Written by Paul Danielczyk
Friday, 14 March 2008 01:05
April is the time of the year when every saltwater angler in New Jersey is getting ready for the spring run of that all too illusive trophy Striped Bass. Thoughts of new gear, replenishing you’re tackle box with your old tried and true plugs and lures and after reading and browsing catalogue after catalogue for that one new lure that will bring home this years trophy, your thoughts are now of getting out and finally hitting the beach. Let’s load up the Beach Buggy and hit the beach. Not so fast there Sparkey! If you are like me that spring process is not complete just yet.
I am a surf nut and love to be on old terra firma to do my fishing. But I am also lazy when it comes to getting to where I enjoy fishing. Don’t get me wrong, I will walk a little to get to a good beach area, but if I had my way I would opt to drive on the beach to get from point A to point B. Before this happens, every year I go through a process that will allow me to get on the beach safely and have no problems once I am there. Especially if I am taking the family with me for some fun in the sun and thoughts of any problems are miles away.
The old Beach Buggies of yester’ year are not the shiny, pretty colored vehicles we have today. Yesterdays old Beach Buggy was a big wheeled open aired contraption that was concocted in someone’s back yard or garage specifically designed to get you and maybe a buddy as well as all your gear to that fishing spot that no one knows about. Well they worked just fine thank you, but if I wanted to take the family of today for an outing in one of those I probably would get a thousand and one questions thrown at me such as; does it have air conditioning, where is the porta potty, or where can I plug in my cell phone or computer? Does it sound like something you’ve heard before?
If it does, you want to make things as comfortable and as safe as possible. After all it is your family we are talking about. Each spring I go through the
same procedure which starts with having my SUV checked out to make sure it is sound mechanically to hit the sand. This year was an expensive one as I had to get the breaks replaces and other things changed, but I have to say it is a small price to pay for the convince of being able to drive over 10 miles of sand to fish where I know the fish will be. I have a SUV made in 2000 that I have owned and operated since new. I am a diligent person so I keep it clean as much as possible, doing a wash down after every outing. But that is not all.
Before each season I make sure I have all the necessary equipment on board that will make my outing at the beach as enjoyable for me and for others around me. Remember, it is your responsibility to keep your vehicle safe. There are certain mandatory pieces of equipment you must have on board to make sure you return form every outing with only good memories. Island Beach State Park has a mandatory list that must be met before you drive onto the beach. I have over the years up dated this list as to have a very minimum:
MANDATORY EQUIPMENT FOR A MOBILE SPORTFISHING VEHICLE (MSFV)
Permits are issued to 4-wheel drive vehicle owners for fishing purposes only. Carrying the basic equipment listed is required whenever the MSFV is on the beach.
1) Fishing equipment and bait and tackle for each person over 12 years of age;
2) Tire gauge;
3) Spare tire; Full Size only;
4) Workable jack and board/support for jack in sand (3/4 in. x 12 x 12 in. plywood square minimum size)
5) Tow chain or snatch line;
6) Shovel; Full size, no child size sand shovel will do;
9) Auto first aid kit;
10) Litter/trash bag;
11) Minimum of 3/4 tank of fuel;
12) Water for all members of your party and do not forger your pet;
13) It is good to have a Tide Table;
14) Cell phone and numbers of the park or police.
If you have these on board you should be in good shape. Be ready for anything to happen, because it probably will. If asked to help another fellow in distress, lend a hand if you physically can. I have just had both hips replaces recently so my limitations are some, but I know I can handle a snap strap as well as drive the vehicle knowing how to use a snap strap. Your reward will be knowing you helped a fellow fisherman out.
Remember to lower your tire pressure to give your tires more area touching the sand surface. This will give your vehicle better stability and traction
while driving in loose sand. I use a set of four tire deflators that saves time and gets me on the sand in no time at all. There are a number of good ones out there, but make sure it is a good set. They average about $60.00 a set, but a very good investment.
It is not difficult to drive in sand just remember to allow the vehicle to do the work and I do not mean to hit the gas as that is not necessary as most beaches have a strict speed limit. Island Beach State Park has a speed limit of 10 MPH and it is there for a reason. Beach conditions change on a regular basis, what might be flat terrain in the morning can change in the afternoon by the tide, and turn into a gully. Remember there are no tow services on the beach. If you have to be towed off the beach it could run into several hundreds of dollars.
Please remember to keep to the right, as you would on the road. The beach buggy closest to the dunes has the right of way and the buggy on the outside or closest to the water should yield way. It is a strict rule no one, or no vehicles, are allowed on the dunes. Use designated paths and above all stay on them. The ecosystem if very fragile on the dunes, allowing people to destroy it by simply walking on them would be disastrous to the protection of the barrier island itself during storms that blow through every year.
Try to use the tracks that are there before, they will let you maneuver better because the sand is compacted better. But there is a Cavite here, be careful while trying to get out of the grooves. Turn your tires gradually and do not
make any quick jerky moves as this will surely get you stuck. In time the tires will begin to make new grooves and you will be in clear sand before you know it. It almost feels like piloting a boat in the4t the response is not instantaneous, but takes a few seconds for the wheels to respond.
The beach can be fun but it can also turn into a nightmare, especially if you have to have a tow truck come in and get you unstuck like mentioned earlier.
This very expensive project could be gas for many trips and outings plus replenishing plugs and lures you lost so far. Always seek help from a fellow beach buggier. Most will lend a hand. If you happen to spot some one from the NJ Beach Buggy Association ask them to assist. You probably will get a good lesson on how not to get stuck in the first place as well as learn the ins and outs of getting unstuck. Humble yourself and show your gratitude in any way you can.
Fishing at night can also be fun and very rewarding. Some of my biggest fish were caught at night. By taking your time to learn the ins and outs during daylight hours, night time fishing can be fantastic. Especially if you do it with your family. The kids always love to have a fire on the beach and roast marshmallows, my favorite are the Smores. Make sure that fires are legal before you start one. If you are not sure about the legality, ask at the guard shack upon entering any park. The best time to ask would be at the beginning of your season when you pay for the permit.
The last but not the least is getting off the beach. Remember where you got on and just follow the tracks and you should be ok. When possible try to keep a steady speed and don’t stop. If you have to, come gradually to a stop and apply the gas gradually and you should be just fine.
Upon exiting the beach remember that your tires are at a low pressure. If you are on Island Beach State Park you have air stations at the parking area of
A7 and the Maintenance Office between the bathing beaches as well. Fill up the tires to their recommended pressure and take the vehicle out of 4 wheel drive.
If you are not in the park, look for a gas station and put the recommended amount of pressure back in as soon as possible. You do not want to run on that low of a pressure for to long, it could ruin your tires. If you are resourceful you might want to get a good air pump that runs off your battery(not your cigarette lighter) this way there will be no waiting to fill up during the height of the summer where there might be a wait for use of the air hoses.
Beach Buggies are fun, as long as you follow the rules. If you see someone in trouble offer assistance if you can. Above all use common sense and your day at the beach will be one to remember. If you spot me on the beach come by and say hello I love to meet new people to this great sport of Surf Fishing.