Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fish free or die

Every once in a while I think of getting out rod and reel, putting on old running shoes, going down to the shore, wading out a bit, and casting out into the bay. It would be pure nostalgia: with my Minnesota grandparents pole-fishing from the shore for muddy southern bullheads or trolling in a boat for vicious northern pike; rowing with brothers and mother out into Big Star Lake in Michigan and casting for sunfish and bass; and the ultimate experience for a fifteen year-old Nick Adams wannabe, fly-casting for rainbows and browns in the Little South Branch of Michigan's Pere Marquette River. Of course I really haven't fished since, and the equipment is hopelessly out of date and probably all gummed up with age and would be ruined by the saltwater, and the shore would be treacherous with rockweed, and the water freezing even in August, and what would I catch anyway (if there's actually anything to be caught) except maybe those little mackerel that the osprey grab, and what does one do with a few inches of oil and bones?

Thank goodness the federal government has stepped in and is saving me from blithering reminiscence. To fish in the ocean in 2010, I would have to register and get a number. Fines are authorized for the failure to do. Licenses will undoubtedly be required in 2011. Tracking and questionnaires and research will follow.

Thanks, NOAA, you have reminded me that I'm an adult, that wistfulness is strong medicine best left to the professionals, that four hundred years of freedom are down the tubes in spite of the handy toll-free number and user-friendly website. Those kids fishing on the Rockland breakwater better get prepared for this new world. Every kind of fishing is a serious business, and even mackerel are precious enough to regulate.

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