Lady Liberty Could Be Repurposed Down Arizona Way; A Day of Serious Surf Stripering Gets Classic Hopping

By JAY MANN | Nov 14, 2018

MANN OVERBOARD: I’m really not into all this illegal immigrant controversy, though I probably should be. My mailed-in spit indicates I have Native American blood coursing through my otherwise mongrel veins. Not that such Native American lineage makes me any less of an immigrant in the critical eyes of this day and age. I’m simply a “reverse immigrant,” leaving me highly vulnerable to being deported to somewhere foreign, like Oklahoma. Hey, I recall we once sent the entire reverse-immigrant Lenni Lenape nation over there … with a muttered “Let’s see ’em dig clams there.”

Closer to home and now, the immigration thing has me oddly obsessed with when, technically, we should fittingly relinquish the Statue of Liberty. Face it, the old girl has become a political pariah with all her charged-up notions about our wanting the tired, poor and huddled masses – all of whom should basically just go out and find jobs, damn it!

As to what we should do with an outdated and outspoken Lady Liberty, deportation might be a legal option. She has surely outstayed any Green Card status, having been here well over 135 years, likely never declaring so much as a penny of all those tourist dollars she has garnered. It might be doubly fitting to ship le statue de la Liberté back to France – maybe find sculptor Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel’s modern kin and secretly drop Little Miss Freedom off in their yard, include a note reading, “Here … and don’t try a stunt like that again.”

“Stunt,” you ask? Come on, people, how can one not see the whole statue-giving thing was a long-term highly successful plot to stick America with every huddled mass that comes up the pike? There’s a reason they were called the Evil Eiffels. OK, so maybe they were never called that, but it’s highly suspicious how easily that alliteration rolls off the tongue. Just sayin’.

Backing up a bit, I fully realize what a highly visited landmark Lady Liberty has become, despite that original devious intent. However, if she should be sent packing, our very own Barnegat Lighthouse could easily pick up any visitorship slack – and with absolutely no freedom and liberty innuendos wafting about. What’s more apolitical than a silent, American-built lighthouse? Sure, certain feminists might squawk that Old Barney is overly phallic and decidedly manly. Maybe so, but who better to just stand there minding his own upright business – with nary a hint of “Send us” your this-or-that.

Taking an entirely different banishment route, there would be a telling relevance to moving her, in whole, to the Arizona/Mexico border, i.e. a monumental repurposing. She would be the highest heavily armed watchtower defending The Wall. Border agents could easily man her crown, seeing far enough into Mexico to detect even the smallest gathering of “wretched masses” readying to move northward.

Almost as functional would be simply laying Lady Liberty on her side, east-to-west, along The Wall. She’d surely resume her role as a tourist attraction – for folks on both sides of the border. “Oh, Mommy, can we go see Lying Liberty, please?” And it would all be fun and souvenirs … until some Mexican border guard suddenly abandons his post and tries to jump the wall to our side. Hey, as a born-to-protest Boomer kid, I owned a big poster of that immaculately uniformed East German soldier making a death-defying break for freedom over the Berlin Wall. But that was a whole other day and age. Any separatory walls we erect will be right as reign, especially with Lady Liberty on guard.

OK, maybe this is all a bit radical for some of my fellow Americans and Americanos. For those who are unpatriotically aghast at the notion of uprooting the busty statue, a mere name change might suffice, politically speaking. May I suggest we heretofore call her “The Statue of Limitations”? It is technically correct and allows her to keep her initials. Sure, there will be critics who feel the name implies that any illegal aliens who manage to squat here for more than seven years automatically become statutory nonimmigrants. Even so, we can always hustle them off to Oklahoma … kimo sabe.

RUNDOWN: It was a glorious wham-bam flash of striping late last week, bassing as it had been back in the not-distant day. A night of muscled onshore winds drove bass to the edge, as in the edge of the shoreline. The push produced the largest-to-date bass of the 2018 LBI Surf Fishing Classic, a 43.06-pounder bested by Chris Masino. His hookup was one of four fish over 30 pounds taken surfside during the blow. I also heard tell of three 30-pound-plus surfline stripers caught by anglers not in the Classic. See related write-up this issue.

For the storm-pounded surfcasters who were at the right beach at the right time, there was that wonderful tension of knowing a spiked rod could get pinned at any second, just like back when. Many smaller stripers were also out there pinning away. Even a 10-pound bass can throw a serious crook into an anxiously awaiting rod.

Bait-wise, bunker was the prime getter, though one 40-some-pounder went for a thawed mullet.

For a full data-laced rundown of every Classic weigh-in, see lbift.com. There is still a huge chunk of Classic to take in. Jump aboard and show us how heavy-hooking is done.

The instant turn-on of surfline stripers further proved the working theory that onshore winds can entice offshore stripers flush to the beach, likely hot on the tails of easily blown-in forage fish. It is no fluke how often this phenomenon repeats itself. I’m so sold on the blow-based bassing that I’m now scouring weather maps for striper storms, a couple of which might hit this week through next week.

With a dozen or so Classic weigh-ins showing in short order, bringing the 39-day total to 26 fish, I was among many who dared to wonder if the turn-on might linger, ushering in a glorious return to better bassing times. I’m torn between the need to stay real in here – admitting that surfcasting has since cooled to sheer striper no-ness – and optimistically parlaying the 36-hour hooking hurrah into suggesting surf fishing has taken a long-term turn toward better times.

