The Fish Story

An All-time Weekend That Was; Little Egg Inlet Still Mired in Muck

By JAY MANN | Jul 04, 2017
Supplied by Eric Kerber Dan Wampler hoists one helluva black sea bass, taken off an artificial reef while aboard the charter On A Mission. Despite a drop from a 10-fish bag limit to a two-a-day bag, when sea bass come this large, they can round out a fine fishing day.

NOW YOU KNOW!: When it comes to FAQs, nothing has come my way more than, “Jay, What the hell is the real speed limit on the Causeway?”

I feel ya, folks. I feel ya.

Through exhaustive research and hours of hands-on observations, I have ferreted out the proper mph answer. It is both mysterious and mystical. But, can you take the truth?

The Causeway speed limit is officially set at between 30 mph and 70 mph, depending on whom you’re behind – or who’s running up your behind.

I never knew there was such a thing as one speed limit fits all, but the Causeway is donning that cap.

As to those couple/few meekish 45 mph speed limit signs, seen cowering nervously behind railings, I’m told those are strictly for décor, having something to do with the feng shui-ing of the work area, nothing more.

For me, the mystical part of the current speed limit rears up every single time I make the great Causeway crossing. Whatever speed I’m doing – twixt 30 and 70 – it is indubitably the wrong speed for everyone around me. To the front, back and side of my truck … face it, they’re all somehow opposed to my speed.

I can’t help but harken back to my wonderful mom’s approach to driving, when anyone going too slow in front of her was an “Idiot!” while anyone daring to pass her was a “Jackass!” It hits me now, how that meant anyone not driving in the car, with her at the wheel, was a traffic hazard. Thanks for passing on that insight, Mom. I know just where to apply it.

WEEKEND LOOK-BACK … AND WITH SOME ANGER: Hold on, because this segment is going on a wild, train-of-thought ride. Buckle up.

Overall, fun was so thick in the air over the holiday weekend you could cut it with a fun knife. I have no idea what that means, but sufficed to say there was a lot of fun a-flow on the most crowded weekend seen on LBI since time began. It was officially that crowded with good times.

When it comes to jam-packing folks onto our barrier isle, I stick to the old more-the-merrier thinking, as was the fun thinking back when I first invaded these shores here over 60 years back – and sorta forgot to leave. If folks can still have even half the fun I had back then, it’s worth all the congestion … which was thick as a hay fever brick all weekend.

I just can’t get behind all the big-weekend bitching and moaning, kimosabe.

To go with the crowds, there was an accompanying spot or two of traffic – moving, parked and, most often, highly undecided. All previous wheels-on-asphalt records were shattered. Such records are made to be run over one good.

Wondering out loud: Are there any vehicle-counting mechanisms lurking about on area utility poles? Advancements in vehicle tracking technology are out there, in spades.

DYK, devices can now not only count your car as it passes at 65 mph but also instantly relay tag info relating to your entire life history, even the parts you thought nobody saw. I kid you not. I’ll be writing more on so-called automatic license plate readers soon, and how they might impact – and maybe even protect – touristy areas like ours.

Real quick, a article by Ryan Gallagher reads, “Automatic license plate readers are used in public places, mounted much like security cameras on telephone poles or sometimes on police patrol cars. They are designed to photograph the license plates of all cars that pass by, processing the information automatically and sending it to a database along with location data. This is highly useful for tracking stolen vehicles or the movements of criminals. … Police departments nationwide are using ALPR to quietly accumulate millions of plate records.”

In England, from whence the system originated, related plate recognition cameras allow police officers to access accumulated data to intercept, stop a vehicle, check it for evidence and, where necessary, make arrests. Yep, arrests.

Per, “Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is used to help detect, deter and disrupt criminality at a local, force, regional and national level, including tackling traveling criminals, Organised Crime Groups and terrorists.”

By the by, upwards of 85 percent of all police forces in the U.S. will have this technology within five years. Deadbeat dads … you might want to stay out of NJ.

But back to electronically counting vehicles – without it leading to having your windows shot by M16 gunfire because a computer snafu misread your tags as those belonging to one of the 10 worst terrorists on the planet – I’d like to see this past weekend’s official Route 72 vehicle count, to confirm anecdotal records.

As to the Island, the most recurrent observational “all-time” tallies were buttressed by folks reporting, “More cars on my block than I have ever seen.” I’ll double-ditto that.

I’ll hereby allege the current summer people explosion has to do with the post-Sandy building of bigger and roomier abodes. For so many, it’s quietly, “Thank-you, Lady Superstorm.”

I shan’t even whisper of the proliferation of LBI non-triplexes – “non” since triplexes are utterly illegal on all LBI. I would never once suggest that Island towns turn a blind building-code eye to builders embracing ground-level floors, aka under-home garages and such. Hell, they have the demanded “breakaway walls.” I’d love to see what’s behind those walls, uh, should they break away. Can you say Serta? How about KOHLER?

Zipping back to my holiday look-about, the weekend’s fishing and boating was epically frenzied, per my ground-level observations of Barnegat Inlet, while standing next to wonderful BL landmark, Andy’s at the Light.

