Postcard from Ohio: Cuyahoga Steel and Lake Erie Burbot

Here are a couple new articles by our blog founder Matt Stansberry, featuring strange tales of the wild fish of the Great Lakes. Also, check out the artwork by David Wilson.

Wild Steelhead of the Burning River:
The Cuyahoga River, the one that caught fire and spurred the Clean Water Act, is home to a small but scrappy run of wild steelhead. Previous generations had tried to kill this river and had failed. But to paraphrase David James Duncan, when you fail to poison a creek quite to death, you can get visitors from distant realms. The Ohio EPA has documented wild steelhead reproduction in all eight of the Cuyahoga’s tributaries. In lower water years where there is less silt in the system, steelhead are spawning in the stormwater sluiceways, reproducing in whatever liquid washes off the streets of the Cleveland suburbs. This essay explores what it means to be native in a place written-off as dead, and overrun by non-native species.

Cuyahoga

burbot

The burbot whisperer:
The burbot, also known as an eelpout, cusk, or lawyer, is one of the most bizarre animals to roam the Great Lakes region.They’re a freshwater cod with a single dangling barbel or whisker hanging off their bottom lip, like some horrible soul patch. Burbot mate in the dead of winter under the ice when water temperatures are between 32º and 40º F, forming spawning balls. They live in the deepest corners of lakes and rivers, and on Lake Erie they’re only reachable by the average angler in the middle of winter at night. This is the tale of the strange people who chase them.

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One Response to Postcard from Ohio: Cuyahoga Steel and Lake Erie Burbot

  1. david jensen says:

    I am glad Matt is content in Ohio. He was a champion working for wild fish while he was here. The picture of the burbot was disturbing to a degree it affected my sleep. I wouldn’t fish for them, even on warm, windless days. In fact, I wouldn’t even touch them if a biologist caught them. Thanks Matt for your post.

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