Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Rocky Mistakes That Rule;
Fish Meant to Fight the Itch
As nearly as I can tell, the planet didn’t end last Saturday as predicted. At least I hope heaven doesn’t entail me slaving at my work desk.
So take that, Harold Camping – you goofball, prune-brained, false prophet. And I say that in all due respect.
I must admit Harry’s doomsday/rapture prediction did give pause to many folks, who took a moment to ponder what they would do if it someone far more qualified than Camping was making the prediction, like the Pope. .
Impressively, I talked to no one who would go instantly fanatical and anarchical. Most fishing folks said they’d, well, go fishing. They said this in a very calm manner, offering a seemingly serene solution to facing the planet’s final go’round.
A tad more expectedly, surfers said they’d paddle out and pensively sit in that last line-up, waves or not. Again, there was a calm resolution to their demeanor.
Seems I’d be the only one frantically trying to build a spacecraft from assorted household items. “Where the hell did I put that electric can opener!?”
Here’s hoping crazed Camping didn’t have you maxxing out your credit cards or giving away all your angling belongings – without consulting me first. “I’ll just hold all this fishing stuff of yours until after the rapture.”
Ponder point: Growing up there were these Camping-esque oddballs who would walk the street wearing body billboards reading, “Repent, The End Is Near!” Notice none of them are around any longer. Looks like they were kinda right, eh? And to think we mocked them.
GOOD ONE, KID: (If you read last week’s column headline, you might have been a tad mislead. In these days of last minute cuts, I nixed the following portion dealing with a rocky subject near and dear to our LBI hearts.)
I’ve been doing an inordinate amount of question answering of late. Be it this column or my work to save Holgate or my Save Barnegat Bay stance or my treasure hunting or whatever, I’ve been more than verbosely willing to wax poetic about how great -- and frustrating -- our coastal existence has become.
Of all the what-if questions, one of the coolest just came in from a college-bound high school student doing a “term paper” on LBI’s jetties. His question was at once simple and profound: “What would the Island be like without the jetties?”
As I’m prone to do when playing scientist, I felt compelled to first break the news that our so-called jetties are actually groins. This, told to a young male, forced a pregnant pause on his part -- as he pondered just what sort of person he had reached. I quelled his fears by explaining that groin is a concrete engineering term and one that can be readily exchanged between very mature individuals. On those grounds, we soon both decided to call them jetties – so we could bring a halt to our increased giggling every time one of us said groin.
Once our conversation was stabilized, I began my oft-offered explanation over just how dumb it was to ever have used jetties, i.e. hard structure, to try fighting aggressive sea behavior. Having wised up, N.J. today strictly forbids any more rock groins or concrete oceanfront breakwaters.
Of course, it’s easy to retrospectively ridicule LBI’s big jetty-building blunder, while coyly overlooking the fact it took place in the ruinous wake of the March Storm of ‘62. You’ve heard of the “fog of war,” well, there’s an equal obscuring of clear thinking in the aftershock of a huge catastrophic storm.
Back in those post-March Storm days, decent regard was given “anecdotal” input from old-time LBI locals, who were kinda pretty sure that puttin’ a whole buncha rocks on the edge of the ocean was the best way to protect the Island from washing away in the future. Of course, those were the same guys who were kinda pretty sure that the best way to rid an Island beach of a huge dead whale was by blowin’ it up real good -- with enough dynamite to register on the Richter Scale. As you likely know, that dynamite debacle actually took place.
Sidebar: Truth be told, nobody among the boys really thought that dynamiting the whale would work. They simply, individually and as whole, had always wondered what it would be like to blow up a huge marine mammal. It’s a man thing.
And no one was sure that building hundreds of rock jetties along LBI would keep the sand from fleeing. It seemed sorta logical to old-timers -- and also the Army Corps.
The problem is that logic often lies through its teeth.
Geo-reality eventually set in. It’s wow obvious that jetties and erosion are kissin’ cousins. Those regularly placed rock abutments in point of fact act as current intensifiers. As ocean currents are diverted around the ocean end of the jetties, their force intensifies many times. Instead of stopping sand from moving one way or the other, they add oomph to lateral beach currents, pushing tons of sand down the line. It’s like currents on steroids. That hydrological reality is haunting us now. Those old-timers are likely chuckling up there.
That means the beaches might have fared better without the jetties – or not.
Now that we’re through that science stuff, we can quickly go from the silly to the sublime.
On the aesthetic side of LBI life, jetties rock and rule. In many ways, they make LBI what it is today. Jetties have proven to be prime attractions for Islanders and tourists alike. There’s a sorta rock-hard majesty in those buggers, especially if you’re a surfer or an angler.
For surfers and related waveriders, the jetties are wave refractors of the highest order. That’s not really as scientific-y as it sounds. By holding sand on the leeward side (based on swell or current direction), they cause waves to break in a peeling manner, making LBI among the most famed surfing locales on the Eastern Seaboard –often serving up world-class waves. Without the jetties? It just wouldn’t rock-and-ride the way it does. Then, there’s the angling angle. Our jetties all but anchor our famed surf fishing realm. Again, some of the best beach angling action along the entire East Coast is here – and very much rock-based. In fact, come fall, there is a veritable battle for jetty space between anglers.
