I fish for food, not the experience, so I am delighted that my friend Pat called to suggest we meet today at the nearby Picnic Island Beach based on what he had seen the day before, and that I said "sure, on the way to the gym". Well, I never made it to the gym, for there, along this one of MANY MANY beaches in Tampa Bay, were THOUSANDS of dead and dying fish stunned by this week long cold "event" chilling the water. I walked along the tide line with Pat and Sweety with 7 gallon buckets I QUICKLY filled with still alive snappers, groupers, drums, mackerels, cat fish, and angel fish paralyzed by the cold, their gills barely moving. Pat and I were stunned to look out in the bay and see many more thousands of fish all coming to shore due to the tide and cold wind. The only dead fish I got were two snooks, one over three feet long, one two feet long as they looked freshly dead with clear eyes and early stages of rigor mortis.....turns out a good thing I did, as when I cleaned them I saw their flesh was fresh and pristine....I bet I got 10 lbs. of meat from the big snook! I used both their heads plus herbs and sea salt and onions and olive oil to make a BIG batch of bouillabase (sp?) as I ate a grand supper of seared FRESH snook meat with herbs and fresh citrus from my yard....later, home grown papaya for dessert,
While this cold "event" is doing heartbreaking things to farmers in Florida, I am mindful of a few positives...wiping out the mosquitos that were so bad this year, giving blessed dormancy to my experimental "Denver Roses", plus, today's amazing fish harvest that jammed my freezer. Tomorrow the heads and guts go into my manure tea barrel, then I will take Sweety back to Picnic Island Beach to hopefully "catch" (picking up cold-paralyzed fish from the water's edge hardly feels like "catching" fish) more to put in my homemade smoker since smoked fish will keep in the fridge for many months. I will also gather buckets of fish to bury around all my fruit trees as fertilizer this upcoming summer.
Here is a pic of that big YUMMY snook, plus a few of the many fish I cleaned tonight. Tonight will be another long COLD night....visible frost on the ground not long after sundown, so I am curious what I will see tomorrow at Picnic Island Beach. THIS permaculturist is in many ways benefiting from this amazingly cold weather that has actually seen my GROUND freeze.