I just heard that a recent painting was published in the this month’s issue of Gray’s Sporting Journal (see above) and a couple of weeks ago I learned that an essay I wrote about my Aesthetics of Death Series and a couple of paintings would be published in the March issue of the Drake magazine. The Drake’s website will also be showing more of the paintings from the series.
This past October, a group of friends and I went to meet an old friend, Jad Donaldson, who had become an accomplished guide in the Northwest. This was a wonderful opportunity to catch up while continuing with my research on my recent body of work called Biological Regionalism. The series incorporates landscapes, paintings and videos of specific areas around the world and the indigenous fish species found in its waters. When the series is exhibited together, it tries to connect audiences with local and global environments.
Here is a link to the video I created to document the trip for the gang:
Last year I documented a small pool full of steelhead in one of my favorite little streams. I had been meaning to put this little video together then but somehow the files got lost and I was just recently came across it.
The fly used was a 2/0 white marabou streamer with olive and black ostrich herl on the back. The silver tinsel is from a spool of yarn that I have been using for several years now. The hook had a clouser eye and four glass beads that made the fly heavy but it cames down into the water flat and fast. The barbless hook always rides up so and is fished just above the fish so that it minimizes foul hook-ups. This also provides some entertaining scenes of steelhead coming up to take the fly as you will see in the video. I usually use smaller, sparsely-tied flies as the water clears…. somethings using a size 12 hook.
A couple of weekends ago, we had gin-clear water conditions on the local streams that made for some difficult fishing although we somehow managed to have a banner day. My client that day was a student that I had taught over twenty years ago outside of Boston, Massachusetts. When I saw this grown man it became clear that I was getting old. The water conditions made for some wonderful underwater footage of him releasing his steelhead.
This past Saturday, the kids, community members and mentors that make up the S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing Program met with our good friend, Mr. Steve Welk from Whispering Pines Hatchery, to introduce brook trout spawners into Canadaway Creek. We have heard reports passed down through the generations of family members catching brook trout in the stream but brook trout have not been found in the stream for close to a century due high water temperature, agriculture, riparian condition, one or more non-native fish species, urbanization and acidic deposition. Brook trout populations have been eliminated or greatly reduced throughout almost half of their historical habitat in the eastern United States according released assessments by Trout Unlimited and a coalition of state and federal agencies. The report says brook trout populations remain strong in only 5 percent of their historical habitat in the eastern United States.
In 2006, S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing program made a large investment to try to rectify the situation by purchasing 265 gallon tank, stand, chiller, pump and filter and place it in the Mr. Dan Lawrence’s science room. We got eggs donated from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hatchery in Randolph and we began to raise brook trout in the classroom. The following year Canadaway creek had brook trout in its waters for the first time in around 100 years. Over the years we learned a great deal about the fragility of this trout species and difficulty in raising them in a classroom. As the program continued, it became clear that we needed professional help and that we need to supplement the brook trout we were raising if we wanted to try to create a strain of brook trout that could survive in Canadaway Creek. Ever since then we have worked closely with Mr. Steve Welk.
Over the years we have tried to introduce around 400 six to nine inch brook trout in the spring and an additional 100-125 larger brookies in the fall that are ready to spawn. We have also worked closely with the DEC and have electro-shocked the stream during the warmest months in the summer to find where the brook have survived. Thanks to their efforts, we have been able to find the coolest spring waters with a thick canopy in fairly inaccessible locations that is best suited to support the introduction of the these trout. With the support of the Orvis, Patagonia World Trout Fund, Dreamcatcher Foundation and private donors, we have been able to continue our educational and conservation programming.
These are some of the images and short video (one minute) from our recent trip to introduce some new spawners into the stream.
Sometimes it seems that if you spend enough time in nature, you sometimes experience something rare that brings you little closer to the mystery of nature. This mystery is the unaccessible elements that seems to move away from us as we move through its environment. There are those instances, however, when if you stay long enough and remain quiet, nature moves back and envelopes you. These are those wonderful moments that remind you that you can be part of something much larger and spiritual. It brings you peace and reminds you to come back when you begin to lose perspective.
…and then there are those times when you have a camera and have a few seconds to document the moments when nature is completely accessible.
Here are a few of those events:
1. About 10 years ago, while fishing 20 Mile Creek in Pennsylvania in the dead of winter, a very rare white mink strolled down the bank, slid into the water and started chasing steelhead underneath the shelf ice in front of my feet.
After a few seconds of circling around the large rocks, he would slowly climb up the bank, shake himself off, look back at the fish and then slowly head back to the water to make another attempt at finding his dinner. This went on for about 10 minutes before he headed back into the woods to try another section of the stream.
He stay a few feet from me the entire time. I returned a week later and continued to do so for several years during the coldest days of the year in the hopes of seeing him/her again but always without success.
2. A few years later, while fishing a secluded section of Hosmer Creek, I had a fawn walk slowly through the woods and came out about 10 feet from me in the stream. We looked at each other for about 30 seconds and then she slowly started moving closer to me. I was shocked and wondered how close she would get.
She didn’t seem nervous, just curious. I slowly got my camera and took this picture as she slowly turned, crossed the stream and headed back into the woods.
3. Around 6:30pm tonight, as I was heading home after an hour or two of scouting Canadaway Creek for a guide trip on Sunday, I took a short cut through the woods. As I turned into the trees, a groundhog was right in front of me. He stood there perched on his hind legs patrolling the path.
After what seemed to be a few minutes of looking at each other, I slowly searched for my camera and began taking pictures. After a couple of shots shot , I would take step toward him and take a few more pictures.
I continued to take shots until I got a couple of feet away. We continued to look at each other. The only thing moving on him was the fur on his chest as he inhaled and exhaled. After taking a short movie, I took my final step. He slowly went down on his fours and swaggered into the tall grass.
Here’s an image of lamprey in Canadaway Creek in June 2011 and here’s a movie of the same lamprey.
During the past two centuries, invasive species have significantly changed the Great Lakes ecosystem. In turn, the changes have had broad economic and social effects on people that rely on the system for food, water, and recreation.
An “invasive species” is a plant or animal that is non-native (or alien) to an ecosystem, and whose introduction is likely to cause economic, human health, or environmental damage in that ecosystem. Once established, it is extremely difficult to control their spread.
At least 25 non-native species of fish have entered the Great Lakes since the 1800s, including round goby, sea lamprey, Eurasian ruffe, alewife and others. These fish have had significant impacts on the Great Lakes food web by competing with native fish for food and habitat. Invasive animals have also been responsible for increased degradation of coastal wetlands; further degrading conditions are resulting in loss of plant cover and diversity.
Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) are predaceous, eel-like fish native to the coastal regions of both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. They entered the Great Lakes through the Welland Canal about 1921. They contributed greatly to the decline of whitefish and lake trout in the Great Lakes. Since 1956, the governments of the United States and Canada, working jointly through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, have implemented a successful sea lamprey control program.
Here’s two lampreys on a steelhead at the mouth of Canadaway back in 2006.
and here’s the results of their destruction on the fish that survive. Image from June 2011.