Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

STORAGE HOARDS: Out of fear of being featured on the next heart-wrenching (snicker) episode of “Hoarders,” I broke down and rented a storage unit – though I still rpoot for the hoarders on “Hoarders” to win now and again.

By the by: Notice how you don’t see a “Hoarders” episode where officious self-righteous people aggressively burst into the filled-to-the-gills home of a guns and explosives hoarder.

Unseen segment: “Barry, we’re all here to force you out of this obsessive lifestyle. This gun overcrowding has become absolutely intolerable. Those machine gun turrets on the roof are the last straw. We’re all here because we love you, somewhat. And don’t you think for one minute that Uzi in your hand is going to scare away even one of us. Isn’t that right everyone. I said ‘Isn’t that right, everyone?’” Now where the hell …”

Anyway, I believe storage units should be a federal tax write-off for everyday folks – and even every-other-day folks. Think about it. People stuff tons of stuff into these oversized, out-of-home (and sight) closets. Once freed of such home-fillers, it is then possible to go out and buy tons of new stuff, thus sparking the economy. Power to the hoarding people.

You can now tell the men from the boys by the number of storage units they own. I’m a boyish one-er – for now. I assure my numbers will become more manly. Any garage sales coming up this weekend?

I gotta tell yinz about this classic Norman Rockwellish scene at my storage place. Only a few units from mine, a highly understated fellow, 50-something and mighty meakish of body and temperament, was straining with box after box, slowly hauling boxed pieces of his life from van and into a storage unit.

Standing nearby, his highly-overstated majorly-backyarded wife stood unhelpingly nearby, fisted hands emphatically placed on her hips, glaring at every box transfer. I saw a fallen Walter Mitty.

Can J-mann just let things be? Perish the “Life” cover thought. Don’t I go and saunter on over to help Walt transfer his boxes. I quickly got a confirmation that the scene was as I had expected. The glaring gal, who quickly softened her stance, said, “I don’t know how anyone could collect so much crap.”

I looked at Walt and Mr. Mitty arose from the dust. Glancing over, he snuck me the most incredible little smirk, well hidden from Mrs. Ax. I returned a knowing smirk and we both added some oomph to our offloading -- brothers in arms – arms fulla whatever in the hell we feel like bringing home. Long live, hoarding.  

PLASTERED BASS: I was looking at the 11 most ridiculous laws in America, per “Reader Digest.” The list includes a law against tying a giraffe to a telephone pole in Atlanta, Georgia, -- a law that seemingly demands an explanation more than ridicule -- and an Alabama law against wearing a fake mustache that causes laughter in church.

“Sheriff, that new guy’s fake mustache had people rolling in the pews of my church.”

“You know, reverend, I just knew that boy was trouble the minute he drove into town blowing one of them there ahooga horns.” 

Anyway, the number one ridiculousity on that list is a no-nonsense law against getting a fish drunk on Ohio. Now, should the same fish get filled to the gills on his on accord, that’s a whole other matter, apparently.

On the surface this law seems absurd but been to Ohio and there just might be a pressing need to help the fish get through the boredom.

What’s more -- and in defense of any scofflaws -- I’m told some amazing Midwestern friendships have been formed between sloshed small mouth bass and plastered casters.

Once overheard in Ohio:

“No, I don’t think your mouth is too small, little buddy. Here have another sip a courage.”

“Thanks. Oh, that’s good stuff. I been meanin’ to tell ya, I love ya man, even though you hook the hell outta my mouth. I’d give ya a hug but I don’t wanna slime ya up.”

“Slime schmime. Comere you little bass you. ”

TUBULAR RECYCLING: You’re gonna flash those ultra pearly whites in rapt appreciation when you hear my latest effort to win $10,000 for the most out-there recycling idea of 2012.

My Mannly eco-cool idea has to do with those very sturdy toothpaste tubes we indubitably chuck into the trash once the goop is gone. Stop right there, plugging aficionados. When you’re done with those family- or super-family-sized tubes of any and/or all types of popular toothpastes, I’ve got an angling-sheik repurposing for you to try.