The danger of waxing overly hopeful rears up when folks partake of my optimism and excitedly hit the LBI sands – to then spend an entire fishing session idly staring at utterly idle rods. They’re soon steaming over seemingly getting suckered in by my rose-colored report. Believe me, wherever I hype hooking, I risk the pendulum-swing nature of angling.

While I’m cautiously hyped that, just maybe, bassing is on the verge of a comeback, we’re still anorectic on the total striper weigh-ins for the 2018 Classic. If we could somehow conjure up a solid week or two of serious striper hooking, we could quietly hope that we’ve turned the bass bend toward autumnal normalcy.

Late-breaking note: As I prepare this column, hard east winds have again blown the ocean into a froth, sporting 5-foot medium-period waves. However, there is little surf fishing pressure. What’s more, wave-flattening west winds have just begun honking. Hopefully, a couple/few blown-in bass might hit the scales. Check the Classic website to see any new arrivals.

Theoretically, there is also no denying the instantaneous shutdown of even a torrid beach bite when offshore winds blow the bass back out to sea.

One angler’s unfavorable wind is another angler’s hot airstream. When SCA west winds finally calm down enough to allow boats to hit the ocean, hooking wildness is prevailing. Trophy bassing is exploding for boat anglers fishing not far off LBI beaches. Per tackle shops and FaceBook, boat bassers are going hog-wild, tying into bass pushing well over 40 pounds. Such biggies are sometimes called hogs or, less tastefully, slobs.  I even heard of a “huge bass” taken and released by a standup paddleboard angler.

The bass boat bite is likely locked into place for weeks to come – he says confidently, despite the implicit dangers of issuing rosy reports. No fear, in this case. I’m coolly confident the big bass are out there and hungry. It’s weather-permitting for captains.

The boat-bassing bonanza also hints at surfcasters once again being on the forsaken side of stripering, i.e. big bass being so close but so far.

BLUEFISH BUST: I’ve had only one small inquiry about the other fall gamefish. It came at the end of an excited email about last week’s rapid-fire bassing. It was a mere “Does this mean some bluefish might show?”

Being a dedicated bluefish aficionado, I reservedly answered “Uh, maybe” – even though I meant “Nary a prayer, dude.”

I’m betting this is the first year since bluefish were added to the Classic tourney that not a single slammer has hit the scales. Not that long ago, the Classic committee actually had to limit how many blues could be weighed in per angler since as many as 100 would be entered … in a single afternoon!

Face it, autumnal surfcasting is changing to the max – pretty much moving toward an unknown max.

Big fall bluefish have flown the coastal coop, despite some amazing springtime showings of blues of all sizes, indicating the biomass is massive. Try to figure out that never-before weirdness. My best guess points (once again) to warming ocean-surface waters. Those are not necessarily the water temps we feel along the beach, but well-documented planetary-class oceanic warmups.

Bluefish are repelled by too-warm waters, likely having to do with their metabolism. Could late-lingering summer-heated ocean waters along the Jersey Shore – and all the way up to Nova Scotia – be forcing their fall migration out into deeper, cooler seas? Then the winter-cooled spring waters become adequately bluefish-friendly, thus their supreme showing right about then.

With that ocean-warming theory presented on my daily blog (fishlbi.com), I got a worthy follow-up email regarding the AWOLness of any and all big fall blues. “Jay, There is nothing new about bluefish disappearing. It happens constantly. My dad remembers when people didn’t know what a bluefish was.” This was followed by the true essence of the message. “I’m glad to see them gone. They mess up bass fishing.” That is not an uncommon anti-bluefish sentiment.

DRONE DAZE: I’m reading where drones, for the third year running, are going to be among the most popular gift items this Christmas. Yes, I can write about Christmas already. Such holidayizing can currently begin at Halloween, as we have just seen via TV commercials. Wall Street now has its advertorial eye set on July 4th as an appropriate day to begin hyping holiday gift giving.

While I do not make the rules for the LBI Surf Fishing Classic, I’m venturing a strong guess that drone-assisted “casts” from the beach will be heavily frowned upon by the event’s commissioners. I’ll be more than willing to sit in on any “determination” meeting should a drone-assisted bass hit the event’s scales. It would be easy to see such a case.

By the by, such angling-oriented drone usages are already being tried on LBI. About a month back, when false albies were close in, I was asked by some UAV experts if I wanted to give a drone-assisted “cast” a go – mainly to see if they had perfected a release mechanism to remotely drop a lure off the craft. I conscientiously declined, not wanting to over-hype such an unnatural thing – as I tied on a fully unnatural artificial lure meant to look just like a mullet. However, I did advise the experimenters that droning a lure (or bait) far out to sea would nearly empty a reel of line. Imagine taking a strong hit way out there – followed by a powerful run, like that offered by a false albie. I think it’s called getting spooled. Picture the insufferable ghost-line ball that would be left behind, thus my reluctance to run with drone casts. That said, drone surf fishing is coming. Drones for fishing are already being marketed. They are more and more frequently being used by commercial and recreational tuna and billfish seekers when sight-fishing big game.

jaymann@thesandpaper.net

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