Fishing creek has always been a surprise to me. Looking at the watershed, it shouldn’t be loaded with fish. It winds through farmland, and its banks are largely unprotected and unforested. A herd of cows wade in the creek just upstream of this spot. All the ingredients for impaired waters and reduced diversity. But experience reminds me that this snorkel will likely upset my perceptions. I eagerly slip into the water.
A school of what looks like a hundred black nosed dace swim in a beautiful fluid dance of gold, silver, and black stripes. The clean lines and metallic colors are pretty amazing especially for what is considered a common fish, a fish that survives in the most urbanized of streams. It makes them look royal. Juvenile and mature brown trout fight up stream, shoot back down and repeat, and always keep a suspecting eye toward me. Common shiners are still olive brown, but soon they will add color to attract a mate, the way the rosy sided dace are just starting to get red.
Clean gravel piles next to rocks indicate new Crayfish burrows and glisten in the sun.
I work upstream and slide into a deeper pool. The sand bottom is scoured out under a wide log, and a few large brown trout peek out from underneath. The trout don’t last long before they think I present more of a threat than giving up their protection does, and take off for somewhere else. They move way too fast for me to see where they went. White suckers look lunky in comparison and stay in a tight school on the bottom. Stone rollers cautiously watch me. They keep their squared off heads and u shaped lips pointing upstream but occasionally dart to pick off a morsel of food.
The abundance and diversity of fish in Fishing Creek stand as testimony to the amazing worlds hidden just beneath the surface of even the most unsuspecting streams. It is motivation to tell that story to as many people as will listen and more importantly, inspire them to look and see for themselves that Fishing Creek is full of fish.