Saturday, February 11, 2023

Fishing lures, diabetes and mercury in fish

I was piddling around with a device that measures the velocity of fishing lures. Parts were missing but a suitable fix was kludged together from bamboo kabob-skewers and 3/4" masking tape.

The optimum amount of mouse-turds was found to be forty-four grains (we started at 39.5) and we stopped messing around when we had a velocity of 2678. That is comfortable below the max and provides a little bit of cushion in the event that the fishing lures are left on top of the dash on a hot summer day.

Alligator gar

2678 ensures that the velocity will be in the sweet-spot for old-school, C-n-C lures (roughly speaking from 2000-to-2800) from the gunnels to as far as I can hit an open pocket in the lily-pads. I reckon the setup can handle anything from yellow perch to alligator gar if the fisherman can put the lure in the right place.

A nice stringer of yellow perch

While the mouse-turds I had on hand are not known for being insensitive to temperature changes, I believe it is inherently more insensitive than the poppy-seeds that can produce maximum speeds.

Anomalies in maps

This map shows the diagnosed rate of Diabetes, by county in 2013.

Zooming in on Appalachia

There is a very clear difference between eastern Appalachia and western Appalachia.

Oddly, when one tries to investigate, the metrics invariably talk about north, mid and southern Appalachia even though the main "contrast" seems to be east/west.

One hypothesis might be that there is some difference between the Mississippi watershed and the Atlantic watershed.

An overlay of watersheds and mid-to-southern Appalachia (with state lines)

And that would be a bad guess. Western Virginia and North Carolina are in the Mississippi watershed and eastern West Virginia is in the Atlantic watershed.

This is a very curious thing. Rate of diabetes is a good proxy for economic outcomes and, by extension, quality-and-longevity of life projections. For example, one can look at the national map and pick out the Indian reservations.


In general, I would not reference the PBS for anything serious...but even I can make exceptions.

Making better cookies

Caramelize your sugar before using

Add malted milk powder

Add a pinch of espresso powder


There are many watersheds where anglers are advised to either not eat any fish or to eat a limited number of meals a year due to mercury levels in the fish they catch.

Mercury is documented as a neuro-toxin and the concern is that brain-function will be impaired.

That concern has softened a bit in recent years. Asians, many of whom enjoy eating fish, have been documented as having statistically higher mercury levels in their blood than whites, blacks and Hispanics. The last time I looked, Asians seemed to perform well in academic tasks.

Another recent bit of information is that selenium is an element that seems to provide some degree of protection against the negative effects of mercury. And, surprise, fish are a good source of selenium.

Selenium is readily available as a nutritional supplement and a common "organic" source of selenium is brewer's yeast.

Thirty years ago...

90 second run-time. Hat-tip Lucas


  1. Just an odd fact, many Alaskan anglers fishing halibut especially from smaller boats shoot larger fish before they try and boat them particularly those over 100 pounds. Usually a .22 or 410 shotgun. Being able to pick out reservations may be because of two factors: diet because they are generally poor and possibly genetics developed in ancient times. I have read that circumpolar people traditionally supplied most of their calories from fish, game, and especially marine mammals which are very high in fats. I would not be surprised if the plains tribes who were particularly dependent on buffalo. It might be interesting if lower Missouri River tribes and those in the eastern states run the same risks as they had farming to provide much of their food in older times. The poor factor is that bread, rice and sweets are usually cheaper than meat, etc. Alaska doesn’t have reservations as such but the land claims settlement act has put large chunks of land in native hands. I can’t say how many adhere to more traditional diets but they are noted to be at high risk of diabetes.

  2. Mr Joe That amount of diabetes is really bad news if a massive grid down shtf. That widespread, wow. Woody

  3. Colorado bright spot.

  4. 2 things I wonder about in this post:
    - how accurate is the diabetes data? The difference in data in the Appalachians almost follows state lines, which is suspicious.
    - I know that lead types versus effects are widely misunderstood. I wonder if the same is true for Mercury?
    For example, organic lead (from leaded gas, paint, etc) has vastly more effect on the human body than does metallic lead (fishing weights, tore weights, batteries, etc) but very few people, and none of the anti lead activists, even think about this let alone take it into account.

    1. It is my understanding that mercury enters the aquatic food-chain as methyl mercury that forms on the bottom under anaerobic conditions..

      Furthermore, I have been given to understand that bodies of water with high rates of silt intake, Lake Erie was the example I was given, recover rapidly from mercury issues because the silt/clay seals off the mercury laden sediment on the bottom.

  5. If you are worried about mercury in fish, hang them by their gills until they freeze. Then you cut their tails off. Problem solved. Every one knows when it freezes, the mercury dips. You're welcome.

  6. Way back in 2006, I took a law school class on risk analysis. The class focused on the risks of Mercury in fish. Most recommendations are based on some studies among small island populations that ate large quantities of both fish and whale year-round. It was interesting to me how weak the case was that eating fish created much risk, given the levels of mercury encountered. At high concentrations, there is no doubt Mercury is a neurotoxin. The case at low doses is almost unsupported, and based upon the LNTD (linear no threshold dose) models, which we know are over-simplifcations. At least according to the scientific literature available back then.

  7. What does the cotton belt look like on that diabetes map?

  8. Yep, where my youngest lives in CA, they can fish, but NOT eat anything from the lake due to mercury levels...


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