I'll spare you the long version. Basically, we love the river and spend
most of our vacation and days off there, but I get desperately motion
sick. We began taking lawn chairs and sitting in the shallow off the point
of a small island. I snorkeled but rarely saw more than a fleeting glance
or a cloud of mud left as the fish fled.
Some where along the line, in moving rocks to make the footing between
our spot and the boat a little easier to walk, I noticed that if you piled
one rock on top of another, a fish would move into the downstream lee
of the current. Ditto if you pulled a rock and left a hole....a fish would
move into the hole.
Eventually I realized I could watch more fish, even if they were only shiners,
near the rocks we had piled than I ever could see cruising the open
waters. And it went from there. The fist reef was built in about two
feet of water and I'd lay on my belly and watch the minnows guard
their nests from their kin. They laid eggs between two horizontal
surfaces and than the male would make "bombing runs" and fertilize them.
Actually, I discovered the eggs accidently as I began moving the rocks
to rebuild in slightly deeper water, I waited till after the hatch and
into 3 foot water.
That's when things got interesting. The first non minnow resident was a
rather non nondescript fish with slight yellow and black banding on the tail.
I've since learned that these are young smallmouth bass. Then,
I began the big reef which stands about four foot tall in about five feet
For the past fifteen years I have built and rebuilt the reefs after ice
learned a lot about what the residents like. I admit to occasional feeding
as an aid
to get them to accept my presence. The young bass that grow, become
'friends' and I always morn when they disappear, not always to fishermen...
it seems they reach an age when the reef no longer appeals.
Like the whale watchers, I can track certain fish by physical markings.
Currently, one of the two adult bass residents has a birth mark....a darker
blotch surrounding her left eye. This is her fourth/fifth year on the reef
suspect her last....she's a foot long plus and soon will be caught or move off.
My money is on moving off cause she is very wary of food. Unlike the
rabid chubs, who will swarm over food, she requires taking the
food from my hand....no fish hooks for her (i hope).
This has been a sad season as some old friends of some ten years (?),
have not appeared at the reef as yet. A school of eight catfish appeared
one day and over the years revisited sporadically. Three survived the
longest and i named them Larry, Moe and Curly. I really couldn't tell
Larry from Moe, but Curly had a defective curled dorsal so was easy
to spot. Three years ago, either Larry or Moe disappeared and the
other showed up with a healed scar along his back. And a new, huge,
very light colored catfish joined our community. Last year, Curly
actually moved into the reef, under a piece of plywood that i had found
while cruising the river for reef building material. I wedged the plywood
deep, hopping for more bluegill residents, but curly chased them out
and claimed the "fish house" as his own. He was a good 20 inches
It was sad to see the last of that "class" fail the winter. The bonus
of no resident catfish is a surplus of minnows which still never fail
I don't know what else to say. Actually I could go on for hours, but
I'll stop now as this is really bumping accepted e-list length limits, I fear.
I'd be pleased to answer any questions, and if i may ask, could anyone
recommend a good site for fish ID?. There is a very shy black fish
that I've been curious about and i'd like to find a site with good color
or illustrations. Thank you
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