Global Warming Coming To An Ice Fishing Contest Near You

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Over the last several years, ice fishing contests, which are a big deal in Minnesota, have been repeatedly cancelled due to insufficient ice thickness on the relevant lake. Some of these contests have been permanently cancelled because the annual cancelations were becoming more frequent. Just now, the Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby has been cancelled. That’s bad.

But even more disturbing is this:

Ice conditions for the Eel Pout Festival have created enough concern to prompt vehicle restrictions, according to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Tom Burch says vehicle traffic on Walker Bay during the event will be prohibited, but with the following exceptions: snowmobiles and Class 1 & 2 ATVs.

All vehicles must be removed from the ice by noon on Friday. Motorized traffic is no allowed until Sunday at 10 a.m.

This is a big deal because the Eel Pout Festival is different from the previously canceled ice fishing events. All those previously cancelled events, including Maple Lake, are in Central Minnesota, not far from the Twin Cities. The Eel Pout festival is way the heck up north, in a region where even with global warming affected climate, the ice still normally forms hard and thick.

I assume that the problem with the ice up on Leech Lake, where Walker Bay is located, is problematic this year because of a combination of rising global surface temperatures caused by human released greenhouse gas pollution, plus added warmth from the current El Niño. In a way, we are looking at the effects of global warming in the future, in a decade or two, when the “normal” elevated (non El Niño) temperatures will catch up with the extra elevated temperature of the combined effects.

While we are on the subject of the Eel Pout, let me clarify a bit. The fish known as Eelpout (one word) is a marine fish that looks a little like an eel. There are about 300 species, they are bottom dwelling, and some live at a great depth. They are not the same fish as the Eel Pouts (two words) in Minnesota. The Minnesota Eel Pout is also known as the Burbot, and it is a fresh water Cod, the only Cod that lives in fresh water. It is also known as Ling, Coney-Fish, Lingcod, and owing to its somewhat slimy nature and tendency to wrap itself around your arm when pulled out of the water, Lawyer. (I assume this refers to a specific subset of lawyers, not all lawyers.)

It is very edible, I hear, though I’ve yet to eat one.

This is also an example of where Wikipedia gets it wrong. In the entry for “Eelpout” (one word) Wikipedia correctly describes what Ellpouts are, but then adds this, under the “popular culture” heading:

The Eelpout Festival that takes place in February in Walker, Minnesota, in the United States, celebrates the burbot, which is actually a cod-like fish misleadingly known locally as the eelpout

Bad Wiki. First of all, we spell the name of the fish differently (two words, not one word). Second, the Minnesota Burbot has been called the Eel Pout for a long time. Eel Pout, as well as Eelpout, are common terms, not scientific names, so of course there is some sloppiness. I don’t see Wikipedia saying it is wrong to call an Elk a Moose in Europe, do I?

Anyway, here is what the Eel Pout Festival looks like:

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