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Fish School
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Fish School

By 49thShelf
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tagged: fish books
Books about fishing, fish cuisine, fish economics, and more. Kind of a fascinating mashup of titles.
Overrun

Overrun

Dispatches from the Asian Carp Crisis
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Intelligent investigative writing meets experiential journalism in this important look at one of North America’s most voraciously invasive species

Politicians, ecologists, and government wildlife officials are fighting a desperate rearguard action to halt the onward reach of Asian Carp, four troublesome fish now within a handful of miles from entering Lake Michigan. From aquaculture farms in Arkansas to the bayous of Louisiana; from marshlands in Indiana to labs in Minnesota; and from the Illin …

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Excerpt

Their takeover was dramatic. In the first years of the 21st century, researchers estimated that bighead carp, one of four Asian carp species now in American waters, comprised 97 percent of the Mississippi River’s biomass. Havana, a hardscrabble Midwest town of 3,000 people in central Illinois, gained minor fame as ground zero for silver carp when their stretch of the Illinois River was found to contain more of the invasive fish per square mile than anywhere else on Earth. In rivers they occupy, Asian carp are often the only fish longer than 16 inches, suggesting many competing native fish fail to reach adulthood.

Within a decade of their introduction in 1963, grass carp spread to 32 states with the enthusiastic support of government agencies, private interests and academia. Silvers and bigheads, introduced in 1972 and sometimes lumped together under the moniker “bigheaded carps,” have moved effortlessly through the Mississippi watershed, following The Big Muddy and its tributary rivers like an interstate highway through the South and Midwest. By 1978, Asian carp had spread 2,800 miles from their port of call in Arkansas, becoming what some believe to be the fastest spreading exotic species in North American history. “Their population exploded,” said Matt O’Hara from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources: “We saw our first fish in the early 1990s. Within a few years, there were fish everywhere.” Steve Butler, a biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, tells me he’s witnessed “billions of little, tiny silver carp everywhere” on the Illinois. “As far as the eye can see it was solid spawning carp.” Researchers believe one spawning season can increase silver carp by a billion fish. Or more.

Bigheads strike a prehistoric pose as though forgotten by evolution. Large, wide-set eyes sit low on bulbous heads, their mouths hanging in a perpetual frown. In rare cases, bigheads reach 140 pounds and seven feet in length, though 40 pounds and a length of 28 inches is standard—still big by American freshwater fish standards. Silver carp also sport frowning mouths and scaly heads, heads that are, comparatively speaking, less bulging than the aptly-named bighead. They shade from silver and caramel-colored to olive green and have grown to 100 pounds, though 30 pounds is routine. Both silvers and bigheads share many physiological traits with common carp found in waterways across the continent. Common carp aren’t native per se, but they pre-date anyone currently living, and are often thought of as “naturalized”. This European cousin of Asian carp was first introduced to North America from Europe in the mid-19th century and spread by human hands with unthinkably reckless abandon (imagine tossing live fish from trains into rivers and streams that early transcontinental railways passed by).

The more I scrutinized bigheaded carps the more remarkable I found the functioning of their bodies to be. Both fish are filter feeders that consume throughout the water column. They eat while breathing: it’s a common trait for filter feeders, though in the plankton-rich waters of the Mississippi, it’s proven an especially successful physiological trait. Gill rakers, a crescent of sponge-like cartilage just inside their mouths, usher even the smallest phytoplankton and other organic matter into their gaping maws.

