The Fish Story

Don’t Be Caught Knitting and Fishing, Dude

By JAY MANN | Mar 28, 2013

This might fall under a category titled, “I bring it all on myself.”

Folks frequently forward me half-crocked and/or half-cocked subject matter, due in large part to my propensity to frequently fly sorties into skyways with no landing strips in sight. See, just like that.

So, I wasn’t overly surprised when I was thrown yet another raw chunk of unqualified bizarreness. It was a tad odder because it arrived via a North Jersey knitting fanatic named Cheryl.

When I first read her electronic communiqué, I thought she had tapped a little too deeply into whatever placating juices those knitting gals use in order to sit for hours on end, pearling and jibbing and coming about, while jamming fluffy, yarny threads into 10-foot long (and growing) scarves.

No, I’m absolutely not making light of knittingtude! Hell, those gals can go ninja at the drop of a stitch, viciously stabbing around with colorful needles capable of penetrating the vital organs of any antagonist. “Look everyone, I’ve decided to add the kidney of a SandPaper columnist to my doily.” The extended circle of knitters all look up, smile approvingly, and go back to discussing why women with neck tattoos look so sluttish.

Anyway, Cheryl enthusiastically alerted me to a law in New Jersey – a state law, mind you – that prohibits men from knitting while fishing.

Am I the only one who never heard of this decree?

Knowing there is no law too stupid to be enacted, I was not overly surprised to find it truly exists. Expectedly, the loony law has made its way to near the top of every “stupid laws” list.

What has thrown me for a loop is the utter lack of info on why anyone in or out of his/her right mind would devise this law. Was it some sort of early gay-bashing legislation?

Maybe “no knitting” was a typo, meant to be, “No knotting while fishing.” You’re right, that makes no fishing sense, though a lack of sense has never slowed law writers in the past.

Semi-seriously, I’m thinking the law might have arisen during one of those ketchup drinking, depression periods, when women could angle to the hilt, scot-free, but men had to purchase a fishing license. A license-less man would sit in a boat, in drag, seemingly knitting away, while landing as many fish as his frilly ass desired. The game wardens would scope the fishing boat and figure, “Just some butt-ugly, bearded gal fishing while knitting.” They wouldn’t risk a kidney by going out to question her.

Hey, that’s the best explanation I could come up with.

Be it a viable explanation or not, the law lingers. In fact, that “knitting while fishing” violation might very well be like the Holy Grail of citations for many an officer hell-bent on using every damn law on the books before retiring. “You know, Joe, there’s days I’m not sure I’ll ever get to write an NJ-10-KNIT5609 before I die.”

Just like that, I see myself taking up knitting, then sitting in a small boat smack dab in the middle of Barnegat Inlet on a summer Saturday, intently knitting away. I picture one, then two, than a slew of police boats soon circling, like citation sharks – each cop within praying that I pick up a fishing rod. Hell, I gotta schedule that for this summer.

A TREE GROWS IN HOLGATE: As the Holgate community of Long Beach Township sits and anxiously awaits word on a beach and dune rebuild, the community-active residents there are bandying about notions of making something special out of their dunes, once arrived. This is the first I’ve heard of taking government-enhanced sands further than the fed’s game plan, a plan noticeably light on greenery.

Here’s a comment I placed on the “Holgate Update,” on Facebook:

I am going to check with the Army Corps to see how much local lovin’ can be loosed upon replenished dunes. Becoming known as a “dune-enhancing community” – using science and green thumbs to make them into show pieces – could set an amazing example for other municipalities to emulate.

To date, I’ve only seen replenished dunes graced with humble, somewhat anemic, lines of dune grass. Surely, more vegetation can be planted to add some rooty backbone to our Island’s main line of defense against the sea.

It should be noted that, legally, all hard structure is verboten so any dune enhancement would definitely be a chlorophyll-based pursuit.

The advantages I see with hiking the presence of plant life in Holgate is its closeness to the all-natural terrain in the Edwin B. Forsythe Wilderness Area – albeit rapidly disappearing all-natural terrain. If any dune areas on LBI can support, say, more advanced indigenous vegetation, like shrubbery and even trees, it would be the populated section of Holgate, a.k.a. Beach Haven Inlet.

Of course, I can’t resist outspreading the significance of a Holgate beach/dune rebuild. The Island’s beloved far south end, the aforementioned Wilderness Area, is edging toward erosional termination. Recently published, side-by-side photos of the recent-past and now show the insane attrition taking place on the refuge. It’s one-third of the landmass it was just a few decades back. Bring on those salvation sands.

North to south littoral drift will not only carry the sand but it will also carry the day.

You don’t have to be an Island lifer to recognize the south end is a mighty intense place. The ocean, be it gratefully or arrogantly, will place new sands where it wants – and when it wants. I see the pumped in sand being powered southward by the sea. I can’t help but liken the refilling of the far south end to a beach buggy’s deflated tire getting an air hose refill.

JUST YOU WAIT, OH, SHIVERER: So you can get pissed at me in, say, July, I’ll warn you right now that this cruelly clinging winter will very likely segue into a hideously hot summer; I’m talking killer heat, i.e. street surfaces covered with fried eggs, entire flocks of birds spinning out of the sky with tail feathers aflame and lizards rioting in the Pines.

That ultrahigh potential for total torridness will likely scorch any hopes I hold for outback outings and camporees but it is also poised to put a horrible hurting on my volleyballing at Al V’s Barnegat Light backyard court and atop the sands of Harvey Cedars.

Speaking of the soon-to-arrive re-replenishment sand of Cedars, I’ll be the first to admit that as welcome as those salvation sands will be, having to trek across a football field length of heat-burned beach can cause hallucination most often seen in old Sahara Desert survival movies.

“Look! Up ahead. It looks just like an … an … ocean!”

