The Fish Kill at Wehrspann Lake (Omaha, Nebraska)

Hello, Blog Readers! 

It has been quite a while, hasn't it? Anyways...

My thoughts today go to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for doing one of the most atrocious things that I have seen in the fishing media recently: an entire induced Rotenone fish kill in Wehrspann Lake, Omaha, Nebraska. And to emphasize: not to kill an invasive Species of fish, but to kill your regular Gizzard Shad (Dorosoma cepedianum). 

Please read the original article here to get their point of view on this story. If you read the entire article, you already know what we are dealing with here: a governmental agency that believes that it did the right thing for the environment. But did they really evaluate all of their options?

Hundreds of dead Gizzard Shad on the shores of Wehrspann Lake, Omaha, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Dylan Patterson

The main question here is: "is poisoning our watersheds really the most plausible solution available to us when it comes to eradicating certain Species of fish?" Apparently, Nebraska thinks so. The Nebraska Game & Parks points out that rotenone treatments have worked well for them in the past. They continue their argument by giving an example of a past rotenone induced kill for the Goldfish Species (Carassius auratus) -- an invasive type of fish in the state of Nebraska. Thus, due to the success of their past poisonings, they truly believe that Wehrspann Lake will once again flourish in the long term future.  

Now, here is a fact for all folks out there. Sadly, when it comes to applying rotenone to a certain watershed, results truly vary from environment to environment. Fishery Biologists and Ichthyologists can only predict, but even the best predictions still result in uncertainties. The reason for that is simple: when it comes to the science of poisoning a specific area, there are too many dependent variables involved. For example: the size of the watershed, the total number of biomass, etc. So, as one can see, the damage of chemical agents such as the rotenone is truly unpredictable. 

As a matter of fact, rotenone worked a little bit too well in Wehrspann Lake. Not only the populations of Gizzard Shad were reduced, other fish Species suffered as well. In the end, bigger game-fish started to eat poisoned Gizzard Shad, dying in the process. That included good sized Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), Walleye (Sander vitreus), as well as Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), among other Species. But worry not, fellas -- according to the NE G&P Commission, that was all within their calculations. In other words, "a small sacrifice for a greater good."

A beautiful Walleye, dead due to the consumption of poisoned Gizzard Shad. Photo Credit: Dylan Patterson

This is a type of mistake that society has been doing for a long time: to not fix the problem at its root. And it is time to stop. 

To exemplify, take the Crofton Pond incident in Maryland, back in 2002. That was when the Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) fever truly began in the United States of America. Governmental agencies were terrified of this new Species of fish that made its way all the way from Asia. Mass hysteria surfaced among local communities, and then, spread to a national level. According to the government, their propagation had to be interrupted; therefore, their extermination was imminent.

A typical Northern Snakehead -- an invasive Species of fish in the United States of America 

To eradicate the Northern Snakeheads from the face of Maryland, the local Game Commission decided to poison the whole Crofton Pond with rotenone to kill them. Did they die? Absolutely not. It was quite ironic, as a matter of fact. Every other Species in the Pond died, with the exception of Snakeheads. Ultimately, they had to dredge the Pond to kill the Northern Snakeheads, killing the entire local ecosystem as well. Another "small sacrifice for the greater good."

Was that the solution? Northern Snakeheads were indeed eradicated from Crofton Pond, among everything else. However, the mass hysteria did not cease. And anglers didn't learn. In other words, people still illegally introduced the Northern Snakehead to their local watersheds and people still feared this Species of fish. A little bit more than a decade later, it is known that this Species of fish has propagated to open bodies of water, meaning that they will never be entirely eradicated within the United States of America now. They can be found in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington D.C., among other states as well.

Another example is Newton Lake in New Jersey -- one of the many lakes that get an annual dose of Captain algaecide. Comes the summer of every year, the green layer of algae can be seen throughout the entire watershed. The government solution? Apply the algaecide and kill it all. Year after year, the local government agency has spent thousands of dollars to control the algae population in numerous ponds and lakes in New Jersey, with little to no avail. Year by year, the problem seemed to worsen.    

Newton Lake during Summer of 2012

My question for all those governmental agencies is: "Where is the greater good?" Instead of educating a whole generation of anglers on the consequences of releasing invasive Species of fish, they go and kill entire ecosystems. Instead of educating society on how to avoid using chemicals on their lawns that produce algae blooms or flushing down liquids through their toilets, they go and waste thousands of tax payer dollars on temporary solutions that don't work. Similarly, with Wehrspann Lake, instead of using methods that would spare other Species of fish and target the Gizzard Shad specifically, they go and consciously waste precious resources that we -- anglers -- could all have used.    

