After receiving our eyed trout eggs from the PA Fish & Boat Commission in the beginning of February and watching them hatch, they now are swimming little alevins, or sac fry. The students and I enjoy observing them in the hatching basket. In this stage, they will lay at the bottom, waiting to digest their nutrient sac and “button up.” Then, they will learn to swim and use their fins to navigate the currents.
I always remind the students that in this stage, the Rainbow trout are vulnerable little toddlers and will need a lot of current and oxygen to keep them thriving (I can’t help but connect these little alevins to my own little nine month old at home, Zander, who’s also learned to crawl and zip across our living room floor).
I can’t wait for the students to observe the trout rising off the bottom and attempting to feed. It’s an amazing sight which I hope we observe in March.
As the book publishing date for Salmon Survivor inches closer, I wanted to share bits and pieces of the novel before it hits the shelves in August. In the story, the main character (Jack Cooper) tears off pieces of a placemat from the lodge restaurant which have a variety of Alaskan Facts on them and puts them in his journal. These were based loosely on an experience I had while visiting a few restaurants and lodges in Alaska. I used this concept of learning about Alaska to begin all the chapters of the story. Each fact somehow relates and ties into the chapter which follows.
The Relevant graphic editors have done a tremendous job with creating a ‘torn-newspaper look’ at the beginning of each chapter. They even subtly added the Alaskan flag behind it, which you may recognize it to be the North Star and Big Dipper constellation. I hope readers young and old will appreciate these little touches which make the book more interesting.
MARCH MAMMAL MADNESS
If you haven’t participated in March Mammal Madness yet, check out the ASU website and complete your MMM bracket as it runs through the entire month of March. My students and I are having tremendous discussions on which animals will survive through the madness to reach the Championship.
Since my novel Salmon Survivor is written as all-things-Alaskan, I had to fill my bracket out as an all-Alaskan-final with GRIZZLY BEAR VS. ORCA in the final championship round, and the ORCA winning! #TeamOrca
Currently buzzing at 52 degrees Fahrenheit, our classroom 55-gallon tank waits on the Rainbow Trout eyed-eggs to arrive from the PA Fish & Boat Commission. The last two years have been challenging for all TIC participants due to Covid restrictions, delays, and schedule changes. As we usually receive our eggs in early November, this year, we will receive them this week in early February. The kiddos are excited.
It’s always a hopeful time for all when the eggs arrive. These round orange dots, about the size of an eraser head with little eyes inside, represent the beginning of life for the trout. We provide the perfect scenario including shade, oxygen, runs, riffles, and pools, much like a trout stream. The eggs will sit in the hatching baskets until they hatch into the alevins (sac-fry). Then, we will wait further for them to button-up and begin feeding and swimming freely within the tank. By March, I'm hoping to share some pictures of our trout fry.
I’m also happy to announce that the publishing date set for my middle grade novel is…
(DRUM ROLL, PLEASE)….
The Relevant Publishing team is currently working on the final drafts of Salmon Survivor behind the scenes, getting the Library of Congress information registered, and creating the cover work. Sheila Dunn’s salmon artwork will adorn the novel’s cover. We decided to have the fresh Sockeye (Red) salmon on the front and the wrap the salmon around the book. Her rendition of the Red when it comes back to spawn in its reddish head and olive body colors will be on the back cover. Here's an example of the cover, artwork, and possible font.
The interpretation for the reader of the full salmon journey from beginning to the end played a part in our choice to use both of the salmon stages (fresh from the ocean and mature spawning versions). We hope that Sheila’s work will entice readers and anglers alike to open the book and read Salmon Survivor. Check out her work and website at www.sheiladunnart.com.
I’ll have more updates in March to share about the book and ways to pre-order your copy and novel goodies to share.
In the meantime, while fishing is at an icy standstill due to Punxsutawney Phil’s winter outlook, hope you're getting some winter fly tying in. Does anyone have some groundhog fur to tie up a Groundhog nymph pattern?
FLY CULTURE MAGAZINE
With the start of 2022, I'm thankful to share my article in the Winter 2021 issue of Fly Culture Magazine. Fly Culture is, "a fly fishing journal of high quality writing and photographs that capture the essence of what fly fishing means to us all..and focuses on what our pastime means to us and the moments we have on the water, alone or in the company of friends" (Fly Culture website). Pete Tyjas, the Editor in Chief, and the Fly Culture staff provide a tremendous compilation of writing and photography each season, and I'm really honored to be a part of it.
My article, called "The Silence and Solitude of Steelheading," revolves around winter steelheading and how nature really sings in the deep freeze. Most of the time, I visit the Erie tribs with my fishing friends, but on this occasion, I went by myself. On this trip, the water created amazing crystals near the shoreline you can see below. One of my favorite lines in the article eludes to the steelheading sipping the snowflakes: "I imagine the steelhead softly breaking the water's surface to engulf the flurries of snow, a spontaneous snowflake hatch."
Check out Pete's podcasts and others on the site which showcase fly fishing from around the world. If you're interested in purchasing an individual issue or yearly subscription (4 issues), visit the Fly Culture website for details.
Among the great gifts which my family shared, a Christmas present from my students really sticks out this holiday season. One of my fly tying students tied his best version of a bead-head Woolly Bugger and attached it to his family Christmas card and a Starbucks gift card.
So proud of the progress my student "Tying Tigers" group (including Grades 6,7,8) has made during our weekly club meetings at school, and this gift really represented our time spent together learning, tying, and experimenting. Nothing better than a hand-tied fly pattern.
I hope this 2022 season brings you some time on the water alone...or at least with friends who are willing to lend a hand.
As a steelhead angler, what prompts my fishing friends and I to brave the wintery weather conditions and wade in frigid water to catch these elusive fish in the Erie tributaries? Is it figuring out what pattern, color, or size they want to feed on? Is it being sure to put that exact drift right on their noses? Is it battling them after they realize they're on the line? Is it sharing awesome fishing experiences and nature's surprises with other friends? Is it enjoying the walk back to the car in the tributary shallows when the ice begins to form?
I'm sure these all add to the entire angling experience, but as shown in the video above (Thanks to Charles Cantella for taking it), there's nothing like holding a massive silver-fresh steelhead and releasing it to be caught again.
AN AMAZING ARTIST
An artist asked if she could paint a portrait of me on the water. I agreed, sent her a picture of me on Twenty Mile Creek in Erie, and this is the beginning stages of the painting on her easel. She's not only a great artist, but she's also my mom, Dianne Bauman :) I'll prompt her to paint some more scenes from the water...
Check out her portraits, landscapes, and paintings at her website (www.diannebauman.com).
I'll be excited to share more information about Salmon Survivor at the start of January 2022.
Have a happy and healthy holiday season!