The Fish Story

Booms Continue to Baffle World; Surfcasting in Proper Yoga Posture

By JAY MANN | Dec 06, 2017

Last week, a news story in The Sun of London took on the topic of the weird, unattributable booms being heard around the world. The headline read: “Big Bang – Mystery as terrifying loud ‘booms’ are heard all over the planet.”

Around the planet, there have been 64 big bang locations this year. They’ve been strikingly similar, at least as far as one boom can be duly differentiated from another. Most have been dissociated from common and explainable sky sources, like jets or thunderstorms, thus the “mysterious.”

“The terrifying noises have been recorded everywhere from the Middle East to the Midwest this year – with the majority heard on the US East Coast,” wrote the British newspaper.

We can attest to that East Coast angle. Many of us coastalites have ears-on experience with such out-of-the-blue boomedness. Since I was knee-high to a sandcrab, I recall those rolling, thunderish shakes charging in off the ocean.

By my recall, many of the booms arrived in the a.m. When sitting in the water surfing, there were times I could feel the arriving sound waves hit my face – passing by at the speed of, well, sound. A buddy recalls seeing weird boom-related ripples, like tiny pinnacles, on the glassy water surface as a monumental boom rushed past, breaking windows in oceanfront homes.

I noticed the back-when booms were most common on clear summer mornings, on days soon to become scorchers. However, in recent years, there may be a trend for these window rattlers to arrive out of the blue – anytime, year-round.

Modern mystery booms have a heightened impact thanks to a perpetually alert social media. Odd rumblings are like music to the ears of many Facebookers and Twitterists, who love any odd and mysterious things that rock their mediafied realm. I’m hot among those.

Last week’s mini-earthquake rolled through social media at the speed of the quake itself. The National Earthquake Information Center in Rockville, Md., used social media comments to compute the coverage and intensity of the Delaware-based tremblor.

Reading through The Sun story, I anxiously hoped to finally hear from whence cometh those WTF booms. No such luck. Offered instead was total tripe, something about meteorites exploding upon entering the atmosphere. Oh, yeah? Why, then, are the skies dead quiet during Perseid or Leonid meteorite showers, when they should be pounding like a heavy metal band?

The Sun also offered the rote “sonic boom” baloney. Admittedly, aircraft breaking the sound barrier can send out a mighty loud sound jolt. However, the recorded sound signatures from those man-based booms indicate a double, or rebound, report, more of a “Boom-boom!” The few recordings of mystery booms point to a far more unilateral sound – a single force-wave, emanating outward.

For the record, there are written accounts of “battle booms,” being heard far back in America’s history. A common locale was New York’s Finger Lakes region, where the Seneca Tribe was certain they were the hostile belches of their god, Manitou. Those booms became known as Seneca Guns. In 1850, James Fennimore Cooper even wrote a story called “The Lake Gun.” Pretty easy to rule out supersonic aircraft in that instance.

In lieu of a more informative explanation than those offered by The Sun, I’m sticking with my out-there theory that the booms have something to do with gases noisily expanding after a sudden release from the bottoms of oceans and large lakes.

Go ahead and balk at my gaseousness, but, in just the last few years, scientists have detected massive and unexplained gas releases in the west Atlantic Ocean, most noticeably near the Bermuda Triangle, i.e. within throwing distance of boom central, the Eastern Seaboard.

Finally, for you conspiracy sorts, there is also a theory – this is real – that incredibly well-cloaked alien spacecraft are residing in our atmosphere, possibly in great numbers. On rare occasions, one of these cyber-cloaked vessels accidently looses a boom – to which all the other spacecraft angrily swing around and go “SHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Wow, maybe I need to rethink my gas theory. Cloaked alien spacecraft, eh?

MANN OVERBOARD: I need to talk about the biggest thing to come along since sliced pizza.

Hey, before they began slicing it, a scalding hot pizza would arrive and ravenous folks would just frantically grab handfuls of it. Second-degree hot-cheese burns of the hands and fingers were commonplace. Then, a guy named Georgiou Slice came up with a better idea. The rest is Sliced pizza history.

With that opening piece of epicurean history, you get a taste of where this segment is headed as I take on the newest rage, something called yoga.

Oh, I know yoga is old as the hills. Hell, I instructed Hatha yoga back in the ’60s, proving how far back it goes. But it has truly gone viral of late, using “viral” in a nice, not-necessarily-contagious way.

To get a feel for why the old is new again in Southern Ocean County, I chatted with a yoga gal – though I steered clear of using the technical Indian name for a female who practices yoga: a yogini. I kid you not. I’m not sure why, but yogini somehow has political incorrectness written all over it. What’s more, I can’t shake what they’d call a very small bathing suit meant for a yogini. I’ll let you think about that.

But I digress.

As to why yoga is positioning itself so firmly in our parts, all I got was the party line about relaxation, meditation, body control, mind-emptying – you know, the old hippy spiel. However, I was then offered an eye-opener/chuckler when the yogic gal, knowing of this very column, launched into the ideal match-up of yoga and surfcasting – her husband being a proponent of the latter.

“I see all of you just standing around on the beach, waiting for a fish to bite. What a perfect time and place to practice yoga meditations,” she offered.

