Fishing for a Name


With the cedar waxwings overhead and the light failing, I turned to look behind me at the creek–diminished as it is with our relative drought that is so far nothing like as serious as the one of 2002 which left us minnow-less. This is the wide and shallow area where Abby did her serious crawdad-hunting back last summer, and it is full of tiny fish in a frenzy as I step closer for a better look.

But the best look for photo-purposes wasn’t good enough for very good image: with the glare of the water, the low light, and these honey-I-shrunk the trout minnows zooming this way and that, this was the best I could come up with. But maybe you can see enough, fish experts, to offer an identification.

I’ve seen Mountain Red Bellied Dace here before, and am operating on the assumption that these might be the females with the distinctive lemon-yellow fins. If so, as long as I watched, I did not see a male with the conspicuous red and black streaks. So if you have a fish-ologist contact, please forward this link and image so that, when I go back with the tripod and better lighting (and a polarizing filter would be nice!) I’ll know by name who I have the pleasure to be photographing!

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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