The Fish Story

Going Olfactory-Free to Melt Away Those Beige Fat Cells; Copious Kingfish Could Be Moving in After a Long Absence

By JAY MANN | Jul 12, 2017
Courtesy of: Alan Thomas Matt Thomas holding one of two bluefin tuna caught offshore last week.

I need you to put on your ponder caps, jacking up your sense of ponderment. The term for this heightened sense of pondering is ponderiferous … or at least it is now.

You’ll need the added ponderification to get the real meat of this next amazing matter. It begins with small laboratory rodents but has the fat-future for humanity written all over it. It centers on some fat findings by researchers at UC/Berkley.

The researchers were likely in desperate need of something that had yet to be done to the countless mice kept on hand at most research facilities. That’s when one of them noticed the mice were always twitching their noses to sniff out food. A bell went off, signaling that no one had ever rendered mice unable to smell. “Yahoo. Let’s do it.”

Using readily available gene therapy – readily available at Berkeley, that is – the researchers disabled, i.e. removed, the olfactory nerve endings in the noses of adult mice.

Now, don’t get all PETA-ishly teary-eyed. The deeper nasal stem cells were spared, so the sore-nosed rodents only temporarily lost their smell capacities. The loss lasted about three weeks, before the nerve endings regrew from the stems and things returned to twitching-nosed normalcy.

With the mice temporarily rendered totally lacking on the olfactory front, the studying began, which pretty much entailed researchers sitting around excitedly wondering what the hell might happen next. And, boy, did the fat fly. I’ll explain.

In a nutshell, mice that were smell-free were grouped with mice that sniffed just fine, thank you. Then they were fed … and fed again and again. What soon showed is the stuff of sheer WTF-ness.

Without letting the mouse out of the bag, I’ll hint a bit by noting that the smell-gone mice, when returned to normal sniffing in three weeks’ time, looked themselves over and begged to have their smell re-removed. Hey, these were West Coast mice, which are very self-conscious about their looks, especially their figures.

Anyway, to avoid science lingo, I’ll offer you the watered-down version of what might be the future of fatness for creatures great, small and, most importantly, human.

As noted, both mice groups were fed. I’m talking really fed – more food than even an urban rat could stomach without pushing away from the table, all “That’s all I can take.”

In no time flat, the normal-nosed mouse segment became portly, then rotund, and finally the human equivalent of lard-asses. At the exact same time, the sniff-less mice became svelte, lean, Malibu Beach-worthy machines. Astoundingly, the sniffer mice were often more than 30 to 40 percent larger than their can’t-smell-a-thing counterparts.

Oh, I hear you balking, all knowing-like. “What’s so weird about that? Take away smell and who cares as much about food? You just don’t eat as much.”

Au contraire, ye jump-to-conclusion-ites.

You surely recall my earlier demanding of ponder caps. Well, here’s the time to put them on.

Get this: The lean, clean mice, sans smell-ability, ate the same amounts as the lardo mice! Chew on that a caloric moment. The fine-bodied smellerless mice downed the exact same caloric intake as the fatties.

Now I smell your mind-rubber burning, as did mine upon marveling over this weirdness.

In the name of science, there is now plenty of cross-testing being done. Amazingly, the fat-ass mice, after having their olfactory organs neutralized, began dropping weight to beat the band. At the same role-reversal time, the fine-bodied mice, after regaining their smell senses, gained weight to beat the exact same band. During that in-cage switch-about, there was surely some serious fat-on-the-other-foot banter between the two mice groups – the stuff of a future reality show cruelly called, “So Who’s Fat Now!?” But I digress.

As to answering the WTF side of this study, the only explanatory thing I can conjure up is found in the chemically complex brain/olfactory connection. At this juncture, there’s no avoiding a wee bit of technical jabber: The olfactory epithelium is a specialized epithelial tissue inside the nasal cavity that is involved in smell … transmitting impulses to the brain from the smell receptors in the mucous membrane of the nose.

Returning to Mann-speak, the brain is the big shot in your body when it comes to controlling metabolism. Might it be: Without foody things offering complimentary smells while being eaten, the brain is uninclined to store whatever foodstuff failed to offer a juicy smell/taste relationship. It sends word out via the nervous system: “I’m not liking what’s being eaten.”

Per a study titled “Smelling your food makes you fat: Mice that lost sense of smell stayed slim on high fat diet, while littermates ballooned in weight,” published this month in, “The smell-deficient mice rapidly burned calories by up-regulating their sympathetic nervous system, which is known to increase fat burning. The mice turned their beige fat cells – the subcutaneous fat storage cells that accumulate around our thighs and midriffs – into brown fat cells, which burn fatty acids to produce heat. Some turned almost all of their beige fat into brown fat, becoming lean, mean burning machines.”

