Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine VOL 40 No 3 - SUMMER 2016 - Page 34

RHETORIC that Resonates M orning Advocate, Port Sulphur, Louisiana, dateline September 23, 2056: “The last Speckled Trout believed taken within state waters in over a decade was caught yesterday by veteran angler, Dr. John Mitchell of Baton Rouge while on a fly-in trip to Freemason Island southwest of the Chandeleurs. Dr. Mitchell told the Advocate that the two pound, three ounce fish was in deplorable condition, having only one eye, ugly lesions on its body and half a tail.” “This is probably the last time I’ll try for spotted seatrout”, stated Mitchell, an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at LSU, “I prefer to remember the past when our rivers, bays and barrier islands were free of oil, toxic waste and pesticides, and fish stocks were plentiful and healthy. It’s a sad time not only for Louisiana fishermen but perhaps anglers in other northern Gulf states as well”, concluded Mitchell. While the above scenario is fictional and not likely to occur anytime soon, and hopefully never, there’s a grain of truth in its concept in the view of those charged with monitoring environmental matters and their potential impact on inshore fisheries. Most coastal anglers are aware of the so-called DEAD ZONE that form each Summer off the coast of Louisiana and in recent years has crossed into the extreme eastern edge of Texas. This phenomenon is the direct result of commercial hog farm waste, industrial spills and especially agricultural pesticides that find their way into the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Mississippi River. The oxygen-depleted “Dead Zone’ - once the size of Delaware - thankfully, hasn’t migrated to the north which could devastate all manner of marine life. Let’s pray this won’t ever occur.,, 34 G U L F C O A S T F I S H E R M A N SPOTS AND DOTS... I once caught a speckled trout without a tail while fishing in Fort Bayou in Ocean Springs. The emaciated one pound, seven ounce fish hit my free-lined live shrimp fairly hard but offered little fight. I soon saw why. I was never sure if it was the result of some form of mutation or whether a predator - a bluefish perhaps - had severed it. I destroyed the fish because it was obviously having difficulty competing with “normal” fish. In May of 2003, while on a flounder gigging trip from a flat bottom skiff near the mouth of Pearl River, I saw a flash of red, or so I thought, and my reflexes took over. To my surprise it wasn’t a red snapper that had lost its bearings, but a 7 pound carp! We were into a sustained rainy period and deduced the carp had been “flushed out” of its normal habitat. Upon examination, my companion and I discovered it had only one eye, like the aforementioned no-tail trout. Not only was the carp missing an eye, but there was no apparent EYE SOCKET! If you fish long enough, strange things happen that cannot always be easily explained. Reme