Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
WHERE WILL THIS HEAD: To fill my weekly weirdness requirement, I turn my head – cautiously holding onto it – toward Italy and a highly respected neuroscientist, Dr. Sergio Canavero. This week, the good nerve-ending doctor has turned more than few heads with his revelation that the realm of neurosurgery is now fully capable of human head transplants.
If you’re a frequenter of this column, you know I never jest about head transplants. Neither does Canavero.
“The greatest technical hurdle to such an endeavor is of course the reconnection of the donor’s and recipient’s spinal cords,” he wrote in a technical paper. “It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage. This paper sketches out a possible human scenario and outlines the technology to reconnect the severed cord.”
Somewhat forebodingly, there is already a code name given to any effort to transplant a head. It is preordinately dubbed The Gemini Project.
The brain within my suddenly interchangeable head has truly been boggled by this breakthroughish news. It is boggled over the possibility that I can have my head/brain surgically attached to the body of, say, a world-class athlete. More insightfully, said athlete might not be aware of this scientific breakthrough and be so lax as to let me sneak up behind him and, avoiding all vital organs from the neck down …
Just kidding. I’m just fine with my pathetic, age-etched, numb-ass, piece-of-crap physique. Anyone know where those guys from “World’s Strongest Man” hang out? Hell, the winner of the gold medal in the Summer Olympics Decathlon would have to immediately go into hiding if head transplants become all the rage.
You have to be thinking, like me (scary prospect on your part), a prominent head could soon live forever, getting regularly re-bodied. Naturally, such a forever-worthy head would need an eternity’s worth of facelifts. That could prove aesthetically problematic. We’ve all noticed the way multi-face-lifted folks often assume the look of, well, the final Michael Jackson countenance. Of course, I’m not sure what look has overtaken decathlon hero Bruce Jenner, surely facially modified under the uplifting influences of the Kardashians. If Bruce needs a lawyer for malpractice, might I suggest O.J. Simpson’s dream lawyer, Robert Kardashian? (Oh, so that’s where you heard that Kardashian name before.)
How the hell did I get to the OJ “Dream Team”!?
Be assured, this head transplant thing is apparently not science fiction, so you might as well begin imagining filthy-rich folks steadily tracking down new bods.
“Mr. Goldblood, we have just acquired the saucy Brazilian-look body you require for the Copacabana theme party you’ll be attending this weekend. What’s that? No, I don’t think it will be at all odd to see your red-haired, pale Irish head on an Amazonian native body. What’s that? Well, I didn’t actually measure it, per se, but I imagine it’ll be quite adequate for after-party activities, sir.”
Gospel frickin’ truth: Outta the blue, when I began thinking of the over-rich getting any body that money can buy, I flashed on Donald Trump’s head atop a busty Radio City Rockette. Where was my head at?
UPWELLING’S SEMI-WONDERFULNESS: If you have AC in home or vehicle, you’re at least in touch with the concept of a refrigerant – the magical chemical stuff that (Reader’s Digest version) bounces from a liquid to a gas and back again, magically producing cold air.
Well, the Island’s nature-made air conditioner is quite akin, with the ocean itself being the cold, liquidy stuff that the wind blows across, leading to a chilled evaporation, which has recently been caressing LBIers with compassionate coolness. It has kept the beachfront an astounding 25 degrees cooler than the nearby mainland. At one pointduring the weekend, the beach temp in Ship Bottom was 74 degrees while not-far-off Chatsworth was flirting with the century mark.
For its coolifying efforts, I have to give a thumb’s up to the stellar job LBI’s natural AC performed.
That complimentation completed, our oceanic AC system can also suck big time. Ask the legions of beachgoers craving a quick dip in what should be a summertime ocean. They are opening whining about how chilly our upwelled ocean water has been for weeks now. The steady south winds have blown away the solar-warmed surface waters and vacuumed the hyper-chilly bottom waters to the surface, conjuring up water in the numbing mid-50s.
That paradox makes our island’s AC system a beauty and a bane. But, as the oft-repeated old saying goes, you can’t have your air conditioning and eat it, too.
BE WARY OF WESTERLIES: The options to shivery ocean waters are just about too hot to handle. To break out of the south wind syndrome – winds from a pigheaded Bermuda high pressure system – the common sky response is a shift over to westerly winds.
You might not want to go there. West winds hand-carry those sizzling, three-figure, Pinelands sugar sand air temps to us.
