250.000 Views on the Blog and an Overview of the EPF's "Mission."

Hello, Blog Readers!

The Blog has finally hit 250.000 views and I just wanted to say: that is awesome, folks! This is a great accomplishment for the Blog and its missions. Thus, I would like to take a moment for us to review together what exactly is the "Extreme Philly Fishing" Blog (i.e. why was it created), and what exactly are its goals (i.e. its mission).

The video above serves as the introductory video for the Extreme Philly Fishing YouTube Channel. Although not complete, the video portrays the main ideology that EPF follows. 

The Extreme Philly Fishing Blog was created based on the grounds of free information for the open public. In other words, the Blog is a public space where anyone with enough curiosity can access. Keep in mind that this Blog is not a non-profit nor an organization: it's simply a free and personal Blog about fishing and everything that is related to it! Thus, 
Extreme Philly Fishing doesn't make any money with this Blog! There is a donation button for those who wish to contribute; however, that is not a must. Remember, folks: the world isn't always about "profit," even though we live in a society that is way too much about money. 

Also, this Blog was created with the purpose of showing both anglers and the general public alike that fishing is never just about catching fish! In other words, fishing is never just about putting your line in the water and waiting for the fish to bite! A huge misconception towards our sport is that fishing is all about catching; however, folks tend to not realize that catching is only part of fishing (and not all of it). It turns out that fishing is a fun sport and it can also "become" a science and an art if practiced correctly. Let's not forget that every minor detail matters at the end of the day. Every little single piece of information helps. If practiced in a positive way, fishing jumps from a "bloody sport" to something that can greatly enhance one's physical and psychological abilities!

Finally, this Blog was also created to show that the city of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey have great potential when it comes to fishing. Unfortunately, a lot of individuals tend to take our watersheds for granted: not many people were aware of our fish biodiversity three years ago (when the Blog was created), and a part of them is still not aware of that nowadays. Not only that -- even our local anglers usually take our aquatic biodiversity for granted! Folks tend to fish only for "game-fish," often forgetting about all the other beautiful fishes in our aquatic ecosystems. So, the idea is pretty simple: it's beautiful out there, and we should enjoy the fishing and the outdoors in Philadelphia and Southern NJ! 

Concluding, the Blog is here to portray the wonders of Multi-Species fishing and the wonders of everything that is related to the sport of fishing, not to mention that everything here is free of charge! Summarizing, the Blog exists not only to environmentally portray the city and show the fish diversity, but also to remind its readers of those "extra factors" that go beyond casting a line and reeling in the fish.

It cannot be forgotten that besides all that was said above, Extreme Philly Fishing truly believes in the "educational approach" for a better angling community: education is the base for everything in life! Therefore, the posts here often emphasize those "extra factors" with the purpose of creating a better and positive fishing community, a healthier and sustainable future for our waters and children, and more conscious and active anglers when it comes to the glorious sport of fishing! 

So, the remaining question is: what exactly does the EPF Blog focuses on, besides fishing?

--- Non-point source pollution ---

As the name indicates, non-point source pollution means that we don't precisely know the source of the pollution. Since littering falls directly under this category, Extreme Philly Fishing focuses heavily on this topic.

It's a fact that many anglers litter. Period. Therefore, littering is a very big deal in the fishing community! Unfortunately, due to the overall lack of education and etiquette, this issue has been getting worse and worse among the years. Now...don't take me wrong! Of course not all anglers litter (please -- do not stereotype us). True and passionate anglers tend to love the environment and they certainly dislike to see a certain fishing spot "trashed." Personally, I've seen a lot of trashed areas around Philadelphia and its surroundings: bait containers on the floor, food/drink packages; fishing accessories (hooks, line, etc), plastic bags, etc. It's never a nice view, folks. It's very bothersome indeed.

Eventually, the quality of our watersheds does not depend on anglers alone. It is a fact that a high percentage of the general public in Philadelphia litters. When that happens, all the trash ends up getting washed down to our Rivers, Lakes, and Creeks (welcome to Environmental Conservation 101). Don't forget -- when it rains, the city of Philadelphia watersheds' contamination rate increases dramatically. 

So, what exactly can we do to fix this issue?