I had gone north-end in hopes of doing my traditional July 4th climb to the top of Barney. Fat chance … pun intended. Needless to say, there were some less than holidayish comments from folks as they arrived at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park to find a padlocked gate into the parking lot.

While I was there at the gate, taking media-ish videos of the statewide shutdown of NJ parks, my truck and I were repeatedly mistaken as authoritative. That was egged on by the official road cones I keep in the back of my truck and, just maybe, the state park hat I was wearing – found last spring.

By the by, I’m not a good person to mistake in such an instance.

“Why the hell is the park closed, buddy?!” coming from a large gal with a pack of large-in-their-own-right kids.

I dutifully responded in a decently authoritative tenor, punctuated with unnoticeable hiccups of swallowed laughter. “Ma’am, I’m very sorry but we closed the park … and especially the lighthouse … because the governor is skinny-dipping over on Island Beach State Park and doesn’t want anyone seeing him.”

“What!? That’s ridiculous!”

“Not really, ma’am. Have you ever seen our governor naked? I did and still have recurring PTSD nightmares, though I am down to only 20 milligrams of Prazosin a day. In fact, the doctor says I can soon wean down the dosage and this eye twitch will slowly resolve if I … Hey, where ya goin’ so fast?”

In a heartbeat, a sports car pulls up, occupied times two.

“Why the hell did you close the park?!”

“Well, sir, imagine if you will, our governor bare-ass naked. Now, picture yourself and the little lady here climbing to the top of the lighthouse and looking across the inlet … and there, stranded marine mammal-like, you see …”

Hell, I coulda hung there being that helpful all day if I didn’t have volleyball to play.

Outside state park and traffic whines and moans, the next largest weekend harrumphs were aimed at the wickedly cold nearshore water temps. Upwelling from recent south winds ruint the look and feel of the beachline suds, bottoming out, I’m told, in the mid-50s – shrinkage temps, right, George? We should be sporting 70s. While somewhat milder waters finally leaked in just as the weekend ended, missed ocean dips had many pissedly driving homeward.

INLET DREDGE NOT IN THE WINGS: The alleged and announced effort to dredge Little Egg Inlet remains mired in regulatory muck.

Certain state – and possibly federal – authorities are still doggedly demanding assurances that any channel-digging goings-on will have absolutely no eco-impacts on the inlet’s shorelines, which include state and federal lands.

Me thinking: You might as well demand the bay first part, biblically speaking, before progress can begin toward a promised land of deep and well-marked LEI channels. Nobody can guarantee “no impacts” – even if no channel is dredged. The sea has the final say, as it has since inlets were first invented.

Conveniently, the aforementioned authorities have yet to ponder the possible deleterious eco-impacts of not building an inlet. Just sayin’.

In the name of friends and fairness – to some green/blue preservation buddies – there is a rip current worth of effort to save LEI as the very last all-natural inlet on the entire seaboard. Per all of them, it can then be used to gauge the overall unnatural effects from dredged, channeled, widened, or jettied inlets. As a theory, that’s as stretchy as the “slime” you can make with Elmer’s glue, Borax and food coloring. Uh, I was around some kids this weekend. I would never make that for myself.

Anyway, every inlet is a unique and complex entity unto itself. At the same NJ time, it’s quite cool that the most built-out of all states has the last au naturale inlet. What’s more, there’s absolutely nothing indicating a mere inlet channel dredging – mimicking channels in the all-natural past – will negate the unspoiledness. Just think, to grow all-natural, organic crops, you have to dig up the ground. That actually made more sense when it first jumped to mind.

Onwardly, I was duly informed that the equipment to be used for LBI’s beach re-re-do this fall would not suffice for an LEI channel dredging. I had hoped that we could piggyback onto that replenishment project, to build the channel by using on-scene equipment. No way, Jay. Channel building demands “unique” equipment, per experts. It’s not in the books yet, but a synonym for “unique” is always “costly.”

As of today, finding any dredging/channel-digging equipment is akin to Holy Grail hunting. As living proof, the upcoming LBI beach work will soon go out to bid. Missing from the bidding action will be the tried-and-true companies of Weeks Marine Inc. and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock. Those heavy-dredgers, who worked very well with Island interests, are irrevocably obligated for untold moons to come. Two other heavy-hitting beach-builders, I’ll track down their names, will possibly be vying for the contract. That could mean new hardhats, logos and equipment hitting the beaches this fall – always a bit spooky.

WHITE MARLIN INVITATIONAL LOOKING SWEET: For now, mariners are working out a nice Little Egg Inlet channel. That’s important for the quickly approaching Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club’s White Marlin Invitational big game tourney.

The SandPaper will have more on this July 25-29 event, with its new, “Additional fishing day added to maximize weather window – fish 2 of 4 days!”

WMIT 2017 will also have a new weigh-in location at Hoffman’s Marina, Brielle, along with additional inlets, an improved Calcutta and Treasure Chest, and, most of all, lower entry fees.

You should enter this exceptional, long-lived event, ASAP. Many potential entrants get all weather-wimpy and wait until the last minute. Don’t be one of those. It’ll be midsummer for the tourney. There will be ideal days to be had.

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