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Page 30

watching while it tugged against the line and tried to swim back to the safety of the dock's shadow, and then it would throw the hook. I'd reel in, rebait with a fresh worm, drop it back in the same place, and witness that same bluegill come out, study the worm, and try to eat it again.

Similarly, I have fished lakes for bass with a topwater lure (which imitates a frog or a mouse or a wounded baitfish) and had a bass jump up, grab the lure, and start swimming away. Now, many surface lures are made of hard plastic and feel very much unlike a frog, not to mention the shiny and sharply honed hooks dangling from them. The bass would shake its head, losing the hook, and then come back to hit it again.

Also, many people have witnessed sharks in a feeding frenzy that are so keyed into eating that one shark will occasionally take a bite out of another. That wounded shark would thenas gruesome as it may soundturn and actually begin feeding on itself.

Some people may argue that fish do feel pain; the reason that they don't react to it is that their sense of hungerthe predatory instinctis much stronger than their sense of pain. But I've also fished enough times when, for whatever reason, the fish just won't eat anything, to disallow that reasoning. My personal, unscientific theory is that fish do feel something when they're hooked, but it is not at all the same sensation that humans would experience. In other words, it doesn't hurt them.

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Pollution and How Fish Deal with It

I used to live near a picture-perfect trout stream in rural Pennsylvania that had signs posted on trees along its banks notifying anglers that the water was polluted. Chemicals had leached from some old barrels that had been buried near the stream some time ago, and tests had shown that the fish carried the chemicals in their bodies. The state fish commission no longer stocked the stream. That was OK, because it was brimming with brown trout that had held over from previous stockings years ago. My friends and I caught and released hundreds of trout from that stream over the course of a couple of years, and they were beautiful, sparkling fish. One day there I caught a brown trout that was no more than five inches longproof that the trout were successfully reproducing.

At one time I also lived close to a river that had one color year-round: brown. Street sewers drained into it and various manufacturing companies released who-knows-what from discharge pipes along its length. Occasionally the river would emit a distinct and very unpleasant odor. Its shores were lined with garbage and waste. Yet the river held fisha healthy population of carp and a few species of panfish.

Many fish species are hardy and can withstand pollution to an amazing extent. The problem with fishing in polluted watersbesides the obvious loss of aesthetic valueis that the fish might be dangerous to eat, because of the build-up of chemicals inside their bodies.

Fortunately, U.S. waters are less polluted now than they were just two decades ago, thanks to rigid enforcement of environmental regulations. Also, state fish and game departments keep close track of the degree of pollution in fishable waters, and institute dietary guidelines for people who intend to keep and eat their catch. There are many different types of pollutants present in our waters, but basically there are two types of guidelines issued if necessary: Either no fish should be consumed, or no fish should be consumed by children under a certain age or by pregnant women. Contact your state fish and game department for details about specific waters, species affected, and guidelines.

Fish Recipes

Fish Recipes

This is a great collection of delicious fish and shell fish recipes that you will love.

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