-- Do not litter. Simple, right? Anglers: carry one or two plastic bags with you at all times to "clean up" before you leave your fishing spot. Before littering (if you do), think about the other people that will fish there after you. Do not be selfish! After all, how exactly do you feel when you see your favorite fishing spot full of trash? And even if an angler doesn't care about others in the community, there are still no excuses for littering: think about the fish then -- they also suffer from it (i.e. changes in pH and acid shock, dying from consumption of non-edible items; etc).

-- Teach the children about the consequences of littering. Environmental Conservation is a very important field of study and everyone should know its basics! Parents: teach your kids at home. Give them proper education and etiquette. Start from an early age and show them that littering is wrong! On a side note...in the United States of America, the laws for littering are barely enforced. In Singapore, on the other hand, throwing a piece of paper on the floor leads to a huge fine! Let's not forget that Singapore is classified as the "greenest city on Earth." If they can do it, we can as well! Education and good habits start at an early age and they should be enforced.

Note that changing a type of behavior is definitely not easy -- it's a life challenge. However, it's definitely not something impossible to accomplish. Therefore, be proud of yourself every time you throw trash in the trash. By doing so, you are not only being a role model for the future generations of anglers to come, but you are also positively contributing for your city; your country. 

--- Fish Consumption  ---

There is a huge misconception in the City of Philadelphia when it comes to fish consumption. Even though the Schuylkill River and Delaware River have made a "comeback" in the past century or so, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are healed to a point where all fishes are healthy and "good eating." As a matter of fact, it's quite the opposite: most fishes in those bodies of water are contaminated with different types of heavy metals and PCBs (i.e. Channel Catfish, Common Carp, etc).

Thus, as one can see, one should be very careful about consuming the fish that he/she catches. Before taking any fish home as food, one should always take in consideration the following: (1) the location where the fish was caught; (2) the quality of the water where the fish came from, and (3) the quality of the fish itself. It may sound redundant when you read it that way; however, these three factors turn out to be extremely important when it comes to harvesting fish. Take the White Perch (Morone americana) for example: I could have caught the fish from the Schuylkill River (which is polluted), but the fish actually came from the brackish waters of the Jersey shore (which is less polluted), and I also have to analyse the fish to see if it has any external diseases (i.e. its health). You see what I am saying here? Summarizing...one should not take the fish if the fish's body of water is heavily polluted or the fish shows external signs of illnesses.

When it comes to eating "wildly caught" fish, PCBs and heavy metals are the main contaminants. And believe me, folks -- they are no joke! For instance, they don't leave our body once they are ingested (same happens with the fish, which is how they get contaminated). In small quantities, they usually don't bring any harm. However, if built up in our body system (many meals through the years), they can lead us to many complicated types of chronic diseases (i.e. cancer).

Here is a little summary of PCBs and heavy metals for those who are not familiar with it:

A. Polychlorinated Byphenils (a.k.a PCB)

Polychlorinated Byphenils (PCBs) were created in the 20th century for many different applications: transformers, capacitors, heat transfer systems, mining equipment (recall our problem with mine acid drainage?), natural gas pipelines, hydraulic systems, carbon-less copy paper, electromagnets, voltage regulators, etc. 

The United States of America produced nearly 50% of the PCBs in the whole world from 1929 to 1979, when it was finally banned for giving away health illnesses. Therefore, as you can see, PCBs are a big problem mainly in the USA. Some other countries in the world have "PCB-free fishes," and other countries never even heard about it! Since 1979, PCBs are no longer produced. However, chemically speaking, they are extremely stable! For this reason, even after all this time, they are still here as an environmental contaminant.

In reality, "Polychlorinated Byphenils" are simply a mixture of a bunch of synthetic organic chemicals. The problem lies in its transmission: it can be ingested through food, through water, and sometimes even through the air. Though, the most common way of PCB contamination is through food. Health wise, a lot of build up PCB in the human body results in more production of carcinogens (cancerous cells); therefore, a person with high concentrations of PCBs is more apt to develop different types of cancer.

B. Heavy Metals

Below are the main types of heavy metals found in fish and where they are more likely to be stored at. The most important part of the fish for you to look at is its "muscle," since that is the "meat" of the fish. Also, please note that high and low concentrations vary among different Species of fish. The data below was taken from a generalized research paper on different types of heavy metals in fish.