Many of you recall the Fourth of July, not that many years back, when we had consecutive days of 101, 104 and 102 degrees on LBI. That year, our ocean AC was haywire. The savagely sultry west winds were vacationing atop us.
Dare I mention another west-windish misery-maker? They bus in biting bugs in insufferable numbers, led by clouds of black flies capable of flying off with small children – to conveniently eat later.
Conveniently for us, we have some complex coolness arriving this week via larger national weather patterns. However, it’s a given that the hots will return. I think we might prefer to resume our love/hate relationship with the south-wind AC.
PEDESTRIANS VS. DRIVE TRAINS: What a wild and close-call holiday weekend. Someone must have jokingly stuck a sign on the front of my truck reading “Step Out in Front of Me, Please.”
They came from between parked vehicles, from behind telephone poles, from sewer grates. You name it. It’s as if the laws of physics don’t apply when you’re on vacation. “School’s out. I can just step into traffic.”
And I slam on the brakes. It’s both the proper thing to do and the law. At least I’m kinda sure you can’t just bounce folks out of your motoring way.
Hey, I once saw a cartoon where this portly, bald-haired guy, smoking a Cuban cigar, was driving atop huge, heavenly clouds in a massive white Cadillac with two gorgeous, semi-clad gals in the front seat with him and huge bags of money filling the back seat. Standing nearby were two fellows who had obviously just entered the paradise zone. The one was saying to the other, “I guess I just always assumed you couldn’t take it with you.” Hmmm.
Anyway. Although the law requiring all vehicles in N.J. to stop for road-crossing pedestrians remains in place, it has seemingly grown oddly nebulous. In fact, on LBI, it has seemingly assumed what might be called optional status.
During the weekend, I was downright spooked by the growing showing of aggressive drivers, convinced that stopping for road crossers is such a last-year thing.
While crossers are all too often flagrantly jaywalking, I’m still betting you just can’t plow them down – vindictive soul though you are on long weekends.
Here’s how it was explained to me by a cop I know. Maybe you’re right and the fellow you clipped one good was flagrantly out of legal crossing bounds. Be assured, it’s not as simple as nonchalantly explaining the situation to the responding squadron of cops and emergency personnel, who rightfully take struck pedestrians as a Code Red situation. That bump (or way worse) instantly changes everything. Not only kiss a fun weekend good-bye, but begin pondering on what the future now holds. You’re in it for the long legal haul, potentially/likely months of litigation and court appearances.
What I’m trying to do in my slightly veiled public service way is to get all ya’ll to drive LBI as if a baby riding on the back of a puppy is likely to come prancing onto the road from between parked cars.
NICE TOUCH: Waveriders, surfcasters and beachgoers should make note of a subtle surfside tweak of the Harvey Cedars beach replenishment project in the vicinity of 78thStreet. The pumped-in repair sands have been crucially placed to essentially encourage sand bars to remain in place.
For a video I made, check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwpbpahhRlo&feature=youtu.be.
I can guarantee that fishing, surfing and beachgoing are better with the sandbars showing.
I should note that the technique of tapering the downward angle of the beachline where it meets the surf is a goodly chunk more expensive than the standard placement. At the same time, the method remains well within the acceptable beach/dune building parameters and hydro-dynamics.
Fishing angle: As the low-tide sandbars start to cover with water during rising tides, bass and blues go crazy. They rush in to see what edibles have been crushed or uncovered during low tides.
If we can’t have exposed groins/jetties after replenishment, dynamic sandbars are the next best thing.
HOLGATE END PONDERINGS: I got a phone call from a fellow who rightfully questioned my optimism about an upcoming Holgate beach replenishment project helping to save the Holgate wilderness area. I’ve been noisily hoping that southward drift sand from upcoming replenishment work will eventually save the critically eroded far south end of LBI.
The caller’s prime point became all too obvious as we both called up a website with aerial views of the nearly dissected south end. It’s in sad-ass shape, especially around the area of the one-time Osprey Nest. Thereabouts, there is no vegetated refuge left, just the ocean edging toward the bayside meadows.
Despite putting on a strong voice, I knew full well that any slow-moving sand salvation from the replenishment might be too little too late.
For too long, I’ve hyped the geological phenomena of westwardly migrating barrier islands to explain Holgate’s breaking away on its own. I now have to admit that concept, too, is overly optimistic on my part. It implies Holgate will stay intact, as it tails off into the sunset. Just ain’t happening.
