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Global Warming Observations

Is it our imagination, just a cyclical thing, or is it the real deal?

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I’m looking at two sides of the whole warming issue as I write this. One side – called the tree hugging environmentalists – almost says the world is coming to an end if we don’t stop doing a lot of what we are doing. The other side – usually ultra conservatives – calls all the global warming hype just that – hype.

I’m also looking at the temperature today in New Hampshire where my brother lives. Usually covered in a blanket of snow from November through April, the ground on the web cam was void of snow the past two weeks and the temperature is hovering around forty degrees. Granted a cold front came through and a snow storm dumped on them this week, but this is an unusual winter for that part of the country.

I’m looking at all the trees around my neighborhood that are beginning to bloom – almost a month earlier than normal. I’m watching offshore water temperatures that are warmer by several degrees than I have seen them since I began paying attention to them.

Over the past several years we are seeing more and more fish that are usually found much farther south. Mangrove (gray) snapper, which are usually a midsummer curiosity in North Florida are showing up in larger numbers and larger sizes. In past years it was difficult to find a keeper that would reach the ten inch limit. This past fall we frequently caught limits of these snapper.

This winter we had a terribly cold spell with a hard freeze in North Florida - all of Florida for that matter - that killed thousands and thousands of fish. Much to the surprise of many anglers, there was a huge snook kill in and around Jacksonville. the surprise was not the kill - they can't survive in water colder than 55 degrees. The surprise was that there were so many of them in this area. Twenty years ago no one in North Florida ever caught a snook.

I can’t observe every state and fishing location, but based on the weather patterns I watch it appears to me that the same thing may be happening in your fishing world.

Maine anglers have complained the past few winters because the saltwater ice fishing has been a bust. The water never froze hard enough to go out on the ice. Many northern lakes failed to freeze hard enough for inland ice fishing.

As someone once said – I think I smell a rat… Could it be that this is simply a cyclical issue and we are on a warm cycle of winters that will change over the next five years? Hurricane forecasters tell us the hurricane seasons will only grow worse (2005 broke every record going), but then they tell us it is all in a cycle (the past two years broke records for low numbers of hurricanes). Could they be wrong?

Reading the North Carolina Wildlife Magazine this month, I read with interest the article that showed coastal lowlands being flooded by seawater because of what the magazine said was a rise in the ocean level caused by global warming and the resulting melting of our polar ice caps.

I’m paying more attention to the weather these days, and with an interest that goes beyond fishing. But in all of this, I still plan on fishing.

Actually, the appearance of the more tropical varieties of fish farther north than normal presents some interesting fishing opportunities. This means a longer bait season and that necessarily means a longer predator fish season as well. It means gearing up for some species that anglers in northern climes may never have had an opportunity to pursue. That said, the current very cold winter and the resulting fish kills will probably drive these fish back south. A cycle? Who knows.

While the world and every individual in it can respond and hopefully avoid the natural disaster that a true global warming will produce, the world and every individual in it has to at the same time get on with life. So while I do things to protect the environment, I also plan to continue fishing – albeit perhaps in a modified fashion and for a more varied species of fish.

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