High concentration: stomach, liver, gills, gonads.
Low Concentration: muscle

High concentration: gills, stomach
Low Concentration: muscles, liver, gonads

High concentration: liver, stomach
Low Concentration: muscles, gills, gonads

High concentration: liver, muscles
Low Concentration: stomach, gills, gonads

High concentration: liver, stomach, gills, gonads
Low Concentration: muscle

High concentration: liver, stomach, gills, gonads
Low Concentration: muscle

High concentration: gills
Low Concentration: muscles, liver

High concentration: muscles
Low Concentration: stomach, gonads

High concentration: liver, muscles, heart, gonad, brain
Low Concentration: gill, blood.

So, what exactly can we do in order to not get sick from eating locally wildly caught fish?

-- Anglers: follow your state's fish consumption guidelines. They are usually provided by the governmental agency responsible for fishing. In Pennsylvania, the PA Fish and Boat Commission provides us with their guidelines. According to the chart, respect the number of meals per month (in ounces), and learn how to properly clean your catches! Properly trimming and cleaning is fundamental to avoid contaminants! As you have read above, most heavy metals lie in the fish's internal organs. Thus, heavy metal contamination is reduced only to mercury, zinc, and iron after proper cleaning. Zinc and Iron are actually good to our body when consumed in small quantities; however, mercury is extremely harmful.  

-- Consumers: avoid buying "locally" or "wildly caught" fish in small markets, especially when it comes to bottom feeders. Although not well-known, there is a "poaching" system in Philadelphia, where people catch fishes from local waters and sell them to local markets. Chances are that they are coming straight out of the Schuylkill River, Delaware River, or its tidal tributaries. Anyways...always check with the business owner where did those fish come from. If they are a trusted market, they will let you know! On a side note, you may be consuming contaminated fish without even knowing about it.

--- Over-harvesting/Selective Harvest ---

As the name implies, "select" what you are going to take home: that is the ideology of "selective harvest." Taking everything home -- from small to big, from Catfish to Perch -- is not a wise idea. That is the ideology of "over-harvesting." 

First, let's talk about the concept of Selective Harvest. Before killing a certain type of fish, think about how that will affect you and your fishing, as well as the body of water where the fish came from. Before taking any type of fish home for consumption, you should seriously think about the following:

1. How exactly will that fish affect you?

-- Is it edible? Is it contaminated? Does the fish show any signs of illnesses? Parasites? If you said no to all those questions, then the fish is very likely edible and you may have a wonderful meal after taking it home.

-- Is it lawful to take the fish? Never forget to check the seasons, sizes, and creel limits for your state. Taking an illegal fish (i.e. Species wise, under sized, etc.) can be very damaging for both the ecosystem and the angler. The Game Warden usually charges a huge fine for possession of illegal fish, not to mention that they can be mean enough to confiscate all your fishing equipment! Also, one should take into consideration its own reputation in the community -- a person's reputation in the fishing community can drop dramatically if the community knows that the individual is not properly following the law. Now...would you really want to be hated by your fellow practitioners? I surely hope not...

2. How exactly will that fish affect the body of water where it came from?

-- Should I take that "Trophy Fish" that I just caught? Taking trophy fish home is certainly not a wise idea. I know that the thought of having it on a wall or showing it to people is very rewarding; however, trophy fish are usually the "alpha dogs" when it comes to giving birth to even bigger fish! It's really all about fish genetics -- bigger fish give birth to bigger fish. And according to the realm of Biology, that is not so different than human genetics -- whose child do you think will be taller: Yao Ming or Jackie Chan? So, there you go! Taking trophy fish from a certain body of water is the same as killing the fish's genetic code: the key in the production of even bigger fish. Instead, why not take a picture of that huge fish? Maybe place a ruler over it to show people its length and girth? Make a video, perhaps? The fishing community will be proud of you for releasing such a great catch and you will still have a memory for a lifetime! Be a good Samaritan.