Ultimately, poisoning watersheds is never the ultimate solution to a problem.

So, what exactly could the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission have done instead of applying the rotenone agent in the Wehrspann Lake? Well, here are just some of the ideas...

1. Use an extensive netting system to reduce the population of Gizzard Shad from the Lake. It is well known among anglers out there that Gizzard Shad can be caught in nets. As a matter of fact, many Catfish charters and guides in the market know that nothing beats a good cut fresh Shad for trophy Catfish. Therefore, during the mornings, they tend to net their bait first -- a single man operation. If they are able to do that and catch a few Shad as bait, the Game and Parks Commission could have hired people to do some major netting in the Lake, targeting specifically the Shad. No other Species would have died in the process. Netting is a lengthy and time consuming process with no major side effects, and yet it was completely disregarded as an option.

2. Stock the watershed with "numbers" of predatory Species to thin out bait fish. An expensive way (note on the expensive) of getting rid of huge populations of baitfish within a watershed is to stock the same with bigger fish -- predatory fish -- that will eventually eat out smaller Species of fish. In this case, the Gizzard Shad. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission could have stocked some extra Largemouth Bass or Walleye into the Lake and just let the time pass, constantly checking on the population number of Gizzard Shad. This would be a very expensive and extensive program, since fish stockings require a lot of money. However, again -- no other resources would have been wasted.

3. Nothing. That is correct, folks. Another option for the NE G&P was to do absolutely nothing. Nature just functions properly without the interference of human folks. A huge population of a certain Species of fish usually ends with stunted populations, since food supply is on demand. After the spawning of each year, more fish die due to starvation. Those that survive become stunted, which then become prey for bigger Species of fish. 

So, why didn't they do any of these three? These next paragraphs are only an assumption (subjective), of course. So, you may draw your own conclusions from it. Personally, I believe that they didn't do option (1) and (2) because they didn't want to spend too much money and time in the eradication of Gizzard Shad. In other words, they went with the most efficient, but also the most destructive method to save cash and save time. Therefore, the excuse of "small sacrifice for a greater good." As for option (3), they clearly did something because they wanted the ecosystem to change. It seems to me that they really wanted to favor the populations of Largemouth Bass in the Lake, according to their own writings and responses on social media. That is exactly why they didn't care much about the death of Catfish and Walleye in the Lake, which are two sought after game-fishes in the country. Sadly, option (3) has more to do with local fishing culture; after all, the Bass angling is a fever in the United States of America. 

Anyways...what is done is done. The damage is already here and the rotenone is already in the water. Personally, I think that even with the poisoning, the NE G&P could have done a better job. They could have asked us for our advice instead of keeping the project in secrecy. They could have introduced slot limits for each Species of fish and encouraged anglers to catch and take, since many of them would die anyways. They could have hired people to fish and transport more fishes from Wehrspann Lake to another Lake, instead of just salvaging a mere 170 adult Walleyes. And so on.

Let this event at Wehrspann Lake be a wide example to other government agencies across the country, so that this mistake is not repeated. And finally, let it be understood that although poisoning a watershed is an effective way of killing a certain target organism, there exists other options out there with less side effects.

Now, this below is just my personal rant...

From a Multi-Species angler's and sportsman's perspective, this whole rotenone poisoning at Wehrspann Lake was a waste of money and resources. The goals of eradicating the Gizzard Shad for the sustenance of certain targeted Species of fish make it a disrespectful and selfish act towards those who enjoy catching different Species of fish. Let me remind all government agencies out there that we -- the anglers and sportsmen of this country -- are the ones who support the overall sport of fishing. We fish legally by supporting our state and purchasing a fishing license. We support the fishing market with our fishing gear and our fishing trips. Therefore, we would also appreciate if government agencies enlightened us with their projects and plans before doing so. This is not only for Nebraska, but for every state out there. 

If frustrates me when I see this kind of stuff on the media, mainly because I am always teaching others about how valuable our resources are. I teach kids and adults alike about the concepts of selective harvest and catch-and-release. I talk to people about releasing trophy fish instead of eating them or stuffing them, so that those fish can pass down their wonderful genetics for possibly bigger fish in the future. I always encourage anglers to follow the rules and regulations of their state, so that they can be role models for future generations to come. 

What is Extreme Philly Fishing going to say when someone comes to it and says: "I have released trophy fish for 5 years, followed your advice on selective harvest and not littering, and the government just poisoned and killed a bunch of trophy fish in my local watershed in one day." 

So, please, government agencies out there...live up to your reputation.

Best of luck to all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S. (a.k.a. Extreme Philly Fishing)

A Few Upcoming Projects and Recent Updates... (Philadelphia, PA)

What's up, fellow Blog Readers?! 

