The Fish Story

It Was Likely the Perfect Time for a New Year; Wind Turbines Will Stick up 1/8th of an Inch

By JAY MANN | Jan 08, 2020
Photo by: Jerry Postorino TEN-POUND TOG: Chris DeMenna shows off his 17-4 pound mega-tog, taken this week upon Fish Monger. It was Capt. Jerry Postorino’s biggest blackfish of the season. Tautog are out there, though often protected by fishing-prohibitive weather. Bag limit is now four fish.

Ship Bottom, NJ — IS IT A NEW YEAR YET? I didn’t attend the overall 2020 ushering-in ceremony. At about 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, I plopped down on my Purple Mattress and put on some Mongolian chant music, featuring Daichin Tana. It either put me in a trance or lullabied me into sleepedness. I missed the midnight liftoff of 2020. Yawn.

I’ve fostered an antipathy toward New Year’s dating back to yore-ish days of partying in the arriving year. All too often, the night was highlighted by the traditional gang singing of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” the long version. By 80 bottles, I’d be sitting there thinking “Just shoot me now” … which I wouldn’t dare say out loud since the most common New Year’s noisemakers for my carousing cohorts were wildly fired double-barreled shotguns and extended-clip long rifles.

NEW YEAR’S, CHINESE-STYLE: Back in my Hawaii days, I had the best of both New Year’s worlds. I got to celebrate the Dick Clark-based midnight dropping of the Big Apple ball … at 7 p.m. Hawaiian time. Then, to ready myself for “dawn patrol” sunrise surfing sessions, I’d be cozily a-curl in my cot when local midnight rolled around in an anticlimactic way.

I must admit I once made the hair-charring mistake of attending a Chinese New Year Spring Festival in Honolulu, when Asian folks efforted to drive out parallel universe dragons by blowing them up with very high-powered fireworks – often thrown into bonfires that became explosive enough to eject chunks of asphalt from Chinatown roadways. That oft out-of-control ceremony included the maniacal slinging about of ignited strings of firecrackers – intentionally flung into the crowd to ward off scaly evil spirits. More often than not, it ushered in Draconian medical bills. My curly surfer’s mop went up real good. Nearby folks tried to beat out my flaming locks … using strings of firecrackers! It was a surreal scene watching smoldering folks wandering around looking for someone to give a traditional New Year’s hug.

TURBINE TIMES A’COMIN’: Winds of change for our nearshore waters are inexorably blowing in from Fredericia, Denmark, home of the Ørsted company. It’s the surer side of certain that the green giant of a company will very soon be planting a wind farm off Atlantic City. On clear days, that expanse of wind turbines, sporting high-tech fiberglass composite blades the length of a football field, will likely be just seeable from Holgate.

The blades of the farm’s premade turbines will be the latest thing in turbineness, called Haliade-X 12 MW. They’re the most powerful wind grabbers on the market, double the capacity of those being used in America’s only operational offshore wind farm, off Block Island, Rhode Island. By the time the A.C.-bound turbines have aged out, between 20 and 25 years, blade advances will be remarkable as the world takes on ocean-top wind power.

The Ørsted company’s motto: “We are a renewable energy company that takes tangible action to create a world that runs entirely on green energy.” It hates CO2 pollution as much as it seemingly hates normal “O”s (Ørsted). It plans on having its New Jersey offshore farm up and running by 2024.

Not only is the Ørsted wind farm a done deal, but the firm has also confirmed that its energy gather-and-distribution point – my nontechnical term – will be Ocean County’s former Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant facility. Importantly, it won’t simply be reutilizing the existing, kinda spooky-looking structures looming there – lead and concrete artifacts of just-done fission times. Ørsted will instead be building new dedicated facilities, though incorporating the grid long used for dispersion of nuclear-based power.

During an interview on NPR, an Ørsted representative emphasized that boat fishermen of both recreational and commercial sorts will have full access to the ocean top areas twixt the turbines. In fact, there was an indication that such activities, along with touristy boat trips to simply view the farm, are being encouraged.

