Are Montana Trout Addicted to Meth and Almost Too Toxic to Eat?
As an angler, the hardest part of fishing is not just finding fish, but finding what they are eating. If you can pinpoint what the fish are gobbling up that day, your odds of landing a fish increase. Take ice fishing for example. This time of year we know that if we want to catch a big fish, we hook up a smaller fish that the big fish calls food. Or maybe we simply use something stinky like maggots to attract a fish via smell. But what if the fish you are searching for is addicted to meth? Do you have any small rocks with hooks in your tackle box?
According to CNET.com
Household chemicals, medicines and prescription drugs can work their way through wastewater treatment facilities to contaminate rivers and streams, but the problem isn't limited to legal substances. New research shows illicit methamphetamines can wind up in the brains of fish, passing one of human society's ills further down the food chain.
From the sounds of it, it isn't just illicit drugs and prescriptions that are leaking into our rivers and lakes. Recent studies are showing highly elevated levels of something referred to as "FOREVER CHEMICALS" or PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances). This is basically everything you have ever seen on shows like "The Toxic Avenger" in the 80s. Toxic chemicals are being dumped into our rivers that are being absorbed by fish.
According to studyfinds.org
Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists discovered that the average amounts of PFAS in freshwater fish throughout the U.S. were 280 times greater than forever chemicals detected in some commercially caught fish. The findings estimate that eating a single freshwater fish caught in a lake or river could cause PFAS exposure equal to consuming store-bought fish daily for an entire year.
Hopefully, with Montana being so far upstream from major industrial operations and polluters, our fish may be slightly less contaminated. But, odds are Montana fish are still elevated at a level that may ruin your appetite.
For years, anglers around Missoula have known that it is not wise to eat fish that are caught in the Clark Fork river. The fish in the Clark Fork have been living in water that has been subject to one of the biggest toxic disasters in the US. Highly toxic chemicals from the heyday of mining in Butte made their way downstream into the Clark Fork. Those toxic chemicals were eventually collected near the old Mill Town Dam. Slowly seeping into the water, absorbed by the fish, and heading even further downstream.
The bottom line is that catch-and-release seems like the way to go these days. We don't want to EAT the fish, we just want to make it LATE for something.