Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Our rivers are amazing places in winter, but I love watching them emerge from the cold into the warm. These are some of the most exciting times on what many perceive to be the mundane rivers among us. Resident fish become more abundant and active as they emerge from their winter holding spots. Black nosed dace play again in the current rather than hunker in the cobble. Common shiner pluck food morsels from the water column and as they drift past. Soon their tan olive sides will glow red, green, and yellow breeding colors. Darters shoot from rock to gravel and back. A school of large river chub fly past, and one individual bumps into my arm just as I am trying to take a picture of the school. I got a picture of his tail. Migrants fill pools as they wait to make their way upstream. Herring swirl in small schools and shad make steady upstream progress. The river is a very different place today, and it will be altered again tomorrow. While it seemed that things weren’t moving in winter and the scene appeared static, now I can’t keep up with the pace of change. Watching the cyclical procession of our streams and learning how each season looks underwater is amazing. Even better is realizing there are incredible things happening in our common rivers and streams. They contain remarkable life. Get out there, enjoy and protect them.