This guy’s crippled tail didn’t keep him from reaching his potential!  He hit a crankbait while I was searching for Redfish this morning.  I discovered that the Speckled Trout are in Fish River now too…!

WarmouthLepomis gulosus

Warmouth - Lepomis gulosis


California Contrasts: Salton Sea

I found myself in the desert of California with a meeting in Indian Wells, California this week.  Indian Wells is a delightful community, the commercial areas are carefully landscaped and well groomed as is typical for southern California communities.

Indian Wells - California

Many beautiful desert flowers were in bloom in the landscapes – agave,bougainvillea, sage, cactus and the native Red Bird of Paradise.

Red bird of Paradise - Caesalpina pulcherrima

Before driving back to the coast for my next meeting, I took the opportunity to visit the Salton Sea.  This water body was unintentionally created by water from flooding canals and the Colorado River in 1905.   A strong fishery developed over time and the area was became a popular recreational destination.  As it has no outlet and very few inlets, salinity and levels of other naturally occurring and agricultural chemicals has continually risen.  Much has been written about the current dismal condition of this formerly strong fishery, but it is still a shock to see it first hand.  The recreational development initiated decades ago on the western shore is incomplete, frozen in time and the shores now remind one more of a ghost town.  The stench of baking dead fish fills the air.

  As I approached the beach area, my attention was first drawn to the myriad fish skeletons, bleached white by the sun, indicating that this is not just a recent phenomenon.  In the dry desert heat, decomposition is very slow.  Many of them reminded me of fossils.

I was focused on the skeletons as I continued to move toward the water. The closer I got, the more intact the corpses became.  Most seemed to be Salton Sea Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus). I was actually startled when I looked up to see the condition of the water’s edge.

As I drove away, I caught this last glimpse of the Salton Sea.

Bay Minette Creek Topminnows

I recently took my boat out on Bay Minette Creek to learn a bit about some water that should prove quite productive for the fisherman interested in multiple species.  I did not have a lot of time, but explored enough to know that I’ll be back.  I caught a few different fish, some of which fit into my Lifelist.  I brought my phototank, but upon reviewing the pictures, I’m going to have to change a few things to get the quality of pictures I seek.  In the past, I’ve primarily used the tank while fishing the shaded banks of the local creeks with good success.  This trip I was out in the bright sunlight while photographing and the scratches in the lexan tank were much more evident.  I’ll have to play with a shade screen and maybe more back lighting in this environment….  I might even consider building one with a glass front.

The first Topminnow I caught was this female Russetfin Topminnow (Fundulus escambiae).  I first thought it to be a Bayou Topminnow, but the lack of pigment between the horizontal lines makes it a Russetfin.

Russettfin Topminnow - Fundulus escambaie

The next topminnow caught was a young male that I’ve identified as a Western Starhead Topminnow (Fundulus blairae).  Identifing marks on this guy are the irregular rows of red spots and the lack of vertical dark bars along the side.

Western Starhead Topminnow - Fundulus blairae

Near the boat ramp I caught this plain colored female Gulf Killifish (Fundulus grandis), locally known as a Bull Minnow.  They are used extensively as a bait fish.  This picture demonstrates well another challenge I was having with the phototank… focus issues!

Gulf Killifish - Fundulus grandis

I also caught a small Bluegill while fishing the main chanel.  Being too large for the phototank, I used a new net I made, just for photographing fish a bit larger than the standard minnow.  I think the net will work out well for some interesting pictures.  I made the frame from a seedling Water Oak after the fashion of the Tamo used by the traditional Tenkara fishermen.

BluegillThe final fish I’ll share from the trip is a Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas).  This guy was a hoot to catch as I saw him approach the boat and he took a free falling morsel with barely any weight.  He put a nice bend in the Soyokaze with his lively fight!

Golden Shiner - Notemigonus crysoleucas