Saturday, May 16, 2015

Staff, Log Perch and Shad

Our team struggled into wetsuits as I scanned the water to get an idea of what we might see. A few dead shad lay in the middle behind a rock and a few fishermen tossed their flies from the middle toward the opposite bank. This was a training to gear up for what looks like a busy snorkeling trip season. We take school kids snorkeling in local streams, and this spring we have more trips than staff, so we need to cross train a bit. The water was cold, as expected, but warmed quickly beneath the neoprene. We crawled upstream and started to see life. A few herring came into view, and took off when a shouted “look! Look! Herring” through my snorkel, though it probably sounded like Roscoe P Coltrane laughing. I came upon a few log perch, shouted again, and they skittered away across the bottom. I learned my lesson and the next time a fish came into view, I contained my excitement to share my find, pointed and waved people over instead. Soon the life in the river became apparent to everyone, and I heard excited identifications. I am biased, but we have a pretty cool team. They are some of the most interesting people I know and are committed to making the world a better place. We do that by showing students that what they do in life matters, the choices they make have an effect. It is always a pleasure to work with our team, and spending time in one of my favorite rivers with this group is an awesome treat. I hiked upstream a half mile to drift back down through a set of riffles. Huge schools of shad rocketed past. Every time I flew past a boulder I entered an eddy full of big shad. Herring pushed past me upstream as I flowed over shallower riffles. Tiger striped log perch held their bodies off the bottom by standing on their fins. The migrants were back and abundant. All was right with the world. A day spent with staff, log perch, and shad couldn’t get much more perfect.

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