We are all wounded. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. The wounds remain. In time, the mind covers these wounds with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But, it never disappears; it is never gone. Sometimes, you’ll have good days, and in the midst of silent moments, it hits you: everything. It hurts to talk, to love, to remain above water.
Simply existing is difficult. No one cares; no one wants to hear about the days you spend lying in your bed, hoping to never wake up. You wish you could be anywhere or even in a time other than now.
“I love that which is invariably beautiful. Everything is beautiful where trout lie.”
We all have our ways of coping with these wounds. We have
our own acts of survival; our own ways of staying alive, even when life isn’t
life anymore. Your soul knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to
silence the mind.
Silence. The disappearance of white noise and chatter; the disappearance of people. Bubbling water, flowing from the snow melt, down the river and over stream beds of smoothed pebbles. Nothing but you and the reverie of what lies ahead.
I love that which is invariably beautiful. Everything is beautiful where trout lie. I hate that which is invariably ugly: people, television, iPads, and assorted social stigmas that come with living in a modern society. Doctors prescribing you a new prescription to dull your senses; to numb what you hope to one day feel.
In a world where most people spend their lives doing things they hate, my escape is the endless source of solitude. On the water, wading in a stream, or strolling through woods, I find solitude without loneliness. I fish because I love to; because fish do not lie; they cannot be bribed or impressed by power, but respond to humility. They respond to a patience only true fishermen know.
Patience. It is something I know. Mastering the art of fishing takes time. Taking that experience and portraying it on canvas takes even more time. But why? Anyone can paint a fish but where there is no emotion, it is just that: a picture of a fish. Channeling that feeling of excitement, the sweet fragrance of evergreen trees, or the repetitive song of a marsh wren into a visual work of art requires total immersion into the moment.
When I paint a fish, I’m painting the moment; I’m reminding myself that this is my refuge. A refuge where my lesions of life can heal; where my mind can drift like the dry fly on the Gros Ventre River. You watch your line or the reflection dancing and nothing more; somehow, you unconsciously grasp the sweet scent of summer, the memory of mountain bluebirds singing, and the wind gently sweeping the tinge of hair on your face. This is the calm; this is the silence your soul mediates with your mind.
“Trout… what fly fishermen are after. But are they really? Maybe it is the attainable sensation of hope that the next trout will be bigger, prettier, a challenge.”
Calm. At ease. I sit down and close my eyes, taking myself
back to a western seclusion. It’s like I’m sitting there on an exposed rock,
watching the sunset dance on cottonwood leaves. The towering Teton Mountains
are behind me. I’m watching time stroll by, sweeping in the last of the snowmelt.
Little did I know that this is where trout lie.
Trout… what fly fishermen are after. But are they really? Maybe it is the attainable sensation of hope that the next trout will be bigger, prettier, a challenge.
Me? I borrowed my husband’s rod, practicing the dance between rod, line, and water. Gently coaxing the fly back and forth then sorting the landing among the ripples, rocks, and current. I pick it up as it makes it way down river, ready to try again. Same movements, easing the line like I’m painting in plein aire.
I’m aiming at this swirl in the river, lessening the chance of a bite. I don’t care. I’m not fishing, or at least I didn’t think so.
I was immersed into the meditation of fly fishing; the flouncing elegance of casting and presenting my fly.
I start to bring in my line as it sweeps down river, but something happened. Something is different. My line is weighted. Then it moves upriver, unnaturally against the current.
My hands stay steady but my mind is still processing the thought that I have a trout on the end of the line.
How? Why? I wasn’t ready for a fish.
This uncontrollable feeling of pure excitement swept over me, and I couldn’t help but yell, “Holy Moly! I caught a trout!”
I still wasn’t sure if what I said was true. I reeled and hand-lined the trout in. Oh, indeed, it was a trout. It was a fine-spotted Snake River cutthroat.
I somehow caught a trout that fishermen go years trying to obtain but yet, always eluded.
“Pain is a part of life. Sometimes, it’s a big part. And sometimes, it’s as small as a nymph. But either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep waters, the great catch.”
In my excitement, I felt this peace overcome me. Contradictory, I know. I wasn’t after the trout. My soul knew the existence of what was there; a sense of healing and a chance to release.
All of this happened so fast, but my consciousness took in every millisecond, hyper-vigilant on my surroundings and emotions. I honestly could not process the disbelief and how an incredible moment was presented on my road to healing.
I’ve learned to control my outward emotions, but inside, I was weeping. I needed this. I looked down at this trout. It’s beautiful colors and spots matching the golden light that backlit my excitement.
