Our Outdoors: Fishnado!

Let’s get ridiculous.  I mean out on the edge bizarre.  With summer being severe weather season, and the Discovery Channel having recently completed its annual Shark Week programming, conditions are ripe for the undercurrent of pop culture to rear its toothy head with SyFy network’s annual airing of a new installment of the near-instant cult classic Sharknado series.

The idea that thousands of fish weighing hundreds of pounds could be lofted into the air is pretty absurd.  The premise that they are able to not only survive, but also attack with deadly accuracy on their way around the swirling cyclone as they fall back to earth is absolutely preposterous.  But, that being said, it’s some dang fine entertainment that keeps Ian Ziering and Tara Reid in business, and ultimately, makes one wonder “what if?”

Troutnado! It’s far more likely that smaller fish, like this little brownie, would be picked up by a wind event and dropped some distance away. 

Of course behind every great work of fiction is a little bit of fact, and throughout history, there have been documented occurrences of animals such as frogs and fish raining on areas including right down Main Street America.  Most such happenings carry with them the fear of the end times, as such a bizarre scene comes across as nearly unexplainable, but in reality all have been deemed the result of tornadoes or other powerful wind events crossing small ponds and lakes and lifting their contents into the air when a waterspout forms.  This includes the snails, tadpoles, minnows and fish that might reside in those bodies of water.

Among the most recent reports of animals falling from the sky came one from Serbia in 2005.  Strong updrafts lifted the contents of area ponds and sloughs and caused many of that season’s yearling frogs to be carried some distance before falling in a small town.  Climatologist Slavisa Ignjatovic of Belgrade commented to that city’s newspaper Blic that the event was “not very unusual” as a “tornado can suck in anything light enough from the surface or shallow water” and carry it some distance.  Another story out of Mexico in the newspaper El Debate detailed the same phenomenon of a small tornado picking up toads from a body of water near the town of Villa Angel Flores and scattering them around the now infamous pacific state of Sineloa.

But America lays claim to the most diverse animal rain, and perhaps the most fisherman-friendly version too as most species remain popular angling targets today.  In October of 1947, A.D. Bajkov, a Louisiana Department of Wildlife Biologist documented a fish fall of epic proportions in the town of Marksville, La., all while he was eating breakfast.  Along the town’s Main Street for nearly one-fifth of a mile, Bajkov found a variety of species including shad, two kinds of sunfish, rock bass and even largemouth bass.  While no fish was particularly large, Bajkov did preserve a nine inch largemouth along with a number of others which he described as “absolutely fresh and fit for human consumption” according the stories published by the Associated Press from that time.

International records detail the biggest fish falling from a tornadic event as being a six-pounder in India and various other stories from overseas evidence a wide variety of animal life being lifted skyward and dropped on unsuspecting populations following a tornado or waterspout. While an actual Sharknado has never been reported and probably never will be, it’s far more likely that a troutnado, or at least a downpour of panfish, may  occur…in our outdoors.

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