Life at the Lake

a diary of living at a small lowland lake


Early moonrise over Lake Ketchum

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Not so great a surprise


Morning visitor to my dock, this great blue heron is in search of small perch and this year's large-mouth bass fry, which are congregated in the warm, shallow water. But he is very shy, and a moment after I snapped this picture from my doorway, he chose to fish at some less populated location; in other words, he flapped off a few docks. Often, though, he fishes from his stilt-like legs in the shallows, out from the cattails, standing as though his legs were cattail stalks, and his sharp beak will dart on his crane-like neck into the thin water and spear a bass that is only two or three inches long.

The bass are making great growth, feeding on zooplankton and insect life. The bass that are deemed one years old will weigh up to three-quarters of a pound and fight more than respectably. They will take a nymph fly—usually on its first presentation to them, if it "acts right." And this year's crop of bass will keep banging it, but usually fail to get hooked, in spite of their big mouths.

When you hooks a small bass, it is easy enough to grab the fish by its lower lip and unhook him. He becomes still, as though he knows you are trying to release him as carefully as you can.

Of course such a sentiment is a gross example of the "pathetic fallacy, as it is called in literary circles, when you attribute human qualities to inhuman objects or conditions. Knowing this much, this little, doesn't make the experience any less important or enjoyable.

At the lake we all must share—man, bird, fish, creature. It is not a choice we have to make. It is the environmental condition.

Share or do without.

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Cattails at dusk


Cattails, right? What's so special about cattails?

Nothing. Only, last night, a certain slant of late-summer light caught them just right, and I ran for the camera. It is transitional time, the old seedpods remaining on a few, the others just forming and far from mature.

The light quickly faded. I starting casting for bass from my dock. I caught two in shallow water. Neither of them very big, they caused me to reflect that of any two fish caught, one will be smaller. To put it more positively, of the two one will be larger.

But not necessarily by much.

And then I went back to the baseball game on TV. It was midway through. The Mariners beat Minnesota by a run. Tonight it is the Yankees.
Everybody loves the Yankees. Loves to hate 'em, I mean. Especially here in Seattle, where the Yankees is peopled with former Mariner players who have gone on to . . . glory.

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