There’s no immediate need to over-ponder that beige and brown fat cell thing since I’m still trying to work out what the hell color-coded fat is all about. Suffice it to say brown fat cells rock – unless you happen to be, like, a sumo wrestler.

As to the hormonal brain action that can somehow signal the entire body to burn through fat like a hot knife through butter, that simply remains ponderously weird, though scientists are already on the move to unravel the chemistry behind this magical fat-burn process.

Even at the current stage of discovery, it’s impossible not to ponder what these rodent-level findings might mean to folks tortured by obesity – or even those of us sporting one too many beige fat cells. While UCB’s researchers refuse to extend their findings to human weight loss through olfactory manipulation, I’ll unprofessionally feast on the potential. Within a few years, something akin to no-smell dieting will explode, egged on by pharmaceutical companies that just happen to already own all the chemicals that were needed to temporarily de-snifficate those gorgeously-bodied Callie mice.

Aftereffects: Upon reading all this, I sniffed out yet another of my foolproof money-making brainstorms. Grab your credit cards and alert PayPal that J-Mann’s Miraculous Three-Week Nasal Weight Loss Kit is about to launch. The kit will be comprised of a dozen brightly colored, dollar-store plastic clothespins, with little pieces of felt material Gorilla Glued to the inside … for extended nose wear. Directions: Squeeze open one of J-Mann’s patented-or-not “Olfactory Inference Dietary Devices” (a.k.a. a clothespin), position over both nasal passages, then unsqueeze, closing shut both nasal passages. Wear for three weeks. Not for women who are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant. If you can’t afford J-Mann’s Miraculous Three-Week Nasal Weight Loss Kit … etc.

RUNDOWN: Brigantine remains alive with kingfish. These panfish offer top-shelf eating fillets. I rate them near five-out-of-five stars, taste-wise.

With so many kingfish so close – just across the inlet – I see no way they won’t swarm here, soon ... if they’re not already around.

Every so often, the Jersey Shore sees a total explosion of northern kingfish. Such outbursts seemed a lot more regular in the 1940s and ’50s. Olden fishing reports always mention them in the surf.

I don’t want to jinx it, but these fine little fighters would make summer fishing a lot more fun, both ocean and bay.

Moderate/light to light surf equipment is suited for these panfish. They need a just-right rig, i.e. a kingfish rig. Kingfish rigs with red or orange floats rock. However, floatless bottom rigs work best in really clear water. Fake-o baits or bloodworm pieces fool kingfish every time.

It’s best to use bank sinkers with kingfish rigs, using a slow retrieve.

Kingfish can school up tightly. Once a prime hookup zone is found, future casts are aimed right at the hot zone.

They should be kept cool, then cleaned/filleted as quickly as possible. Being a daytime hookup, they all too often get chucked into a bucket and left in the sun to bake. Very bad.

For bayside fishing folks, arriving kingfish are on a spawning run. I highly suggest, in the name of conservation, only a one-meal number of kingfish be kept – not as many as can be caught. Over-catching these arriving spawners hurts the hatch. What’s more, over-catching often leads to sloppier and sloppier filleting. Kingfish are way too good to leave chunks on the bones.

Well-cleaned kingfish carcasses make exceptional blue crab bait. Also, kingfish heads are thought to be among the best bait for black drumfish, striped bass or channel bass. That last one comes from an old fishing article hyping kingfish heads as a prime bait to catch monster “channel bass” on LBI. Channel bass equate to red drumfish, a once predominant bite hereabouts. Where’d they all go?

Better fluking remains bay-bound. With the ocean now pushing into the 70s – meaning the bay must be near 80 – it’s odd the flatties are reluctant to move out. I wonder if it’s the big bluefish still hawking Barnegat Inlet. The blues are here far later than they should be, at least at that size. Overall, bluefishing remains brisk along much of the N.J. shoreline.

Stripers are out there but hardly jumping to be caught. Smaller models are in the surf; however, very low tides – and replenishment-related sandbars – have made it hard to get at deep enough water to surfcast. Boat bassing has led to some trophy “slobs.” Is that now-popular expression hideous or what? I use it here mockingly; never again.

Crabbing is great, though the hotter weather makes backbay hand-crabbing a thing of pain and swatting, when factoring in biting flies.

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