I've lived on Lake Michigan all my life. When I was young we used to have water that was so polluted you couldn't see your feet when it was just two feet deep.
We also had alewives dying off by the thousands and stinking up
the beaches with their dead carcuses every summer for years. I think coho
salmon were introduced to eat them so, finally, you
no longer need to shovel dead fish to put down your towel.
Last night after the Super Bowl I
was in my car and turned it to a local talkshow station which has a
bunch of weekend programs they put on early early or late late -- you
know, garden guys, car guys, fix up your house guys, relationship guys,
computer guys, and apparently, when I tuned in close to eleven last
night -- fish guys.
For ten non stop minutes, the fish
guy read an obituary of sorts about the Great Lakes and the fish that swim in them. But first,
in his preamble of death, he announced the impending demise of all Atlantic
salmon except those grown in fisheries. He said they are
virtually gone from the ocean and rivers throughout the eastern half of
Then he said that the Great Lakes
are clearing up and no longer cloudy, which I thought was a good sign,
but, according to the fish guy, it's a bad sign. I guess cloudy can be good and clear can be bad.
Apparently that evil little barnacle pest from Europe, the zebra
mussel, has been proliferating like mad in the Great Lakes and eating
all the algae in the
water that the indigen ous lake trout normally feed on. There are ducks that like
to eat zebra mussels, but we don't have enough of them chowing down yet
to get them under control.
Meanwhile, lake trout need cloudy
water for food and a place to hide. But they are disappearing because the water is
clear and there's no more food. Now predators can see them and eat them.
That means that smallmouth bass, which are like sight hounds and very
aggressive, are having a field day. They like clear water, so they're
breeding like rabbits and overtaking the
The gangbanger bass are also eating all the little smelt, so that there are
virtually no more smelt runs like we had in the past -- a family affair at the
southern end of the lake in the spring or fall. I honestly don't
remember when they were running, since I don't go out at night to catch things with scales.
I do remember that you could see lots of people out at night along the
beaches and breakfronts for miles along Lake Shore Drive. Whole
families set up their nets and carried flashlights to shine out on
the water and attract the silvery little fish. Those days are pretty
much a thing of the past.
Then the fish guy warned those of us still listening about the impending arrival of a real
monster of the deep -- the big head Asian carp. The name alone should be
enough to strike fear into the hearts of anyone who likes to swim or boat on
Apparently this is a monster fish that is attracted to noise. So it
likes to swim up to boats and close to the beaches. They are big enough to knock you down and sit on you until
you drown. Or something. Apparently the Asian carp is so big they have tales
of ninety pounders jumping into boats and knocking people into the
water. Whether they can drive the boats away has not been confirmed.
The fish guy said it was only a matter of time before the Asian carp
gets to the Great Lakes. It's already been seen in the
Mississippi River. There are some electrified locks or something
in the rivers that feed into the lakes which can help keep the carp out, but it
costs $250,000 to turn on the juice. The government decided not to fund this year's jolt, so I guess we're doomed.
I love listening to late night talk radio; you can learn so much in a fifteen minute ride home.