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Pondering the Question of Mercury in Fish
By Jonie Maschek
Dec 11, 2008 - 10:02:04 AM

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Mercury content in fish has again made the headlines, but the health benefits of eating some seafood may outweigh the risks of mercury.

For years there has been a quandry that has been in question about mercury with government nutrition experts. Four fish that have a high level of mercury are shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel.

Interesting to note that your ­expensive albacore has three times the mercury as your white chunk tuna.

Tuna fish to some is a diet food, but I found even though it is listed as a low mercury meal, it is not. You could eat shrimp, sardines, tilapias, or salmon every day of the week and still ingest less mercury than two cans of tuna fish.

The bluefish tuna, eaten by ­sushi lovers, contains thirteen times more mercury than a farm-raised catfish.

Most all studies nationwide are for child-bearing women and children, and not for men or older adults. In the studies of EPA and FDA one can eat two fish dinners a week. It is noted that the average American eats less than one seafood meal a week.

If you are worried about mercury, you could eat a salmon, which has the lowest mercury count. Government experts stress one should not only eat salmon, as you should eat a variety of seafood.

Nuts have a source of omega three, the same as fish. After many studies, fish has been proven as the better source of the two.

A list of seafood that one can eat, choosing two per week, from the controversial findings are: salmon, sardines, shrimp, tilapia, trout, pollock, flounder, oysters, scallops and catfish, to name a few.

One study I found was that one should not count the fish that they eat, but the omega three intake. Another study tells us that the body can produce the same ­omega threes from vegetables and nuts.

Remember Bob Icenogle, of Ruskin, who invented the hydraulic jackplate on the transom of a boat, which acted as an outboard elevator?

Several years ago, he sold it to a nationwide company with a Tampa base, owners the Pelini family, who are now known across the nation by boaters who use this product.

This hydraulic jack not only makes the boat run faster, but is known to save on gasoline. It was invented in our town of Ruskin, but is on an assembly line in Tampa and sold nationwide. I congratulate Bob Icenogle of Ruskin for his invention to the boating world.

With cold weather floating around us, it has changed our way of catching fish. Snook season is over Dec. 15 and a few days of cold weather has slowed them down, as their metabolism slows down. Be patient, let your bait stay until they slowly swim up to it. They are hungry, but cold.

Flounder may be your best catch on a cold day. It’s a ray-like flat fish with one eye and spots and not much eye appeal, but an epicurean’s delight on the dinner table. It is perhaps the most popular fish on a seafood menu, either stuffed, broiled, fried, or baked.

You need to know that they are a bottom dwelling fish and one must dangle your lure or baited hook to arouse him from his sleep. Be sure your bait reaches the bottom. Flounder must be 12” minimum size and not more than 10 per person per day.

Black drum have been invading the waters of the rivers. Some of the largest this season have been tearing up tackle and giving ­anglers a thrill. Some 50# test lines have been broken as they were trying to land these monsters. Some pier anglers tell me that they had the best day  of fishing and thrills catching the black drum.
Sheepshead are always a good catch in hot or cold weather. They are fish with a mouthful of teeth, like a sheep. They have a hard bony mouth which makes it difficult to set a hook. The ol’ adage of how to catch a sheepshead is to count to three, then a hard jerk to set the hook. Many try all day until their dozens of shrimp are gone.

When you hear a person say, “All I did today was to feed the fish,” it was nine out of ten chances they were casting their bait in a school of sheepshead.

When you feel a nudge, do your counting and set your hook. Sheepshead are often called a ­prison fish because of their black and white stripes. It is a white meat fish and a great tablefare.

Wading is a good way not to spook your catch, but be sure you know the water in which you are wading. Snook are around mangrove roots and usually the water is shallow there. Those with ­canoes and kayaks say you can quietly sneak in and make your catch and this is better than wading.

Gag grouper are greeting happy anglers who are fishing the bay channels. Many holiday dinners will have grouper gracing their tables. Happy anglers are boating permit this week using shrimp for bait.

Mullet are still playing and jumping in our canals and rivers. Birds and baitfish are everywhere. The birds are chasing the baitfish and the baitfish are running from the mackerel.

Cooler weather is good fishing, so drop a line and quit wishing.
-- Aleta Jonie Maschek is a ­member of Florida Outdoor Press­.

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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