No good way to spin Duke Energy spill

Feb. 08, 2014 @ 11:18 PM

Lord, I pray we haven’t ruined our lake.

The recent coal ash spill in Danville, Va. reportedly dumped between 20-32 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of toxic coal ash sludge into the Dan River which feeds directly into Kerr Lake.

From initial reports it is clear to me that this isn’t a good thing. We could end up with signs at our lake admonishing fishermen not to eat their catch, or if they do eat any not to eat but once weekly and none for pregnant women.

Again, this can’t be a good thing regardless of how it is spun by the powers that be.

How in the world can Duke Energy let a giant pool of that mess set atop of a rusty pipe that dumps directly into the Dan River? The only good outcome would be if this prevents a worse incident (it wasn’t an accident) in the future by raising awareness of all these piles of ash lying around our country.

Once again a giant company neglects to properly manage their business at our expense. While I don’t want this to put Duke Energy out of business, I hope they are penalized and forced to focus some of their billions in profit on cleaning these messes up without raising our power rates.

I am just about to go crazy with all these weekends at home, either with a miserable cold or due to miserable weather. Last Sunday I started to get out fishing on Belews Creek Lake (another lake where until a few years ago there were signs warning against consuming more than one bream a week because of toxic dumping by the same power company) but decided against it since I was still shaking off bronchitis.

That way if I was to get a relapse Susan can’t say, “I told you not to go fishing.”

But things are looking up for this weekend. Chris Bullock, well-known Kerr Lake catfish and crappie guide, is taking me fishing for some giant blue catfish as part of my research for a magazine article to be published this fall.

It might be a little cold but one 80-pound catfish will sure warm things up.

Local angler Vern Fleming recently returned from a bass fishing trip to Lake El Salto in Mexico with one of his old bass club members.

It was his friend’s seventh trip there and Vern’s first. In 3.5 days of fishing they caught 253 bass, including 15 weighing over 6 pounds, three over 8, and one over 10. He said the fish fought harder than any he’d caught, even more than smallmouth bass.

The weather at El Salto was great, with temperatures in the 60s in the morning and 85 at midday. He was shocked to come back to all this ice and snow.

Kerr Lake fishing report – Folks are catching big blue cats, but the cold and muddy (and somewhat gray) water has slowed down the bite somewhat. Largemouth remain huddled up in tight schools at about 25-feet deep, and a blade bait or jigging spoon will provide some great catches.

Upcoming area tournaments – My first event of 2014 is a small tournament on Shearon Harris Lake next Sunday, Feb. 15, which is also my wife Susan’s birthday.

Next week’s report – Report from the Anglers Choice open house in Martinsville, Va., more on the coal sludge and a fishing report from Kerr Lake.

Tip of the week — If you are tired of breaking off your trolling motor lift rope, usually at the worst times, try one of the new metal cable replacements. I bought the G-man brand and will let you know how it works out this year.

Contact the writer by email at, on Facebook under Walt Bowen, and on Twitter at @WaltBowen.