Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Shake, Rattle and Tweet;

That Shark was Insane,

Cap Off the Weirdness




What a gorgeous day – but why am I shaking like a leaf? It’s tremor time, gang, Just jump on in and start rockin’.

AFTERSHOCK THOUGHT: Earthquakes are not as much fun as I once thought. Even though the one we felt Tuesday was a glancing shake at best, my third-floor office was swayin’ like a drunken swing set.

When the quake first began, I thought my middle ear was going kaphooey. When I realized the whole Island’s balance was out of kilter, I was a bit relieved – then, at a lose as to the next step. Looking out the window and seeing folks exiting shops and houses, I figured that’s the way to go.

I quickly joined a giggly gathering of shaken but not stirred folks. Timely greetings were thrown to new arrivers, like, Hey, what’s shakin’?” Another off-color question:  “Are we supposed to start lootin’?”  Another: “Wouldn’t ya know it. The one day I forgot to bring my pocket seismograph.”

Then, a new less-laughworthy notion arose. Any chance of, dare I say it, a wave event?

I smirked a bit as a group of us bolted toward the beach. I was recalling the way I mocked videos of people heading toward the water after the Japan mega-quake. And here I was a-rush to the beachfront.

By the time you read this, you’ll have been swamped by a tidal wave of rattle-and-roll tales, so I’ll go with a far more cryptic aftermath afterthought: Had a tsunami been spawned, your first and only alert would come via Tweets and such.

It is a little known fact that LBI – a place obviously cheeks-to-the-wind vulnerable to natural disasters -- has no warning system in place. We’re left to rely on that timely call from Aunt Mary Lou, in Louisiana, who happened to hear on “The View” that a 100-foot tidal wave was bearing down on Jersey.

It’s hard to believe that eerie siren system we perfected during the Cold War has been ignobly mothballed.

A former senator and local mayor, when asked why we have no siren warning system for a tsunami or hurricane or UFO attack, sincerely said, “We don’t want people to panic.” 

Hey, I’ll be the one to decide when I should and shouldn’t panic. Sound that nonstop siren wail and I’ll opt to either carefully depart the Island or drop to the floor and do Curly circles until unconscious. Don’t wanna panic people …

THE SHARK WASN’T WELL, DAVE: Jay, With the recent talk of sharks and shark attacks in North Carolina, I have begun to reread all the literature and books on the attacks leading up to “Jaws.” Since it hasn’t happened since, what’s your read on the shark responsible for those attacks? Dave from Delran. .

Madness, Dave, madness. I kid you not.

In nature, creatures can go batty. Take rabies, as an always-fun example of animal madness. It's living proof that even lesser-brained animals can go bananas. In the case of rabies, it’s pathogenic but I have to think that a solid bump to the head or even an emotional instability can do the madness trick for wildlife.  

Generally speaking, creatures that go out of their gourds in the wilds tend to make odd spectacles of themselves. In a rough rule of thumb, things that make odd spectacles of themselves in nature quickly get eaten by predators – or, as has oft been documented, are killed by their own kind. I’ve actually seen sparrows playing, “Kill the crazy sparrow.”

I have a not-easily-debunked theory that the “Jaws” super shark was likely, in the plainest of terms, a total whack job. No friends, that’s for sure. However, when you’re an apex whack job, there’s pretty much nothing between you and miles and miles of unfettered madness. There are no men in white coats to carry off a goony great white nor men in black to corral a berserk bull shark. The insane shark skies are the limit. Nothing -- and no one -- is off the table, so to speak.

But why, you might astutely ask, did the “Jaws” attacks just suddenly stop?

I adroitly retort, why did they just suddenly start?

Here’s a life lesson, my lad. Madness has no method (despite what Polonius might thinks). It’s always moving methodlessly onward. Even amid the human sector, there’s something intrinsically motivational about lunacy. Not only does it seldom sleep, it seemingly never stands still. Just open the doors to the asylum for fifteen minutes or so. You’ll be tracking down crazies for the next six weeks.

The bull shark biter of  “Jaws” fame manically mauled then swam insanely onward. Happenstancely, it turned seaward and spent its final years convinced it was an iceberg.

Now you know, Dave.

ALACK, A SHACK ATTACK: The recent re-adornment of the Causeway Shack has perked yet another volley of support emails from folks poised and to raise it up to former glory.

