If one did not take time to fish the Fourth of July or yet this summer, there is still plenty of opportunity. Many will be embarking upon the favorite Hoosier summertime activity of going to their favorite fishing hole. Fish stories are fun and this is a great activity for the family to spend time together. However it does merit being knowledgeable about the stream, lake or river where one fishes. This week's column is not meant to over sensitize individuals to water quality issues. To the greatest extent, surface waters are much less polluted than they were twenty or more years ago. Clean water often does not sell media as well as news of contamination resulting in many mentally thinking that water quality is in constant decline. The fact of the matter is that in many situations, advisories are issues from years ago that still persists in the sediment of stream beds. Also overtime, contaminants can concentrate in sediment of water bodies.
Given that certain streams do have contamination issues and humans during certain periods of life are more vulnerable (nursing mothers for example), it is imperative to know about the stream or water body where one fishes. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) compiles fish consumption advisory information on a yearly basis. The most recent reports can be found at www.in.gov/isdh/23650.htm on the department's website. Fortunately no local county streams appear on the category five "do not eat" list. However there is a statewide "do not eat" advisory for carp greater than 25 inches in length and flathead catfish greater than 30" in length are listed as "do not eat" from the West Fork of the White River in Owen County. The report lists Indiana streams and reservoirs and ranks from one to five. One is unlimited meals, category two is to limit fish consumption to one meal per week, category three is to limit for only one meal per month, and group four limits one to one meal per every two months. The particular contaminant is also listed in many cases. Also in many streams certain fish species are listed and not all species are affected due to varying feeding habits. Both Clay and Owen counties have a few streams or species that allow consumption with certain restrictions.
Metals for example remain in sediment and activity that disturbs sediment can contaminate water that previously was not contaminated.
Carp and catfish are bottom dwellers and feeders and are more likely to be affected by metals than other fish. In other cases the size of the fish matters in terms of the likelihood of the fish having contaminants in its meat.
Eating fish is healthy and can be a great nutritional component of the diet. Taking into consideration the fish consumption advisory list can result in insuring one's food safety. The IDNR website www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3699.htm has the fishing regulations, license information, and other details including good spots to fish.
Fishing is a great activity and there are plenty of spots available in the local area, so let's grab the pole and tackle box in search of that favorite spot. Please remember to respect others by asking permission prior to fishing on another's property and stay out of dangerous areas posted for no trespassing like quarry areas.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 x14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While most publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
July 11-18 Clay County 4-H Fai
August 6-17 Indiana State Fair