Archive for April 9th, 2010

The fishermen have returned along with the spring weather. They began showing up on the bridge over the little river last weekend. I stopped and talked to a fellow who was there yesterday afternoon. They are fishing for Brown Bullheads (Ameiurus nebulosus), a kind of catfish. I wrote about the bullheads last year on April 23rd, so the fishing season has gotten underway a bit earlier this year. You can follow the link to last year’s post to learn a bit about bullhead biology. They are a native species that can tolerate low-oxygen conditions and higher levels of pollution than other fish. I asked the man how his fishing was going and he allowed that it was a bit slow. Friends had been out earlier and had caught 50 fish in under 10 minutes.

I noticed last year that each fisherman, or group of fishers would take what seemed to me to be a substantial number of fish. The bullheads move into the area as the breeding season arrives and congregate before spawning in pools in the headwaters of the river. Is this a good idea, removing fish from the breeding stock by the bucketful before they have a chance to reproduce?

Last year, I contacted the local conservation authority to ask whether there are any catch limits for bullheads. The man I spoke to informed me, rather defensively, I thought, that catch limits were nothing to do with them. They are set by the appropriate provincial regulator. It would seem that the conservation authority has no authority over the conservation of bullheads.

I looked in the bucket at the bullheads. The bullheads looked back as they gasp for air. For fish, they have strangely expressive faces. They looked sad.

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