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PINE NUTS – Zombie Trout

September 21, 2023 | McAvoy Lane

One of the chief joys in my life is to go fly fishing with my Marine Corps buddy, Marlboro Man. Craig Fellin runs a successful Montana outfitters resort, the Big Hole Lodge, with his son, Wade. Craig will walk the banks of the Wise on the day before we arrive and kick over logs to see what’s hatching. Once we arrive, we get to watch him tie a fly, perhaps a Wooly Bugger, that no self-respecting trout can refuse. 

Fly fishing is not a sport, to my mind it is an art, and Marlboro Man is the Rembrandt of the Wise. His son, Wade, being the Picasso of the Big Hole. And then along comes the Zombie Trout, the brown trout that has been blinded by pollution, and can no longer see the Wooly Bugger.                   

First question: If a trout can no longer see his next meal, how is he going to find his next mate during mating season? Imagine the stress the Zombie trout is dealing with, for stress is just as hard on fish as it is on you and me. I can hear a female trout now as she is approached by a Zombie trout, “Oh, here comes that Zombie again, he is kinda cute, but my mother tells me he would not be a good catch. And besides, how on earth are we going to feed the kids if he can’t see a Wooly Bugger? It beats my time!”

So what makes a trout a Zombie? Well, number one, cows don’t really care where they poop, even if they’re standing next to a sacred Montana river. So, we have the well-worn western expression, “Never drink downstream from the herd.” 

Number two, I never knew there was oxygen in water, but I found out firsthand that there is not nearly enough oxygen in water to sustain me while underwater, as I came very near drowning in the finding out of that singular fact. However, there is just enough oxygen in Montana rivers for fish to breathe, don’t ask me how, yet that oxygen level is dropping drastically. So when a Zombie trout can’t see, and he can’t mate, and he can’t breathe, what’s a Zombie trout to do?

Well that’s the very question the Fellin’s and other concerned Montana citizens are asking as a nonprofit called, “Save Wild Trout.” They are presently asking Governor Gianforte to create a task force to study and stem the sudden hemorrhaging of Montana rivers.

Our waters are warming, our world is roasting, and unless we do some really smart things really fast, I’m afraid you and I are going to be two-legged Zombies, finding it ever more difficult to eat, to mate, and to breathe. The very thought provokes me to buy an electric car, a self-driving one, and get off the grid. Some people tell me I’m already off the grid, but I take it as a compliment, and continue in my blasé ways…

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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