Fletcher had a pretty good day on the water, catching a couple crappies. His grandmother Heddy says along with teaching him how to fish, she's teaching him about the dangers of eating fish. "As well as knowing the technique of fishing he should know the risk factor in it too," says Heddy Wilder.
The DNR has statewide safe–eating guidelines for women of child bearing years and children under 15. It says they should eat only 1 meal per week of panfish–including these crappies–and only one meal a month of walleye and other larger fish.
Men and older women can eat unlimited amounts of panfish and one meal a week of walleye and bass.
Conservation Warden David Wood says mercury accumulates in bigger fish, especially the ones that feed on little fish. "They accumulate and they really don't get flushed or cleaned out. So the bigger the fish the more potential for contamination."
Muskies are a big fish that the DNR says women and children shouldn't even eat because of the mercury dangers.
John Spencer is a musky fisherman. But he doesn't worry. "I don't worry about mercury because I do catch and release."
Spencer says he thinks most people know about the mercury dangers, but they don't pay attention. "I don't think most people worry too much. The people who want to eat fish are going to eat fish. The people who rely on fish as a meal or two every week are going to eat fish."
Heddy learned about mercury in a class she's taking, but she thinks the DNR should post health risks next to the bag limit at boat landings. "As well as they put those stands up, they should have some articles posted so they can pass on the information."
Last week, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin announced she was proposing legislation that would prevent mercury from household items from getting into our lakes and streams.