Monday, September 19, 2005

Fish stories

I haven't had much time for blogging lately. We still haven't picked up our home computer from the repair shop and I've been out of the office just about every day at work. We're electrofishing the Snake River, which means I've been standing on the bow of a boat equipped with a generator and electrodes, dipping up stunned fish while trying to avoid low hanging branches, logs, and rocks. I've seen some nice smallmouth bass, northerns, and walleyes, along with lots of redhorse and suckers, as well as enjoying the autumn river scenery, so it's pretty fun work.

Today we pulled the boat to a shady spot along the bank to measure and weigh the catch and take scale samples for aging. We only had one walleye in the entire run, about twelve inches in length. My coworker measured it quickly and took the scale sample, then tossed it in the river. But instead of one splash, we heard two. I looked over the side of the boat just in time to see a very large northern pike, perhaps ten pounds or more, swimming out from under the boat with the walleye crosswise in its mouth! All three of us were awestruck by the sight. We see our share of big fish in this line of work, but the drama of the moment, and the irony of the unlucky walleye, were amazing. The northern must have been alerted by the splashing of fish as we released them.

In other fish-related news, the kids and I have been watching something, perhaps brook trout, take grasshoppers in Sand Creek. Starflower and I were the first to witness this spectacle. I got home early Friday afternoon and she insisted on going for a walk to the creek with me. The Hermit and the boys were at Calvin's doctor appointment (turns out he has Lyme disease...but that's another post) and she and I hardly ever get any "girl time" together. So we walked, even though I was exhausted from the day's electrofishing, and sat on top of one of the two large concrete culverts that make up the road crossing. We saw a goshawk on the way out there. Starflower sang me a song she made up, her voice echoing in the culvert. We watched the water flow beneath us. We saw a grasshopper that had landed on the water's surface. Suddenly, there was a splash, and it wasn't there any more. A few minutes later, another grasshopper met the same fate. I could not tell what kind of fish it was, but apparently it had learned that grasshoppers make a good meal, and the culvert makes good cover. I may find the time to rig a small hook on my lightweight spinning rod, bait it with a grasshopper, and see what kind of fish it is.


Floridacracker said...

When you do, let us know. We fishy types are always curious to know what's biting.
Cool pike story...we have chain pickeral and the smaller redfins and grass pickeral, but no northerns down here.

the dharma bum said...

Great fish story! That walleye had better days, that's for sure. Always amazed at how predatory northerns can be.

Just the idea of a brook trout in your own little piece of stream is enough to take my breath away! There's always the chance it could be a creek chub, they'll rise to surface flies, but it's much more likely it's a native brookie, doing it's thing right where it's meant to be. Look forward to hearing the end to that story... A fly rod would be much more sufficient for the job, ya know :)

pablo said...

Voice of Experience: These kinds of quiet moments with your girl are worth far more than can be imagined at the time. Set the pattern. Regularly take a walk with her when you don't do anything but share your time and listen to her thoughts. Even the most tumultuous teen will crave these times when no judgments are made and no advice is given. It will be a way to keep the door open in the coming adolescent years. Even if every other moment of your life with your kids is stressed, make sure there is a regular chance to

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Blogger is hating Pablo again...

Do let us know when you catch that sneaky fish.