-- Should I take home a "rare catch?" Similar to the trophy fish concept, there are certain Species of fish that are rare in certain bodies of water. Those should be released; otherwise, one would be helping with their extermination! Some species of fish in PA are already classified as "candidate" or "endangered" (i.e. Sturgeons, Longear Sunfish, Darters, etc), meaning that they should be immediately released. However, sometimes one needs to use common sense: if a Largemouth Bass is a rare catch in a certain watershed, that fish should also be released, candidate or not! Upon release, that fish can populate that watershed with more Largemouth Bass in the future. The same applies for all other Species of fish out there! Believe me, reader -- you do not want to commit a genocide.

Now let's talk about the concept of over-harvesting. Over-harvesting is the action of taking too many fishes -- more than the natural ecosystem can replenish in a certain amount of time. Here is a prime example: think of a small closed water pond with 500 fishes in it (fishes = different Species). If people go there everyday and take everything they catch, soon the place will run out of fish. That is common sense, right? Thus, the main idea is that fish take time to reproduce and grow. Most anglers don't usually realize how old a fish is after they catch it! For instance, most anglers will hold a Bluegill that is the size of their hands without realizing that it takes as long as 8 years for that fish to grow to that size (i.e. 9 inches, 0.50lbs = ~8 years of growth).

Therefore, next time you catch a big fish, try to understand that it took a long time for that fish to grow to its current size. Another example: it takes a Striped Bass 11 years to grow up to 20lbs (36 inches). It takes 9 years for a Walleye to grow up to 5.2lbs (24 inches). Taking fish in huge numbers equals population depletion. Don't forget, anglers: without fish, there's no fishing.

So, what exactly can we do in order to have sustainable fish populations?

-- Follow the laws and harvest only what is legal. While harvesting, practice selective harvest: release trophy fish and rare Species in certain bodies of water, so we can all have bigger and healthier fishes in the future. Don't forget to take that valuable picture that will support your fishing stories! =)

- Never over-harvest, especially in closed small bodies of water (exception for stunted populations of fish). Take fish in small amounts: only what you will be able to consume in a short period of time. Fresh fish tastes way better than frozen fish anyways! Also, never waste a fish: if you are killing a life, you may as well consume it properly or use it for other purposes (i.e. bait, fertilizer, etc).

--- CPR - Catch, Photo, Release ---

Let's not forget that fishing nowadays is considered to be a sport! In other words, we are long past the times when catching and consuming fish was a necessity for human survival. Taking that in consideration, fishing doesn't necessarily need to be all about taking the fish home and eating it. As a matter of fact, anglers all around the world are starting to practice this trend called "CPR" -- Catch, Photo, & Release.

In case of a big one, always make sure to carry your camera or your phone with you for a good photo! A photo on the wall is not only an awesome memory, but also solid evidence of your amazing fishing stories and fishing skills. =) I won't say too much about CPR here. Instead, I'll post here my favorite fishing quote from Lee Wulff (google him up): "The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn't someone else's gift to you?"

Support CPR, folks! :)

Summarizing the whole post...

From my own perspective, the amount of respect that a person can achieve from his/her local fishing community doesn't come entirely from the size or the numbers of his/her catches alone, but from following the simple "trends" that I've mentioned above: not littering, practicing selective harvest, never over-harvesting, being careful with fish consumption, and following the art of CPR.
By following those simple set of rules, one has already embraced the passion of fishing; one is already being a role model for his fellow peers and acquaintances, fellow anglers, and even kids -- the future generation of anglers to come!

Once again, I would like to emphasize: if you guys follow my Blog, you guys should be aware that "Extreme Philly Fishing" is all about the educational approach towards fishing. It's about sharing information and getting more folks involved in the sport of fishing. It's about sharing memories and sharing the passion that burns brightly everyday.

Also, never forget: practicing fishing correctly means that you guys are helping this country -- your country. It means to stay involved and active in something that you love; it means to give back to the community; it means to fight for a better future, one with sustainable watersheds and bountiful fisheriesNever forget that it's because of you guys that Extreme Philly Fishing exists.

Finally, a final note: positive changes will never come from ideas alone. It's through education and social shaping that good goals can be achieved. Upon those achievements, the quality of life of the whole community raises as well, and so does the quality of the city, the state, the country, and eventually the world. Think about it! 

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.