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Eric Shackle Writes: The Fishwrapper

Eric Shackle goes on a fishing trip on the Net and discovers an American newspaper which is boldy named The Fishwrapper.

Eric spotlights every week in Open Writing the surprises and delights awaiting discovery by the dedicated Net surfer.

Newspapers around the world are often contemptuously called fishwrappers, the suggestion being that that's all they're fit for.

"The term was commonly applied to newspapers because it was understood that newspapers only have fleeting currency and thereafter were often used to wrap fish," Arthur Joel Katz*, a resident of Saucon Valley, Pennsylvania, wrote in May 2003. "Actually, in referring to The Valley Voice and The Saucon News as fishwrappers, I thought Tarola was restrained. I would have referred to their other secondary function, use in outhouses."

Now we have discovered a newspaper that proudly flaunts the name The Fishwrapper on its masthead. It's published once a month in Port Clinton, Ohio, a boating and fishing village on the shores of Lake Erie.

Port Clinton os one of several US and Canadian towns claiming to be the Walleye Capital of the World. It celebrates New Year's Eve by lowering a rooftop 20-foot (9.14m) fiberglass model of a walleye known as Captain Wylie in the town square at midnight. Area restaurants offer walleye specialties, including walleye chowder and walleye bagels.

We first had the pleasure of reading The Fishwrapper last November, when its main story, by Toledo freelance writer Scott Carpenter, was headed 'Frankenfish' latest invader of concern for Great Lakes.

It began: "If huge, ugly carp capable of leaping into boats weren't bad enough, the latest foreign fish to threaten the Great Lakes has sharp teeth and the ability to live for days out of water.

"Even as progress was being made in the fight to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan, the capture of a giant snakehead last month in Wisconsin's Rock River was raising new concerns.

"Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff captured a 24-inch giant snakehead, also called the red snakehead, while conducting a fish survey of the river."

The Fishwrapper has grand plans for the future. Its January issue featured this story on its Opinion page:

Excitement builds as new year rolls in.

To many people the start of a new year brings a new perspective and plans for changes for the better. For us the new year will bring the start of some improvements to The Fishwrapper. First of all, this issue is the first of 12 for 2005. For the past several years, we have combined the months of February-March and November-December in publishing 10 issues per calendar year.

The February edition had an item headed Michigan offers free fishing, reporting that February 19-20 and June 11-12 would be Michigan's Free Fishing Weekends for 2005. "These special days are when all fishing license fees will be waived for residents and out-of-state visitors alike on both inland and Great Lakes waters. All fishing regulations will still apply."

One of many places in The Fishwrapper's circulation area is a small community named Put-in-Bay. Intrigued by the name (we wonder if Russia's President Putin has ever visited the place) we found the website of the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce, which cautions visitors "Don't forget the dashes."

It reports that the raffle of the 2004 Chevrolet SSR truck roadster has been extended to June 30, 2005 in an attempt to sell enough tickets to cover the cost of the vehicle. Chamber Director Maggie Beckford said the chamber may have been "ambitious" in trying to sell 2500 tickets.

She said Chevrolet car dealer Jack Matia had agreed to extending the raffle partly because only 4,000 of the 2004 model were manufactured. "This vehicle became highly collectable almost immediately, and that means this vehicle will maintain its appeal and value," Maggie said hopefully.

There's also an online Fishwrapper in Sangklaburi, Burma, near the Thai border. By a strange coincidence, Sangklaburi is the home of the fearsome giant snakeheads referred to by the Ohio Fishwrapper!

* FOOTNOTE. Arthur Joel Katz, who wrote so caustically about his local fishwrappers, is a former producer, writer, and director who spent considerable time as a motion picture and television executive. He was once in charge of Movies for Television for NBC.



Eric Shackle's e book: www.bdb.co.za/shackle


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