Mr. Kendall Hemphill:
While sitting in the luxurious and spacious radiation waiting room at Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas last week, I picked up the September, 2017 issue of Texas Fish & Game. Now you know about your true audience, where and when. My wife was undergoing diagnostic evaluation and testing. Lo and behold, I find my name staring back at me; and in the Commentary section of that magazine, no less. We must be related because I always have a comment and opinion on everything. At least, that is what my first wife told me.
I loved the topic of the article “Farewell, My Reality” on the subject of living off the land.
This journey into fantasyland is typical of our Texan stereotype of a New York journalist-writer. As the French would say, “Well, it works in reality but will it work in theory.”
Such is the task set by the New York writer, Doug Fine. Of course, he fails miserably, but is not perceptive enough to realize it. It works in liberal academia theory, but not in reality. And so it goes.
Your conclusion nailed it, all cylinders. Mr. Fine has little contact with reality and the facts. Further, Affiant sayeth not.
Best regards, Tocayo,
Editor: Thanks for your letter. It’s as colorful as Kendal’s writing.
Gulf Sea Snakes
I was swimming off a large sand bar island on the gulf side of Fort De Soto park outside of St Pete and was surprised by a sea snake. It was approximately two to three feet in length, appeared silvery gray in the water and definitely had a flat tail. It was swimming on the surface six to ten feet from me and coming in my direction. I splashed hard at it, and it paused and then kept coming. I splashed vigorously again, and it went under. I never saw it again. I high tailed to shore and now I’m trying to identify it. It is a deserted island with a few sea oats and bird nests. There is no bridge. You can swim there at low tide or take a boat.
I am a boat captain out of Pensacola Florida. Two weekends ago I was delivering a boat from Pensacola to Long Beach Mississippi off of Gulf Shores Alabama. We had the boat on autopilot and were hanging out on the bow checking out the jellyfish. I saw a brown sea snake about 14 inches long swimming in a southeast direction; we were about five miles off of the coast. This is the first time I had ever seen one in the gulf of any size. Over the next two hours and ten miles I saw two more that could have been twins of the first one. It did not appear to be an eel as it had a large head like a viper, a slender round body and swam on the surface. I am a 53-year-old life long sailor and scuba diver. I have seen many sea snakes in my lifetime but always when scuba diving and usually in the Caribbean Sea. I could not get pics, but can recall its look, size and color easily. I am wondering what type of creature it may have been.
Editor: We have done several things on sea snakes in the Gulf. Recent red tide events on the Florida coast seem to have caused fish kills. I have been sent photos of eels readers thought were sea snakes, but some reports like the two above are more mysterious. We have even received a report of a black and yellow sea snake in Texas.
Do I think they are out there? Possibly a few. The jury is still out but the search definitely continues.
Native Black Bass
Enjoyed the article about Guadalupe bass. Too bad the native southern black bass never received the same efforts or concerns before it was too late.
Born in 1961, I grew up in NE Texas in a time of higher limits on bass and new lakes being opened. I remember catching and eating black bass just like the crappie and catfish that we caught. Their flesh was nutty and delicate. I vividly remember catching schooling bass every year. My family made many a meal on small black bass skinned and fried whole.
Then came the completely misguided statewide frenzy directed toward pumping all our Texas lakes full of Florida bass fingerlings. Careless efforts who’s singular purpose was to increase the size of bass in Texas by adding Florida bass genetics regardless of side effects.
So now, in my opinion, these efforts also ruined the edibility of bass. Their flesh is now coarse and fishy tasting. Their golden green color, their larger scales and thick hide have now replaced the more elegant and beautifully evolved southern black bass. Larger fish are now not worth cleaning.
Then add the fact that we can no longer retain the more edible smaller fish and it all adds up to a species relegated almost exclusively to catch and release. Just what all the tournament fishermen wanted, right?
Ironically, today’s Florida bass caught by most fishermen in Texas are no bigger than the southern black bass we used to have. Tournament fishermen still make their living on bass no bigger than the fish we had before the biological idiots took over. Tournament fishermen call a 5-6lb fish a giant? Yeah right. Who do they think they are kidding? The oversized lunkers caught occasionally don’t come close to justifying what was done to our native populations.
I buy a fishing license because I love to catch and eat fish. Maybe I’m in the minority these days, but to me, managing any species for a single trait makes absolutely no sense at all and is reckless biological management policy. Just like the whitetail deer gets managed based only on antler size, regulatory efforts disregard hunters who eat what they kill and would rather eat a younger, more tender animal and care little about antler size. Bigger and older is rarely better when it comes to eating fish and game.
It may be too late for the indigenous southern black bass to be brought back to any degree. What a shame. Luckily for me, I can still catch bass from an unpolluted population in an old private pond that my family owns if I get a craving for bass. They are superb table fare compared to the Florida mutts that now swim in our lakes.
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