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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Weekly blog-about: Springtime and sinking feelings ...

There Are Actually Fish Out and About; Things Really Sinking That Fast on LBI



For a change, let’s actually talk fishing. Why? Because we can, bro, we actually can.

There are invite-home stripers occasionally hunkering up to the beach line. Beach Haveners have caught a few. Most shops have had weigh-ins. Those striped hook-ups are bait-caught fish, though I like to think some vets are using good, old, tin squid eels. It’s a dying early-season tradition.

Being caught far more frequently are bass, to keeper-size, cycling through the bay, as far in as the Causeway. Hey, you can’t go any farther into the bay than the bridges; after that you’re heading back out of the bay. That sorta means the entire bay region has bass potential, coming and going. You’d be amazed how many hardcore bassers have never made a few casts off their bayside docks or from bayside street ends. The fish are there.

Per ongoing stomach content reports, bayside bass are fattening on crustaceans and, at night, on large bunker, which are always insanely packed into balls near the bridges this time of year. However, having toe-to-toe bunker balls below the spans does not assure bassing success thereabouts. Heavy hooking at most sites, like Hochstrasser’s, comes with tidal idiosyncrasies. That action can go from fully fervid hooking during high tides to hot taking only during low tides. I prefer slack tide rising.

The bridge bass bite is almost purely artificial-driven. When currents allow, smaller Spros, with comely tails, are a winner.

If you’re after highly hit-or-miss tiderunner weakfish action near the spans, a slew of subtle plugs are used, almost always cast from nearby banks, aiming toward the bridges.

HOOKIN’ SMALL: One of my larger bridge bass ever went for a truly minuscule gold herring jig, one I had just bought from a display card next to the register at Fishheads. I was dropping it during slack tide, trying for, oddly enough, herring. A striper came screaming out of the bridge shadows – where you can sometimes see them lurking – sucked it in and zipped back to its hiding spot. I quickly alerted it to my sudden involvement in its life.

What a memorable fight.

I actually landed the 33-inch bass, using the famed, first-bridge, break-a-leg, embankment-surfing method – as dumb a fish retrieval technique known. It entails walking a fish along the bridge top, around pilings, while keeping the line tight, to then rappel down a sandy cliff, slide down concrete slabs, climb a fence and, finally, steer the now-dumbfounded fish over to a small section of nearby beach – before landing it, then releasing.

My light-line landing of that big fish on a small hook was not so much a testimony to my fishing prowess but rather further proof of the rawhide-ish piece of skin on the side of a bass mouth. You penetrate that piece of skin, and even after you’ve brought in Bubba on the littlest of hooks, you still can’t get the frickin’ hook out.

IS IT, YET?: It sure is trying to feel like spring out there, though there are still some cold rains on the menu in the not-distant future. Tight flocks of northwardly migrating robins are dispersing smaller units to assume their assigned summering spots on LBI.

You’re very likely seeing the exact same backyard robins, year after year. I often feed resident robins. It’s easy to see the familiarity factor kick in each spring, as they buddy up to me when I’m handing out vittles. I tried naming one once. Hal. It worked until Hal got so egg-laden he could barely land to be fed. Not only did Halena (new name) hang close by through hatching and fledging times, but she introduced me to the new clan by midsummer – before she kicked them the hell outta her yard.

An offbeat avian favorite of mine is the understated, underappreciated mourning dove. These ubiquitous, albeit invasive, birds are something of an unsung harbinger of spring, though they often don’t go very far away for winter – as in, right down the block.

A dove’s laidback, downright relaxingly song – sounding suspiciously like a slow “Who gives a rat’s ass?” (listen closely) – is as much a sign of hibernal rebirth as spring peeper frogs, which are way off, song-wise, this year. There are some peepers piping, but the chorus sure isn’t in fine fiddle. Maybe this week’s warmth will chorus them up.

Speaking of invasive species, one has to ask what wildlife species isn’t invasive, when considering the long-term, biogeographical flow of wildlife into North America.

“I’ll have you know my kind have been here since the last Ice Age.”

“Bloody tourist. My species has been here since the start of the Tertiary Period.”

Wow, the above hypothetical wildlife conversation is oddly akin to humans making claims on how long they’ve been on LBI. Kinda weird.

Hell, I’m so casual about invasive species I often think, “What happens when newly arriving invasive species are so much cooler than the dumb-ass species we already have?”

While that thinking hasn’t endeared me to the Audubon Society, I’d still like to see way more, say, bamboo forests – not to mention a few dozen pandas and maybe an orangutan troop or two. Orangutans are really cool. You pretend to shoot them and they fall down. Who could ask for more from wildlife?

Clint-Eastwood-and-Manis-the-orangutan-on-the-set-of-Every-Which-Way-But-Loose

I also harbor a nagging invasive species question: Are Big Foots technically invasive species? I’m pretty sure they came from the Himalayas. Importantly, if they’re hominids, might it be racial profiling if we make it tough for them to move into our neighborhood?

“I’m tellin’ ya, Ned, you let ’em move in and the next thing ya know there’ll be Slim Jim wrappers blowing all over the place.”

It would amount to unbridled Big Foot bigotry – until it’s discovered they can easily slam dunk over 7-foot Russian NBA centers, then, for NFL season, they’re are able to sack a quarterback in less than four seconds. If you think Troy Polamalu looks weird with a helmet on, you oughta see a Big Foot playing linebacker. There’s hair comin’ out all over the place.

HUMOR ME: As flooding has fallen off a bit, I want to take this auspicious opportunity to forward my idiosyncratic suspicion that another significant factor in LBI’s flooding might very well be the Island’s overall sinkingness.