As you can see from the right tab of this Blog page, the place itself has been quite dead for a while, eh?! Heh. This is no surprise, since I have been caught up with all kinds of different matters for the past months or so -- from editing and compiling videos on social media to getting robbed and beaten up in my own neighborhood. Regardless of the getting beaten and robbed part, reviving this fishing Blog with interesting fishing reports and informative posts is only a dream for now (and a Patreon goal). As much as I like to write and educate, I am but one human being. In other words, my time is very limited!

So, you may ask -- "Leo, what exactly have you been doing for the past few months?!" And I will gladly answer you on that! :) If you follow Extreme Philly Fishing religiously on social media (and I appreciate that), you know that I have been consistently doing the following actions for the past few months:

-- Daily updates on the SnapChat account (ExtPhillyFishin). That is where I post quick and funny updates of my daily life; sometimes fishing relates, sometimes not.

-- Weekly updates on my Instagram account (Extreme Philly Fishing). That is the place where you will see my up-to-date catches, including a few miscellaneous photos here and there. Though, 95% of the photos there are related to fishing.

-- Consistent 2-days upload on my YouTube Channel (Extreme Philly Fishing). This is probably my most time-consuming task nowadays! And sincerely -- it makes sense, since I am now a part-time YouTuber. Getting footage, uploading it to the computer, editing, compiling, uploading it to YouTube, and finally giving it final touches...we are talking about 12-15 hours per video (fishing included)! 

So, you see? Three videos a week equals a total of 36-45 hours!!! That is excluding my hours for my regular tutoring + restaurant job. So, there you go...now you know why I have no time to work on any side projects, Blog, Smugmug Database, and Facebook Page included! I also spend an average of 3-5 hours weekly on fanbase feedback, so you can add that to the list. :)

Ultimately, the point here is to show that albeit the Blog has been dead, I have been twice or triple as busy as usual! I certainly don't want to give you folks the impression that I have abandoned this Blog; however, on the other hand, you can clearly see how I don't have the availability nowadays to keep this stuff running with juicy posts. :( Let's just hope that my fishing related income will go up in the future, so that I can have more free time and revive this place up! Hah.

Let's talk a little bit now about recent updates and what has been going on on my social media...

1. The Extreme Philly Fishing August Give-Away is still going strong! Details are all in the video below:

The give-away system has been changed due to the reasons cited in this video. Nowadays, I do monthly give-aways. Make sure to participate in it, if you are up to it!

The prizes for the August give-away are two $100 gift cards! The winners will have the option to choose between Cabela's, BassProShops, Dick's Sporting Goods, etc. To enter the give-away, make sure to donate the minimum value on my Patreon Account. That will confirm your identity and extinguish any liability problems that we may have in the future. :) The results of it will be announced on the 31st of this month!

2. My Florida trip + family time recap. My father was here from June to July, as you folks may or may not have been aware of. During that time, I tried to work as little as possible on my social media, so that I could focus my time and attention on him! After all, due to a number of life circumstances, I only get to see my old man 30 days a year! We fished and we fished, and we fished some more! We even went down to good old Fort Lauderdale in Florida for a Multi-Species trip. All videos are on YouTube already (if interested, the playlist is here). Below are some of the photos from the trip:

My old man with a nice Mayan Cichlid (Cichlasoma urophthalmus) from an unnamed Canal in Opa-Locka, FL.

My first ever Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus). A new Species for my Pokedex. :)

My first ever Jaguar Guapote (Cichlasoma managuense). Another new Species for my Pokedex.

My first ever Salvin's Cichlid (Cichlasoma salvini). And yet another new Species for my Pokedex. Haha.

The good old Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus).

A very gorgeous juvenile Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris).

The mighty and somewhat dangerous Houndfish (Tylosurus crocodilus)

A super duper ultra cute Spotted Trunkfish (Lactophrys bicaudalis). First one ever!

A Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)! So neat to have held one of those.

My second ever Bar Jack (Caranx ruber). The blue stripe on its body is one of its prominent features! 

A freaking Spotted Moray Eel (Gymnothorax moringa) that bit the hell out of me! Thankfully, I healed well from that injury. No infection or other contamination from the bite. 

My first ever Bulleseye Snakehead (Channa marulius). Feisty fella for sure!

And, of course, my old man with a Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides). This one we know too well!

As mentioned above, videos on YouTube cover the whole adventure we had down there, not to mention that the Smugmug account will contain the photos of all the new Species that I caught down there.

