Wednesday, July 03, 2013
The great Mexican fish kill
Don't lecture me. I know the truth here--I should be outraged by the Mexican cattle feed company who dumped molasses into a lagoon and thereby slaughtered tons of fish in some reservoir. I mean, I'm no big-time fisherman, but it just so happens that I drowned a worm in the river yesterday, testing the waters, so to speak, for the holiday, when, if possible, I'll take my grandkids fishing out back. Got nothing, by the way, but the bobber bobbed and jerked, which means fish are still in residence after that epic flood.
What I'm saying it, I should be outraged. I'm not quite as green as my wife, but it does hurt to know that tons and tons of fertilizers went into the Floyd a month ago when a foot of rain in two nights washed it off endless sections of land and into creeks and streams, lots of precious topsoil flushing down into ditches all over the neighborhood. Couldn't been sweet for the fish. Had to stink up the place.
The fact is, I should care, and there are all kinds of reasons why, but, truth be told, I have to prime my own outrage pump to get it operating. I have to tell myself to get angry about this massive fish kill in Mexico, tens of thousands of dead fish. I've got to stoke my anger.
Because they're carp. That's right, carp, which means the whole event is really a species of mercy killing. Look, should my grandkids hook one tomorrow, some river carp out back, they'll be in for a ten-minute ride they won't soon forget. All we caught last summer was a couple dozen fingerling bass whose mouths were to small for the hooks.
There's a chance that the flood didn't sweep out every hole in the river and send all our carp to the Mississippi Delta. And there is a chance the kids could just snag a monster tomorrow, some leviathan who rips the pole right out of their hands. Seriously, that would be great.
But then I'd have to take that gruesome monster off the hook. I don't know why, but I find carp repulsive, like snapping turtles. They're the original bottom-feeders. They're not metaphors; in fact when people use the phrase "bottom feeders," they're comparing people to carp precisely. It's no compliment.
Carping, after a fashion, is belly-aching with a pointer finger. And it's mostly sexist, too. If a someone who carps is granted a gender--imagine one for a moment--it's probably some skinny, middle-aged, hook-nosed woman in a smock and hair-curlers, who's wailing away at a pincushion husband. Carping, men might say, is what "the old lady" does.
I'm sorry for saying that, but I'm just trying to make a point. A rainbow trout is a thing of beauty; a carp is foul as an opossum or a turkey vulture. Even raptors won't touch a carp. Seagulls spot 'em on the beach and stay the heck away, don't even eat their eyes.
We used to say there was only one way to eat a carp--mount him on a board, let him stand in the sun for three weeks, then toss the carp and eat the board.
I should be outraged. I'm sorry. I'm confess to being irredeemably heartless. Tens of thousands of fish is a load and a half. I should be more aggrieved.
But they were carp, for pity sake. I can't help thinking that what that cattle feed company did was kind of a public service.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:19 AM