Fish Consumption Advisory
Inside the Outdoors, April 18
, 2014

It’s a known fact. Many anglers will pursue their favorite gamefish and fill their freezers with as many trout as possible. The idea behind their theories of ‘catch and keep’ may be that they intend to eat as much of the meat as possible whenever they sit down for meals.

But the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has posted a warning concerning a fish consumption advisory even for trout.

According to the 2014 Pennsylvania Fishing Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws booklet one gets with the purchase of fishing licenses, “Pennsylvania has issued a general, statewide health advisory for recreationally caught sport fish. That advice is that you eat no more than one meal (one-half pound) per week of sport fish caught in the state’s waterways. This general advice was issued to protect against eating large amounts of fish that have not been tested or that may contain unidentified contaminants.”

That may be the general ruling that sportsmen have filed in the back of their minds concerning other fish or those found in polluted waters, but trout? “Didn’t know that,” some may say after reading the above paragraph.

This is what is also noted on page 38:

“Trout stocked from Fish and Bat Commission state fish hatcheries are subject to the blanket one-meal-per-week consumption advisory that applies to recreationally caught sport fish in Pennsylvania.”

It gets a little trickier when fishing Lake Erie. Fishers catching steelhead, brown and lake trout should consume no more than one meal a month because of the PCB contaminants that exist in the open waters. The latter must be less than 20 inches. People catching the same three fish in Presque Isle Bay may have no more than two meals a month as mercury is prevalent in that water basin.

Other game fish that are under advisory in Lake Erie are walleye, Coho salmon, smallmouth bass, white perch, lake whitefish, carp less than 20 inches, freshwater drum, channel catfish, northern pike, and bowfin.

In big letters it is stipulated, “Do Not Eat carp over 20 inches or lake trout over 30 inches.” Again, PCBs are the contaminants.

It is advised that anglers remove the skin and fat before cooking. That way one can reduce the levels of chemicals. On the other hand, “mercury collects in the fish’s muscles and cannot be reduced by cleaning and cooking methods.”

The PFBC suggests the following cooking methods to reduce PCBs and other organics:
Remove all skin.
Slice off fat belly meat along the bottom of the fish.
Cut away any fat above the fish’s backbone.
Cut away the V-shaped wedge of fat along the lateral line on each side of the fish.
Bake or broil trimmed fish on a rack or grill so some of the remaining fat drips away.
Finally, discard any drippings. Do not eat them or use them for cooking other foods or in preparing other sauces.

When fishing for trout and other species out of the immediate area or traveling out of state, read the summary booklet that comes with the license. So often, many anglers don’t crack the pages. What they are missing is valuable information from fish size pertaining to harvesting, limits or, in this case, advisory consumption warnings. Observing the rules may be lifesaving.

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While selling fishing items at Cooperstown Event Center’s Indoor Vendors’ Market, I happened to talk to a gent asking, “Where are you going first day?” He emphatically stated that he wouldn’t ever go out first day. “All I hear is guys screaming and yelling. I’m not going to squeeze myself in between all those people!” Isn’t that the truth? Talk about the joy being removed when one finds himself nudging his neighbor, trying to outsmart the guys, gals or youth on either side, possible three to five feet away. I can’t see the fun to that.

By the way, I will be selling fishing items until the second week of May at the Indoor Farmers’ Market, Copperstown Event Center, 2541 Thomas St., Tuesdays, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Then, that’s it for this year (as for as name-brand fishing tackle goes). So, time is of the essence. For unbelievable prices and reductions, come out to see me Tuesdays.

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I was talking to one gent who happened to be walking past my residence whereby I asked him, “Hey, are you a fisherman?” His reply? “Oh, I haven’t gotten a license for years. If I have to walk around puddles on dirt roads and tramp through brush to get to places where the fish may be found, you can bet I’m not doing that anymore!”

Am I missing something? Now in my day… I know, say no more.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.