What You Can See on May 8
Submitted by Ted Williams on Tue, 05/09/2006 - 07:22.
From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. Large-finned House Dads In clear, cool, rocky lakes and streams across the United States smallmouth bass -- actually a species of sunfish -- are easing into shallows. The males, smaller than females, come first, cutting nests in gravel with their broad tails, then herding in their mates -- often more than one. The male guards the eggs, fanning them with his tail, then broods the young. When males are on their nests they’re extremely aggressive and will hit virtually any bait or lure, even after they have been caught and released the same day. A smallmouth’s mouth is small only in comparison with that of its bigger and more ubiquitous cousin -- the largemouth bass of warmer water. With its oversized fins, an adaptation to moving water, the smallmouth might better be called “largefin bass.” Before 1869 smallmouths were largely restricted to the Lake Ontario and Ohio River drainage systems. But, toted in water tenders and tanks of the early railroads, they fanned out across the continent with their human admirers. Pound for pound few, if any, freshwater fish are stronger. Today, thanks to the efforts of Ray Scott and the 600,000-member Bass Anglers Sportsman Society that he founded, most serious bass fishermen no longer kill their catch.