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Gone Fishin’

PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG Going Fish’n is what Great Blue Herons do every day. That is their job as assigned by Mother Nature. And they do it quite well. These large wading waterbirds use stealth and exercise lots of patience to place themselves in a highly likely spot to see fish underwater and then calculate the right time to uncoil their long neck to propel its sharp beak as a spear into the quarry. Today’s images illustrate a heron just before lift off as it spied a fish in a vulnerable location. By being careful, slow, steady and stealthy, the bird eventually successfully speared a bullhead fish. Both images were made at Marshalltown’s Riverside Cemetery.

GOING FISHING is a summer activity for lots of outdoor oriented folks. People primarily go fishing for the recreational value it offers. And if those folks catch a fish or two or three, so much the better. Learning which water body to go fishing at is just one element that must be decided. What kind of fish live there? What natural underwater habitats might be a best place to hold the species being sought? What time of the year is best? What time of day is best? What type of natural baits or artificial lures will be the correct combination to entice a fish to strike your hook?

Questions like those so noted can go on and on. Experience is a good teacher. A fishing buddy/mentor is always a great way to learn new tricks of the trade and also learn the differences and similarities of different ponds, lakes or streams. Fishing clubs have been organized to make journeys to area waters. Teaming up with a person willing to have you tag along is worth the call. People that are really into fishing can save you a lot of time by putting themselves, and you, in the right place for exciting fishing opportunities.

Iowa has 148 different species of fish living in its waters. Names of fishes can go from very familiar to ‘never heard of that one.’ Just a few fish species categories include catfish and bullheads, sunfish like bass and other panfish, perch, trout, pike, suckers, minnows and primitive types. Most common are bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, walleye, northern and the common carp.

On the list of those getting little publicity are Pallid sturgeon, shovelnose sturgeon, bowfin, greater redhorse, green sunfish and its cousins Orangespotted sunfish and Redear sunfish. And have your heard of blackchin shiner, mottled sculpin, brassy minnow, stoneroller, golden shiner, pearl dace or redbelly dace? If you haven’t heard of these fish, you are not alone. Just take note that all of them have food chain niches to fill in their aquatic environments.

FISHING IS CHILD’S PLAY can fit the bill for a summer activity. Taking a child fishing, hopefully where hungry fish of any species are present, can turn a child into an advocate for a life-long interest in this sport. Preserving memories with friends, grandkids and family is part of the fun. Any first fish caught by a kid is “trophy” time as their eyes and smiles express delight. Iowa Department of Natural Resources has a first fish certificate that can be found online or clipped out of an Iowa Fishing Regulations booklet. Try www.iowadnr.gov/firstfish. There is also a First Fish Webpage. Have fun outdoors this summer. Make fishing one of those endeavors.

This author has been impressed with a recent Public Television series about Australia: The first Four Billion Years. This series was right up my alley with regards to the stories about earth’s natural history, plate tectonics and earth’s ever shifting continents, fossil discoveries large and small, and ocean advances/retreats. One must not forget lots of entombing glacial advances and retreats also. All of these facets of early life up to our current conditions was well photographed, well narrated and very well explained. I like facts and this series about the down under continent of Australia greatly illuminated enormous natural changes that earth has endured.

What one can draw from this science show was how the same processes were repeated all over the face of earth’s surface. Once huge conglomerates of a single land mass moved about, over vast geologic time frames, like pieces of a giant puzzle laid out on a sphere. That sphere of course is planet earth. The land masses were riding along on a thin crust, splitting into smaller units and bumping into each other to create ancient mountain ranges, then subsequently splitting again to go elsewhere. Other land masses would disappear under others as continental plates dove deep into the earth to be recycled.

An analogy of this process is akin to having a soccer ball with a thin layer of grease applied to it. All the dark patches of the ball represent continents. Now imagine putting your hand on any continent and sliding it anywhere you desired, bumping into others or sliding out of sight under other plates. As one of your experimental continent patches bumped into another, a huge mountain range might be created. Think of places like the Alps of Europe, or the Himalayas mountains where the continental plate of Indian ‘crashed’ into Asia causing those mountains to raise up. Between South America and North America and their eastern counterparts of Europe and Africa, a mid ocean ridge of expanding earth crust moved those continental masses away from each other. That split is now the sea floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

By the way, precise global positioning satellite readings indicate Australia continues to slide northward at the rate of about three inches per year. The continent of Indian continues to move north into Asia at approximately the same rate as our fingernails grow. The huge convection flow of our internal earth’s mantle and the tremendous heat inside earth’s core will continue to move all above ocean land surfaces at its will ever so slightly. Us humans may not notice any of this only because we live to short a life to see the big picture of millions of years of earth’s ongoing natural ecological and geologic time.

My last comment on science for today is this: Just like an iceberg floating in the ocean, what we see above the waterline is a about one-tenth of the total. Nine-tenths of that ice is out of sight. An ice cube in your cola drink is the same, one-tenth above and nine-tenths below the surface. What us humans have figured out via investigations from all the physical sciences equals that one-tenth above the surface. There is a lot more we do not know represented by nine-tenths below.

Quote from Albert Einstein — “One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike — and yet it is the most precious thing we have.”

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