I also got a couple let-it-die communiqués. Here’s part of one such email, making respectable points:  I'm probably the only one that's just tired of hearing about it…. Don't get me wrong. I have those same memories that many people do about seeing that thing from when I was a little kid in the 70's-80's. … Let's just let it die a dignified death already, it will always warmly live in my memories. John.
John also questioned the seasonal adornments placed on the Shack, while going after the huge billboard annoyingly looming a short distance away.  

As to those sticks in the marsh mud thinkers, I fully understand their cynicisms about trying to salvage something so far down Decay Lane. I can then only answer from my long-in-tooth vantage.

The Shack has seen me through a lifetime of LBI comings and goings. I have bid it fainthearted farewells, as I headed off with a high likelihood of never returning. And I have returned to it, utterly amazed that I somehow made it back alive. As with all year-rounders, I have seen it mark the seasons like no other landmark in my life. 

I know I’ll catch hell on the half-shell for this but I believe the humble Shack towers over Old Barney in sentimental appeal and private significance. Hell, Barney could fall the hell over and I’d mainly go up there just to see what a fallen-over lighthouse looks like.

In an odd way, the lonesome death of the Shack has me doing a foundation check on my own Island life. It’s all too obvious it might very well symbolize the death of the old days. And, even then, I seriously can’t condemn someone who says, “Good riddance to the Shack – and long live the new days.”

I don’t expect everyone to relate to the Shack the way longtime/lifer locals do. However, considering the number of folks wanting to save the sorry structure, it sure seems more than few folks are with me – if only on sound emotional grounds.

I think it’s kinda symbolic that the property the Shack sits atop remains arrogantly enigmatic. Who knows who owns it. That remains too obscure for even advanced title searches. Like the land it sits atop, the Shack seems OK with taking its secrets down with it.

In passing, if the Shack were to totally disappear, there isn’t one serious Islander who won’t always see its ghost, clear as day, where it once stood. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that – for the sake of the next generation.

CAPPING OFF AN ODD SUMMER: We’re seeing yet another insane showing. Gone are the salps and grasshoppers; enter millions of jellyfish caps, in the surf and on the beach. It’s those small saucer-shaped clear gooey things. The caps are essentially the solid corpses of lion’s mane jellyfish, among the worst stinging J-fish known to NJ.

Over the weekend, the caps were so thick swimming became a bumpy affair. The things were fun to throw around. I was part of a multi-kid, multi-adult jellyfish cap fight in the shorebreak of Harvey Cedars. Oddly, not many moms were into it. They just stood in a gang formation at the water’s edge, hands on hips, glaring at the cap-slinging nonsense, certain someone was going to lose an eye or two.

I didn’t lose an eye but this sweet little girl, looking like a watery angel, bushwhacked me at point-blank range. She capped my one good, leaving a jellyfish cap pattern on my cheek skin. What an arm, though.

Obviously, we’ve had these cap wash-ups many times before. This was as big as I’ve ever seen. There was easily enough floating around to screw up surfcasting. They can get snagged on line and often need to be manually removed.

There is an inestimable upside to this showing. They jellies were solidly deceased. When alive and kicking, this coldwater J-fish can ruin all water activities upon arrival in the surf. It comes form their uncanny ability to break into pieces and still sting the livin’ daylights out of any piece of skin the pieces touch.

In the case of caps, somewhere way out at sea, an eddy of tropical water collided head-on with a coldwater current, instantly killing the jellyfish via thermal shock. Thanks very much, eddy. 

WHEN DO I FRICKIN’ STOP?!: As we all know too well, a motoring quagmire surrounds the pedestrian-crossing situation in NJ. This tedious but troubling driving situation is actually huge for mobile anglers heading to the beach and boat anglers zipping to their vessels.

Last year’s law that motorists/vehicles must stop for pedestrians crossing the road remains fully in-place. However, the lack of enforcement and the glaring ambiguities of the law are now all but haunting the highways, especially here on LBI, where drivers and walkers have royally mixed it up this entire summer.

The pedestrian-crossing law has surely brought out the worst of both sectors, motorists and pedestrians.

Many pedestrians arrogantly use the law as their very own crossing guard, feeling it automatically steps out and officiously stops traffic, anywhere and any time – even when they’re far from any legal crosswalk, i.e. they’re jaywalking their asses off. However, the law primarily applies when pedestrians are in a designated crosswalk (painted) or at an intersection lacking traffic signals.

