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.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Snagged Log

Ray came out this afternoon to take shrimp from his traps. The numbers are picking up in the traps. He checks to see what the reproductive stage is right now and in the near future will try to define the reproductive life history of the river shrimp. I am pleased to be a small part of his effort. He noted the temperature of the water, 14 degrees C., and that’s a good bit warmer than it has been. It was 9 degrees C. in February. I think the unusually low water and the slow current must be giving the water time to warm up, plus the fact that there just ain’t any snow melting up north to keep the water cold. Even at 14 degrees, you still don’t want to be in the river right now.

There was a log caught on the trotline this morning, and that’s always a challenge to remove without something bad happening to me or to the line. The log was about 25 feet long and two feet thick and was floating almost vertically in the river. The bottom three feet snagged on the line and there it was, just hung in the current. To remove the log from the line, here’s what has to happen. You move along the line to get as close as you can to where the log is caught. Sometimes you can even lift the log to the surface with the line, but not this time, it was too heavy. So, you tie a jug on a long line and tie that to the main line and release the main line. The jug now tells you where to pick up the line when you need to. Then you go to the line on the other side of the log and again move along it to get as close to the log as you can. So now you have the main line in your hand (actually tied securely to the boat) and you can look across the log to the float you tied on the other side. You throw your “drag” – a weight with hooks on it – over to the other side of the log and snag the line the jug is tied to, and then pull the jug over to you, pulling that line and tying that to the boat too. Then you do the dangerous part, you cut the main line. There is an awful lot of tension on the main line so when you cut it you don’t want to be surprised by one or more hooks flying past you, or hopefully they do fly past you. So now essentially you have both ends of the main line tied to the boat. You pull the one with the jug on it and it slips out from under the log and the log floats free down the river. You then tie the two ends of the main line together and it’s as good as new. Simple. I remember the first time I had to do this many years ago, and how I didn’t really know what to expect the moment I cut the main line. It worked and I felt very proud.

Notice the exuberant growth of the “Velcro plant” right now? It sticks to everything, and when the fruit ripens, it sticks to everything too. The top picture shows the plant. These little bristly balls often stick to my socks and Carolyn insists that I carefully remove them from my socks before they go to the washing machine. It seems they get transferred from my socks to her more delicate garments during washing and they only get noticed when she puts those delicate garments on. Also, lots of dewberries in the green stage right now, it should be a big year if we continue to get a shower now and then. The picture of the ripe one is from last year.

The river is at 4.7 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, going to 4.3 feet by Tuesday. We got a little water from the local rains this week. But look at the Ohio and upper Mississippi! Big rises on both of them! If those rises get supported by more rain up there, we could get some real water down here in a week or so.

Rise and Shine, Jim


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