In conversation with Duane Chapman, one of the US Geological Survey’s leading Asian carp experts, he suggests that what sets Asian carp apart from other specialized feeders is their adaptability. “This is an unusual thing,” he says. Specially trained eaters tend to be the best at performing one task particularly well. Think of the sword-billed hummingbird. With its thin beak, longer than its entire body, this South American bird can access nectar stored in a passion flower’s narrow petals that other birds cannot reach. For grass carp, their unique trait is an ability to take water-logged aquatic plants, a low-value food source that few fish eat well and obtain all their nutrients from it. Silver and bighead’s specialized traits are far more dangerous to the health of the Mississippi and Great Lakes’ watersheds. Microscopic organisms are their primary food source, the same phytoplankton that also serve as the predominant nourishment for most of North America’s juvenile (and many of its mature) native fish. Yet when phytoplankton is scarce, native fish will starve while bigheads pivot to target zooplankton and detritus to survive. Silver carp can even live on algae and bacteria. And because Asian carp consume upwards of 20 percent of their weight each day, both species have fundamentally altered the structure of phyto- and zooplankton communities throughout the continent. This may have enormous consequences for species dependent on the resources these invasive fish consume with such voraciousness. Aquatic ecosystems may never be the same as native fishes, and the complex web of predators and prey they interact with, struggle to adapt to life in rivers stolen by Asian carp.

Breeding populations of both species now swim just 76 miles from Lake Michigan, while solitary bigheads have been captured in Chicago’s Lake Calumet, a stone’s throw from the Great Lakes.

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Trout School

Trout School

Lessons from a Fly-Fishing Master
edition:Paperback

From the wisdom of fishing legend Mo Bradley, an essential guide to fly fishing for trout in the Thompson-Okanagan.

Among fly fishers, the Kamloops region in British Columbia’s Thompson-Okanagan is known as one of the best places in the world for catching trout. It owes its reputation in part to Mo Bradley, a man of humble origins now known as a pioneer of fly-fishing culture.

In Trout School, award-winning author and journalist Mark Hume passes on what he’s learned from his countless hours on …

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Lure

Lure

Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged : seafood

Eating sustainable seafood is about opening your mind (and fridge) to a vast array of fish and shellfish that you might not have considered before—and the Pacific Coast, is blessed with an abundance of wild species. With Lure, readers embark on a wild Pacific adventure and discover the benefits of healthy oils and rich nutrients that seafood deliver. This stunning cookbook, authored by chef and seafood advocate Ned Bell, features simple techniques and straightforward sustainability guidelines …

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Lines on the Water

Lines on the Water

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged :

In Lines on the Water, David Adams Richards writes eloquently and movingly about his life on the shores of one of the world's great fishing rivers. With the same insight and emotion that have won him praise for his fiction, Richards brings to life a community centred on fly-fishing -- a sport that has become, for many, a way of life. Weaving together tales of the guides and poachers, the "sports" and the city slickers, Richards pays tribute to all who have shared in the joy of fishing the Mirami …

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Excerpt

As a boy, I dreamed of fishing before I went, and went fishing before I caught anything, and knew fisherman before I became one. As a child, I dreamed of finding remarkable fish so close to me that they would be easy to catch. And no one, in my dreams, had ever found these fish before me.

I remember the water as dark and clear at the same time — and by clear I suppose I mean clean. Sometimes it looked like gold or copper, and at dusk the eddies splashed silver-toned, and babbled like all the musical instruments of the world. I still think of it this way now, years later.

As a child I had the idea that the trout were golden, or green, in the deep pools hidden away under the moss of a riverbank. And that some day I would walk in the right direction , take all the right paths to river and find them there.

In fact, trout, I learned, were far more textured and a better colour tan just golds and greens. They were the colour of nature itself — as naturally outfitted in their coat of thin slime as God could manage. They were hidden around bends and in the deep shaded pools of my youth.

I had the impression from those Mother Goose stories that all fish could talk. I still do.

My first fishing foray was along the bank of a small brook to the northwest of Newcastle, on the Miramichi. A sparkling old brook that lord Beaverbrook took his name from.

My older brother and a friend took me along with them, on a cool blowy day. We had small cane rods and old manual reels, with hooks and sinkers and worms, the kind all kids used. The kind my wife used as a child on the Bartibog River thirteen miles downriver from my town of Newcastle, and her brothers used also, at the same time that I was trudging with my brother.

