Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunny and Warm, and We All Proclaimed It So

It's been a pretty cold and wet this Spring in Seattle. I know what you're thinking: "Well, you live in Seattle." OK, fair enough, but it has really been exceptionally not-so-nice, but yesterday we all breathed deeply the warm, light air. So I went for a ride around the Lake.

Everyone I stopped and exchanged a pleasantry with said about the same thing: "Sure is a beautiful day, isn't it?" Hearing that a few times just keeps the smile on your face.

Well, if all us human cyclists, joggers, strollers, sun-absorbers were smiling, what you're looking at above apparently puts the smile on a carp's face. It seems that this little shallow bay just South of downtown Kirkland on Lake Washington (as seen from the long wooden bridge along the lake's edge where one can typically spy cormorants on the old moorings) is prime spawning habitat for carp.

How do I know? Well, a very authoritative-sounding guy told me so. He said those huge fish (6 - 9 pounders) we were all watching as they leapt clear of the water to splash heavily down onto the surface were spawning carp.

This picture above, of a spawning carp about to land onto the water--and this is a large fish!--is my pride and joy. Do you know how many pictures I snapped to get this? I'm ashamed to say. I eventually honed my technique as they leapt/splashed about once/minute and usually there would be two splashes.

But you know what, this guy was probably right. Here is what I found when I Googled "spawning habits of carp":
Carp spawn in the spring and early summer in weedy, grassy, shallow areas of lakes and watercourses, usually about 2-3 feet deep. They prefer to spawn when the level of water is rising. Flood conditions usually trigger furious activity as carp wallow and splash, making a noise that can be heard for some distance. All this splashing and physical activity is designed to spread the adhesive eggs.

I found this from the website Who'd a thunk? The carp I photographically captured is trying to spread its adhesive eggs. There you go.

As I was patiently waiting to digitally capture my carp, I saw this Seagull dragging something in the water. You can see in the pictures below that the Gull has a pretty big fish he's dragging into shallower water. Hard to tell from my photos, but the fish is nearly as big as the Gull.

I lived with a guy briefly in Colorado who liked to hunt, as I did back then. We were both bow-hunters as well as gun-hunters, but he was a much more practiced and better shot. He was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania. He also had his bow rigged for bow-fishing (a reel with line attached to the arrow so you can retrieve the arrow, and hopefully the fish!, after the shot). We used to go up to the irrigation ditches and he delighted in shooting carp and throwing them on the bank declaring them "trash fish" by explanation. He had a "lazy" eye, but that didn't harm his aim. He was sharp. I tried a few times without success. And yes, I did try to account for the refraction from the water, but I still didn't catch on.

All of this critter-watching was a distraction from my supposed purpose in stopping on the wooden walkway. I stopped, I told myself, to take photos of my Pereira randonneuring bicycle so I can post here about some detailed impressions. I'd been waiting for a suitably sunny day. So I did take the photos, but really I just couldn't help soak in the sunshine. It was sunny and warm, and we all proclaimed so it in our own ways.

Keep it spawning,