3. The Maryland Trip/Collaboration. I have recently done a collaboration with 1Rod1ReelFishing in Maryland. If you folks follow this Blog since 2011, you actually know that my good friend Mike S. Hsiao (a.k.a. 1R1Rfishing) has contributed quite a bit to this fishing Blog! Here is a good example of that. That is correct, folks -- Mike was quite the legit writer back in the days. Haha. So nostalgic, eh?

The first video of this Maryland Trip is already on YouTube:

In this video, 1Rod1ReelFishing and I go fishing for different Species of fish at the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C.. :)

There will be two more videos on this trip coming up in the next couple days, including a very very neat hot pepper sauce 1VS1 Bass fishing challenge. Stay tuned! :)

And finally, let's discuss some potential projects for the near future...

-- The tank project. This one is still ongoing, fellas! I know that you all have been eager to see me setup my new fish tank, do some micro-fishing, and place some residents in my 55 gal. tank. However, due to all the trips that I made and the fact that I got beaten up badly recently, this project has been greatly delayed! I will eventually bring you all some videos on it, though! Be patient, young grasshoppers. :)

-- YouTube Collaborations. I want to collaborate with a few other YouTubers before the end of the year! Use the opportunity to put myself more out there on social media, as well as make new contacts and fish new places. I may do a collaboration in the near future with the following YouTubers: Joshua Jorgensen (a.k.a. BlackTipH); Robert Terkla (a.k.a. LunkersTV), and/or Tim Galati (a.k.a. Tim Galati). If you want to see me fish with one of them over the others, don't be shy to give me your feedback -- comment under this video and let me know! 

-- Florida Trip. I want to do one more Florida Trip before the end of the year, so that I can boost my Species list up to 150 or more! I am currently at 142, so I gotta do my best for it. :) Don't forget to check my Master Species album on Smugmug, fellas!

That is it for now, bros and sis! Hopefully I will be bringing you guys many more exciting things in the near future :)

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights! 

Sincerely,

Leo S. (a.k.a. Extreme Philly Fishing)

And the Adventure at OBX Ends... (Outer Banks, NC)

NOTE: THIS IS A POST IN PROGRESS :)

Hello, Blog Readers! 

If you folks follow me on all my other social media platforms (Instagram, SnapChat -- ExtPhillyFishin, Facebook Page, YouTube), you know that my family trip down to the Outer Banks (NC) finally came to a conclusion! If you didn't know about it, I find that hard to believe. Hah. 

A nice view of the Nags Head pier in Nags Head, NC. 

I spent five days down there with my family. Needless to say, those five days were truly amazing! Besides all the sightseeing and etc, it was truly a blast to explore and fish all the different watersheds there -- brackish and saltwater. For this reason, first and foremost, I would like to thank my family for allowing me to do so! They are wonderful people who support what I do (YouTube part-time), and they truly deserve my respect and recognition. 

Okay...now that we did the honors of thanking them, let's get right into fishing! 

For this North Carolina trip, I explored the following places: The Ocracoke Island; the Currituck Sound around Corolla and Duck; Jennette's Pier and Nags Head pier in Nags Head, and the Oregon Inlet in Nags Head as well. There will be one video on my YouTube Channel for each one of these locations! Also, I will post each one of those videos below, as they are released:

Day 1: June 19th, 2016. Explored and fished the Western and Eastern inlets of the Ocracoke Island.

Day 2: June 20th, 2016. Morning. Explored and fished the Currituck Sound around Duck.

Day 2: June 20th, 2016. Afternoon. Explored and fished the Jennette's Pier in Nags Head.

More videos will come as they are uploaded on the Channel! 
Videos will be coming every two days

The fishing was certainly amazing! Here is a little summary of what happened on each one of those days:

Day 1: June 19th, 2016 -- The Pinfish Invasion at the Ocracoke Island

My family wanted to explore the Ocracoke Island. Well..you guys know me -- I just couldn't resist fishing there for a bit, right? I brought down some of my rods and attempted two different locations: the western and eastern inlets of the island.

The first location was a little wooden pier right next to Mary Ann's Pond. It was a windy and tough day, so we just fished right off the boat ramp! Luckily, we ended up catching multiple different Species of fish on small pieces of squid. Photos are all below:

My old man with his first fish of the day: a Pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides)

After many a Pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides), a yummy Atlantic Croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) finally decided to show up!

My Brother-in-Law gut-hooked this beautiful Northern Puffer (Sphoeroides maculatus). Too bad it got injured real bad.

Species #123 for me: the Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus). Little cutie pie, eh? :)

The greediest fish of the day: a Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata)

My father used mainly a slip-sinker setup whereas my brother-in-law and I used those pre-rigged double rigs for saltwater. The water on the western side, by the boat launch, was fairly stained and very shallow! Though, there were plenty of micro-fishes around. The eastern side, on the other hand, had a really really nice dropout of about 10 feet, right by the Ocracoke/Hatteras ferry! All three of us tried rigging cut bait and even live Pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides) for some bigger Species of fish, but Mother Nature just did not contribute. Hah. Thus, we called it a day.

