Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Coming Mini-Ice Age

I was thinking that it's been a might bit chilly lately.

Perhaps Al Gore is wrong?

There's a Mini Ice Age Coming, Says man who beats weather experts

Piers Corbyn not only predicted the current weather, but he believes things are going to get much worse, says Boris Johnson, London's mayor

The man who repeatedly beats the Met Office at its own game

Well, folks, it's tea-time on Sunday and for anyone involved in keeping people moving it has been a hell of a weekend. Thousands have had their journeys wrecked, tens of thousands have been delayed getting away for Christmas; and for those Londoners who feel aggrieved by the performance of any part of our transport services, I can only say that we are doing our level best.

Almost the entire Tube system was running on Sunday and we would have done even better if it had not been for a suicide on the Northern Line, and the temporary stoppage that these tragedies entail. Of London's 700 bus services, only 50 were on diversion, mainly in the hillier areas. On Saturday, we managed to keep the West End plentifully supplied with customers, and retailers reported excellent takings on what is one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Advertisement: Story continues below We have kept the Transport for London road network open throughout all this. We have about 90,000 tons of grit in stock, and the gritters were out all night to deal with this morning's rush. And yet we have to face the reality of the position across the country.

It is no use my saying that London Underground and bus networks are performing relatively well - touch wood - when Heathrow, our major international airport, is still effectively closed two days after the last heavy snowfall; when substantial parts of our national rail network are still struggling; when there are abandoned cars to be seen on hard shoulders all over the country; and when yet more snow is expected today, especially in the north.

In a few brief hours, we are told, the snowy superfortresses will be above us again, bomb bays bulging with blizzard. It may be that in the next hours and days we have to step up our de-icing, our gritting and our shovelling. So let me seize this brief gap in the aerial bombardment to pose a question that is bugging me. Why did the Met Office forecast a "mild winter"?

Do you remember? They said it would be mild and damp, and between one degree and one and a half degrees warmer than average. Well, I am now 46 and that means I have seen more winters than most people on this planet, and I can tell you that this one is a corker.

Never mind the record low attained in Northern Ireland this weekend. I can't remember a time when so much snow has lain so thickly on the ground, and we haven't even reached Christmas. And this is the third tough winter in a row. Is it really true that no one saw this coming?

Actually, they did. Allow me to introduce readers to Piers Corbyn, meteorologist and brother of my old chum, bearded leftie MP Jeremy. Piers Corbyn works in an undistinguished office in Borough High Street. He has no telescope or supercomputer. Armed only with a laptop, huge quantities of publicly available data and a first-class degree in astrophysics, he gets it right again and again.

Back in November, when the Met Office was still doing its "mild winter" schtick, Corbyn said it would be the coldest for 100 years. Indeed, it was back in May that he first predicted a snowy December, and he put his own money on a white Christmas about a month before the Met Office made any such forecast. He said that the Met Office would be wrong about last year's mythical "barbecue summer", and he was vindicated. He was closer to the truth about last winter, too.

He seems to get it right about 85 per cent of the time and serious business people - notably in farming - are starting to invest in his forecasts. In the eyes of many punters, he puts the taxpayer-funded Met Office to shame. How on earth does he do it? He studies the Sun.

He looks at the flow of particles from the Sun, and how they interact with the upper atmosphere, especially air currents such as the jet stream, and he looks at how the Moon and other factors influence those streaming particles.

He takes a snapshot of what the Sun is doing at any given moment, and then he looks back at the record to see when it last did something similar. Then he checks what the weather was like on Earth at the time - and he makes a prophecy.

I have not a clue whether his methods are sound or not. But when so many of his forecasts seem to come true, and when he seems to be so consistently ahead of the Met Office, I feel I want to know more. Piers Corbyn believes that the last three winters could be the harbinger of a mini ice age that could be upon us by 2035, and that it could start to be colder than at any time in the last 200 years. He goes on to speculate that a genuine ice age might then settle in, since an ice age is now cyclically overdue.

Is he barmy? Of course he may be just a fluke-artist. It may be just luck that he has apparently predicted recent weather patterns more accurately than government-sponsored scientists. Nothing he says, to my mind, disproves the view of the overwhelming majority of scientists, that our species is putting so much extra CO? into the atmosphere that we must expect global warming.