Using a knife with a serrated or scalloped-edged blade, cut the top off the tube at the fattest point. Chuck out just the end. Rinse the tube. You’re ready. Drop a suitably sized plug inside the anxiously awaiting tube. It holds it perfectly or so. The holder keeps the hooks at bay and plugs can effortlessly be removed. Genius or what?

OK, so maybe the biggest saltwater plugs are a tight fit. So you just go out a buy-huge shop and get an industrial-sized tube of Gleam.

Yes, this encourages rampant overuse of the toothpaste just to get at the tubes but that squeaky clean feel in your mouth is a bonus. 

Hey, this toothpaste tube idea is a helluva a sight better than my other repurposing idea utilizing used toilet paper and discarded toothpicks. Better I don’t get into the details.

POWER TO THE POLES: Solar power is marching into Jersey, at least that’s the image I get when driving in Burlington County, just a hair outside out area.

A slew of utility poles along certain NJ roadways are now hosting oddish, shiny rectangular contraptions, visually akin to large flat-screen TVs, facing upward. It’s the screening of industrial solar power in Jersey. You’ve likely seen the pole hangings, considering the sustainable power company Petra Solar has built hundreds of thousands of them for PSE&G to place throughout the state.  

The highly visible panels are five feet long by 2.5-feet high and most often located about a third of the way up the poles – 15 feet or more off the ground. They face southward to maximize getting a tan, i.e. plenty of sun.

On closer inspection – as in me shimmying up a splintery pole to get a close-up gander -- the screens are comprised of 45 square solar cells. From those perpetually open-eyed cells comes something like 200 watts of peak power. When the 200,000 PSE&G units multiply that modest wattage, it will be the equivalent of powering 12,000 homes.

To me, the whole concept is eco-cool. And most folks are sorta accepting it, though purists in historic zones hate the ultramodern look hanging around ancient architecture.

As for any pocketable savings for PSE&G customers, that ain’t happening. Fat surprise. The power company swears that the amount they spent to buy and install the panels brings solar energy in at the exact same price of fuel-based power. Imagine that. Still, it’s as clean as power gets – albeit a bit freaky looking in passing.


Having graciously and respectfully taken credit for my uncanny prediction of one of the mildest winters ever – flying in the face of ALL other predictions – I’m now running into a reality check when it comes to meteorologically predicating spring and, more importantly, summer weather.

Truth be told, I’m hoping my windblown summer prediction proves to be fatally flawed. 

The last mild winter was followed by insanely persistent south winds all frickin’ summer. South winds in excess are truly a curse on fun in the sun. Via upwelling, they can hold oceanfront water temps down to insanely cold levels. Unceasing southerlies also kill boat fishing, via wind chop, currents and even uncomfortable wind chills. Drifting for fluke is fully foiled. Nonstop south winds make for lousy beach laying, sandy sandwiches and out-of-control volleyballing. 

On a slightly more positive note -- so maybe this is rampant optimism -- colder beachline ocean waters might fend off hurricanes – a bit.

There is no doubt the mild winter will lead to remarkably warm ocean water-surface temperatures in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and off the SE states. We all know that means hurricane will intensify right up to landing. If we were to find ourselves in the crosshairs of a killer cyclone, a barrier of icy cold water hugging the coastline might help.

And if I’m wrong and chronic southerlies don’t show but the hurricanes do? Hey, whadda ya gonna do?

As for soon-here Spring 2012, there is a sense that we could be in for a wild storm -- soon. That’s based on one of those “It’s all gonna catch up to us” trains of thought. However, La Niña isn’t much on trains of thought. She has no storms scheduled. Besides, she has her own terminal problems. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center anticipates declaring an end to the current La Niña sometime this month or in April. And  I had fallen head over heels for her warmth. 

La Niña’s demise won’t blow the socks off the weather scene. The eastern tropical Pacific, home of la Niña and el Niño, will assume what’s called a “neutral” status, followed by a 35 percent chance of El Niño moving into place by August. That’s nowhere near enough time to impact the 2012 hurricane season – but likely in time to begin steering jet streams by next winter. I’ll have my forecast by August. 

