It started with the discovery that hot flashes and night sweats lead to wastewater rich in estrogen and other hormones, making everything downstream of our treatment facilities female and completely irrational near a shoe sale.
Now our worst fears are becoming scientific certainty, anything we eat, drink, and pizzle, dips our watersheds and its many residents in a chemical cocktail of human excesses.
That which is excreted by us is swallowed by them. “Them” being fish both common and noble, insects, tadpoles, frogs, newts, and anything else that buries a muzzle in the creek to drink.
As anglers we’ve limited our outdoor competencies to the lifecycles of fish and insects. Entomology is used as the only device to explain both angling phenomena and our good fortune. Everything else, the lack of fish, the presence of Didymo, the absence of trash, the color of the water, its opacity, are all Mysteries of Nature – marginally understood and endured as part of the outdoor discipline.
Bugs and fish alone can’t explain much of what we witness, yet we use them as the “Lee Harvey Oswald” of angling; the guy they caught and hung, and chemically charged sewage ripples through our watershed undetected like a sniper cloaked by the shrubbery of the grassy knoll.
If the essence of everything we eat and drink are marinating fish, the difference is our visual recognition of them as food and conscious choice. We knew what the chili-cheese fries will do to our colon and eat them despite the pleas of the medical profession. Fish are not so lucky, they enjoy the same clogged artery endorphins we’ve released upon completing our sodden meal, but lack any knowledge of the source of this obscene pleasure.
If our excreted chemicals are part of the watershed then its residents are filled with unexplained cravings, unfulfilled deep-seated needs, and both fish and insects hunt for oddities they’ve inhaled but never seen, hoping it’s a Caramel Macchiato, cheese burger, or nicotine-rich cigar butt.
While afield we’ve seen countless fish dart from cover to inhale some current-borne morsel and being dependent on bugs science have assumed it to be a tumbling mayfly or caddis that caused this feeding behavior. Not surprisingly fish behavior has always been attributed to bug theory, and the reality may be our incessant pizzle of hormones have given them all seven cardinal sins; wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony, and the real motivations are akin to our own.
Flick, Schweibert, Swisher & Richards, all join a Human history full of ardent prophets whose outlandish theories were proven wrong
after they were burnt at the stake.
Now that our sport struggles to free itself from its classical roots, and real scientists struggle with the role of human diseases, sexual aids, and dietary shortcomings as they pour into our watersheds – it may be time to rethink our dependence on bug-minnow imitations and upgrade our selection to include flavored and scented patterns that imitate the chemical essence of an Egg McMuffin.
Now that artificial sweeteners coat our stream bottoms and antibacterial soaps are denuding our watersheds of life-giving algae, it’s becoming obvious that the next century of anglers will be mastering sewage-sitology, the predation of innocent hosts using effluent based triggers.
It’s not really that far fetched, as it’s possible all of the great fly fishing mysteries remain so because insect science has never been able to explain them fully …
Why do fish prefer one fly pattern over another?
Entomologist: The #12 Royal Wulff more closely resembles the Ephemera Guttulata, and the trout mistakes the artificial for the real insect.
Sitiologist: The trout cannot recognize a cheeseburger by sight, yet it has inhaled beef byproducts in its water supply since it was an alevin. The Calf Tail emits a faint odor of cow flesh and the trout inhales it, knowing it to be a natural.
Why do bead headed flies work?
Entomologist: We’re not sure, but it sinks like a Son of a Bitch so it must be tasty!
Sitiologist: Normal insect imitations look like real bugs that live in the creek. Real bugs hide under rocks, burrow in the bottom, or simply fall in the water by accident. Despite their origin fish know they taste like shit compared to a Twinkie.
The addition of a big shiny copper bead makes the insect imitation something novel and new, therefore they eat the beaded fly to satisfy their craving for Twinkies (which they’ve never seen, and hope this is). Fish are optimists and something new may be that human thing they crave, yet cannot attain.
Entomologist: Large fish are wary of predation and feed on smaller fish which are wary of big fish, and therefore unavailable until black dark.
Sitiologist: Large fish have been in the river far longer than smaller fish and therefore have inhaled a great deal more Five Hour Energy, Starbucks, and Rock Star effluent and have considerable trouble sleeping.
Without much else to do they prowl around for smaller fish that are quietly sleeping so they can bully and eat them.
Insect theory suddenly showing itself as quite porous in light of the above …
Unfortunately for the wader industry it appears front zippers are doomed based on the Fish & Wildlife’s concern about chumming …