It’s not as crazy as you might think. For the first time in written history, humans (as in, us) have bulkheaded the westward-facing side of almost an entire barrier island. We are essentially stalwartly caressing LBI in a way that could be fundamentally counter to nature’s will.

Geographically speaking, barrier islands on the Eastern Seaboard are required, by planetary edict, to migrate westerly. If thwarted from meandering, who knows what all might break loose?

Theoretically, nailing a barrier island in place seems to leave us wide open to attrition from the sea, hallmarked by eroding beaches and an antsy ocean becoming increasingly hell-bent on having its westward-ho ways.

I’ll even add some sand to the fire, or something like that. With our Island’s sands stopped in their tracks, LBI must now geologically evolve in place. Maybe I’ll change that to devolve in place.

To me, that reeks of sinkage.

Known: Gathered sand has a goodly amount of air space between grains. Therefore, it can surely be compressed. Not to a huge degree, but when measured in an entire island’s worth of granularity, the sinking is enough to offer a real sagging feeling.

But what can cause the sands of LBI to get all compressified and stuff?

Traffic. Be it traffic in the larger sense of buildings and development, or, more applicably, roughly 15 trillion vehicular hours of being driven upon, the crush-down of LBI has been going on for a long, long time. The pressure may finally be reaching critical sinkage levels. What’s more, the subtle descent is currently showing where and as it should: on roadways, namely the Boulevard.

When the rains and winds arrive, we now get instantaneous ponding and puddling atop pressure-lowered roadways. All our flooding begins in the roadways.

And, of course, I’m going to fully acknowledge the way floodacious bay waters literally pour atop Island roadways via large-gauge sewers and runoff pipes. These are infrastructure weaknesses, which openly allow Barnegat Bay to easily enter through the back door. Essentially, LBI’s flooding is fueled by the sewers. Once the flooding has arrived from below, it can get greatly heightened by the likes of cascading ocean water, the result of dune overwash, as was the obvious case with Sandy.

Could a cure be as simple as raising the roadways?

I researched that concept and was duly informed that I should perish the thought. Raising high the roadways, carpenters, would instantly redirect pushy bay waters onto nearby properties. Thanks, but no thanks. I could very well be a potential nearby property sort. Truth be told, oozing bay water is safest in the roadways, though your vehicle’s undercarriage would debate the point.

Be a bit heartened by ongoing research being done to perfect backwash prevention devices, placed on the ends pf outflow pipes facing the bay. OK, so maybe the ones now being tried on LBI don’t work for s***, but, just you wait, some kid about to graduate high school will go on to invent the first successful “Keep That Crap at Bay” device. Maybe we’ll build a monument to him at the Ship Bottom “circle.”

In lieu of that “Victory over Backflush” day, remember that the evolution of a held-in-place barrier island is all new territory. For now, it’s a case of watch and see – while keeping an eye on The Weather Channel.

REPEAT READ ON CLASSIC: Here is a section of the column that made the Cloud issue –  SandPaper’s website – but not in here.

https://jaymanntoday.ning.com/profiles/blogs/april-5-2013-agreeing-...

(I have an even more updated section at https://jaymanntoday.ning.com/. Please check it out. It is titled “Updated read on the returning Long Beach Island Fishing Classic.”)

Here’s the latest on the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic – and it is good. Comments below.

“The LBI Surf Fishing Classic Committee in partnership with the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce proudly announces the dates for the 59th annual Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic.

“The LBI Surf Fishing Classic Committee is revitalizing their efforts for 2013, expanding the board, soliciting volunteers and seeking financial donations to make this island tradition stronger than ever.

“The eight week ‘Classic’ begins on Monday, October 7 and continues to Sunday, December. 1, 2013. We are excited for another fantastic fishing season on Long Beach Island.”

I won’t go into minute details of the Classic committee meeting held yesterday afternoon except to say there was some serious hashing out – and airing out – of opinions regarding the direction the tourney had taken. At the top of the discussion agenda was the prohibitively heavy workload the Classic places on the chamber staff.

When the smoke had cleared, it was agreed that the event is too good to lose. At the same time, it was fully apparent that the Classic just couldn’t stay the way it has been – with the chamber, and Michelle Cuff  in particular, being loaded down with all the event’s diverse demands and duties

Through some creative, on-the-spot thinking and formulating, it was agreed that a restructuring must take place, highlighted by the tourney committee assuming virtually all the Classic responsibilities.

To my great relief, the tourney is still under the umbrella of the chamber, though strictly as an independent entity, promoted by the chamber.

There is still a ton to be worked out, but an expansion of the tournament committee membership and a pressing need to find support/funding for the Classic was agreed upon. Committee members at today’s meeting felt confident that anglers and businesses will rally to support the event into the future. Though the Classic has always been intended as a self-supporting contest, it had become costly in the man-hours it demanded. The Classic is now an angler-supported contest in the strictest sense.

Many of the current committee members see this restructuring as a chance to expand the contest – possibly greatly, including larger grand prizes. Could it “Derby” on back to new SUVs as grand prizes? Well, we won’t jump that far ahead just yet, but it’s within the realm of possibility, especially when factoring in advances in polygraphs – and their routine use in virtually all major fishing events, both freshwater and saltwater.

And there are potential pitfalls. The life of the Classic has shifted into the hands of the anglers, not to mention the businesses and even municipalities that greatly benefit from an eight-week event capable of attracting not only upward of 1,000 anglers, but their entire clans as well. It is now a team effort for all of LBI.

jaymann@thesandpaper.net

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