I once had a full-blown fishing rod swordfight – fully unfriendly – over the right to fish a Harvey Cedars’ jetty top. I won but didn’t feel good about it. OK, so maybe I did get a slight sense of accomplishment. Face it, it rocked.
The science behind fishing on jetties is simple. Little fish and other edible goodies hang in the highly aerated jetty zones. Gamefish know this all too well. And where there are gamefish, there are anglers.
Striped bass live and breath jetties, as do tog. Marauding bluefish bombard jetty zones, intent on trapping forage flush against the rocks.
Beachgoers and photographers are also drawn in by the magnetic appeal of the jetties.
Admittedly, the current, very sketchy, LBI beach replenishing efforts momentarily cover some Island jetties. It has to be remembered those beach repair efforts are in response to an all-time critical beach loss. No beaches, no fun, no nothin’. However, even when acres of sand are placed atop jetties, they quickly pop their heads out – sorta sniggering -- and soon reemerge, as fun-hosting structures.
What would LBI life be like without jetties? Hard to say. What I can tell you is what it’s like with them. They’re one scientific debacle that sure brought a bunch of fun in its wake.
BAD ACCESS MOVE: Per usual, politics are in the angling winds. First and foremost is Governor Christie’s attempt to do an end-around of the state’s constitution, regarding beach access and public domain. He hopes to use executive law – fostered through the Department of Environmental Protection – to allow each coastal municipality to decide its own beach access priorities.
For the great majority of residents and visitors, this change can only mean a loss of access rights. It has the high potential to endanger beach access to all of LBI, particularly Holgate.
Up to now, the thought-powerful state constitution has rigidly protected the public’s rights to the access sea. The concept dates back to Roman times. Now our chubbily Romanesque governor believes his thinking somehow transcends the ages. He wants every coastal town to come up with what access rights suit each town best.
It is doubly alarming that this move, if successful, will create a precedent whereby executive law not only bypasses our Legislature – and due process -- but can go as far as unraveling the state Constitution. None of us elected anyone in the DEP. That department does not represent us in the same personalized manner as our assemblypersons and senators. The DEP is not the group -- nor is the governor the person -- who should unilaterally decide matters as profound at the public trust doctrine. It’s depressing that the governor is forcing the public to fight for its long-established freedoms.
I should mention that numerous coastal municipalities would love nothing more than to inflict upon the public its personalized beach access rules. It allows for cronyism, nepotism and, indubitably, preferential treatment of the rich oceanfront homeowners. It also caters to overbuilding and unconstitutional restrictions of the nonresident public sector.
If you want to challenge this move, there is a local public meeting on Thursday, June 2, at 7PM. It will be held in Long Beach Township Court Room (in town hall), 6805 Long Beach Boulevard, Brant Beach.
FISH FIGHT THE ITCH: Fish that prevent itching? You better believe it.
The state of NJ now has a veritable battalion of anti-itch fish, which are now being stocked in lakes, creeks and (locally) ditches. And they’re needed.
To be perfectly clear, these fish don’t prevent itchiness, per se. You don’t rub their slime over your body to relieve chigger bites. Instead, these fish preempt itchiness by neutralizing, via an insatiable appetite for larvae destruction, one of the main things that make us itch, namely mosquitoes.
The state’s fish hatcheries have been working into the wee hours to raise mosquitofish (gambusia), fathead minnows, freshwater killifish, pumpkinseed sunfish and bluegills.
Once loosed into wateways, these tiny fish – as a group, now being generically termed mosquito fish – waste no time ravenously downing wigglers, the swimming larval stage of mosquitoes.
However, it’s a bigger battle of the babies that comes into play over the long run. Legendary for their fecundity, mosquitoes pop out eggs for all they’re worth. In fact, if going one-on-one with loosed mosquito fish, the insects would win out, hands down. That when the mosquito fish corps shows their productivity proclivity. Virtually all the mosquito fish species are capable of reproducing at just six weeks of age, thereafter popping out loads of eggs every four weeks (during warmer weather.) The battle is brutal for the wigglers and a feast for the fish. In theory, a natural balance is reached when there are not enough mosquito larvae to support more mosquito fish.
According to Bob Kent, administrator of the DEP's Office of Mosquito Control Coordination, three million fish have been stocked throughout the state.
"These fish make excellent mosquito deterrents, and can be more effective than pesticides,'' Kent said. "Insecticides require multiple applications every mosquito season; the right fish can eliminate or greatly reduce the need for any applications at all. For every acre of mosquito habitat controlled by fish, an acre does not have to be sprayed with insecticide.''
And battling mosquitoes at every turn is warranted. Mosquitoes remain, far and away, the deadliest insect in the world. Via malaria, mosquitoes kill more humans than all other creatures, great and small, combined -- including other plague-ish insects, like fleas.
