Thursday, August 4, 2011
Fish doing quite well after oil spill
The Northside Sun newspaper just completed a bit of investigative reporting on the lasting effects of the BP oil spill. After a 12-hour analysis of the red snapper population within a few miles of the oil spill, the Sun concludes that the fish are doing quite well.
In fact, the biggest snappers were caught right on top of the BP underground pipeline. Fish love the structure provided by various underwater drilling. It’s where they hang out, providing a break from the monotonous flat sand bottom of the Gulf.
The snappers were thriving last weekend, but I was a bit worried about the five 12-year-old boys. Rough water produced five seasick boys. It was a vomit-a-thon.
I’m proud of the boys. They sucked it up and bounced back for a full day of fishing. I figured we caught a thousand pounds, including the ones we threw back.
Son Lawrence is a fishaholic. He lives to fish. I find it fascinating how hyperactive boys can show uncharacteristic patience when fishing. I’ve seen him fish for hours without a bite and beg to stay longer.
I prefer coastal fishing to deep-sea fishing. There’s no long, stomach-turning boat ride, the scenery is better, there’s more variety in the fish, and you can always catch a monster redfish. Last fall, I took Lawrence and a friend fishing down near Cocodrie, La.
But Lawrence kept begging for offshore and I finally relented. It didn’t take much to organize an expedition of five fathers and sons.
All the dads are busy professionals, but text and e-mail made logistics a snap. We piled into an SUV Friday afternoon only to discover weak Freon in the searing heat. We switched to an older van with killer AC, only to find its pre-2001 engine sputtering from ethanol-induced water in the fuel lines. By the third car change, we were laughing pretty good.
We had a great dinner at Zeke’s Landing in Gulf Shores and slept on the boat. By 6 a.m. we were headed out to sea. When the cell phone service died, the dads had to quit working and fish.
The key to bottom fishing is knowing where there is structure on the bottom to which the fish are attracted. Many of the fish boat captains dump old barges and such during the off season and mark them with GPS. These are their secret spots and are closely guarded. The key to catching big red snappers is to fish a spot that hasn’t been fished before.
Loaded with tons of fresh snapper, I decided to throw a party when we returned and invited many friends. There is nothing like the lure of fresh fish to get people to show up at your house.
I invited those with special recipes to bring their own ingredients and help cook. As a result, we had at least 10 different styles of fish. The fish was heavenly and our fresh fish-eating bash put a huge dent in the 200 or so pounds of filets we brought back.
I asked the captains at Zeke’s if the fishing was affected by the oil spill. If anything, they said, the fishing is better, which they attribute to not fishing last year.
Unfortunately, the Gulf oyster population has been hurt badly, but it has nothing to do with the oil spill.
The flooding of the Mississippi caused the Pontchartrain spillway to be opened, and the fresh water that was released has killed the oysters.
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