From the fatal fire to the kindergarten classroom, I never know where I’ll spend the next news shift. So it was no surprise yesterday when I found myself along the banks of Salem Lake as state biologists zapped a good portion of the Wide-Mouth Bass population with electrical current. You heard me - they’re shocking fish with electricity. Sure it sounds like fun but these Wildlife Resource Officers actually had a good reason for doing so. By stunning the Bass until they float to the surface, these scientists get a better idea of the size, weight and health of the many floating trophies who call Salem Lake home.
All was going well aboard our small craft as the Wildlife guys dropped the zapper into the drink and fired up the generator. For about three minutes, dazed fish with X’s in their eyes popped up all around us. As they scooped the Bass into our boat, I followed the action in my viewfinder, trying my best to stay out of the way and avoid dropping my high-dollar fancy-cam into the water (been there).
Three minutes into what was to be an hour on the lake, an acrid odor filled the air and my two on-board hosts began scrambling wildly toward the generator. By the time one of them reached the kill button, blue sparks were flying from the roaring machine. Now, I’m no scientist, but even I know blue sparks and a burning smell on a metal boat in the middle of a lake ain’t good. After a few mumbled curses, the Wildlife guys sheepishly explained their generator had just gone to that great electric field in the sky. Suddenly, the show was over.
As we turned back toward shore, I reviewed the footage in my head. Though I had most of the shots I needed for my story, it wasn’t the collection of pristine images I would have obtained given more time. But news is news, so I resigned myself to working with what I had on disc. As the boat sped back toward the Marina, I sat back and enjoyed the view of a lake I’ve biked around many times.
Overall, not a lousy way to spend a Thursday morning. Wonder what I’ll do today?