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Ask the OmbudsmanTim Smith

Q: While cleaning some black bass I caught, I found small yellow parasites in the fins and the flesh. Are my fish safe to eat?

A: Yes. The parasites do not infect humans and cannot be tasted after cooking. To avoid any possible problems, you should cook fish well before eating. The yellow grub is the larval form of a parasitic worm called a fluke. It has a life cycle that includes fish-eating birds and snails as well as fish. It is likely that every fish you catch may contain some type of parasite, in the internal organs if not in the flesh. For more information, go to the links listed below.

Q: While near the shore of the Lake of the Ozarks after dark last summer, I saw dozens of faintly glowing specks on the rocks. Can you tell me what they were?

A: I expect that you were seeing glowworms. Glowworms are the larval stage of fireflies, or lightning bugs. The larvae hatch from eggs that the fireflies lay in the soil. Glowworms have bioluminescence like the adult fireflies, which are really beetles rather than flies. Adult female fireflies use their greenish-yellow light to attract mates. It is thought that the glowworms’ light serves as a warning to potential predators, like toads, to which they are mildly toxic. The glowworm glow is fainter than that of fireflies. Like looking at a faint star, it can often be seen better by looking to the side of it rather than focusing on it directly.

Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Department of Conservation programs. Write him at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.

Time Capsule

July 1969

Esox was written by Joel M. Vance about muskie fishing. Esox is the Latin name for muskie. In 1966, the Conservation Department stocked the “many-toothed maskanonge” muskie in Pomme de Terre Lake. Anglers could fish walleyes, crappy or bass, but if they wanted a challenge, it would be a muskie. Indians would call them “devil fish,” and considered them the most savage predator that swims. People from all around the state and beyond its borders try to catch muskies, but most fail and have nothing to show but a frayed line and lost lure. — Contributed by the Circulation staff

Agent Notes

How many poles can you fish with?

One of the more common fishing questions I get is, “How many fishing poles can I use?” While most anglers commonly fish with two or three poles, the Wildlife Code states that not more than three unlabeled poles and not more than 33 hooks in the aggregate can be used by any person at one time. If you are using pole and line methods to fish public waters, you could potentially use 33 fishing poles; however, 30 of those fishing poles would need to be labeled with your name and address. The label can be as simple as a piece of duct tape. On the Mississippi River, not more than two unlabeled poles and not more than 50 hooks can be used by any person at one time. In this situation, one could fish with 50 fishing poles, but 48 of them would need to be properly labeled. Most conservation areas limit the number of poles to three, but read the specific area regulations before you go. You can pick up a copy of A Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations at permit vendors or you can download a PDF through the links listed below.

Bank fishing at night can be a great way to catch a few fish and beat the summer heat. I don’t know about you, but watching someone try to manage 50 fishing poles on the banks of the Mississippi would be a sight to see!

Kevin Eulinger is the conservation agent for Lincoln County, which is in the St. Louis Region. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office.

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