“Dead zone” can impact Sabine Pass fishing

Published 8:31 am Sunday, August 16, 2015

It was a perfect day for offshore fishing.
With two foot swell, clear waters and no storms forecast it seemed like the ideal time to score on snapper, ling and king mackerel. This was back when you could catch a limit of snapper every day in federal waters.
But we couldn’t get a fish to bite. Not a single one.
In fact, we didn’t see any fish around the rigs. Not even spadefish which typically congregate around platform legs.
When I returned home, I did some research and learned the “dead zone” had moved off the Sabine Pass area at the time.
According to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), less oxygen dissolved in the water is often referred to as a “dead zone” because most marine life either dies, or, if they are mobile such as fish, leave the area. Habitats that would normally be teeming with life become, essentially, biological deserts.    
Hypoxic zones can occur naturally, but scientists are concerned about the areas created or enhanced by human activity according to NOAA.
“There are many physical, chemical, and biological factors that combine to create dead zones, but nutrient pollution is the primary cause of those zones created by humans. Excess nutrients that run off land or are piped as wastewater into rivers and coasts can stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which then sinks and decomposes in the water. The decomposition process consumes oxygen and depletes the supply available to healthy marine life.”
  “Dead zones occur in many areas of the country, particularly along the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes, but there is no part of the country or the world that is immune. The second largest dead zone in the world is located in the U.S., in the northern Gulf of Mexico.”
And this year the dead zone is bigger than average.
“The measured size this year, an area about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, is larger than the 5,052 square miles measured last year, indicating that nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed are continuing to affect the nation’s coastal resources and habitats in the Gulf,” NOAA officials reported.
A “dead zone” doesn’t always mean there will be no fish in an area but it certainly decreases the number and makes fishing extremely tough.
I have experienced them both here and fishing out of Venice, La. out of the source of much of the dead zone’ causes the Mississippi River.
It is one of those things that we as individual anglers can do nothing about but it is something we should note.
Sometimes the tough offshore fishing isn’t because anything we did wrong in terms of technique but perhaps something that our convenience driven society has done with the pesticides and other things that impact the water shed. I never thought much about dead zones until I came across one.
And while I haven’t been offshore this year, the current distribution maps show it over our region.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail chester@kingomzoo.com. You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)

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