Thursday, January 28, 2010
Carp and other delights
By now I'm sure everyone has heard about the Supreme Court denying the petition to close the locks from Lake Michigan to the Chicago River in an attempt to thwart the nasty Asian carp. That decision was over shadowed by the equally brilliant decision to let corporations spend as much money as they possibly can on election campaigns. At least in the latter case there is the chance that shareholders can band together and hold corporations feet to the fire if they go completely nuts. I really don't see any similar action that's available to the public to head off the relentless carp expansion into the Great Lakes.
I've had a long history with the carp. Even though some cultures love to eat them and English carp or 'coarse' fishing has a cult following, they are basically trash fish in the US. We spend millions trying to eradicate them from the lakes they have overpopulated. My dad took me down to Half Moon lake in my hometown of Eau Claire, WI when I was a little kid, to watch the DNR remove the carp after they had poisoned the lake. They were huge fish to a little kid and there were hundreds of them, destined to fertilize farmers fields. The carp managed to come back however, and by high school we were wading the shallows with fish spears, racking up a 'world record' day one spring, three of us, with 105 carp. Of course many were caught on the river with a dough ball on a hook and frankly they fight a lot more than the fabled walleye, which are like hauling an old boot off the bottom most of the time. The problem is that walleye taste one hell of a lot better than carp and don't have a million little bones to choke on. I was on a trip to the USSR in college, the famous "Soviet Seminar" class offered by the University of Wisconsin system. Several times we were served large chunks of bone in carp, boiled and sitting on the plate looking like a beached whale. It was bad visually and equally bad from a taste standpoint. I've attended the Coon Rapids Dam Carp Festival a number of times, and who can forget the vicious carp attack on the VoiceOfReason in her kayak a couple springs ago?
It sounds like the Obama administration, even though they support the Court's decision, snuck in the carp summit yesterday. I guess I was under the impression that the were going to involve the affected states, have some representation on the state level, but that's not what occurred. There were senators, House members, the EPA, and the good old Army Corp of Engineers. But no Governers or states Attorney Generals, which seemed to be the plan as reported in the attached Milwaukee Journal article. From the UPI report link above, it looks like they did what our elected representative seem to excel at; they talked about it some more. As the headline of the UPI story above stated, "A range of strategies were discussed" If I were writing the headlines the UPI story would be titled, "Lawmakers and bureaucrats sit on their ass and talk while the carp move closer to Lake Michigan". The trade organization for the barge operators, of course, feels it's much ado about nothing and that the economy would be devastated if 7 million tons of freight had to move in some other way. I wonder what the trucking and rail trade associations would say about that assertion? The beautiful thing is that all of them can spend money like drunken sailors on the candidate of their choice in the next election while our buddies, the carp, could care less and just keep heading for the lake.
I guess I better get ready for work, head upstairs and take a shower to attempt to wash the cynicism from my body and mind but I'm not hopeful that will work. Will there be a carp summit with people who can actually make a decision and do something? Will the courts and administration allow anything to be done? Where is our Great Lakes Czar, in his plush office monitoring the proceedings? We haven't heard a peep about Cameron Davis since his elevation to czardom, yet this is the exact thing he was supposed to oversee according to the stories on his appointment. Maybe he was at the summit, talking like he seems to be in the image right. I find it more than discouraging, its dereliction of duty.
Next week the VOR and I leave for England for a short 5 day trip. We had planned on some history, culture, R&R, and judicious use of my new app, CAMRA's Good Beer Guide Mobile. From the way things are going, maybe we should get some invaluable carp fishing instruction from one of England's many carp fishing experts. From the way things are going, it looks like I'll be trolling for carp, rather than lakers or salmon, in my kayak on the Great Lakes sooner rather than later.