[Tweeters] Fishing Around

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Nov 8 12:59:20 PST 2014

Not much of a fisherman myself these days, I was brought up in a sport fishing family. In early childhood that was mostly marine fish - Ling cod, salmon, etc. Later in childhood we all switched to trout fishing, which was a great excuse to bushwack to beaver ponds, and explore stream and river banks. Later on in life, I decided I could explore those places with out the fishing. Now I'm mostly a fish watcher.
I must say that I do greatly admire the skills of our finer fisherpeople, and hunters. Many of them are excellent naturalist's, and much fine nature writing has come from people who hunt and fish with respect. As for me, the main reason to catch a fish was so I could eat it.. No catch and release for me - so look out fish! Omnivore on the loose!
Hey, I'm in good company - lot's of birds and other animals eat fish too. Even fish eat fish. In the past few days I've seen all sorts of fishing goin' on.
Taking the Edmonds ferry yesterday, headed back to Port Townsend, viewing conditions were great in the morning - glassy seas and sun. First fish-related sighting was some Pelagic Cormorants on the ferry pier pilings, resplendent with iridescence in the early morning light. Preening, their beaks were covered with their own down. Not fishing at the moment but, you know, they were gonna sometime soon.
Next, out in the middle of the Sound, a disturbance on the surface - a big Sea Lion. It was thrashing a pretty big salmon - in fact the last thrash I saw, tore the fish in half - blood on the water - attracting a bunch of gulls. One of those "nature, red of tooth and claw" kind of deals. It was so exciting that I missed some ID details, but seeing a glimpse of lighter brown on the Sea Lions head, plus it's large size, made me think it was one of those humongous Stellers Sea Lions. But the ferry wasn't slowing down for closer looks.
Back in Port Townsend, I went down to the Marine Science Center at Fort Worden (one of my regular hangouts) where, with dead calm water, and noon sun, was able to see some cool stuff from the pier.
First was seeing the Horned Grebes again, diving for fish. This time viewing conditions were even better than in the past, and it was great to see the grebe going after dense swirls of herring swimming for their lives. My viewing of this event attracted some other viewers - who'd never seen diving birds underwater before at all, so that was neato.
On the other side of the pier, a Rhino was in close, and I got good, yet brief, looks at it winging below the surface. Ditto with a Common Murre.
This morning I bopped down there again, and while viewing conditions weren't all that great, there were still the thousands of swarming herring, and their hungry fans. In fact, the place was surrounded by lurking fishers: a napping Great blue Heron, guillemots, loons, and gulls. I was especially enjoying the dainty and graceful Bonaparte's Gulls flying around the pier - allowing very clear views as they flew just below me.
As if to recognize my appreciation, one Bony put on a real fishing show right at my feet, as I was standing on the little floating dock below the pier. The little gull was really going for those fish- repeatedly diving from the air head-first, right by me, a few times just 5 ft away! My closest Bonaparte's experience ever. It was great.
I know, I know , birds don't recognize appreciation - that's just hopeless Anthromorphizing - but hey , I'm just an Anthro and don't know any better. It could have been the shadow of my big air-head on the water, attracting fish (nope sun was coming from other side)- surely a science explanation could be found. What goes around comes around, I've found, in nature appreciation. You can believe what you wanna, but who's to say me and that little gull, weren't having a little mutual admiration social.
Moving right along, how about those Mergansers! I saw a bunch of them (Common) cruising nearshore at North Beach this morning. Unlike the little grebes, who dive first and figure out the prospects later, the Mergansers look before they leap ( I mean dive). I've always loved watching them cruising along, face-down, peering underwater, punky crest pointing skyward. Reminds me of watching human snorkelers on the surface. Sorta.
Well, all this blabbing has made me hungry. I think I'm gonna walk down the hill and catch a jar of pickled herring for dinner.
Jeff Gibsonfishing aroundPort Townsend Wa

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