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Catching Fish Isn't the Only Reason . . .

Thanks to Louie Stout for his commentary about my new book, Why We Fish, in the South Bend Tribune. Here's an excerpt:

Have you ever paused before making that first cast at dawn, taken a deep breath as your eyes scan across the water and said to yourself, “this is why I fish!”

If not, I feel sorry for you.

There’s no better way to initiate a day on the water than putting it in proper perspective before you get at the business at hand. Sadly, most of us are too preoccupied with getting to our hot spot, tying on the right lure or bait and pursing our dream of having a “successful” day of catching fish.

Sure, catching fish is important. Those successes, regardless of how frequently they occur, are what motivates anglers to get up early, spend long days on the water and disregard any bad weather they encounter.

But when you get right down to it, catching fish isn’t the only reason we fish.

I also did a radio interview with Duran Martinez at Wild Michigan Outdoors Radio about the book which has 26 five-star reviews at Amazon. Don't know yet when it will air.


Asian Carp Adapt as They Spread East and 'Corps Clueless'

As if Asian carp weren’t a problem before, now they are adapting to become even more of a threat, according to a Purdue University researcher. In an editorial, meanwhile, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland calls the Corps "clueless" about how to stop the invaders. 

From research in the Wabash River (Indiana), Reuben Goforth said that he and his team have discovered that the gills of the invaders are growing stronger, allowing them to thrive in a greater variety of habitats.

“They are not tied to specific water levels like we thought they were,” he said.

Additionally, he revealed that they are spawning more prolifically. Previously, his students had found as many as 1,000 eggs during a five-minute net collection. But in June, they found 300,000 eggs in three minutes. Concurrently, anglers reported seeing a ¾-mile stretch from bank to bank exploding with spawning carp.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Goforth said. “Fish are doing things here that they haven’t in their native distribution, which frankly scares me.”

He added that the adaptations remind him of a line in the movie “Jurassic Park”: “If there’s anything that the history of evolution has taught us, it is that life will not be contained. Life breaks free and expands to new territories . . .”

Meanwhile, studies are underway to develop an Asian carp-specific toxin, which would not affect other species, according to John Goss, Asian carp director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“It could be expensive, but it could be an effective tool in a small area,” he said.

Unless the carp adapt.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Harmful Algal Blooms Are Growing Problem for Fisheries


Click on photo to see map of toxic algae alerts during summer of 2013.

Traditionally a problem in the Midwest and around the Great Lakes, harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a growing problem nationwide, according to the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. For example, Kentucky officials found toxic algae (at four lakes) during 2013, for the first time ever.

“No one wants a green, sick lake,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director. “And yet that’s what communities across the country are facing. Excessive runoff is feeding an explosion of toxic algae that is choking our waters, closing our beaches, and posing a threat to people, pets, and wildlife. This is a national problem that demands a national solution.”

This past summer 21 states issued advisories and warnings for HABs at 147 locations. While New York led the way with 50 warnings, a bloom covered Florida’s St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon with fluorescent green slime, killing fish, dolphins, manatees, and birds.

In an attempt to increase public awareness of this problem, the center teamed with Resource Media to release a report, “Toxic Algae: Coming Soon to a Lake Near You.” Additionally, the communications company also created a first-of-its kind national online map to show locations of blooms.

The problem is flying below the radar, the center said, because no federal agency tracks closures and warnings nationally, few studies have assessed the national cost of HABs, and not enough states monitor their waters.


What Does 2014 and Beyond Hold for Fishing?

Photo by Robert Montgomery

One of my first assignments as a young sports writer was to interview an 85-year-old man who bicycled daily.

I don’t remember much about that interview except what he told me at the end. “People don’t use their legs enough,” he said. “One of these days, they won’t even have them anymore.”

Now, the obesity epidemic that has occurred in recent years does give me pause, but I’m still not ready to buy into the idea that our legs will devolve into worthless stumps.

Rather, I remember what he said because it’s provocative. Over the years, it often has inspired me to look at many aspects of modern life with a new perspective and to wonder what lies ahead.

That brings me to consideration of what lies ahead for recreational fishing.

What began as means of gathering food to survive thousands of years ago has evolved into a pastime enjoyed today by an estimated 60 million people in this country and probably more than 100 million worldwide.

Yes, some of us still fish for food. But many of us also have recognized countless other reasons that keep us returning to the water with rods in our hands. We fish to spend time with family and friends. We fish to relax. We fish to compete. We fish to enjoy nature. We fish to remember. We fish to forget. We fish because --- along with our families, our religions, and our jobs --- it completes us.

But will it always? Or will something replace it?

(Excerpt from the final essay in my new book, Why We Fish.)


Something Wicked in Why We Fish

Close encounters with bears, wolves, and even mountain lions take a back seat to what I heard coming at us as we relaxed inside the screened porch of a cabin, following a day of fishing on a New Brunswick Lake.

(Excerpt from my new book, Why We Fish. It's a collection of essays by me and others, including Bill Dance, about the many reasons that we keep going back to the water.)