What You Can See on April 24
Submitted by Ted Williams on Mon, 04/24/2006 - 07:58.
From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. Mini Pike Take a closer look at those fish you thought were baby pickerel, pike, or muskellunge as they scoot or thrash—or hang, as if from mobiles—in sluggish streams, swamps, pond margins, and even floodwater. All pike spawn in early spring, but what are these hot-dog-size fish doing tearing up the shallows in large groups, broadcasting eggs and milt on thick vegetation? They’re adults, too—“little pickerel,” as the two subspecies are collectively called. So closely are they related that they’ll interbreed where ranges overlap. The grass pickerel, of the Mississippi and Gulf Coast drainages, lacks the crimson fins of the redfin pickerel, which is confined to waters collected by the Atlantic. Little pickerel have dark, tear-shaped markings under their eyes and blunter snouts than their larger cousins. In some areas they are being depressed by non-native pike and bass unleashed on their habitat by an angling culture for which size and quality are synonyms.