Oh, how this trout unknowingly helped me; how the simple act of fishing helped me. I was releasing what pain and confusion my mind had warped into suffering. I gently supported the trout for it’s release.
For the release wasn’t just putting the fish back in the water. It was free; but was I? I had to let go. In doing so, I started to release the hurt. I released the fear. I started to heal. I have refused to entertain the old pain.
Pain is a part of life. Sometimes, it’s a big part. And sometimes, it’s as small as a nymph. But either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep waters, the great catch.
Pain does two things: it teaches you; it tells you that you’re alive. Then the reality of it drifts away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser. Sometimes, it leaves you stronger. That strength is hidden in the depths of weakness and despair. Either way, pain leaves its mark and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.
So take that rod, find water, and cast. You just might let something go.
Whether you are a master at crappie fishing or just catch the occasional white or black crappie, they are exciting fish to catch as well as to eat.
But have you ever wondered how to tell the difference between the different species of crappie?
There are seven different species of crappie:
Triploid (Magnolia) crappie
Stock hybrid crappie
Natural hybrid crappie
The two types of crappie we will focus on in this article are black crappie and white crappie.
Basic Crappie Info
Before we explore the differences between white and black crappie, let’s take a look at some basic information about crappie.
Crappie are freshwater fish and are part of the sunfish family. They can be found in various waters in the US and Canada.
Crappie have a sustainable population due to the equilibrium that exists between their reproduction rate and the rate at which they are harvested each year.
Crappies love to eat smaller fish that exist in their habitat. When fishing for crappie, you can use a wide variety of baits, including minnows and jigs.
Although crappies can be found in smaller schools by anglers, they are typically known to move in large schools.
Black and white crappie are similar in many ways, but there are some key differences that will help you differentiate between the two species.
Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) are found in fresh waters, mostly in North America. They are typically found in bodies of water with very low current, where they hide under timber, thick weeds and other vegetation. When fully grown, it’s not uncommon for black crappie reach weights of two pounds.
Here are some other interesting black crappies specs:
Black Crappie Size
Black crappies that are caught will typically measure in length from 4 to 10 inches, but can get much larger. The current record for the longest black crappie is just over 19 inches. an be anywhere from about five inches to over 19 inches.
Black crappies typically weigh ¼ lb to about ½ lb but they are also known to reach up to 4 lbs.
Black crappies are known to feed in the early hours of the morning. They also feed during the midnight till about 2 am. They often feed on insects and crustaceans and larger black crappie will feed on other fish such as minnows and shad.
Black crappies are renowned for their fast reproduction rates. Therefore, after each spawning season, black crappie population increases significantly in lakes and small ponds.
Female black crappie are known to produce at least 11,000 eggs and can produce in excess of 180,000 eggs. As soon is spawning is over, the male black crappies secure the nest for about two to three days until they hatch.
Black crappies live in lakes, water reservoirs, and large rivers. They love to reside in low-velocity areas with clean water and love to have an abundant cover like vegetation. They also love sand bottoms which are located in freshwater bodies.
Black crappie mature at an age of two to four years, but the typical life span lasts about seven years.
Like the black crappie, white crappie (pomoxis annularis) are typically found in various freshwater bodies in North America. White crappie are also similar to the black crappie in terms of weight but tend to be slightly longer than black crappie. White crappie tend to be found in large schools and often hide under rocks or in areas of heavy vegetation.
White crappies are known to attain maturity within 24 months and some reports reveal that they can survive for about six years on the average.
Here are some white crappie specs that might interest you:
White Crappie Size
Mature white crappies typically measure in length from 9 to 15 inches.
White crappies basically weigh ¼ lb to about ½ lb, however, according to the IGFA, the all-tackle world record white crappie is 5 lbs. 3 oz.
Juvenile white crappie feed on zooplankton and insects, but once they mature, will often feed on smaller fish, such as minnows, as well as crayfish.
Spawning for white crappies occurs in the months of May and June at a water temperature of 56°F. Female white crappies can produce from around 5,000 eggs to over 90,000. Male crappies keep the nest secure by guarding it.
White crappie can live for up to nine years.
You will mostly find white crappies in large rivers, water reservoirs, and lakes. White crappies have a very high tolerance for murky waters and can be spotted in areas which have low velocity like pools and also river backwaters. During the morning hours and in the evenings, white crappies are usually located in the open water. However, during the day, white crappies prefer to stay in waters that are quieter, shallower, with surrounding structure.
Black Crappie Vs. White Crappie (The Differences)
Now that we’ve covered some basics about both black and white crappie, let’s look at some ways that they differ.
