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Fishtales

Why Are Fish So Slimy?
By Jonie Maschek
Aug 14, 2008 - 9:13:00 AM

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I have many women reading ‘Fish Tales.’ Phone calls come in on my cell on Thursday of each week telling me how they enjoy The Observer News.

This week, “Why are fish so slimy?” comes from Sun City Center. Most fish have a slippery cover to protect them from infections and it helps them to navigate in the water more smoothly.


From a child: “Why don’t fish drown?” I thought about it for awhile, but here is the answer. We need oxygen to live; oxygen comes from the air, which goes into the lung, which is exhaled. The fishes’ gills are their lungs, and oxygen comes from the water.

“Why do we call a fish, catfish? If you have seen a catfish, it has feelers around its mouth that look like a cat’s whiskers. Catfish can be a danger to you, as they have a saw-like spear that can lodge in your hand or foot if it is broken off. I have seen this happen. Go to a doctor.

“Do fish ever sleep?” As far as I know, fish have no eyelids, so they can’t close their eyes. It is said that they do sleep in deep holes, seaweed or behind rocks.
I wonder how they come up with this? It is also stated, time and time again, that the big tuna and the mighty sharks never stop swimming. Do they sleep while in action?

Many people do not want to clean fish because they are slimy and in today’s age it is easy to buy them at the supermarkets, ready to cook. It is proven that we need fish in our diets and why not eat the fish caught in the great waterways around us.
I will follow up on the reporting news from the motorists crossing the Courtney Campbell Causeway who say there is a terrible dead fish smell. It is catfish, but no one knows what killed them. First thoughts were red tide, but that has been ruled out. I predict that they will say it was some type of an algae that takes the oxygen out of the water and kills the fish.

Some call the catfish the Crucifix Fish because the skull looks like the crucifix and when shaken it sounds like dice inside. I have an old Florida postcard, which was printed in Ireland, that has a poem printed on it about the catfish, and the crucifix.
Black drum are invading our Little Manatee River. Anglers are telling me that they catch and ­release them as they don’t eat drum, but others I noticed are keeping their catches.

Drum are fun to catch and give you a good workout before they let you land them. Average weight is nine pounds and only the small ones are considered to be edible. Worms have been found in the large size drum.

The landlubber this week are reeling in great catches of Southern whiting. They are a bottom fish, like the flounder. A good pan fish averaging 14 oz. and the largest 8 lbs. Once you hook them, they give you a fight and a fast swim before you make the catch.

Florida pompano are holding swim classes in our ship channels, with some anglers invading the swim by casting into the group and making a great catch. This fish averages about two to four pounds and will grace the best of dinner tables.

Other anglers fishing in the morning before the rains came down fished the waters close to the ship channels and were amazed that they had hooked and landed a stray grouper. It was a gag, but a good size one. I hope you invited some friends to dinner when you cooked this catch.

Cobia have stayed in our water­ways all summer and have entertained many anglers with their jumping and soaring, acting and playing hard to land. They are found all over the world, called by many different names. Even the largest can be eaten, if you bleed them while alive or trim off dark meat when dressing.

Many catches from piers this week have been the ugly dog fish which seems to surface when no other fish will take your bait. They live in the mud and have a lot of teeth that will snap at your bait like a bulldog. This fish is not edible.

I wish my good friend and neighbor Frank Sargeant happy days as he announces his retirement from The Tampa Tribune as Outdoor Sports Editor.

When the rain pours, rush to shore, don’t be fishing when the thunder roars.
-- Aleta Jonie Maschek is a ­member of Florida Outdoor Press­.














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