Fishing in Public

by "Tackle Box" Billy Kelley
by "Tackle Box" Billy Kelley


There’s a few things I wish to discuss with you, and what I’m going to do is a little different format, so please bear with me. First, though, I’d like to note: there’s no profanity in this column. That I know will make at least one guy happy. You know who you are.

Now, the first thing I’d like to comment on: the first section of the Bayside Trail has just been completed. Great! I’ve already had a few occasions to use the trail and I love it! It makes access to my beloved trestle and other fishing spots more, well, accessible. I do want to add, though, that I wish the folks who made it happen had a lot more money to bridge that monstrosity known as Franklin Arterial. Great opening ceremony, at any rate.

Next on the agenda: plans to dock the USS J.F.K. aircraft carrier in Portland Harbor. Again, great! I love it. What a hell of an idea — whoops, I mean heck of an idea. Can you just imagine? Now, of course, I realize there are bound to be a lot of problems with the whole project, but if you think about it, nothing comes without some, let’s say, minor glitches. We should be fighting like the dickens to get this ship. No-brainer! OK, let’s move on.

So, this waterfront zoning change being proposed. My view is: no more dock space for recreational boats. My biggest concern is that I think it might drive up waterfront lease rates and leave us poor fisherpeople even less room than we’ve already got, which is not much. Unless they’d let us fish off their boats, which ain’t too likely.

Now we’re moving on to the main topic. A quick trivia question for you folks: What is the most dangerous and deadly living thing on this planet? I’ll bet you don’t know. It’s something called the box jellyfish — 400 times more deadly than a king cobra.

We obviously don’t have any of them bad boys in Maine, thank God, but we do have a huge problem with regular jellyfish. Latin name: planktonic Scyphozoa, an invertebrate in the order of Coronatae. Lately they’ve been a real problem in the Sea of Japan, the Mediterranean Sea, and the area that concerns us: the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake is polluted big-time. Along with the obviously harmful effects of the pollution — like mycobacteriosis, a disease that gives fish tumors and scabs — is the side effect of a lack of oxygen. Oxygen depletion is making it almost impossible for the stripers to survive there, and the Chesapeake is one of their principal breeding grounds. Jellyfish don’t seem to mind — and maybe even prefer — oxygen-depleted waters, so they are inhabiting the waters down there in force, which in turn, because of their diet, is breaking the whole food chain to pieces. They’re eating food that would otherwise be striper food.

And it gets worse, because jellyfish are just the tip of the iceberg of foreign invasive species: green crabs, strange mussels, all kinds of things hitchhiking a ride over here. Baltimore is one of the busiest ports in the U.S.A.

Did you see the Maine Sunday Telegram story on Aug. 22 — huge article about the lack of small stripers. It looks bleak, even though this is one of the best fishing years ever.

What can we do? To be honest, I don’t really know. I guess you could write to the states of Maryland and Delaware and the District of Colombia and urge them to practice better marine hygiene. If we wish to save out striper fishery, something must be done soon.

OK, one last thing — maybe two. I found Michelle and she’s eager to go fishing, so next month I’m sure to be writing a more humorous column, which I’m sure you’ll much more enjoy. And if any of my fishing aficionados out there have some suppressed anger, well, feel free to throw your fishing boots at me. I need a new pair.

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