Coloration is the most obvious difference between black and white crappie. Black crappie have a darker look while the white crappie appear lighter in color and this is the reason why they have those names. However, while many think that the “white” and “black” refer only to their appearance, it more specifically refers to the markings of each fish.
Body Markings Of White Crappie And Black Crappie
The body markings on white crappie and black crappie differ. White crappie have vertical “bars” and have brighter stripes running directly from their upper body down to their lower body. However, black crappie have much darker body markings that do not adopt a precise pattern on its sides. The black crappie’s black markings appear to be more random, or speckled.
What seems like a difference in length between black and white crappie is often more about shape. Black crappie typically have a more compact, rounder and flatter body while white crappie are more elongated.
The dorsal fins are a major determining factor. If you look closely, a white crappie typically have 5-6 spines on their dorsal fin, while a black crappie will have 7-8.
The position of the dorsal fins from the head of white crappies is somewhat farther away, while in the black crappies, the dorsal fins are positioned nearer to the head of the fish.
Many experienced crappie anglers will say that there is a higher possibility of finding white crappies hidden in bodies of water that contain a large number of rocks or thick vegetation, while black crappies seem to prefer clearer water containing sand beds.
White crappie have a larger mouth than black crappie. Another difference in mouth structure is that the mouths of black crappie turn more upward than white crappie.
While any kind of crappie is both fun to catch and also delicious, we hope this article has provided you with some helpful information on how to tell the difference between them. Whether your crappie fishing adventures find you chasing white crappie or black crappie, we hope you get to put a hook N1 and have a “crappie” day!
It’s hard to beat the feeling (and the smiles that follow) when you put a hook N1. After all, who doesn’t love catching fish? But, when it comes to fish anatomy, they are as equally fascinating as they are to catch.
There are thousands of fish species all over the world. Fish are cold-blooded animals, which means that in most cases, their body temperature can change to mirror the temperature of the water they live in.
A Fish’s anatomy can be divided into external and internal. Let’s start by examining the external anatomy of a fish.
External Fish Anatomy
The external anatomy of a fish includes the fins, scales, gills, eyes, nares, mouth, lateral lines and vents. Let’s take a look at each.
The fins of a fish are appendages used to move, steer, stop or position. The fins also give the fish balance in the water. The fins could be single fins (such as the anal fin, the back or dorsal fin, and the caudal or tail fin) or paired fins (they include pelvic or hip fins and pectoral or chest fins) along the centerline of the fish.
Certain fish, such as the catfish, have an adipose fin which is behind the dorsal fin. The purpose of the anal fin and dorsal fin is to help the fish conveniently roll over to their sides.
The caudal fin, on the other hand, allows for propulsion as the fish moves forward. Lastly, the paired fins allow the fish to steer, stop, and hover around.
A lot of freshwater fish have spines that support their fins. These rigid spines can be very sharp, thus playing a defensive role in protecting the fish from danger. The catfish, for example, has sharp fins in the dorsal and pectoral area and anglers should be aware and careful when handling these fish.
In some species, the number of spines in the dorsal fin actually helps differentiate between two species, as is the case with white crappie and black crappie.
Dorsal fins and caudal fins, on the other hand, have rays which are frequently branched and are less rigid.
Most bony fish have scales that are either cycloid or ctenoid, except for a few such as the catfish, which doesn’t have a scale, or the gar which possesses ganoid scales.
Cycloid scales have edges which are smooth and rounded while ctenoid scales have edges which are jagged.
To prevent infection, most of the fish have a mucus layer which covers the body. It is important that anglers who intend to return a fish to the water, be very careful with the way they handle the fish, so they don’t mistakenly rub off this mucus layer from the fish. Wetting your hands before handling the fish can help reduce the likelihood of damage to the mucous layer.
The lateral line in the fish is a group of organs that helps the fish sense the pressure of currents and movement in the water. It consists of a “line” of sacs filled with fluids. These sacs have sensory apparatus which open to the water by means of pores which creates a line along the side of the fish. The lateral line helps the fish sense other fish as well as prey.
The lateral line of a fish
Fish gills are very delicate and sensitive structures that allow fishes to breathe while they are underwater. The fish gills have a bright, red color because they are highly vascularized. The gills are protected by a gill cover (operculum) which is a flexible, bony plate. To breathe, the fish takes in water through the mouth, which passes through the gills and is removed from beneath the operculum.
Fish have well-developed eyes to detect varying colors. While mammals achieve focus by the changing shape of the eye lens, fish achieve focus in the water by the in-and-out movement of the lens.
The nares are a pair of nostrils which the fish uses to detect odors in the water. These nares are very sensitive. Fish like catfish and eels have a sense of smell that is well developed. Fish that live in water that is dark or murky, tend to rely on smell more heavily than fish in clearer aquatic habitat. Fish can also use their sense of smell to detect chemicals in the water, which may indicate predators or even help a fish to locate a mate.