As I’ve noted in the past, folks over in Europe swear that fishing quickly becomes hot around the turbine structures, though many anglers and commercialites aren’t buying into having any obstacles placed upon beloved fishing seas.

As to the fishy side of wind farms, I’m on a slippery fence slope, knowing it’s an impediment to ocean angling while equally knowing we must start going green in a sustainable energy sense – if only for the sake of drastically lowering anthropogenic/manmade air pollution. Pontification: Cleaning up our atmospheric act must be done even if global warming is as much an all-natural thing as a manmade phenomenon. Our governor wants to be sustainably driven by as early as the 2030s. Newborns should celebrate.

Of within-eyesight import, the Ørsted representative alluded to the building of an even larger wind farm “just to the north” of the planned A.C. turbine array. You can’t get any more “just to the north” than the waters off LBI, already designated as prime wind power territory. That location makes a load of infrastructure sense with Oyster Creek being a straight shot landward. Bidding for that project could take place this year.

A Barnegat Light wind farm would be about the same distance from shore as the A.C. farm. Bugging LBI’ers and its legions of appreciators is the potential visual impact of a turbine grouping off Barnegat Inlet. The Ørsted representative portrayed the visibility-from-shore factor for the planned A.C. turbine blades as being 1/8th inch above the horizon. Admittedly, that does take some fractional visualization. It seemingly translates into the blades being barely seeable, seaward, on the clearest of days. Haze and such would render the blades unseeable from land.

I’m awaiting any word on public meetings regarding wind farms off LBI.

RUNDOWN: We are definitely trending toward a strangely mild winter, albeit inclined to storms of a watery nature. Not only will deep-freezelessness maintain for coming weeks, but bubbles of freakishly mild air could pop some high-temp records on the mainland.

The main big-picture weather factor keeping us in the mild is a powerful trough mid-country. It is pouring typical winter coldness into the Midwest while acting as a ridge to keep iciness well to our west.

It’s what’s creating that trough that exposes a highly complex series of overriding atmospheric influences, including El Niño and relatives. In the mix is a lack of powerful jet stream currents – upper-level winds famed for driving frigid Arctic and Canadian air southwestwardly across the nation. The lack of muscular upper-level winds could simply be a primordial Earthly predilection or something as utterly modern as warming sea surfaces.

Apologies to the many fine folks who make some badly needed winter cash by plowing snow. I assure you I’m not making the weather, just remarking on it. On an up note, the law of averages suggests February might see some whiteness. In recent years/decades, there has been a tendency for that midwinter month to turn white. That’s still a longshot, though.

Translating the lack of winter frigidity into everyday life hereabouts, I’m told there are still small stripers in the nearshore water. Admittedly, such reports come only from a couple hardcore casters, but they know their stuff.

While I never got around to doing my vacation bait casting, I’ll still suggest that clams, smaller bunker chunks and bloodworms might find the last of lingering 2019 schoolies. A fancy jighead with a strip of squid combined with a GULP strip, slowing retrieved along the bottom, is known to work in winter. It’s a match for the cooled-down eating tendency of bottom-hugging cold-water bass.

Tog have been there for the taking, conditions permitting. I’ve heard of some seriously sloppy conditions making wreck fishing a wreck. While reaching the now four-fish bag limit hasn’t been easy, the overall size still makes togging a meaty proposition.

I keep threatening to pull out the old kayak and paddle just off the beach, where winters past have produced a goodly number of small red and/or silver hake going for my locally dug blood worms – fished a bit like kingfishing. I recall the pure white meat of hake being scrumptious, though it took a goodly few of the slimy (to the touch) buggers to make meal. As hard as I tried (back then), I couldn’t cast far enough out from the beach to reach where they hang, maybe 20 feet of water.

jaymann@thesandpaper.net

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