The question is whether anthropogenic global warming is the exclusive or dominant fact that determines our climate, or whether Corbyn is also right to insist on the role of the Sun. Is it possible that everything we do is dwarfed by the moods of the star that gives life to the world? The Sun is incomparably vaster and more powerful than any work of man. We are forged from a few clods of solar dust. The Sun powers every plant and form of life, and one day the Sun will turn into a red giant and engulf us all. Then it will burn out. Then it will get very nippy indeed.

The Daily Telegraph, London

Jig Fishing Part II

Jig Fishing Part II

Jig Size Line Size
1/16oz 4 lb
1/8 to 1/4 oz 6-8 lb
3/8 oz – larger 8-10 lb

–> Be flexible, however. Certain conditions such as thick cover require the use of heavier line. In other situations, you’ll find best results by going ultra-light, especially when fish are stubborn or spooky.

–> When tipping jigs, watch for differences in appetite between the larger game species and panfish. More often than not, panfish go for presentations which emphasize the jig, with only a tidbit of bait. On the other hand, larger fish like the “meat”: less jig, more bait. That might translate into a small piece of nightcrawler barely covering the tip of the hook for bluegills and crappies, but six inches of whole nightcrawler dwarfing the jig for bass and walleyes.

–> Strikes and obstructions frequently ruffle a jig’s tail. When this happens, the jig pulls clumsily through the water. Make sure your jig is “balanced” by arranging an equal amount of tail material on each side of the hook.

–> Snagging is costly in terms of fishing time and tackle. That’s why jigging over rocks demands special attention. The next time you or your jigging partner hollers “SNA–AA-AA-G” too darn often, remember this: Keep your jig active and moving over rocks. A jig that is lazily dragged along the bottom inevitably tumbles into a crevice.

–> Jigs are made to order for walleye fishing in rivers. Cast jigs into active water below dams, rock piles and other obstructions. Sand and gravel bars at the mouths of feeder streams are also good jigging bets. Some river specialists cast upstream and retrieve at cross angles to the current, letting the water carry the jig downstream during the retrieve. This “wind-in” covers lots of water while the jig simulates natural food being washed downstream.

–> Others cast downstream and slowly retrieve the jig back against the current. When current is strong enough, it’s possible to work the jig in one spot without retrieving line. This approach enables you to hound a hot spot. Your bait stays in the water more with less casting.

–> River walleye hug the borders between fast turbulent water and the more quiet eddies. Use heavy jigs to reach bottom in swift current. Corner night-feeding walleyes in 4 to 8 feet of water on rock reefs, sand bars, or in channels and you’ve got a ripe situation for 1/8oz. jig-and-minnows. Cast this jig-minnow combo and let it settle to the bottom. Follow up with a steady retrieve, holding the bait above the bottom. Experiment with retrieve speeds and jig color. Sometimes the darker colors like black or green pay off at night.

–> Jigs can be tremendous on schooling fish. One method is to cast individual 1/8 and 1/4oz. jigs into the school. For larger fish, toss a single 1/4, 3/8, or 1/2oz. jig beyond the school. Let it sink and then swim it back with little action, just underneath the main school where the larger fish feed on crippled bait fish.

The best jigging mechanics won’t do any good if you aren’t fishing where the fish are. Study the map of lake or river section you are targeting to find likely spots using what you know about walleye movements in the calendar period. Along the way , stop at more than one bait shop for the latest word on where the bigger schools are located and for an idea of what presentations others are using. Ask questions at the ramp. Once on the water, move from spot to spot using your electronics to find forage fish and likely walleyes before you start to fish.

These tips are sure to make you a better walleye angler. Jigging is one of the key fundamental presentations to master.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Celestial Serendipity: Lunar Eclipse and Winter Solstice

Multiple astronomical events are lining up for a rare display of synchronization tonight as a total lunar eclipse overlaps with 2010's winter solstice.

Depending on the location, late night December 20 or early morning December 21, the full moon will be darkened by Earth's shadow as our planet passes between it and the sun. December 21 is also the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, after which the days will begin to grow longer. Coupled with the lunar spectacle, it means we're in for an especially dark eve.

