The Fish Story

Stinking Clams Spoiling to Use Gas Warfare; No El Niño or La Niña Leaves Us Le Neutral

By JAY MANN | Oct 18, 2017

PLANET OF THE CLAMS: I had me a great clam and veggie chowder over the weekend. Then, don’t I go and read that those same tasty bivalves are out to get us by quietly adding poisonous gases to our already troubled atmosphere. If it’s not cows, it’s clams. What have they got against us?

Just last week, the BBC ( highlighted a study released by elite Euro scientists indicating that clams in the Baltic Sea are emitting as much gas as 20,000 dairy cows. I’m guessing that cow count was somewhat arbitrary, my mind being unable to grasp an actual lab setting using real-time clams and those enumerated cows. Nonetheless, the findings are shocking and palpable: Gas-issuing bottom-dwelling marine life is viciously fouling the air that supports terrestrial lifeforms.

“What is puzzling is that the Baltic Sea makes up only about 0.1 percent of Earth’s oceans, implying that globally, apparently harmless bivalve animals at the bottom of the world’s oceans may in fact be contributing ridiculous amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that is unaccounted for,” said study co-author Ernest Chi Fru of Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.

I like any scientist who uses highly technical terminology like ridiculous. “For this hazardous experiment, we’ll pour in a ridiculous amount of this-here stuff.”

Study co-author Stefano Bonaglia, from Stockholm University, noted, “It sounds funny, but small animals in the seafloor may act like cows in a stable, both groups being important contributors of methane.”

This atmosphere-rattling revelation is doubly troubling for those of us near the coast. If nothing else, it adds a whole new and nefarious dimension to those bay smells. To think those odors secretly reek of clandestine gas attacks by once-thought mild-mannered clams. How could we have been so nose blind for so long?

Thinking it through, I’ll bet the cow farm those belligerent bivalves know perfectly well what they’re doing. Theirs is an orchestrated attack of the atmosphere … from down under.

To me, the clam end-game is obvious: insidiously kill off all above-water lifeforms, freeing up a water-dominated planet to be governed by … clams. Is it destined to become the Planet of the Clams? Even Orwell couldn’t have seen this one coming.

While I’m fully up in arms over hostile, passing-wind clams, I must also grudgingly recognize the brilliant diabolicalness of their bubble-based crusade to insidiously poison our atmosphere. It’s so hideously brilliant! I knew they were way too quiet down there.

I can’t help but think the clams are hellbent on turning the tables on us by making a chowder out of humans – slowly boiling us in a hotter and hotter atmosphere. What kind of sick creatures would boil another creature into a broth!? Come to think of it, maybe we shouldn’t overthink that point. Hey, events like the annual Chowderfest are obviously just good, clean fun. Now, it seems, we’ve been hostilely monitored by nearby bay clams – highly vindictive bay clams. “For those fellow clams we lost today, we shall all loose extra gases! Bubble-up, soldiers. Soon we’ll be deciding the top Manhattan man chowder.”

Back in Sweden, clam-sniffing scientists have just uncovered the prime gases being deployed from the bivalved enemy below. Singled out are methane and nitrous oxide. Further research shows those gases are being helped along by conspiratorial bacteria in mollusk guts. Yes, it would seem that known-cunning bacteria are also part and parcel of this planetary takeover. Hell, I’ve never trusted a bacterium any farther than I could throw one. Now this.

I need one and all to note the tactical use of nitrous oxide. It underscores the deviousness and calculated nature of these conquest-driven clams. As they finally move in for the gaseous kill-off of humans, we’ll be so gassed up with nitrous oxide that we’ll just stand around laughing our asses off.

“Look, Lou, there’s clams eating your legs! That’s frickin’ hilarious! I’m gonna pee myself!”

Not to panic, though. The Swedes have come up with a way for us to fight back. Per the BBC, the researchers plan on panning any and all efforts to farm oysters, mussels and clams.

That’s it!? I can see why Sweden steers clear of fighting wars.

Well, hereabouts we won’t be going down without a fight. I have the perfect menu to fulfil our noble obligation to save all living land creatures from a clam takeover. My wartime strategy includes, let’s see, fried clams, half-shelled clams, clam chowder, clam strips, deviled clams, clams casino, clam pie, clam dip, stuffed clams, clam oreganata, clam cakes …

I see the air quality improving already.

ARRIVAL OF A LE NEUTRAL: What’s a Le Neutral? It’s the term I came up with on the spur of the moment, spurred on by the lack of either an El Niño or a La Niña this fall.

As you know, both El Niño and La Niña heavily impact how our winters fly. El Niño leads the way when it comes to biting cold and blizzards. La Niña is far more ladylike, often mothering mild winters, though still willing to have bitch-fits of savage storminess.

But what happens when those two heavy-hitters are missing? Yep, Le Neutral, which is just what the big-picture weather folks see as the latest likelihood for this winter. There is a 55 percent chance of neutrality winning over this winter.

But what does that mean in terms of, well, what it means? It’s complicated.