I understand her enthusiasm and all, but she might be misreading the good old boys of surfcasting. Nonetheless, my mind couldn’t help envisioning some of my portlier angler buddies trying to stand on one leg, the other leg bowed in a half circle and propped against the standing leg, hands held skyward, tips of thumbs and the index fingers gently touching in a perfect gyan mudra flower petal pose – and me nearby with my video camera.

Yoga and surfcasting just ain’t happening … unless, just maybe …

Imagine an Island surfcaster on the beach, maybe down Peahala Park way, catching squat and deciding to humor his wife by learning a yoga pose she showed him: the famed sitting lotus position. He painfully achieves the locked-legs position, manually forcing his legs to lock tightly within one another.

Then, no sooner does he assume the position than his spiked rod gets totally pinned; a major fish is ripping off line. But, lo, the angler is unable to disengage his yogafied legs in a timely manner.

An improvisor at heart, the angler simply commences to rolling sideways across the sand, bumpily executing the ultra-rare yoga side-ass lotus roll.

He bowls over the straining spike and grabs the rod.

In a stellar display of semi-transcendental skillfulness, the man fights and lands a 50-pound bass – the whole time on his side … and remaining beautifully lotused. Sure, his controlled breathing techniques went a little south during the ordeal, but, hey.

Now, word of his hook-up spreads like wildfire among fishers. Oddly, little is said about his bizarre landing of the fish a la lotus. Instead, the buzz is about his catching a trophy bass the instant he assumed a yoga position. For fishermen, that’s all the info they need. Yoga would flood over the surfcasting realm.

To be sure, it doesn’t take much to move the angling masses, which seem pathologically inclined to abandon the likes of rationality if, in the end, it means catching fish. For instance, an angler in Australia suddenly begins catching world-record fish, hand over foot … using kangaroo meat as bait! In nothing flat, a conversation like this would be overheard in a nearby LBI bait store:

“Can I help you sir?”

“Uh, yes. Do you have any fresh kangaroo meat?”

“Do we have any fresh kangaroo meat?! Are you out of your mind? … Hell, we sold out of it hours ago!”

“Well, how about some frozen?!”

“The guy before you got the last three pounds of frozen kangaroo. All we got left is some thawed ‘peanut’ wallaby.”

“Oh, all right, gimme a couple packages of wallaby. Also, a dozen Tibetan mountain worms … You at least have them fresh, right?”

“Yes, we have them fresh. And if you didn’t wait until noon to start fishing, maybe you’d just be able to get some fresh kangaroo meat.”

“Oh, really? It so happens that lotus-position guy in Peahala Park caught two more 40-pounders yesterday … all of them in the afternoon.”

“Yeah, well, he also happened to have nice fresh kangaroo meat – unlike somebody I know.”

Hey, you should have sensed where things might go after that Georgiou Slice(d) pizza lead-in.

RUNDOWN: Surfcasters had a couple days in the sun as a slew of schoolie and just-keeper striped bass rained down over the weekend.

Along with offering the best single day for striper entries in the soon-done 2017 LBI Surf Fishing Classic, loads of non-Classic folks fishing the suds caught fish, a phenomenon that has been pretty much missing this entire fall fishing season.

Of course, right off the beachline, the boat fishing remained obscenely productive – cursedly so for frustrated bank anglers, who can only read about top-water folks bailing boat bass as if all is right in the striped bass realm.

Which brings up the subject of just how right the striped bass realm has become, thinking in terms of biomass.

Along with some excellent signs that quite-adequate bass reproduction is taking place in prime Chesapeake Bay-based breeding grounds, there is also no deficiency in the overall coastwide showing of the species.

Such a rashly upbeat striper statement always inflames perpetually pessimistic bass-aholics, who see the bass glass as half empty – and dropping fast. I understand those ultra-protective folks. Most were around for the bad old days of the 1970s, when dreadful harvesting practices, both commercial and recreational, brought bass stocks to their knees. By the same token, there is seemingly no striper recovery big enough to make bass fanatics forget the past. To them, I never bring up the proven dangers of over-conserving stripers, seeing they’re the most aggressive feeders in the nearshore water.

As we speak, there is an effort by the recreational angler advocacy group Stripers Forever to stymy commercial fishing for bass in Massachusetts. I read about the effort in a Gloucester Times article by Christian M. Wade, headlined “Recreation Groups Push to Ban Commercial Striper Fishing in Massachusetts Through Legislature.”

According to Wade, one proposal, by Rep. Walter Timilty (D-Milton) would allow only established commercial bass fishermen to continue harvesting, based on their having sold more than 1,000 pounds of striped bass annually over the last five years.

Another proposal, developed by Rep. Thomas Stanley (D-Waltham), would eliminate commercial striped bass fishing by 2025, buttressed by fines up to $500 per fish for violators.

“We’re asking for only one saltwater species to be reserved for recreational purposes and protected as a gamefish,” said Fred Jennings of Ipswich, who is Massachusetts co-chairman of Stripers Forever. “And it’s one of vital importance to the economy of our state.”

While I’ll steer clear of that gamefish-only debate – while slightly siding with commercialites, via the Milton proposal – I continue to stump for efforts to somehow save genetically gifted “trophy” stripers by increasing the pressure to conserve the big and best fish. I’m hearing of more and more efforts to “Save the Big Bass.”

That said, I’ll seemingly contradict myself by simultaneously opposing legislation mandating the release of large fish. I see no simple solution to having your trophy bass and eating it, too.

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