The shape of a fish’s mouth can dictate the kind of food the fish eats. For example a fish with a larger mouth will tend to have larger prey.
Fish have a good sense of taste, and in some cases, they can taste their prey even before they swallow it. Some fish are omnivores, like many freshwater fish in Florida. Other fish are mainly piscivorous, which means they feed mainly on other fish.
There are also some fish, such as grass carp, that are herbivores, eating plant life. Depending on the species of fish, some may have teeth while others don’t. Some fish, such as the gar or chain pickerel, have canine-shaped teeth. Others, however, like the catfish have cardiform teeth, which feel like a rough area in the mouth.
Some have vomerine teeth, which are like tiny patches of teeth in the roof of the fish’s mouth. Others, such as the grass carp have pharyngeal teeth which are located in the throat.
The anatomy of a fish’s mouth can affect what type of hook to tie in fishing for particular species of fish.
In most fishes, the vent is in front of the anal fin. The vents are external openings which open to the reproductive and digestive tracts of the fish.
Internal Fish Anatomy
Internal fish anatomy consists of the spine, spinal cord, brain, swim bladder, kidney, stomach and intestines, vent, liver, heart, gonads, muscles and pyloric caeca. Let’s take a look at each below.
The spine serves as the primary structural framework of the fish. The fish anatomy as a whole is built upon the spine. The spine also connects to the tail of the fish at the rear and the skull of the fish at the front. Numerous hollow vertebra helps to house and protect the spine of the fish.
The spinal cord of the fish is connected to the brain of the fish as well as to the rest of the fish’s body. It carries sensory information from the body to the brain and also relays instructions from the brain to the rest of the body.
It is in the brain that sensory information is processed. This is the center of control in a fish. In the brain, automatic functions such as respiration as well as other behaviors are controlled.
Swim Or Air Bladder
The swim bladder is a hollow organ which the fish uses to conserve energy. The swim bladder functions much like a human lung. The fish draws oxygen into the bladder that has been drawn from the water by way of the fish’s gills. The more oxygen the sac holds, the more buoyant the fish becomes.
Conversely, when the bladder releases oxygen, the fish becomes less buoyant, which allows it to sink to deeper water.
The fish can use the swim bladder to to suspend itself in the water, thus saving energy.
Because of atmospheric pressure difference between the water surface and deep water, fish which were caught from deep waters will need to have some air released from their body before they can return to the deep water.
Some species of fishes, however, do not have swim bladders and because of this, they can sink if they stop swimming.
The kidney is a part of the fish anatomy that aids a fish in discharging waste from the body. Waste materials in the blood are filtered by the kidney and then removed from the body. The kidneys also help to regulate the concentration of water and salt in the body of the fish.
Stomach And Intestines
The stomach and intestines of a fish play an important part in the fish’s survival. They help to break down ingested food and to absorb the nutrients. Some fish have short intestines because the food they take is easy to digest. Other fish, such as the herbivores, have longer intestines that help them break down the food they eat.
The pylori caecum is situated at the junction of the intestine and stomach. It has finger-like projections. Although the function of this organ is not completely understood, the organ has been known to secrete enzymes that help in digestion.
The vent is the site where waste is excreted from the body of the fish. During spawning, the vent serves as an outlet for eggs and sperm.
The muscles of the fish help the fish to move in the water. The fillet of the fish, which is generally the part of the fish that is eaten, is comprised primarily of muscle. Anyone who has ever caught a fish and had it flip out of your hand has experienced how powerful a fish’s muscles can be.
The liver is another important organ with various functions. The liver supports digestion by means of secreted enzymes which break down fats. It also helps to store carbohydrates and fats in the body of the fish. Old blood cells are destroyed by the liver to maintain the blood chemistry of the fish and the liver also helps in the excretion of nitrogen or waste.
The heart of the fish helps in blood circulation. Through the blood, various cells and organs of the fish receive digested nutrients and oxygen. Waste products are also transported by the blood to organs such as the kidney and liver for removal. This function is made possible by the heart.
The gonads are the reproductive organs of the fish. They produce sex cells in the fish. Female fish produce eggs by means of paired ovaries while male fish produce sperm by means of paired testes. The gonads of the fish are located in the same general location. The eggs of some fish are considered a delicacy in certain parts of the world.
Whether you eat the fish you catch or practice catch and release, we hope you have learned a lot from this article about fish anatomy. And, of course, we hope you put a hook N1! You can also view fishing tips videos and read our articles on all types of fishing topics.