Fall Fishing Report with Capt'n Jan

Egret wearing a captain's hat

By Captain Janice Longshank, Great Egret.

Hey there fisherbirds, Captain Jan here with another season of Fishin’ with Jan, a quarterly guide for all Waterfowl in the big city. First off a big thank you and mea culpa to all the birds and small mammals (and even a few fish, bless their lil’ hearts!) who came to my aid last month at the Magnolia pond when I got my head stuck in a traffic cone. A fact that no doubt many readers have heard by now.

I know, I know, rookie move, right? Always check the sludge before you plunge. Well I didn’t, and a surprisingly speedy bluegill left me jammed beak-first down the mouth of a slimy old orange traffic cone buried in the mud. It took a few minutes of frantic splashing before Big Dottie the mallard could leverage me out. (I owe you one, Dottie) We all had a good laugh afterwards. But tell me, is it me or are our waterways clogging up more and more with junk every year??

And that brings me to the sad news I’m hearing from the Far Coast about more Deadly Black Sludge. My network of “little birds” tell me news from the Pacific Flyway of a huge DBS spill in the ocean that washed up on the California beaches, killing fish and crabs and birds and generally covering everything in goo. Really hard on our waterfowl comrades. Let’s hope the humans can get their act together before the situation gets worse. This Sludge is no good for fish or fowl!

But in lighter news closer to home I’m pleased to say that the small fish in the rivers and lakes are more delicious this season than I can ever remember! I know lots of fisherbirds and small fish connoisseurs agree. They are taysteeee! Hard to say why but it might be because of the good environmental caring work of humans. In big storms, the low streets of the city fill up with floodwater, overflowing the sewer system and sending all sorts of unpleasantries (including human poo!) straight into our waterways. But the humans have been making efforts to fix this by updating the sewer systems and planting “rain gardens” and “sponge gardens” along the streets and canals. The plants in these gardens absorb toxins and the garden rocks filter the sewage to stop some of it from getting into the waterways. Still got a ways to go but it’s definitely helping.

Thanks for the letters to all of you who wrote in this season, even from as far afield as the Nile Delta. I have a young heron here named David living in Manhattan who writes in asking about private Koi ponds in the city. Well Dave, this topic comes up from time to time and my official response as advised by my lawyer is that it’s not worth the risk. Most of these Koi ponds are tucked away in cramped gardens or small architecturally designed plazas so if you are surprised by a human while hunting Koi your ascent ratio is constrained and the risk of injury is higher. Plus there’s often a synthetic waterfall making a noise that masks anyone’s approach. Having said that…. Those Koi are so tasty and easy to catch that it’s a tempting risk to take. Plus as a heron you have an advantage - you can always freeze and pretend to be pond art (no offense). It’s up to you Dave but should you try it… don’t get caught.

That’s all for this season. See you on the water, fisherbirds! 

Captain Jan is goin' fishin’!

Egret wearing a captain's hat

Illustrations: © Fiona Carswell, 2021.