Weather record books offer a myriad of rather predictable and recurrent effects from El Niños and La Niñas. Not so much for Le Neutrals. One school of neutral thinking sees Le Neutral allowing arctic jet streams to slip southward, out of Canada, with impunity. That leads to bitter cold in the Midwest, usually carrying eastward, across the Northeast. That same neutral thinking suggests rainy and stormy times in the Southeast, as the cold dry air to the north holds wet storm systems to the south, the Carolinas being a demarcation line.

I now get to step in with my Mannly forecast, which, percentage-wise, is right up there with top meteorologists, soothsayers and tarot cards. I agree with the notion of a neutral winter being highlighted by icy polar jet streams sinking south, unencumbered. However, being a Jerseyan, I’m compelled to micromanage the forecast by taking an atlas shot at just how far south the icy jet streams will trend. For us, it’s essential to pinpoint the demarcation line twixt frigidity (north) and storminess (south).

To predict where the demarcation line will generally settle, I’ll cater to my preoccupation with increasing ocean water surface temperatures, as they affect the weather. With the oceanic warmup in mind, I soothsayingly suggest that the milder sea surface along the Eastern Seaboard might prevent the cold-air demarcation line from moving as far south as it might have in cooler-ocean days past. Even a slight stall in the southward drop of arctic air and we’re instantly on the milder side of winter – albeit a wet and windy side, all rain locally.

In a mild-side scenario, we’d still be on the cuff of frigidity. It wouldn’t take much of a weather vacillation to turn wetness into whiteness. This is great news for snow resorts as close by as North Jersey, the Poconos and the Forked River Mountains. Yes, just that close.

MANN OVERBOARD VS. BLACK FLIES: For weeks, I was ferociously and relentlessly put upon by black flies, technically stable flies. They harassed me to hell and back, most despicably as I stood at the water’s edge, trying to happily fish.

Eventually, the flies pushed me over the edge. I was driven to violate the Geneva Convention by resorting to chemical warfare. I bought cans of “No Prisoners” bug spray, settling on the most toxic stuff. I was loading for bear.

Now, you might be thinking: “What’s the big deal about spraying chemicals to stave off biting bugs?” You obviously missed my subtle change in chemicals. I was abandoning laughably ineffectual insect repellents. Screw trying to merely repel. I was now out to kill … personal-like.

Armed with a locked and loaded can of industrial-strength killer spray, I spurned all thoughts of fishing and other such dawdling recreational activities. This was war. With unadulterated vengeance in mind, I stepped from my truck and onto the warzone sand, my finger coolly resting atop the can’s red spray valve. “Bring it on!” I whispered.

In nothing flat, the first flurry of black flies arrived. I cinematically greeted them: “Say hello to my little friend!”  Pffffssssstttt!  Take that … and that … and that!

There was no impact whatsoever on the flies. The stuff was about as effective as Trump threats aimed at Kim Jong-un.

In less than a minute, my “Say hello to my little friend!” slowly morphed into a truly feeble “Aw, come on, you can’t be serious!” Entire squadrons of those biting bastards imperviously took direct spray hits from my can o’ death.

“This stuff could kill an elephant,” I finally yelled, to which the flies began making little elephant sounds.

I ignobly retreated into my truck, recognizing there is no black fly-acide, acknowledging the one thing that will still be freely flying around in the wake of a nuclear attack.

RUNDOWN: Finally, it’s the rise of fall, and I’m a fan. Bring on the fresh west winds, the chilled a.m. air and the blown-smooth ocean. As to that finally-flat ocean, we saw almost seven weeks of nonstop waveacious surf. While there are no such records kept, that was some sort of highwater mark for such hard-hitting wave action.

With the autumnal chill comes the thrill of surfcasting, hopefully. Some slammer blues have been touching down in the suds of Ship Bottom, along with the north end.

A few to-be-expected stripers have also hit the scales. These are likely resident fish. With water temps still in the upper 60s, a rush of our much-ballyhooed seasonal trophy bass has yet to begin with any authority.

A better read on what’s in the angling mix should be had as the calmer seas and dropping winds attract both beach and boat anglers, especially by week’s end.

I offer a more updated, every-other-day read on what’s a-hook at my website,

COOL CLASSIC: The famed Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic is underway, with weeks on end to go – clear into December. It’s a must-do contest for anyone with even a distant feel for fishing. What’s more, it could pay off nicely in the end, even for a smaller fish. See the details at

There are 580 sign-ups for the Classic, but I know of quite a few “regulars” not yet entered. Get on the stick! What’s more, persuade any on-the-cuff folks to sign up.

If ever there was a year when anyone, anywhere on LBI, can win big, it’s this year. We’ve already seen weigh-in bluefish caught in Ship Bottom. That venue shows off-Islanders can simply pull onto the Island and commence to surfcasting, post haste.

By the same token, a drive to the north end will allow non-buggyists to tap into the Barnegat Light South Jetty action, allowing easy access to some of the biggest fish LBI has to offer.

If Barnegat Inlet jetty fishing there, make sure you first have a game plan – a safe rock route – to haul a big hookup out of the water. We’ve had many an angler go down, a couple even needing water rescues.

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