Day 2: June 20th, 2016 -- MORNING: You will be Lucky to Catch a Fish -- PART 1

Before exploring the Currituck Sound in Duck, NC, we decided to stop by Bob's Bait and Tackle for some local fishing info. Bob was an extremely nice and forward fella! After being asked about the sound, he said: "You will be lucky if you catch a fish there!" 

According to the history of the Currituck Sound, his answer was really not all that surprising! The Sound used to be a great fishery for Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) from the early 1900's until the 80's, when North Carolina suffered from droughts. At that stage, the Asian Hydrilla died off due to the high salinity levels of the Sound -- after all, most of the fresh water was gone! That was when lots of Bass died and natural reproduction diminished...

Despite all of that, I was very surprised to see some life down there! With small hooks (size #10 Mustad) and small pieces of squid, we ended up catching the following Species of fish down there:

First Species of the day: a White Perch (Morone americana). Little fella just couldn't resist that Calamari! LOL

This Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) showed up soon after! Such a cool Species to see in brackish waters! 

New Species for me: the Inland Silverside (Menidia beryllina). That is when you know that Micro-Fishing pays off!

A Pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides) caught by my father. Although not a new Species or anything, definitely one of the coolest catches of the day! To think that a saltwater Pinfish would be that North in the sound, around Duck? Truly amazing!

Good old Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) from the Currituck Sound! What a fighter!

Possibly the biggest fish of the day, in terms of weight. Another Pumpkinseed

As you guys can see, my adventure down at the Sound really turned out to be a Micro-Fishing session! Nothing wrong with that when you are a Multi-Species angler, alright? :) 

Can't say that Bob from Bob's Bait and Tackle was wrong about his statement, since we didn't catch a single game fish from the Sound. However, it is evident that the place is still striving with life! 

Day 2: June 20th, 2016 -- AFTERNOON: Fishing and Exploring Jennette's Pier

For the afternoon of the same day, we shifted focus! We pretty much went from one side to another; Sound to Sea. After a quick Google Maps session, my family and I decided to explore and fish the Jennette's Fishing Pier in Nags Head! 

As mentioned in the description of my YouTube video, it was well worth (in my opinion) to pay $12 to fish there. Below are our catches of the day:

New Species for me! Number 125: The Atlantic Spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber). At first glance, the fish looked really weird in my eyes! But soon I was captivated by its charm. Hah

Another new Species for me! Number 126: The Atlantic Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus). Catching one of these on the Gotcha Plug was really exciting!

Biggest fish of the day: a Bluntnose Ray (Dasyatis say). It felt super heavy for a reason! :)

And at the end of the day, we had a wonderful fish fry! Everything tasted awesome in the end!

Other folks in the pier were also catching fish. One dude landed a nice Atlantic Spanish Mackerel right next to me; another one was landing the Atlantic Spadefish one after another on the Sabiki rig. Exceptional catches of the day down there were probably a really nice Gray Triggerfish (Balistes capriscus) and a 40lbs Cobia (Rachycentron canadum) that unhooked itself right after the man lowered his drop net. :( As they say -- sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

More reports will come as videos are uploaded on the Channel! 
Videos will be coming every two days

15.000 Subscribers Contest/Give-Away on YouTube!

Hello, fellow Blog Readers! 

It has been quite a while since I have posted here on the Blog, eh? The last post here was the one on Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) consumption, if I am not wrong. I apologize for the lack of updates here; however, as I have stated here previously, my different social media platforms are taking most of my time nowadays! :(

Of course that is no different when it comes to my YouTube Channel! If you follow Extreme Philly Fishing around, you know that I have been loyally posting videos there every two days! And, as a matter of fact, we just hit 15.000 subscribers! Another milestone achieved. 

In commemoration of 15.000 subs, I decided to run a little contest/give-away there! All details can be seen in the video below:

If you want to participate, make sure to follow instructions accordingly, including reading the description of the video. :) Don't forget to watch it in HD quality (1080p60)! If you enjoy the contents of the Channel, don't forget to support it by subscribing to it.

