While I was scanning the news wires yesterday, I came across the curious case of Tad Newell, who hales from Pekin, IL. Tad was happily tooling around astride his brand new jet ski on the Illinois River, when without provocation, a fish jumped out of the water and knocked him off of his ride. Fortunately for Tad, he was able to call 911 from his apparently water-proof cell phone and summon authorities to his rescue, where he and his half-submerged jet ski were unceremoniously towed to shore. Tad's harrowing experience was shared by young Arkansas native, Seth Russell, who was innocently riding along on an inner tube being pulled from a speed boat, when he was viciously attacked by another fish that jumped out of the water and broke his jaw.
As it turns out, both of these incidents, and many others have been caused not by ordinary, run-of-the-mill fish, but by hoards of vicious Asian Carp. These cold blooded vertebrates were exported from China in the 1970's under the ruse of clearing algae from southern catfish farms. However, their real purpose was to gather industrial secrets for the Chinese government. That is, until it was discovered that due to their physiology, they were unable to escape their watery confines, at which time their funding was revoked and they were left to fend for themselves in favor of another force of Chinese undercover agents, Asian Lady Bugs, who successfully stole top-secret blueprints for the "Sham-Wow" and sent them to their oriental masters.
Abandoned by their government, and languishing in their scummy ponds, the carp vowed revenge and waited for their opportunity to escape. The opportunity arose with the great southern floods of 1993. The carp were washed, en masse, into the Mississippi River and paddled North, into the Illinois River; from where they planned to reach the Great Lakes, and set their final plan into motion; to control all maritime shipping and ultimately, the world!
Fortunately for all Americans everywhere, the Department of Homeland Security caught wind of this plot early on and has devised several defenses to defeat the carp menace, described by experts in the field of aviation to be the "ultimate invader". The first line of defense consists of a series of nets in the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, between the Illinois River and Lake Michigan, which continually pump one million volts of super-charged electricity into the water to flash fry any carp foolish enough to approach.
The second avenue of defense involves you, John Q. Public, and is a combination of two separate but intertwined strategies code named "Operation Evinrude" and "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em". The first strategy enlists the help of recreational boaters, who continually speed up and down the Illinois River and take advantage of the carp's "Achilles Heel", their tendency to jump out of the water and into your boat whenever they hear an outboard motor. This reminds me of a story about my former colleague, Dan Ingram, whose favorite pastime was zipping up and down the river in his 16 foot runabout at 100 mph, until the evening when he ran over a sunken log and tore the bottom out of his boat and lost his cooler full of beer and sandwiches, and though he should have been glad he wasn't killed or even injured, all he could do was continually bitch about it for weeks to anyone within ear shot until everyone started avoiding him because they couldn't stand to hear his goddamned story one more time!
Anyway, the related strategy, "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em", relies on the above said recreational boaters taking their loads of squirming fish to super-canneries, where they are sliced, diced and vacuum packed for consumption. The only hang-up in this plan is what to call the product, because the name "Asian Carp" doesn't exactly conjure up visions of lip smacking goodness, so the government is currently working on alternative names, such as "Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream Fish" and "Aquatic Fillet Mignon". It is hoped that a large quantity of this product will be exported back to the Chinese, which will teach them to steal our industrial secrets, except that the bulk of the gazillion dollars the U.S. is receiving now to handle that pesky little economy thing comes from Chinese loans, so I guess they get the last laugh after all.
Postscript: While researching this post, I ran across a video clip that you can see here. It's mildly hilarious and what I could imagine CNN ace reporter David Mattingly thinking while filming the segment was "I spent 4 years in journalism school for this?"