“It is an ocean, you idiot. And get up off your stomach, the beach badge checkers are laughing their asses off at you.”

Anyway, how badly LBI will swelter this coming summer all comes down to how kindly our traditional summer southerlies (winds) treat us. Ocean breezes are like blowing manna, or something like that. It’s when those winds forsake their customary easterly, onshore tilt and instead tap into furnaced west wind that we’re no better off than pieces of tree bark in the Pines. There, now doesn’t all that torridity talk make you feel slightly better about this hang-on, winterish weather?

WILL ANGLER RE-RETURN?: I was talking with some fishing event organizers and there is a somewhat gloomy sense that anglers won’t be buying into the competitive fishing thing this spring, primarily boat anglers.

While I’m hoping that Simply Bassin’ 2013 will be a glowing chance for surfcasters to gain some sense of fishing normalcy, I see where boat fishing might be reeling – in a bad way. Blame ruint docks, rolled vessels, effed up tackle, fears of bottom debris and also more subtly significant matters, including the mere fact that many anglers only come out to play when everything feels just right.

Yes, I’m openly implying that many casters are fair weatherites, to the hilt. And, I don’t blame them. Fishing is supposed to be a fun and relaxing thing.

To get fishing normalcy back – and usher in those relaxers – we’ll need a team recovery mentality, backed by bagel joints, bars, restaurants, sundry stores, coffee shops, bakeries, surf shops, tackle shops, quickie marts, groceries … they all be part of the big bounce-back.

KEEP THOSE SHEDS: I had a call from a non-hunting fellow asking about deer antler (sheds) he found over the winter. And they were 11-point (total) beauties, per pics. He was told by a neighbor he could not legally own them.

That’s a buncha deer bull.

Sure, there’s maybe a hair or two of veracity in the fact you can’t technically possess deer parts without a license. But, if you get cited for possessing antler shed without a permit, I’ll be the first to stomp into court in your defense – providing court is not particularly in session that day.

That said, I will duly note that actually selling the likes of even forest floor antlers might open up an ugly can of legal tapeworms. The laws against marketing white tail deer body parts have some ugly oomph behind them, though I see many a handsome deer rack grazing the green fields of eBay.

The keeping of antler sheds has a bit to do with the decidedly significant differences between antlers and horns.

Horns are forever-ish. They are a living, sorta breathing, part of an animal. Not only do they hang around for a lifetime but also they are constantly growing.

In most cases, being in possession of horns is a sure sign that something has died – or is suddenly feeling lightheaded. By the by, the dehorning of cattle is done at the earliest possible time. Established horns have a huge load of nerve endings. To get a pain registration on that, they have hundreds of times more nerve endings than a tooth. They fight tooth in nail when being dragged to the hornist office for a cleanup. OK, so maybe I never lived on a cattle ranch.

Antlers, on the other more legal hand, are merely temporary head adornments, annually produced by bucks.

Antlers are what every kick-ass buck needs to ram the ever-lovin’ hell out of other bucks – you know, to make some doe. A buck’s horny headgear comes with an extreme expenditure of bodily energy. “Damn, I have this incredible rack and I’m so tired I can barely keep my head up. I swear I’m gonna to look for roadkill this year.”

When the swinin’ antler party winds down after the rut, a buck’s head accoutrements become naggingly nonfunctional, snagging every shrubbery and low-lying limb that comes down the pygmy forest pike. A quick shed lightens the load.

Which brings us to those shed antlers – found, innocently enough, right where they fell in the forest. There’s nary a gunned down deer associated with them. So, how in bloody hell can it be illegal to own them? It can’t be, even if laws can be strictly read that way. Fortunately, there’s always a judge capable of reigning in overly ambiguous laws. Or not.

Nonetheless, I encourage folks to get out there hikin’ the boonies once spring decides to kick in. Look closely for cool goodies. There are easily as many pick-me-ups on the floors of the outback as within the wrack line of the beach. However, in the woods, there’s a standing rule that if something runs away before you can pick it up, it probably wouldn’t have sat well in a goodie bag.

ELVER FALLOUT: I caught a little heat, actually more like a friendly zephyr, from some Canadian folks who felt I shouldn’t have included Canadians in my recent alert about arriving elver poachers. I feel ya, eh.

I was actually alerted to the Canadian connection by a DEP person. Border-hoppers are, in fact, included in rundowns of who might be stealing our tiniest of American eels. Hey, I’m already suspect of anyone who can use the metric system without a cheat sheet. (FYI: 1 Inch = 2.54 cm; 1 Foot = 30.48 cm; E=mc2) Sorry, but Canadians stay pat on my list of invasive elver thieves (eh).

In another elver column response, I had an irritably boweled-type emailer point out that the Maine elver fishery, which opened last week, will be dealing with a $2,000 a pound fishery.

He wrote, “… So, It’s not like ‘squirming gold.’”

He emphasized that the latest gold prices are around $1,600 an ounce. “That would be over $25,000 a pound had eels been golden.”

It’s obvious he couldn’t care less that my “squirming gold” was one of those metaphorically speaking things. In fact, I had an odd sense he was either metaphoraphobic, or, far more likely, a pissed off former elverer. Hey, a life of eeling has always been a slippery slope.

In yet another elver response, a higher up with the RFA voiced what numerous readers had noticed about the arrest of Mainers poaching in Atlantic County. Each man had a minorish $2,000 bail set. When computing their take of 24,000 eels, those three violators might have already accrued six-figure profits. The bail was not only a pathetic pittance but also possibly indicative of minimal fines to come – nowhere near the profit of a single morning of illegal elevering. Even the confiscating of equipment wouldn’t be more than a chink in the profit armor of $2,000 a pound takes. Maybe the judge’s kids are former elverers.

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