I’ve grown up a stone’s throw away from a world class tributary to Lake Ontario, one of the many great lakes surrounding the Northern United States. I’ve spent my summers, winters and falls finding myself waist deep in its waters, attempting to fool the smartest of fish to make a meal out of the flies I throw at them. I’ve always enjoyed the beauty of the many apple orchards that border its waters, but as I found in recent years, this beauty comes at a price.
Whilst fishing on a cold February day this year, I encountered something that would alter my thoughts on development and agriculture for years to come. It was an ordinary day, swinging for a surprisingly early (or some would say late) run of lake run brown trout. I threw my line 45 degrees downriver, and a few seconds into my drift, fish on. As I brought the fish closer to shore, I called for my fishing partner Frank for some help with the net. He landed my fish swiftly (As any good net man should) and stood there staring at the fish with a peculiar look on his face. It wasn’t until I saw the fish when I could fully understand his baffled state.
The brown trout had three eyes, something out of the Simpsons. This strange discovery left me with too many questions, so I turned to an expert for advice. I contacted Dr. Ethan Hall, a 10 year veteran on animal mutations who studied at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in upstate New York. He had just as many questions as I did, but it clicked to him when I informed him about the neighboring orchards and farms. He explained how he would have to get back to me, but the desire for answers was excruciating.
A few days later he dropped me a line, and told me about a pesticide Glyphosate, and how it can cause cancer in rats, and sometimes abnormalities in organ formation and structure. This information for reason made me mad, How can we allow some corporations to be deliberately spraying crops with harmful chemicals, just so they turn a profit better? Not only does this apply to agriculture, but a plethora of real-world problem relating to industry and the greed of wanting more out of everything. The ongoing issue of the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska is one to be noted because the mining companies are dumping tons of pollutants (copper being one of the most noted ones) into pristine rivers. The copper causes mortality in Salmon, rainbow trout and char’s food, which causes a chain reaction of mortality in the food chain. Not only this, it can throw off a fish’s scent, which it uses to navigate to its home spawning waters. Change is needed. It’s understandable it will not happen overnight, But perhaps if we gradually increase awareness, both to our local and federal government, over time we can make a difference for our generations to come.
Nick Boehme a.k.a. @trout_row is a fly angler and guide in Upstate New York, specializing in salmon, lake run brown trout and steelhead! Be sure to hit that follow button on his page!