If you have watched the video above, then you know that the contest video leads you to another video on the Channel -- a motivational video on the topic of "what is fishing to an individual." I made that video three years ago -- back in 2013 -- in homage of my old and first fishing partners here in Philadelphia, PA, USA! Some of my most trusted friends can be seen there: Jay Daly, Robert Zito, Stephen O'Toole, and Mike Hsiao. As a matter of fact, Mike Hsiao from 1Rod1ReelFishing shows up in that video three times: once at Haddon Lake and Cedar Lake in NJ, and once right under the Fairmount Dam on the Schuylkill River. The mentioned video is below:

Enjoy the motivational video! And while you watch it, think about it: what is it that fishing really means to you?! By the way...the music is a piano arrangement of Terra's Theme from Final Fantasy. :)

It has been three years since that video, and five years since the beginning of this Blog. I can't thank my followers/viewers/subscribers enough for all the support, then and now! It is a blast that I am able to still bring you guys updates on my fishing adventures and it is even more of a blast to know that you are there to support me on my Multi-Species/Exploration quest! 

Thank you very much for all you have done so far for EPF, and I wish you the best of luck if you decide to participate in this give-away! 

Best of luck to all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights! 

Sincerely,

Leo S.

Is it Safe to Eat Gator Blues (~10lbs)?! Watch out for Mercury and PCBs!!!

-----------------------------------
Newest Updates: 
-- As always, videos out every 2 days on my YouTube Channel.
-- Added about 350 photos to my Smugmug Fishing Photo Database
-- New photos on Instagram every week.
-- Follow me on SnapChat (ExtPhillyFishin). New snaps every 3 days or so!
-----------------------------------

Hello, Blog Readers! 

Today I am here to talk about something rather serious: fish consumption guidelines. Specifically, I will be talking about Gator Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) consumption guidelines. As you all know, Extreme Philly Fishing is a firm believer that educating the angling community about the different aspects and sub-fields of fishing is overall beneficial to anglers themselves and the ecosystem alike. Thus, I hope you stay with me for a few more minutes and learn a lot about what and what not to eat when it comes to Bluefish!

Portrayed above is a Gator Blue, which is in reality a Bluefish in the range of ~10lbs.
The fish above weighted in at 10.55lbs.

The overall story is that I went down for some "Gator Blues" for the first time in my life this year (2016), just a few days ago. That wasn't my first ever Bluefish trip; mind you -- if you guys follow me on social media, you already know that I have caught a few "Cocktail Blues" last year: Bluefish ranging from 1 to 3lbs. That was, however, my first trip that focused on the elusive 10lbs+ Bluefish!

And I gotta tell you, folks -- the experience was quite unique! As I went down to the Jersey shore, my first impression was of an overpopulated fishery where most folks were eager to catch their table fare at all costs. Forget about the shoulder-to-shoulder fishing (a.k.a. combat fishing) -- the scenario down there was grotesque! It was really "every man for himself." And if catching their dinner for the day wasn't enough (one fish), certain folks were taking way more than they could handle! The level of CPR -- Catch, Photo, & Release -- was almost non-existent. As I looked around, some folks were taking three fish. Some others were taking 5 fish. And on the extreme level, certain anglers were "limiting out" with 15 Gator Blues in their small coolers. We are talking about ~150lbs of fish right here, fellas!  

One of the New Jersey inlets when the Bluefish action is hot. Possibly worse than the Trout Opening Day in Southeast Pennsylvania. Photo Credit: Sea-Money Fishing

I approached one gentleman and asked him how he would consume all of his four ten pounders. The response was not too surprising: "I will give some away to my family and friends." And then, the question of the day popped up in my head: "Do these people actually know how harmful it is to eat these fish?!" And fellas -- it saddens me to say this: most people have absolutely no idea about it. For this reason, I shall enlighten you now about the chronic consequences of consuming Gator Blues. I figured that it would be better for me to write a post before it is too late; so certain folks can stop poisoning their loved ones with high levels of mercury and PCBs.

1. Bluefish Fish Consumption Guidelines in New Jersey 

Since I am talking about Gator Blues mainly in New Jersey, here is NJ's consumption guidelines for it. Please note that an angler should consult his state's fish consumption guidelines before taking home any Species of fish to eat! That is the smart way of protecting yourself and your loved ones from the nasty chronic illnesses that contaminated fishes offer. 

Besides offering an array of information on heavy metals, PCBs (Polychlorinated byphenyls), and the definition of "meals per month," the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health clearly states the following on page five:

"Bluefish -- greater than 6lbs/24 inches: 6 meals per year for general population and zero meals per year for high risk population"

Similarly:

"Bluefish -- less than 6lbs/24 inches: 1 meal per month for general population and zero meals per year for high risk population" 

According to the definitions, let's run some mathematics now, so that everyone can understand what is the scale of the numbers that we are talking about here.

