Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Disposing of fishy parts
Display Avatars Sort By:
Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 15:25:54 MDT Print View

What are people's opinions on the politically correct way to dispose of fish parts (heads, guts etc.) in the back country. Presume there is no wood fire in this case, so don't say burn it. On the one hand, I assume in a lot of place there are tons of water dwelling things that would happily chow down on the leftover parts. On the other unceremoniously dumping them into the local waters doesn't sound like a thoughtful approach for small Sierra streams and lakes, and sound like it would technically be contaminating the water supply.

Bury it? Maybe do like the apocryphal Indians and bury them under a plant that needs the extra nutrition?

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 16:18:53 MDT Print View

I don't know the official LNT answer, but I always throw the guts as far as I can towards the center of the lake. Fish die in the water all the time, so I don't really think you can call it polluting. I assume if you buried them an animal would dig it up in short order, but I'd certainly bury them before leaving it out on the ground.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 16:27:50 MDT Print View

What's wrong with just leaving on ground? Animals die all the time. Just do it a bit away from any water and where people wouldn't normally go.

Or throwing in stream or lake would be good?

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 16:41:50 MDT Print View

I don't recall the source, it was some years ago, but there has been research done on sea-migrating salmon and steelhead which proved pretty conclusively that numbers and health of new juvenile fish were tremendously improved when the decaying bodies of the spawned-out adults where left/placed back into the stream. The explanation was that the bodies of the adults, as they decayed in the stream, released a huge amount of nutrients which invigorated the stream ecosystem as a whole, and gave the smolts a greatly increased amount of forage.

Based on that, I'd say that placing the remains of eaten trout back into the stream or lake they came from would be the best solution. Maybe not the prettiest, but the best for the environment. Maybe put the head and guts under some rocks on the bottom?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 16:58:12 MDT Print View

Another thing I've heard is migrating salmon die, then bear or whoever eat them, and nitrients are spread around the forest - nutrients from ocean to forest - no salmon means forest not so healthy

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Re: re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 20:50:33 MDT Print View

I like that!

Bear p@@p = forest compost additive!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 20:56:25 MDT Print View

Leftover fishy parts?



Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 21:18:19 MDT Print View

The only problem I see with putting them back in the water is that it looks ugly to other campers if it is near the edge of a lake or stream... also not sure I would want to take water to drink next to a rotting fish head or rotting fish guts :(
But if you can throw them far enough into a lake maybe it will work... or maybe the prevailing wind will drive them up onto the shore... ugly.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 21:25:10 MDT Print View

Just throw them into the lake, fish die all the time. You are not "contaminating" a water supply. I'm assuming that a decomposing fish is part of the life cycle of a lake, so in that case you should through the guts back in the lake.

I wouldn't leave it laying on the ground. If you are leaving in on the shore of a lake then it will start to smell and bother anyone walking. In the water it will sink and get dispersed. Also leaving it on the ground will attract unwanted animals.

I get that leaving fish guts sitting there is a LNT issue at a crowded lake, so Andrew's suggestion of throwing them far out is good.
I've caught and cleaned a lot of fish in my life and always left the guts sitting in the water where I cleaned them.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Re: Re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 21:32:06 MDT Print View

I don't see what would be wrong with putting fishy parts in the lake. As mentioned above, fish die in the water all the time. I would think any body of water with lots of fish already has a lot of decaying fish mass and fish poop in it.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/20/2014 22:28:15 MDT Print View

Yeah some parks have instruction for "deep water disposal". Others, including some NPs, explicitly say bury in a cat hole. Of course none say leave it on the shore as far as I found so far.

I did see the documentary about the scientist that determined that most of the humus along a river in Canada or Alaska somewhere was salmon passed through the gut of a grizzly bear.

I'm a little concerned with the "Steven King" scenario. Marko kills fish. Bear eats fish remains, therefore reincarnating fish as bear. Rampaging bear seeks fishy revenge on mankind in general, and Marko in particular, so I might stick with the "toss in the middle" solution. I can take a minnow or a crayfish any day.

And then there is this classic to warp my brain:

Edited by millonas on 07/20/2014 22:45:01 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Disposing of fishy parts on 07/21/2014 13:10:15 MDT Print View

Depends on what the state fishing regulations are. Some states adamantly say to puncture the air bladder and throw the guts way out into the lake where they will sink and be eaten by other fish, not bears. Others, equally adamant, say to bury the guts well away from water. They insist that throwing the parts into the water spreads "whirling disease," a big problem in some areas. I can't see that it would be a problem if you toss the guts into the same lake/stretch of stream where you caught the fish, but I'm not a wildlife biologist or a state game regulator. I suspect that the problem may be with those who don't clean their fish until day's end and toss the guts into a lake other than the one the fish came from. That certainly would spread disease!

In any case, it's a good idea to check on the local rules when you get your fishing license.

Edited by hikinggranny on 07/21/2014 13:11:53 MDT.

Travis Bernard
(DispatchesfromtheNorth) - M

Locale: Ross River
Re: Disposing of fishy parts on 07/23/2014 07:34:52 MDT Print View

The general rule where I live is to puncture the air bladder and toss the guts into the deepest part of moving water, if possible. If at a lake, we throw the guts out as far as possible. Bears have a tremendous sense of smell, and I for one would not want to be camping where people have been burying fish guts. Grizzlies can toss boulders aside to get at marmots, so I doubt a 2 foot hole would be much a barrier for them. In non-bear habitat, I'd assume other animals would be just as likely to find them.

Not sure about the disease risk of decomposing fish. I've also heard that the added nutrients are good for the ecosystem, but I'm not sure where I heard it.

Usually, when we do toss guts the birds end up getting them before they even get the chance to sink to the bottom.