It was a Saturday in May of 1955 and I was not yet five years of age. Fishing even then could take me out of myself, far away from the worry of my life, such as it was, and into another life better and more complete.

We had packed a lunch an had got to the brook about ten in the morning. Just as we entered the woods, I saw the brook, which seemed to be no deeper in places than my shoe. In we went (a certain distance) until the sounds of the town below us were left behind.

Leaning across the brook was a maple, with its branches dipping into the water. At the upper end of the tree, the current swept about a boulder, and gently tailed away into a deep pocket about a foot from the branches. The place was shaded, and the sunlight filtered through the trees on the water beyond us. The boys were in a hurry and moved on to that place where all the fish really are. And I lagged behind. I was never any good at keeping up, having a lame left side, so most of the time my older brother made auxiliary rules for me — rules that by and large excluded me.

"You can fish there, " he said.

I nodded. " Where?"

"There, see. Look — right there. Water. Fish. Go at her. We'll be back."

I nodded. I sat down on the moss and looked about, and could see that my brother and his friends were going away from me. I was alone. So I took out my sandwich and ate it. ( It was in one pocket, my worms were in the other. My brother doled the worms out to me a few at a time.)

I was not supposed to be, from our mother's instructions, alone.

"For Mary in heaven's sake, don't leave your little brother alone in the woods." I could hear her words.

I could also hear my brother and our friend moving away, and leaving me where I was. In this little place we out of sight of one another after about twenty feet. I had not yet learned to tie my sneakers: they had been tied for me by my brother in a hurry, for the second time, at the railway track, and here again they were loose. So I took them of. And then I rolled up my pants.

I had four worms in my pocket. They smelled of the dark earth near my grandmother's back garden where they had come from, and all worms smell of earth, and therefore all earth smells of trout.

I spiked a worm on my small hook the best I could. I had a plug-shot sinker about six inches up my line, which my father had squeezed for me the night before. But my line was kinked and old, and probably half-rotted, from years laid away.

I grabbed the rod in one hand, the line in the other, and tossed it at the boulder. It hit the boulder and slid underneath the water. I could see it roll one time on the pebbled bottom, and then it was lost to my sight under the brown cool current. The sun was at my back splaying down through the trees. I was standing on the mossy bank. There was a young twisted maple on my right.

Almost immediately I felt a tug on the line. Suddenly it all came to me — this is what fish do — this was their age-old secret.

The line tightened, the old rod bent, and a trout — the first trout of my life — came splashing and rolling to the top of the water. It was a trout about eight inches long, with a plump belly.

"I got it," I whispered. " I got it. I got it."

But no one heard me: " I got it. I got it."

For one moment I looked at the trout, and the trout looked at me. It seemed to be telling me something. I wasn't sure what. It is something I have been trying to hear ever since.

When I lifted it over the bank, and around the maple, it spit the hook, but it was safe in my possession a foot or two from the water.

For a moment no one came, and I was left to stare at it. The worm had changed colour in the water. The trout was wet and it had most beautiful glimmering orange speckles I ever saw. It reminded me, or was to remind me as I got older, of spring, of Easter Sunday, of the smell of snow being warmed away by the sun.

My brother's friend came back. He looked at it, amazed that I had actually caught something. Picking up a stick, and hunching over it he shouted, " Get out of the way — I'll kill it."

And he slammed the stick down beside it. The stick missed the fish, hit a leaf branch of that maple that the fish was lying across, and catapulted the trout back into the brook.

I looked at him, he looked at me.

"Ya lost him," he said.

My brother came up, yelling, "Did you get a fish?"

"He lost him," my brother's friend said, standing.

"Oh ya lost him," my brother said, half derisively, and I think a little happily.

I fished frantically for the time remaining, positive that this was an easy thing to do. But nothing else tugged at my line. And as the day wore on I became less enthusiastic.