In NJ, we have the luxury of being distanced from malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Still, we have had scary bouts with mosquito-borne encephalitis and West Nile. And it’s no secret to anyone in-state that we are cursed with some of the most vicious mosquitoes known to man. In the past, I’ve written about studies that found our saltwater marsh mosquito one of the most aggressive bloodsuckers out there, even when put proboscis to proboscis with all the mosquito species on the planet.
We have more mosquitoes to fry than just the saltwater marsh variety. Per Rutgers University’s Center for Vector Biology, Jerseyans can run headlong into 63 different types of mosquitoes. Count ‘em. While not all types “bite,” the females of the bloodsucking varieties more than make up for any slackers. There is a satirical sting of truth to the mosquito being the New Jersey state bird.
Proof aside: A fellow I met during a stay in Brazil, came up to visit and I took him to go crabbing on the Road to Nowhere, Manahawkin. Gospel truth: Despite a luxurious lather of repellent on both of us, we were put upon by mosquitoes the likes of which he had never see – even in the frickin’ Amazonian rain forests! He actually wanted me to go back to the Island to get his wife and bring her back to show her the swarms. I talked him out of that. It seemed a decent marriage.
For more information on the State's mosquito programs, visit:
For tips on reducing mosquito activities around your home this spring and summer, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/mosquito/owners.htm.
RUNDOWN: Seabass season is upon us. Those heading out to reconnoiter top structure points prior to opening day, report the reefs and wrecks are loaded with these top-taste bottom feeders. With this year’s late start to the seabass season, the bigger fish – usually the first to reach the reefs – might have already moved in closer to shore and bay. Still, it should be a banner start to seabassing season.
How about those stripers off the north end of LBI? We’re talking bass to 47 pounds. One vessel I heard from had three bass over 40 pounds, two of those over 44.
Here’s a related relay from Capt. Bill:
“Hi Jay. Had the Morgan charter party out yesterday trolling along the beach. We caught 5 stripers, biggest 35# smallest 26#. Capt. Bill, REEL TROUBLE CHARTER FISHING.”
Bluefish are accommodating many boats forced to stay inside the bay due to rough seas. The blues are ranging greatly in size Those typical spring 6-pounders are showing but so are very small (for spring) one-pounders.
The bluesy action is most often found beneath birdplay, though it need only be a few birds picking, as opposed to water thrashing flocks.
Top-water lures and poppers are the most fun to use, though plastics are sure to draw blues, even when there are no top-water indicators.
Here’s another report from a charter: “The fishing front has many choices to choose right now. Big bass out front on bunker, small blues in the back on poppers, and both bass and blues in between. Oh, and fluke are in the back starting to chew. Saturday's outing had several bass to 30 pounds. Today I stayed in the back and had consistent action with blues to 4 pounds. Blue crabs are starting to stir more and more. I actually saw a jimmy and shedder paired up yesterday. Capt. Alex. LightHouseSportfishing.com. “
It might seem that I often promote charter and headboat fishing – and I sorta do. One of the surest and fastest ways to get to the fish is via the pros. Even if you just go out with them to learn the ropes, it’s well worth it. And for you charters and headboats, make sure to get me reports. I love using them.
By the by, Pop’s Pride Captain John Koegler will once again be writing the summer fishing column for our sister publication, The Beachcomber. John is heavily into the goings on within the offshore gamefishing realm, especially its complex and confounding politics.
Fluking is going to be highly frustrating again this year. That’s easy to predict since it’s already utterly aggravating. I’m getting dismal averages out of the Little Egg and Great Bay zones. The worst boat report was 26 fluke, no keepers. A close second was 25, no keepers.
In west Barnegat Bay, some take-home material has shown but those fluke fillets are going to the sharpies. Face it, some fluke folks just have the knack – or the secret system.
Black drum fishing is slowish. Again, the experts are finding the few better fish, to 50 pounds.
You might have seen some pictures of the real nice black drum currently being caught in the Delaware Bay. This is one of the few fish species I haven’t researched. I’m not sure if any of the Delaware Bay drum fan out of the bay and head up this way. I know huge numbers of them head up the Delaware River. I heard that researchers are beginning to tag Delaware drum. If anyone knows the details of that study, please drop me a line.
SIMPLY BASSIN’: There were more surfside bass bumping their way onto the Simply Bassin’ surf fishing leaderboard. Jason Delpalazzo is on top with a 38-12 bass, measuring in at 47.25” long and a girth of 25”. It was caught in B.L. on bunker. In second, with a 30-6 striper is Cortland Foos. His fish went for bunker in Beach Haven.
Lots of time left in Simply Bassin’, so get signed up – and enter any related in-shop bass events.
IN PASSING: I was shocked and sorely saddened to hear of the sudden passing of hardcore surf angler and dentist extraordinaire Bob Turanski.
Bob had been fishing prior to his passing and caught a nice 37-inch bass. After leaving the beach, he headed home where he complained of not feeling well. He passed shortly thereafter in his bed.Bob was not only a staunch supporter of this column but he and I had fished together on many fall occasions. He heavily worked one particular section of beach, toward the south. It’ll now be tough buggying fro me to buggy through that area come fall.