wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Fish Foolery

No, we don’t eat bananas with our trout, but it’s there to show the relative size of the fish.

You’d think it’s easy to be smarter than a fish, but have you ever tried to catch one that didn’t want to be caught? You might be surprised how wary they are, and if you try to lure them to bite a hook, you’ll learn that they are choosy too.

Fish basically eat insects, and each other’s babies. Nasty little critters, aren’t they? And yet, when I’m lucky enough to get one onto my dinner plate, they don’t taste nasty at all. The trick is to get them there.

So I’ll defer to the Captain, who has been trying for a lifetime to outsmart a fish. He loves the art of tying “flies” (lures made with fur and feathers and other components), to suit the mood and appetite of the fish at any particular time. Appetites change with the season, the temperature, the weather, and a few other factors.

Assuming you have a fishing rod and a boat to get out onto the lake to try fishing, here are some things the trout might look for. What we are trying to do is to create a lure (a fly) that simulates something the trout might be attracted to. We need to be a little bit mean, and hide a sharp hook in this “fly” to catch our dinner.

When flying ants are hatching, the trout love to make a meal of them near the edge of the lake where the swarms of newly hatched ants are crawling on the overhanging branches and often drop into the water. The simulated ant below has wings made of window screen mesh.

Another favourite food of the trout is the nymph dragonfly. The eggs are laid near aquatic plants in the quiet waters near shore. Sometimes in as few as five days, the eggs hatch into the nymph stage of the dragonfly. This is when they are often picked off by trout. The nymphs who survive, split their skin up to twelve times on their way to adulthood (rather than sitting in a cocoon to wait for development to be completed), and this series of molting can take up to four years. Once adulthood is reached, the dragonflies mate and the female lays eggs. Both male and female dragonflies only live about four or five months after mating.

Below is a dragonfly lure simulating the nymph stage. The nickel is placed in the photos to show the relative size.

 

Below is a shrimp “fly.”

And of course there are leeches in many of the lakes. Not nice for swimmers, but lovely for a trout’s meal.

And this nasty little critter, below, is a bloodworm, the larval stage of the midge fly. It lives in the shallow lake bottoms and can give people or animals a venomous bite that hurts like a bee sting.

When the bloodworm changes to the pupa stage of the midge fly (Chironomidae) it floats up to the surface of the water, and then in the next stage it turns into a small fly.

In the above flies, the one on the left has a white bubble that floats the pupa to the surface where it rests for a while until its wings dry and it can fly away (if a trout doesn’t snap it up first).

 

Trout have no scruples when it comes to eating other fish’s babies.  Here are some of the lures made to look like minnows used to entice them to bite.

But now comes the lure that I find the most fun. It is made from a small piece of rabbit fur. Yes, rabbit fur!  Made to look like sculpins and bullheads, fish that stay near the bottom, these lures have an amazing action that simulates that of these bottomfish.

 

Here is a short video showing the action of one of these lures.


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A Not-so-boring Boring Beetle

Many years ago I saw one of these beetles in my yard and later wondered if it was one of those terrible Asian longhorned beetles that destroy our forests. Should I have killed it and saved our forests?

Most likely our forests were not in danger, and I’m glad I didn’t kill the poor bug. Yes, it bores into wood and lays its eggs there so its progeny will also bore into the wood, but it prefers dead wood. By eating the dead wood, it is actually doing more good than harm.

Today, I found this poor little guy already dead on the walk beside my house. I picked it up with my bare hands in spite of the horror I have of touching bugs. If it had wiggled, I would have been in trouble. But no, it didn’t move. I wanted to take its picture so I could identify it for sure.

I apologized to it for placing it in such an undignified pose, but I wanted to be sure, in case I needed to confirm its I.D. by its underside.  If you click to make the photo below bigger, you can see that it has fuzzy mitts on its front legs and tufts of “fur” on its antennae.

Here is what I found out.

It is a banded alder beetle, often confused with the Asian longhorn beetle, a
damaging exotic pest.

I found more information at this site:

https://entomology.oregonstate.edu/sites/agscid7/files/entomology/Banded_Alder%20Borer_13.pdf

They said:

The easiest way to distinguish these two species is  to look at the segment directly behind the head. On the Asian longhorn beetle the area is entirely shiny black while on the BAB the area is white with a single, large black spot that occupies 60% or more of the segment.

DSCN0767

On the photo above you can see that black circle on its head, a sure sign that it is a banded alder borer, and not the dreaded Asian longhorn beetle.