It should be dutifully emphasized that all signaled intersections are controlled by the traffic lights. Still, we all see pedestrians jaywalking against the signals, many feeling the traffic must now stop for them, regardless of the red light they’re facing. That’s a citable jaywalking offense, at least in theory. I’m also theorizing that the number of jaywalking citations handed out since the new law came about can fit on the head of a pin.

What’s more, I frequently see confused motorists actually stopping on green to permit pedestrians to cross – against the red. That’s citable in both directions. It is illegal to stop at a green light, as if that’s ever been a problem before. It’s always jaywalking to cross on the red, even if that nice driver has stopped to let you.

The largest crossing issue on LBI roads remains the issue of stopping for pedestrians when they’re not at a legal intersection. As a motorist, a reality check is needed. Reality: A car weighs thousands of pounds and is powered by hundreds of mechanical horses. It can shred a human body in a heartbeat. Even if pedestrians are jaywalking, sometimes with an open air of arrogance, there is no recourse for a motorist except to stop for humans advancing onto the roadway. Despite what you’re irritability meter dictates, there is no frickin’ teaching them a lesson. I’ve actually heard a number of motorists admit to doing just that, by hitting their horns and zooming closely by illegal crossers. That’s infrickinsane! If you hit someone -- and heaven forbid kill man, woman or child -- you can kiss the baby, you won’t be coming home from jail any time soon. When it comes down to flagrant jaywalkers vs. motorists on a message mission, the jaywalkers always win the case, hands down -- and here’s your orange outfit.

I won’t try to touch on the bicyclist problem, to me way worse than the jaywalking pedestrian problem, except to say a biker, when merely walking his or her bike, is a pedestrian. When peddling, a bicyclist must, by law, drive as if a motorized vehicle.

RUNDOWN: What a week, eh? We had a few of the nicest days of the entire summer, following a cold front that delivered crystal clear air and prefect air temps. Ironically, that super sunny spell might be rudely punctuated with a quick bout of torrential tropical rainfall, should the remnants Hurricane Irene reach us.

That glancing blow might actually help stir up a massive algae bloom off out coast. Extending from Long Island to the Delmarva, the massive mat – some 50 miles across – is a bit of an eyesore, as it turns water a gooey green, albeit quite a few miles out at sea.

The bloom is the result of light winds, a hot beating down sun and (bring in the indubitable human factor) excess nutrient washed out to sea by storm runoff.

To see that monster bloom on NOAA, it looks like a huge dragon – in a gestalt manner. Here’s hoping a storm breaks up the bloomin’ bloom since big problems can arise if it all dies in place.

Since algae have a short life span, the tiny buggers are always dyin’, sinkin’ and fallin’. When tons of them wafts down on the way to decay, it gets sorta thick on the bottom – suffocatingly thick for the benthic life below. What’s more, when layers of algae get blown toward shallows (the beach), bacteria start munching on it. In the process, the bacteria suck up way too much dissolved oxygen. Now we’re a serious shoreline snafu.  Many folks recall the fluke die-off back in the 1970s, when just such algae/bacteria-based oxygen depletion killed off hundreds of thousand of flatties. I’m all for thinning out the fluke population, but mass suffocation is not the way.

By the by, since last weekend, our oceanfront waters have had a greenish tint. Yep, it’s algae. And it’s not even remotely bad. In fact, that simple green signals good stuff, top nourishment for phytoplankton, which in turn keeps the entire ocean alive and well. Again, it when we get obnoxious volumes of algae that things get sickening. 

I’ll keep an eye on that big bloom -- while you relax.  

The fluking is funky. The number of smalls caught inside the bay and inlets went gonzo again. Nonstop hooking. Frustratingly, the keeper count dropped to as bad as it gets. I heard one boat tallied a 1 for over 50. However, off the beach, toward Garden State South, summer flounder of advanced–doormat size came up by the dozens. That same surge of fabu-fluke happened in that area a number of years back, but in September. Since we’ll be fluking for much of the upcoming month (known as September), it could become very interesting out there. Here’s hoping for those of us who can finally hit the water soon.

Holgate note: The Holgate front beach will open to mobile anglers and pedestrians on the afternoon of Thursday, September 1. There is a high tide in the a.m. of that day. I'm told the beach is pretty much the same as we left it in April: eroded and essentially connected with the bayside at a number of points. However, the subtleties of driving the front beach won't be known until we cross it a few times. 

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