The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Outdoors

April 12, 2014

Zaktansky: Ballad of the Blotch-Belly Basses

— Now, the Blotch-Belly Basses

Had bellies with blotches,

Which made the plain-belly fishes

Really obnoxious.

Those blotches weren’t so big. They were really so small.

You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

But, because they had blotches, all the Blotch-Belly Basses

Caused quite a stir among the media masses

The anglers would catch them and throw them back with a snort

They wanted nothing to do with the Blotch-Belly sort

“What caused those black blotches? Those hideous spots?

Let’s not fry them in pans or cook them in pots!”

And the plain-belly fishes, they saw this and jeered:

“You Blotch-Belly Basses are wickedly weird.

They throw you all back — it does truly amaze us.

You black-spotted basses must be highly contagious!”

So the scientists studied and state agencies squabbled,

The politicians looked like bobbleheads bobbled.

“Why?” they all pleaded, “do our basses have blotches?

Who is to blame? Who missed their due watches?

The frackers up north? Is it their melodrama?

Can runoff from farmers cause fish melanoma?”

That was 2012 … this is 2014

Is the fishery better? Is the river all clean?

Have we figured out the who, the how and the why?

Can the Blotch-Belly Basses collectively sigh?

The true mystery here may not be the blotches

Or the frackers or farmers or close river watches.

Perhaps the bigger the story is that there’s no story at all

And that those who should care have slipped into a lull.

It’s time to ruffle some feathers — stand strong and deliver

For our fishes, our families and our much-maligned river!

Email comments to jzaktansky@dailyitem.com. See more at zaktansky.wordpress.com

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