Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The ultimate fishing trip ... or, fish tripping ...

Here's a delightful and, well, much thought-provoking piece of journalism from Sports Illustrated circa 1964.

In "A Dreamy New Era For Fish," from the March 30, 1964, issue, Robert H. Boyle writes about an, let's say, intriguing plan to improve fishing through LSD.

Sounds like a good idea, right? I mean, fishing is a bit boring at times anyway. Except he means, by giving LSD to the fish.

See, back in 1964, when LSD was still somewhat new and edgy -- and legal -- a Mr. Howard Loeb, senior aquatic biologist at the New York State Conservation Department Fish Laboratory, (and delightfully described as "an imaginative ex-paratrooper") started pushing LSD on fish of various species to see what would happen. He got the idea from a suggestion by the director of a mental institution who'd read about Loeb's great achievements in developing methods of poisoning fish en-masse. (Really. That's what it says.)

Of course many readers of Sports Illustrated in 1964 may not have known what LSD was yet, so the writer also provided a nice quick summary (which I'll now share for those of you today who may not know):
The drug is perhaps best known to the general public because of the psychological effects it brings about. Colors take on great depth, music is physically felt rather than heard and happiness or frustration is often extreme. It produces in a normal person a state believed to be similar to schizophrenia.
Well, needless to say, when Loeb -- also inventor of the electric fish shocker -- starts dumping loads of LSD into tanks filled with happy, swimming fishes, hilarity and zaniness ensues.

He starts with Siamese fighting fish. Why? Because they're "plentiful, cheap, almost as sensitive to LSD as humans." (Not sure how that sensitivity was measured, but perhaps it's because under the influence they're prone to long, disjointed, rambling discourses, and they all sway in unison when "Uncle John's Band" is played.)

Carp, of course, are the most resistant fish. But no one's surprised, really. "Goodness knows what kinds of hallucinations carp have," notes the reporter, "but they become noticeably lighter in color." And sometimes they swim backwards. Dude.

And another non-surprise: A major pharmaceutical company jumped on board Loeb's project, offering boatloads of LSD.

Just so you know, there is a happy ending. "No one knows what would happen to a person who happened to swim in or drink from a treated pond or lake," the writer notes. "But the tests are most encouraging and the possibilities unlimited, both for sport and commercial fishing."

Undoubtedly. Now where'd I leave that fishing pole?

Read the article here.

(via Boing Boing)

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