We went home a couple of hours later. The sun glanced off the steel railway tracks, and I walked back over the ties in my bare feet because I had lost my sneakers. My socks were stuffed into my pockets. The air now smelled of steely soot and bark, and the town's houses stretched below the ball fields.

The houses in our town were for the most part the homes of working men. The war was over, and it was the age of the baby boomers, of which I was one. Old pictures in front of those houses, faded with time, show seven or eight children, all smiling curiously at the camera. And I reflect that we baby boomers, born after a war that left so many dead, were much like salmon spawn born near the brown streams and great river. We were born to reaffirm life and the destiny of the human race.

When we got home, my brother showed his trout to my mother, and my mother looked at me.

"Didn't you get anything, dear?"

"I caught a trout — a large trout. It — it — I —"

"Ya lost him, Davy boy," my brother said, slapping me on the back.

"Oh well," my mother said. "That's all right, there will always be a next time."

And that was the start of my fishing life.

That was a long time ago, when fishing was innocent and benevolent. I have learned since that I would have to argue my way through life — that I was going to become a person who could never leave to rest the idea of why things were the way they were. And fishing was to become part of this idea, just as hunting was. Why would the fish take one day, and not the next? What was the reason for someone's confidence one year, and their lack of it the next season, when conditions seemed to be exactly the same?

Or the great waters — the south branch of the Sevogle that flows into the main Sevogle, that flows into the Norwest Miramichi, itself a tributary of the great river, What infinite source propelled each separate individual fish to return on those days, at that moment, when my Copper killer, or Green Butt Butterfly — or anyone else's — was skirting the pool at exactly the right angle at the same moment, and when was it all announced and inscribed in the heavens — as insignificant as it is — as foreordained.

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Fish Wars and Trout Travesties

Fish Wars and Trout Travesties

Saving Southern Alberta's Coldwater Streams in the 1920s
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Today, efforts at environmental protection commonly take the form of “top-down” measures, in which overarching plans, usually based on scientific reports, are implemented through environmental legislation, which is then enforced at the local level. Fish Wars and Trout Travesties offers an instructive glimpse into an earlier era, before the state assumed its present degree of regulatory control over the environment. In southern Alberta of the 1920s, townspeople and civic leaders took a spirit …

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Essential Fly Patterns for Lakes and Streams

Essential Fly Patterns for Lakes and Streams

Tips for Tying Your Own Flies
edition:Paperback

In ESSENTIAL FLY PATTERNS FOR LAKES AND STREAMS Brian Smith cuts to the chase, offering the reader and fly tier over eighty flies with recipes and instructions for each. In his third book, Smith shares the results of his more than fifty years of experimentation and research developing and refining fly patterns that are proven fish-catchers. Some of the patterns are world standards, but many have been tweaked and altered by Smith through his observations and studies of insects, including where th …

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Vanishing Fish

Vanishing Fish

Shifting Baselines and the Future of Global Fisheries
edition:Hardcover

"Daniel Pauly is a friend whose work has inspired me for years."
—Ted Danson, actor, ocean activist, and co-author of Oceana

"This wonderfully personal and accessible book by the world’s greatest living fisheries biologist summarizes and expands on the causes of collapse and the essential actions that will be required to rebuild fish stocks for future generations.”
—Dr. Jeremy Jackson, ocean scientist and author of Breakpoint

The world’s fisheries are in crisis. Their catches are declini …

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Fishing the High Country

Fishing the High Country

A Memoir of the River
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

The timeless story of an always-moving river.

From the first sentence, "I come from a long line of river people," to the last, "Bad luck to kill a moose bird," Wayne Curtis signals that this book occupies the territory of a classic, a lyrical memoir of a river and those who submit to its call.

New Brunswick's Miramichi River is one of the most entrancing salmon rivers in the world. In Fishing the High Country, Curtis has created what can only be described as a river masterpiece, a lyrical record o …

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