Saturday, December 8, 2018

New Jersey Mammals and Habitat Fragmentation

New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, Endangered and Non-Game Species Program is busy learning about mammals in relation to habitat fragmentation, for one example of their work. I link you to the latest press release I got. At the rate they're coming in and getting posted, it's quite evident that NJ DEP is a very active concern:

Friday, December 7, 2018

I Never Let a Crazy Idea Go

Some say as you get older, nothing's better than fishing with a good friend. I sure fished alone a lot when I was younger, but as I age, I find my preference is to catch up with someone else as we at least attempt a catch. Fred got here earlier than me by about an hour, telling me when I arrived that someone else had our spot when he had got there, catching a rainbow on a marshmallow and mealworm, leaving as Fred arrived to go to work. The man had released the fish, so we don't know how big, but of course, they average about 16 inches. It's very rare to catch a trout less than 14 inches, rather common to land a 20-incher--my biggest here was almost 26 inches--but far and away most are 15 or 16 inches at least in our experience. 

Cold as hell this morning. I'm reminded of ice at the core of Dante's Inferno, because as Fred and I conversed incessantly, he spoke about a series of a dozen adventure novels he's reading, and how Atlantis as one of the story's focus has anything to do with the poet Dante and his trilogy would probably seem crazy on the face of it, but I never let a crazy idea go. I make sure I finish my thought, even if that takes 60 years. By then, it's rational.

We compared writing and invention. Fred would be an inventor. He told me he once had a million-dollar idea. He was certain of it. The next day, he remembered he had the idea, but couldn't remember what it was. I didn't tell him...had he written the idea down.

Oh, well.

So back to fishing. Last I spoke to Zach Merchant at Round Valley Bait and Tackle, unless it was the time before that, he expressed his doubt about the reservoir sustaining the great shoreline fishing of a year ago, and I guess mostly two or three years ago. I really don't remember unless I would resort to skimming some of my past posts. I never got any news this year of outstanding catches along the banks, so I guess that's over and done. Speaking for myself, I missed out on it. Of course, most of the action was during October and November.

We'll probably be back later this month or during January, along with my son, Matt.

 Grass grew here on dry land earlier in the year.

Hey, it's the Superdeck. If you click on the image, you can read for yourself. Huh, I used to read Nietzsche. During an episode of almighty zest, I imagined decking the whole shebang of this Animal House we call civilization.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Where We Feel the Power of this Planet

Fred calls them brain farts. Not always bad ideas. Besides, when you step into streambed muck this coming spring, smell that sulfur gas...anything released from underneath this hallowed planet can't be all bad. The last couple of days, I've been musing a little on the naturalist within me, sort of uselessly hoping for time to read Darwin, read Ewell Gibbons, read taxonomic botanical texts, read more about reptiles and amphibians, go out and apply some of my learning. Now I add, use my camera equipment besides. Re-connect with my young genius as a nine-year-old when I read Aristotle. Collected reptiles, amphibians, fishes, insects, arthropods, blithely unconcerned with and naïve to any laws that might have then existed, as if I perhaps were born millennia before my time, my manic mind racing to try and catch up, and yet I still don't know what the laws were in 1970. Twenty terrariums in the basement of our family home serving as looking glasses for my ethological studies, note cards at hand, obviously my parents didn't care a whit about any laws either, but I did care about natural law and trying, years before abstract thought normally sets in at age 14, to devise a theoretical scheme to frame behavior of animals in captivity, though in reality, I was far from the status of a zoologist. Not from that of a young naturalist.

I don't remember keeping any of the fishes until I was 12. One aquarium. I still have 3 x 5 notecards with my writing and diagrams on them depicting a little of what sunfish, bass, a stone cat did in the tank. I let all this go by age 13.

Today another day off, the plan was to write my monthly article for New Jersey Federated Sportsmen News, which I not only did, but progressed further than the anticipated rough draft to perhaps the finished completion, although I always seem to find a word or two to change after I think a piece is finished. I also sent an essay to Boston Globe Magazine, not that I altogether anticipate acceptance. I worked on a poem: "Numismatic Prism." Most of all, I worked on a big article assignment, but not under the sort of feverish state of nerves anticipated, and by working with a sort of deliberate slowness instead, I've managed to get more of it done than I really expected to do.

Past two hours, I've been drinking a little of a sulfurous substance--red wine. Rick got back to me in the morning, telling me it was unlikely he'd leave the bank early to fish the surf for those stripers with me, but that he would call if he could. We chatted online about someday trying for Pulaski steelhead in the spring. Read--years from now. Shift work and very little Paid Time Off means no time for that. At least for now.

Let me take another sip. That might help me remember that fart.

Two sips. And here it is, as I anticipated it would come, and don't think for a moment wine was not essential to its arrival. Fishing and naturalism melded together in my head. But I'm convinced this idea is not subjective, because I--rather fuzzily, I admit--see that naturalism, taken for what it is, has to do with observance in the field of natural facets. Fishing has to do with catching fish, but more than this, we do observe not only how they are caught, but take note of all sorts of interesting facets of their behavior, so we might catch more, all this obvious to anyone who fishes seriously.

But here's the thing as it relates to naturalism. Naturalism per se is supposed to appreciate nature as it is. But do we turn over rocks, capture specimens, move apart brush, etc.? Sure. So interaction is part of it, just as, while fishing, we appreciate nature while interacting with it by the use of varying levels of sophisticated tackle. We go a step further while fishing, perhaps. We modify nature, the fish, as once they are hooked, they bring our entire method and approach, basically technological, if very basically so, into play as a gaming success if the fish is caught, and so we include ourselves as tool masters in the whole scheme of nature, if we so presume a naturalist's perspective at the same time.

Who cares about naturalism, right? But remember home base. None of our fishing will come to anything at all, if we were to destroy life on this planet, not that I think there's much danger of this, but for certain this planet is changing very rapidly. It's not a superman issue, as if we as mankind can "save the planet." It's way too late to avoid a changing climate, so the issue really involves how we will change with the change. But even that idea is too grandiose to attract much interest. It's true enough, but in our own lifetimes, it's much less an issue of what we can do, than how any of us might better appreciate nature as it really is when we're out. And as we fish it.

Don't forget sulfur. That's the key. It's what's underneath it all that calls us to the depths. And that's where we feel the power of this planet.

As we might become this power.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Striper Run Flares Up for the Holidays

Quite a run of schoolie stripers in the surf. Similar happened about 10 years ago, when Steve Slota Jr. caught some 75 of them, all about 20 inches long, on one outing. If I vaguely remember, there've been a few lesser runs since then, and now the news includes something in the neighborhood of one keeper bass 28-30 inches long for every 20 shorts.

Jim Stabile first informed me several days ago. Now that I've got info on numbers caught and extent of the schools, I'm motivated to get out and give them a try, especially since there are some keepers moving with the shorts. Not that I'm starving to death, but that thus far, despite my losing a number of big stripers, my largest striped bass was only 28 inches long. Don't get me wrong--beautiful fish--and I caught another minutes later just the slightest sliver short of the same length, but I wouldn't mind catching a 30-incher.

Have emailed my brother Rick. Notice is probably too late for my day off tomorrow, and after the two of us hoping since July or August to fish the surf together this fall, I doubt very much I'll go alone.

Here's a link to an Asbury Park Press article on the event:

Available: 2019 Licenses

Just got word in my inbox that 2019 licenses are available. Think after you click on this link, you click on "link to mobile friendly website" for the fishing license. Anyhow, I'm waiting until the last minute and probably buying my license at Round Valley Bait and Tackle, so long as Zach issues license.