Apologies to The Pretenders and pics from the July 4 Ohio trip:
Welcome to the Walleye Capital of the World! Life on the North Shore (aka Lake Erie) revolves around walleye. The fishing has changed in recent years thanks to an explosion of zebra mussels. The water is clearer (not cleaner) thanks to these invasive mollusks. Therefore my brother and other successful Erie fishermen have adapted to the conditions be dropping the traditional Erie Dearie drift-style of fishing for a more precise and [YAAWWWN…] boring tactic of trolling tiny spoons behind diving plastic rockets and planer boards. Fish jump on the line and you reel them in steadily, slowly. Unless it’s a huge fish, they don’t fight much and are usually surfing on the top long before you get them to the boat. It’s unbelievably effective. We caught nearly two limits (dad and Nate’s) before lunch. Also, no one throws walleye back. Nobody. So it’s probably a good thing that my brother and a few guides are the only people I’m aware of that could go out and catch a limit at the drop of a hat.
Other interesting things from the Ohio trip: I all but ignored environmental issues when I lived in Ohio. I had some good influences at a young age — a crazy earth sciences teacher that actually married one of his students and supposedly was a huge fly fisherman (I was too much of an ass to know the guy back then); one of the Boy Scout troop dads that was a pretty accomplished nature photographer, but came off as a know-it-all busybody. But I never paid much attention to wildlife issues, even as a hunter and angler. Dad gave money to Ducks Unlimited and I went to some banquets, but that was about the extent of it.
There are some amazing areas in Ohio that could use a lot of restoration — the river systems are a disaster, an environmental lawyers dream come true. Hiking at sunset in Bath, Ohio proved to be less dramatic than western landscapes, but entirely worthwhile and meaningful from a biodiversity perspective. And I reconnected with the kind of light and landscape I grew up with. So much of my time in Ohio is spent running between bars, and parties that I don’t actually get a chance to see a lot of the landscape. That and most of my old stomping grounds have been cleared and drained for McMansions. But this chance to reconnect was awesome.
One big difference between Northeast Ohio and Eugene, Oregon: No recycling infrastructure. There are almost no recycling bins in any public places. And my parents, while they have blue trash bags for recyclables, don’t actually put much in them. In Eugene, it’s almost hard to throw something away without composting or recycling it. I don’t have a huge opinion on this from an environmental perspective if non-toxic waste is being compacted, stacked and turfed into sweeping grassy hills, because I don’t really know if reprocessing that plastic blueberry package into something else is actually a net gain compared to throwing it in a landfill. I guess I need more reading.