Let's say that one Gator Blue is about ten pounds. That is equivalent to 160 oz. After cleaning it and trimming it correctly, let's take an estimate of the fillets to be around 50% of its total body weight. Thus, 5lbs of lean meat. That is equivalent to 80 oz. Keep that in mind. 
One meal per month or serving per month is defined by government agencies to be an 8 oz. fish fillet. That is pretty much a serving of Salmon that you get in any restaurant chain out there. Having 5lbs of lean meat (~80 oz.) means having 10 servings/meals.

According to what we just read in the guidelines, for a Gator Blue (greater than 6lbs/24 inches), the recommended is 6 meals per year!!! In other words, one Gator Bluefish's meat is already enough to pass the recommended annual fish consumption guidelines for a single person. 

The photo above portrays an one pound piece of Bluefish fillet. In other words, 16 oz. of lean meat. Two servings/meals for a single person. Photo Credit: Johnny Bui Fishing

But we don't always eat fish by ourselves, do we? When having a Gator Blue, it is all about sharing -- as the angler mentioned to me at the inlet. In this case, according to the guidelines, one could have a hearty and healthy meal (within the guidelines) for a family of two, five times a year. One fish. Even for a family of four, one fish can provide nearly half of the annual recommended servings for a Gator Blue per person. In other words, for a family of four, two 10lbers are enough to fulfill the whole quota for the year.    

And then, you may ask Extreme Philly Fishing now -- what happens when we overeat it?! Well...that is what we will discuss next.

2. What Happens When you Eat a Gator Blue?

The consequences of overeating Gator Blues don't come right away. In other words, the symptoms for eating contaminated fish are not acute. They are chronic. From medicine, let's recall that acute means "severe and sudden" conditions (i.e. common cold). Chronic, on the other hand, means "long-developing" conditions (i.e. cancer). For this exact reason, many anglers believe that it is absolutely fine to consume those fish. Their mentality is simple and blunt: "If I don't get sick after eating the fish, they are safe to eat."

Unfortunately, that is a very faulty mentality. After all, the chronic contamination syndromes from eating contaminated fish come from heavy metals and PCBs (Polychlorinated byphenyls). In terms of heavy metals, I am mainly talking about Mercury (Hg) -- though, other heavy metals found in fish can be harmful to humans as well, when consumed in large quantities over time. For PCBs, all you need to know is that they are man-made chemicals that have no smell or taste. 

The worst part is that these two components tend to accumulate in any organism's body...They don't really leave after consumed. So, what exactly happens when you consume a Gator Blue?! What happens is very simple: heavy metals and PCBs build up in different live organisms throughout the food chain: zooplankton (with possible heavy metals) consumes phytoplankton (with possible PCBs); fish larvae consumes zooplankton; smaller fishes consume fish larvae; Bluefish consumes smaller fishes. And at the end of that is the Bluefish eater -- human being consumes contaminated Bluefish. :)

The mind-blowing aspect of this food chain concept is that we really are what we eat. Although each organism was consumed and died, its legacy (i.e. heavy metals & PCBs) was passed down to the other organism. And if you have eaten Bluefish in the past (or any other type of fish, really), you should know that you have some of that in you as well. 

The key idea here is that low quantities of Mercury and PCBs will not hurt anyone. Moderation is key. Thus, if a person follows the fish consumption guidelines by the Department of Health, everything should be okay. However, if a person is exposed to those contaminants over a long period of time, meaning that the person has been eating contaminated fish over and over and over again, then there will be a built up and problems will arise.

3. The Consequences of Overeating Gator Blues

If you are reading this and you have been overeating Gator Blues for the last couple years, I seriously recommend you to stop. For your own sake, you should do it. If you have been giving huge numbers of contaminated fish to your loved ones, and they have been over consuming it, know that you have been slowly poisoning them over time (sadly).  

Mercury is no joke, folks. This is not a matter of opinion. This is a fact. High quantities of mercury in a human body will damage the kidneys and the nervous system. Low mercury poisoning over time can bring forth memory loss, fatigue, headaches, loss of focus, etc. Although there have been many scientific reports of mercury level in North-Atlantic fishes being in decline, it is better to be safe than sorry. Note that Bluefish are classified as having high mercury contents in relationship to other Species of fish:

Least Mercury Classification: 0.09 parts per million (i.e. Atlantic Croaker, Flounder, Perch)
Moderate Mercury Classification: 0.09-0.29 ppm (i.e. Striped Bass, Cod, Skate)
High Mercury Classification: 0.30-0.49 ppm (i.e. Bluefish)
Highest Mercury Classification: >0.50 ppm (i.e. Shark)

When it comes to PCBs, it doesn't get any better. Polychlorinated Byphenyls are extremely dangerous because scientists are not yet sure of what it can do to human beings. Summarizing, its symptoms are partially undetermined. Regardless, getting sick from PCBs build up depends on the amount of PCBs that has entered the body, how long the individual has been exposed for, and how sensitive each individual's body is to PCBs. I hope this makes it clear that eating big Bluefish over and over will eventually bring forth health issues. The worst case scenario for PCBs built up is definitely the production of carcinogens in the human body. In other words, the production of cancerous cells. Now...wouldn't it suck if someone got cancer because they ate too many contaminated fish?! Definitely.