It’s not a bad time to bring up the hurricane of September 3rd of 1821. Despite being very ancient history, it’s an eye-opener by the most modern of standards. 

Unnamed, it hit Cape May Point as is if the cape had a bull’s eye on it butt. It then followed what would much later be the path of the Garden State Parkway. For those of you up on hurricane quirks and quadrants, that frightening path placed this mega-storm’s most powerful sector to consume LBI.

Here’s the stuporific stunner. That hurricane had 200-mph gusts. Can you even begin to imagine what 200-mph winds would do to us today? Of course, you can’t. We now have a helluva time handling 100-mph storms. What’s more, the damage increase from 100 mph to 200 mph is NOT simply twice as bad. There’s an exponential, i.e. geometrical increase when computing hurricane damage between beyond 100 mph.

That’s my weird way of keeping people on their evacuation toes as hurricane season approaches. That’s needed this year, after last year’s failed hurricane -- and the rickety confidence it has left in the minds of many folks. 

RUNDOWN: Well, I was wrong. A first for me – or was it a second?

Seems the nonwinter has the northward migration of gamefish many weeks ahead of schedule. I predicted the wildless winter wouldn’t impact the arrival of bass and blues that much.

There are already bluefish and bass around Barnegat Inlet. Surfcasters are taking smallish stripers on clams. No one if plugging but with the 70s this week, even artificials might come to life well before their time. I might work the backbay areas a bit. This tells me the bridges must surely be holding fishable fish after dark, though nothing compared to the bunker masses that traditionally muster there. I’ve seen the water under the Hochstrasser bridge top-to-bottom with bunker, by the thousands-plus. The current is so fast and the spring waters so chilled that there is enough dissolved oxygen to allow the bunker to pack in thicker than they ever could in summer or fall. It’s a can’t-miss snag session for those wanting to stock up – or overstock – on bait for freezing.

To our north, recreational fishing has started double-way earlier than usual. Per a story in The Eagle-Tribune, Massachusetts, “Gloucester Harbor, fishermen have been landing mackerel off the state dock, at least a couple weeks ahead of when they normally show up.


“Schools of mackerel are typically closely followed by striped bass and later in the season, bluefish and larger species, such as tuna. Striped bass — one of the most prized of the local game fish — typically migrate northward as they feed on mackerel and other fish.”


By the by, the article noted that the generally warming of the ocean has had an impact on many species of fish. “Local waters are seeing southern fish that would have been unheard of here a few decades ago. Among the examples … was fluke, a flatfish family.”


All this points to semi-serious stripering around here by as early as this coming weekend. It mighty strange to have nearly a week’s worth of 70s as winter ends. Of course, the aforementioned south wind factor won’t make LBI feel less than winterish.

POTS, REEFS AND SUCH: Here’s an update from RFA.

The New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted this week to move forward Assembly legislation that would remove commercial gear from 99% of deployed reef materials on New Jersey’s two inshore artificial reefs.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and the RFA-NJ board are supportive of the legislation calling it a win for recreational anglers who fish at the Sandy Hook and Axel Carlson reef sites where deployed commercial finfish, lobster and conch pots have created an access problem in recent years.

“When you consider that this bill would limit gear to 1% of the deployed reef materials on our two state reefs, clearing 99% of the state’s deployed reef materials at both Axel Carlson and Sandy Hook, I’d say this is a pretty big win for New Jersey saltwater anglers,” said RFA-NJ Chairman Capt. Adam Nowalsky.

The RFA also noted that this particular legislation (A2645) is also the first step in a regulatory process which will hopefully remove all fixed gear from New Jersey’s remaining artificial reef sites from Shark River and Sea Girt south to the Cape May and Deepwater reef sites.

“This has been a long, drawn-out battle but this legislation will finally open up the process by which the regional fisheries council can implement a special management zone for our other reef sites,” said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio.  “From the hearing this week, some of the leading activists and organizers in the New Jersey artificial reef program including former reef director Bill Figley are supportive of this concept in Assembly effort, so that alone tells me this is a good deal for anglers, and something to support moving forward.” 

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