Every so often, the continent's duck population undergoes a decline that has waterfowl hunters sobbing into their Thermos of duckblind coffee— although most of that coffee will make you sob after you drink it.
They blame everything, from weather to drought to sunspots. I step forward with a better theory as to what happens when ducks disappear: big bass (the products of catchandrelease) eat them. Scoff if you will. Say that Vance is acting silly again (or probably still is acting silly), but consider this: I have seen footage of a large bass snapping up a placidlyswimming, innocent, cuddly, fuzzy duckling like an NFL pulling guard attacking the postgame pizza.
Obviously, duckling au largemouth happens and will always happen. But doesn't it stand to reason that if there were fewer big bass, then there would be more ducks? That said, I contend that today's sorry duck population is a direct result of catchandrelease bass fishing. You think I'm kidding, but I've never been more serious.
In olden times, when you caught a fish you ate it or used it for bait. And in those days when anglers were slapping everything they caught in the nearest frying pan, we had the largest duck population in modern times. Bass didn't get big enough to make a meal of a duckling—they were supper before they had a chance to think about supper. Now, few would even dream of roasting the bass of a lifetime. A couple of outoffocus snapshots and that bass is back in the duck marsh with a sore mouth and disposition to match, looking for a duckling to digest.
Sure, virtually everything from bullfrogs to turtles chews on ducklings, too. But the difference is that plenty of people do their best to control these species' populations. Every time I gnaw a succulent frog leg, I know another duck is saved. If I develop a taste for turtles I'll add them to my populationcontrol campaign. Thanks to catchandrelease, however, there exists no such balance with big bass. I wish there were some sort of lie detector I could hook a bass up to and check its motives. “Have you ever eaten a duck?” I could ask.
Of course the answer would be “no,” but if the detector spiked and the bass was lying, I could flop him in the skillet with nary a guilty thought. And if he was telling the truth, I could turn him loose to spawn more generations of minnow eaters. I think I'm on to something here. After all, there are plenty of other fish species that grow big enough to feed on land animals. For example, my uncle once saw a northern pike turn a swimming squirrel into entrée du bushytail. So if we see a decline in the local squirrel population, perhaps we can start catching and eating pike once again.
If you like this theory, I have several others, especially the one about how you would be better off owning this bridge I have title to. It's located with one end in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn. If you use some ingenuity it could be a moneymaker. Bring your checkbook.