The current loss of more than 50 percent of the wilderness area in less than a decade is far more erosional than migrational. Holgate is just plain disappearing, seemingly destined to erode into fragments within the next decade. One need only recall the total eroding away of once-large Tucker’s Island to prove sandy islands can melt right off the map – within a few years.
By my new reckoning, much of the lost sands of Holgate now rest on the all too healthy shoals east of Little Egg and Beach Haven inlets. Sands that once supported the heavily vegetated Holgate upland are now out at sea – and sleep very near the submerged site of the original Tucker’s Island.
I know that sounds odd to many, but follow me here. Survey studies done about 10 years ago, using modern GPS methods, clearly proved that the location of Tucker’s Island is now essentially out at sea – underwater, of course. It is a quarter mile off the south portion of Holgate LBI, oceanward. I’m not talking the sands of once-Tucker’s Island but the exact latitude and longitude where Tucker’s Island sat before eroding away. Obviously, LBI was lying much farther east back then.
But, back to modern times. We will likely be able to access and enjoy the Holgate wilderness area this coming fall – Sandy-ish things notwithstanding. It will possibly/likely be next spring when beach repair sands arrive to, maybe someday, save the Holgate end.
The kingfish are back in the swash. I’m uncertain what shape they’re in, spawn-wise, since kingfish spawn from April into August – eating both going to and coming from their bayside spawning soirée.
It is known that the larger, more mature kingfish spawn earliest. That has a large impact on the many anglers who love these tastiest of panfish. Early spawn larvae immediately rush toward keeper-sized, almost by summer’s end.
Kingfish are exceptional growers. Studies find kingfish fry can go from minuscule newbies in spring to nearly 12 inches in length by summer’s end. That’s fully remarkable, equivalent to a human going from ass-slapped to 5 feet tall in three months.
While a one-season kingfish isn’t fully filet-worthy, that growth spurt is the shotgun start needed to introduce bigger spawners by the following spring. Kingfish do not grow much in the deep of winter.
As to any late-arriving, spawn-ready kingfish, they produce the solid showing on tiny fall kingfish that often get gilled in mullet-targeting cast nets.
When spotlighting Barnegat Bay in early fall, I almost always find the bottom loaded with baby kingfish, only a couple/few inches long. I’m not sure if those late-bloomers migrate seaward – a highly risky move – or overwinter inside bay holes.
As is constantly written, kingfish are a top contender for the best tasting nearshore fish. I actually give them first place. Oddly (I guess), their flesh ain’t much to brag about when eaten raw, unless cut into cellophane-thin strips, graced with wads of wasabi. They barbecue perfectly. And, yes, fresh kingfish heads make phenomenal striper bait, though taking hits at about the same somnolent rate of bunker heads.
TRIGGERFISH SHOWING: There have recently been some astounding nearshore takes of large and tasty triggerfish. Considering how snotty the ocean has been with all these south winds, there might even be an epic showing of these small-mouthed, hard-fighting, totally tasty tropicalish fish within a short trip outside inlets. I’m thinking “The Tires” might be holding them off Barnegat Inlet.
I have often found triggerfish flush against the jetties of Barnegat Inlet, mainly the north side, which experiences greater dynamic tidal flows, especially over the submerged rock portion of the North Jetty. It’s an ideal triggerfish environment.
Technically, you’ll be hooking the gray triggerfish, easily differentiated from the kick-ass-colored queen triggerfish, which we occasionally hook up with. A remote lookalike, the filefish, also comes to hook here, in the summer.
As with most fish species, it’s pure guesswork as to why triggerfish might show one year way more than others. I’ve seen years they actually dominate the bite on wrecks and jetties. Of course, hordes of them can come and totally go within a day or two.
With the summer ban on fishing tog/blackfish, the triggerfish presence might not be as noticeable to many anglers. The rigging is the same for tog and triggers. However, when fishing for black seabass, a triggerfish presence can quickly become obvious.
One problematic triggerfishing concern might be rigging exclusively for these tasty buggers. I was told – years back, so I’m not sure it still applies – you cannot legally rig for tog during the closed season.
Don’t go getting all crazy on me over that reg. I know as well as you that a droppered 1/0 hook combined with a loosely swinging bank sinker can be used for a slew of species – along with blackies. I think that gear restriction simply means enforcement can turn it up a notch during boat examinations if there are any indicators of poaching. You’re living clean, so there is nothing to worry about. I can’t imagine being written up based purely on a hook and sinker arrangement. “Sign here, Mr. Mann.”