Jurich: Industrial BassWritten by Stacy Jurich | | email@example.com
Buying a fishing license is not something I think to do on my own. I am typically reminded to do so by someone that I’m going to fish with. It’s like I pretend to forget, although most of the time I end up buying one due to the ingrained voice and look my father once gave me regarding them. He reasoned that what we are paying for is not permission to fish, but for the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) to regulate fishing so that fish populations can be sustained for a healthy ecosystem and fishing economy. OK, I can understand.
However, power plant cooling water intake systems kill billions of aquatic creatures annually, according to the Sierra Club, which makes purchasing a fishing license seem irrelevant. The Ohio DNR sets daily fish limits on the number of fish you’re permitted to keep. There is unlimited catch and release, but for example, a person can only keep 40 yellow perch, six walleye and five bass in one day’s work (bearing a few exceptions by date and some site-specific regulations).
According to Lake Erie Waterkeeper’s website, over one million pounds of fish are lost per year, including 77,812 walleye, 123,405 yellow perch and 17 million white bass at First Energy’s Bayshore Power Plant at the mouth of the Western Lake Erie, where it takes in 182 million gallons of water a day (down from 749 million gallons of water a day at full operation during the past summer).
According to the Sierra Club, “It is no coincidence that power plants are located along some of our nation’s mightiest rivers and most treasured waterways … power plants use more water than any other industry sector in the United States, withdrawing more than 200 billion gallons daily.”
Even with three of its units not operating, Bayshore’s water intake kills fish all day, every day, without paying fees and without repercussion.
With that being said, I bought a fishing license last week to go fishing in the Great Lakes’ fishiest river and best walleye spawning river in the world, the Maumee. As you may have read last week, I have not been fishing on a boat in the Maumee, nor have I caught a fish in the Maumee. I’ve mainly caught garbage, actually. This time was different.
It was a sunny fall day and Len put in his boat at Cullen Park. First, we went across the river to the BP water intake area. The water is warm and shallow in this little cove and tends to be a popular hangout for fish. Len caught a bass on his first cast. I had a bite, but mostly was practicing the new pendulum casting technique with my lure, a long blue rubber worm with a tail.
Next, we cast along a rusting steel wall along another cove, this one lined with train cars and gravel mounds. No catches. We moved over to the western shore of the river, and the next hour and half, we were busy pulling in fish. I caught my first bass, about 16 inches long with four rows of teeth, and it seemed pretty easy to catch a fish thereafter. Granted, I was with someone who has spent a lot of time surveying the landscape when the river is at different depths, so he knows what is happening beneath the surface. Together, we caught and released a total of twelve bass, a handful of blue gill and a couple of crappie.
As we got ready to head in, I saw an interesting perspective on Toledo. Looking straight ahead were the Downtown buildings and all the bridges (the high level being my favorite), including two railroad bridges, one with a train passing through and the other no longer fully connected. To my left were mounds of coal and gravel, empty train cars, stationed cargo vessels, and an active dredging crane. Passing on the right was a dredge boat taking a load out to the lake to dump. Beyond that boat was the U.S. Coast Guard Station, an old naval base, the wastewater treatment plant and a bunch of docked yachts.
What a special feeling to be in the middle of such a completely industrial scene that often goes unseen. And to experience it on the river, knowing how much more there is to the water than just what we were floating on, and how it is constantly compromised and interfered with, yet flows with such grace, strength and resonation with change. Among it all, I did not feel completely anxious or overwhelmed or the need to raise a fist. It all felt sort of right in its own place.