Big Bass Fillets
Anne and I fished for two hours last evening. We kept eight big bass. Both of us hooked heavy fish that we didn’t land. It was a blast!
Fish Fry Lake is experiencing an algae bloom right now, mid June. We’d had an open winter, and dust from nearby farm fields was carried by the wind, and when Fish Fry’s ice melted off this spring, the nutrients in that soil that had collected on the ice triggered this bloom. Circumstances weren’t helped by the fact that many of our free-floating islands were high and dry, beached, because the lake’s depth was down about four feet. The lake is back up and within a foot of full pool right now so most of the islands are floating again, and competing with the algae for those nutrients.
Our human role in this process is to harvest nutrients, remove them from the lake.
We are at eleven canoe loads of aquatic vegetation removed, each of which averages 435 pounds after draining over a night. And we know just how much nitrogen and phosphorus each of those canoe loads accounts for. The vegetation goes through a microbiological digestion process and then is used as media for worm production.
Those eight bass weighed a bit over twenty pounds, and we know their nutrient content too. Much greater per unit of weight, in fact, than aquatic vegetation, by a factor of eight or nine. Most of the fish biomass we harvest from Fish Fry are panfish and since the catch rate has averaged a fish every one or two minutes, their mass can add up nicely. So fish in fact have been the primary nutrient cycling strategy here. This year however, with the surge in nutrients, we do both.
The bass fillets are delicious. The trim is processed through a food grinder raw, and fed to our canines. Offal is fed back into Fish Fry, where a very receptive horde of black crappie and yellow perch put on a piranha-like exhibitions whenever its on offer!
The bass gut contents are revealing too. Now in June the bass are feeding primarily on small fish, bluegill, perch and young bass. They are helping us contend with what could otherwise be a burgeoning bluegill population. Now after several years of slot limit harvesting though, the bluegill fishing is excellent with the occasional nine inch fish, big enough to profitably fillet. The smaller fish are also ground up for canine food, and the offal heads back to the crappie and perch.
Can humans actually organize a similar nutrient management policy on public water? The alternative is chemical or flocculant treatment, or other mechanical means to simply kill algae. While this treats the immediate problem, the nutrients are still in the water, and alway, ultimately, will come back. Their are aquatic vegetation harvesters now too, which do represent a positive action, but can be expensive.
Fr all these reasons, Floating Island International and WaterRR are bringing Water Resource Recovery thinking to the North American market. We can generate solar power on islands while the islands cycle nutrients out of the waterway. We can also grow valuable hardwood trees to a valuable size, then harvest them for replanting. Then new seedlings are planted and the cycle repeats itself.
Fish Fry Lake is a living laboratory. It’s taught us much about the amazing abundance that is possible. Especially in these tumultuous social times, action around water quality and climate change, must build. Municipal waterways should be the first to experience Water Resource Recovery.