According to The AP, North and Central America should both be able to view the entire eclipse, which is estimated to take about 3.5 hours. Total eclipse will begin at 11:41 p.m. PST on Monday, or 2:41 a.m. EST on Tuesday -- so obviously West Coasters will have a better chance to catch the magnificent sight without dragging around heavy eyelids and needing an extra dose of espresso the following morning. If you want to set an alarm to catch a brief glimpse of the amber moon, NASA recommends 3:17 a.m. EST for the optimal impression.

According to, NASA reports that this is the first time an eclipse has coincided with a solstice since December 21, 1638, and the next one won't come around again until 2094. The extravaganza in the sky doesn't end there, however, as the Ursids meteor shower will also be taking place. reports that this particular annual show is rarely witnessed compared to its brighter counterparts, but stargazers will have an especially exceptional chance to view the display this year because of the eclipse's darkened sky.

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Jig Fishing Part I

Fishing with Jigs

The leadhead jig is probably the most universal of artificial lures. Originally used for saltwater species, the jigging method became a freshwater angling “revolution” in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Anglers soon discovered that jigs take all inland sport fish, especially walleyes, crappies, and bass. Even with today’s assortment of baits and lures, most fishing pros acknowledge that if they were limited to one fishing lure, their choice would be a jig!

Jig fishing is a genuine sport. Jigs are light tackle baits and produce best when teamed with spinning or spincast equipment and light monofilament line. Jigging requires a special personal touch because a jig’s action depends largely on the angler’s style of working it. YOU provide a jig’s action by moving your rod tip to bounce, hop or swim a jig. Your retrieve can be fast or slow, smooth or erratic, near the surface or along the bottom.

For most fishing, you will work the jig along the bottom. When casting for walleyes, bass, or other fish near bottom, employ your own variations of the “lift and drop” retrieve. Begin by allowing the jig to settle to the bottom. Then lift your rod tip to pull the jig off bottom. As you wind in, alternately pull the jig off bottom and drop it back. Sometimes long sweeping strokes of the rod produce best. But more often, shorter jerks and small twitches entice the most fish. When this jigging action fails, try a straight retrieve.

Jigging lends itself well to slow drifting and trolling. Let out enough line so that the jig regularly hits bottom. To check for bottom, watch for slack line to develop when you quickly drop your rod tip toward the jig. The amount of line you pay out is determined by depth of the water, weight of the jig, and the speed of your boat. Work the jig as you would when casting, but without winding in.

Aside from the action you give it, a jig’s effectiveness depends on its design and appearance. Shape, weight, tail texture, color, eye placement, and even hook size and style make a difference in how the jig rides through the water and how it appeals to the fish.

More Jig Fishing Tips:

–> Size is an important consideration in selecting the right jig. The 1/4oz. jig size is a good all-around weight for walleyes and bass. Be flexible, however, and choose a jig size according to conditions. Brisk winds, deep water and long-distance casting require heavier jig sizes. Use the lighter jigs, 1/8oz. and lighter, when fish are shallow, and when they exhibit a “touchy” mood.

–> Jigs often work best on walleyes in spring and fall when these fish concentrate in water less than 12 feet deep. But, persistent jig fishermen catch walleyes all year, sometimes anchoring or slowly backtrolling over the deeper structure, and working the jigs in combination with minnows and nightcrawlers.

–> Fish consistently hit jigs on the drop. The alert angler can detect these hard-to-notice strikes by closely watching the line for the slightest change in behavior. You might detect a telltale twitch or “knock” on the line. Or, the line may move off to one side, or even stop, before the jig hits bottom. If you suspect that your jig has dropped into a fish’s mouth, set the hook immediately!

–> Heavy or stiff line retards a jig’s action. Use light and limp monofilament line tied directly to your jig, avoiding all “hardware” like swivels, snaps, and leaders. When more weight is needed, opt for a heavier jig instead of ruining your presentation with sinkers. A good practice is to vary line test with jig weights–the lighter the jig, the lighter the line. Here’s a line guide that’s pretty reliable: