. Don't be the first to test the Cove's ice thickness. Let the locals – or numbnuts, in my former case – do the legwork. Yes, I was tethered when I once inched out onto the ice to test the Cove. I found out the cold way that being teethered does nothing to keep you dry, should things go south – which happened to me right right next to the bank, where the ice is always the most sketchy.
As to our bay freezing, that has begun – but won’t be fishable for many days. Yes, folks ice fish the west side of Barnegat Bay. Not me. I’ll try to get some photos if they do give it a try.
Going out on bayside ice off LBI is basically dumber than dirt, particularly dumb dirt at that. Baywater/saltwater freezes unevenly to begin with, then there’s down-below tidal movements that can create totally unnoticeable soft spots that are merely slush, not frozen solid.
Photo: NBC Philadelphia (former freeze) ...
That warning given, this is a tense time of year for our ice-rescue experts. Many of our first responders repeatedly train for these worst-of rescues. To train, they must gear-up and bust ice to imitate rescue scenarios. For the umpteenth time: Hats off to those folks, men and women.
Pets are the most common ice rescues. firehouse.com