Finally, make sure to never feed contaminated fish to a pregnant woman or a <5 years old child. It is a fact that developing fetuses and young children are the most vulnerable when it comes to these contaminants. These folks fit in the "high risk population category," which is why the Department of Health has zeroed their annual meals in the fish consumption guidelines. The reasons for that are quite simple -- for example: when a pregnant woman ingests PCBs and heavy metals, there is a chance that those contaminants will be passed to the baby through the placenta. That can result in slower mental development. Similarly, young children who are exposed may experience developmental health effects as well. 

To prevent all these health problems, make sure to eat responsibly...

4. Alternatives to Eating Gator Blues

Of course the main alternative would be to eat Species of fish that are lower in heavy metals and PCBs, such as the Atlantic Croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), White Perch (Morone americana), etc. However, that doesn't mean that you must stop eating Bluefish, specially if that is one of your favorites! 

As a rule of thumb in the fishing community, eating younger fish of the same Species is always a safer bet (don't forget about creels and limits, though). The meat is tastier and the contaminants' percentage is lower as well. Last year I took home a few Cocktail Blues in the range of 2-3lbs, and they were absolutely delicious! As you may or may not have noticed, their consumption guidelines (<6lbs, 24 inches) is pretty much two times that of the Gator BluesUltimately, like I mentioned previously in this post, moderation is key. As far as the guidelines are followed, no problems should arise! Plus, fishes taste better when they are fresh anyways. If you want to consume another one in a healthy fashion, take them one by one instead of freezing piles of fish.

5. Extra Notes

Additionally, I would recommend everyone to follow the following practices for the sake of our sport:

Practice Selective Harvest: take home only what you can eat or what you will use. Don't waste resources! Make sure to release trophy fishes to preserve fish genetics for future generations of anglers. Also, release rare Species of fish to a certain body of water to preserve its populations. Think about the future!

Follow the Law: Don't poach. Follow the creel and limits according to your state regulations. Not only you will avoid fines and sleepless nights in jail, but also save yourself from being hated in your local fishing community for doing despicable things. Be a team player and protect the environment.

Clean after Yourself: Nobody likes to see a fishing spot trashed! As crude as it may sound, don't sh*t where you eat (pardon the choice of words). Or in a more polite way, don't cause any trouble or destroy a place where you frequently go to. You will be doing everyone a favor -- believe me.

Practice CPR (Catch, Photo, & Release): Reinforce aquatic sustainability by being a proud steward and good sportsman -- release most of your catches! It is a great feeling to see a nice fish swim away. If you fish for fame, know that you don't need to kill a fish to show the rest of the world that you are good at the sport. Film it! Photo it! Release it! You will gain more respect by doing so.

I hope you folks enjoyed this post! 

Best of luck to all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S. 

March Fishing Sessions: 03/11 - Hot Carp Action at the FDR Park (Philadelphia, PA)

Hello, Blog Readers! 

Today I'm bringing you folks my fishing report for March 11th:

--- March 11th, 2016 ---

Location: Meadow (@FDR Park, Philadelphia, PA)
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Fishes caught:

-- 6 Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

P.s. As much as I want to bring you guys FULL fishing reports of every trip that I do, unfortunately I don't have the time to do so! Thus, the goal, setup, and summary sessions of every fishing post will be blank for now. If you want to see full fishing reports on the Blog again, please support me on my Patreon page. Once I reach my goal there, I will not only have enough time to write full reports, but also didactic posts and event posts for better community engagement. Tight lines and FISH ON! Leo S.

Video:

In the video above, my friend Johnny Bui Fishing and I go to the FDR Park for some hot Spring Carp action! Don't forget to watch it in HD quality (1080p60)! If you like what you see, show some love: subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

Watch the same fishing session from Johnny Bui Fishing's perspective! Don't forget to watch it in HD quality (1080). If you like what you see, show some love by subscribing to his YouTube Channel! 

Goals:

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Setup:

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Summary:

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Photos:

Below are the photos for this fishing session:

Johnny Bui with a Common Carp

First one of the day, at 9lbs.

On the smaller side... :)

Another chunky Carp

Johnny giving an accurate cast, right on top of the chum

Best of luck to all of us! 

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,

Sincerely,

Leo S.