This blog originates on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana. It proposes to share the things that happen on and by the river as the seasons progress. As the river changes from quiet, warm, slow flow to rises of eighteen feet or more, there are changes in the lives of the birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles that use the river. And the mood of the river changes with the seasons. I propose to note and comment on these things.

My Photo
Location: Butte La Rose, Louisiana, United States

I transitioned a few years ago from a career as a water-pollution control biologist. I want to do this blog to stay in touch with a world outside my everyday surroundings, whatever they may be. I like open-minded company and the discussion of ideas. Photo by Brad Moon.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Long Distance

I ran the line yesterday and got some nice fish. It had eleven blue cats, four channel cats, four gaspergous and two eels. Included was one nice-sized blue cat (about five pounds, just right for thick fillets), one big gou about the same size, and the first male channel cat that is showing the change in head size that I believe is associated with spring breeding. Twenty two fish off of 100 hooks, not too bad. I don’t keep the eels because I don’t have a smoker to fix them up, and I have never been able to make them edible any other way. I baited the line with shrimp again; we’ll see what today brings when I run it.

Catching those eels made me think about them and some of the other animals that travel VERY long distances from every compass direction to arrive here in Butte La Rose (just for my benefit?). The eels I caught started out hatching from eggs laid in the Sargasso Sea, some thousand(s) of miles from here. No one apparently knows for sure how they traveled from that place in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to arrive in the Atchafalaya River, but it seems they did. Their parents stayed here for seven to ten or even up to 25 years before leaving for the ocean, and they spawned there, and died. The eels I caught and released yesterday will repeat the same story, when it is their time to tell it, if they can avoid trotlines and similar devices.

Other animals do these long distance voyages, of course, without the predetermined fatal ending in a faraway ocean. Think of the directions and distances some of the birds come from and travel to get here, and what they must see in their travels. I saw snow geese flying over yesterday. The very ones I saw will visit polar bears next month, and fuss with Arctic foxes over who owns the nest full of eggs. The rufous hummingbirds came from Oregon, maybe, or even further north, where they will breed and watch grizzly bears this summer. The buff-bellied hummers come from northern Mexico, and they will go back there soon to eat Mexican nectar and bugs. And, going the other direction, the ruby throated hummers are arriving now from Central America, many of them flying nonstop (except for an occasional oil platform) from Yucatan. And all this just to show up in our backyard? Just to provide an opportunity for us to wonder about, and imagine things we cannot do ourselves? Even with only our imaginations, we become part of it, I think. Because of them we become larger, and a part of something larger yet.

Ever wonder why ropes and things get untied when you know you tied them with a good knot? Well, Napoleon knows.

The river today is 4.7 on the Butte La Rose gauge, going to 3.8 by Friday. The Ohio and Mississippi are both falling. Bad news for early high water continues to get worse.

Rise and Shine, Jim


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