Gerard’s Blog: Fishing for Complements


What are the chances that the burbot are concerned for my welfare? They’ve been offering themselves up with some regularity over the past month or two. Graeme Gibson, in his book, The Bedside Book of Beasts, refers to the fact that amongst many species, one individual will sometimes offer itself for the slaughter when there is an obvious threat to the group. And all of us who have hunted can recall at least one incident when something other than our hunting prowess accounted for our success. Luck? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it was that particular animal’s chosen destiny.

So, do you think the word is out amongst the burbot and they are worried about our extinction, a painful and slow starvation on this local diet? Is that why they have been generous with their personal sacrifices? Or perhaps they’ve gotten wind of the fact that they contain more mercury than most fish and are compensating for their shortfall by way of this generosity. After all, it wouldn’t demand much research on their part to learn that humans are not in the least deterred from eating foods which contain a multitude of toxins! So what’s a little mercury? Or, possibly the mercury has gotten to them, affecting their higher cognitive functions, and they know not what they do, for they are all buzzing about, literally as mad as a burbot!

The burbot meat, by the way, is delicious. It is white, flaky and light, with minimal smell. It’s great when fried or added to stews or soups. The fried liver is reminiscent of a lightly cooked scallop. It is a very easy fish to eat, preferable to most other fish. It is unfortunate that the mercury intake recommendations suggest eating no more than one serving per week.

Success at the fishing holes has recently fallen off. Is it the fact that there is competing food available for them? (Still, their stomachs are usually empty, despite the fact that the water is now teeming with larvae). Or could the new water turbidity be affecting their desire to take the lure? Or the change of light? Temperature? Increasing current? Just plain tired of the same kind of bait, day after day, with no change in the menu? Or, could it be that they are avoiding my hooks because they know that break-up looms and they feel it is high time to get off the ice? You see, my hunch was right, they are concerned for my welfare after all…

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