Turtle

August 3, 2021

I decided to go back to the mallard lake yesterday to see if I could continue my luck with the magnet.  When I arrived, I noticed the gazebo that juts out into the lake was empty.  I pulled in, loaded up my poles and gear and went out to the shade offered by the covering.  I decided that rather than going directly to my fly rod, I would put out my cat pole and my bobber to get the process started.  I baited the hook with a chartreuse worm, set the bobber about four feet up on the line, and tossed it into the lake.  I saw a turtle further out in the lake but did not think much of it.  I baited the cat pole with magic bait and tossed it out toward the middle of the lake.  Finally, I put together my fly rod.  By that time, my bobber had disappeared, and I reeled in a small channel cat.  The first fish of the day is always best.

I was watching River Monsters several months ago and it featured the rising number of Bull Sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) that are invading freshwater rivers.  The Bull Shark is commonly found worldwide in warm, shallow waters along coasts and in rivers., and is known for its aggressive behavior.  While Bull Sharks are a saltwater animal, they have the ability to thrive in both salt and fresh water and have been known to travel up the Mississippi River as far as Alton, Illinois, or about 700 miles (1100 km) from the ocean.  While few human-shark interactions have been recorded in freshwater, larger bull sharks are responsible for a majority of near-shore shark attacks, even those attributed to other species.  Luckily my mallard lake was a reservoir, without access to the Mississippi.  Avoiding the turtle was enough.

When I threw the bobber line back out, I saw another small turtle had noticed the activity.  He popped his head up to investigate my bobber, and then went back under.  Shortly after that “something” attacked my worm.  I rebaited and threw out again.  This time it was a Bluegill that found a meal (and hook).  By now my turtle friend was more active, so I threw the line farther to escape the turtle.  This time he popped up, saw my bobber about 20 feet away, and made a beeline for the float.  About two feet from the bobber, he again disappeared, and my bobber began to dance.  The turtle chased the baited worms until I finally gave up.  I had come to test the magnet anyway.  Although I saw three bass over 12 inches patrolling the shoreline, I could never get them to bite.

Thoughts:  It seems the turtle had learned that where there were bobbers, there were worms.  The Bull Sharks in Australia have gained a similar knowledge.  They follow the fishing boats trolling in the estuaries waiting for a fish to get caught.  Then they swoop in and snap the fish off the line.  So far, they have not attacked the people who are swimming in the water along the shore.  Other animals are highly adaptable to repetitive human behavior.  Both the turtle and the sharks have figured out how to get what they want.  It is too bad humans do not seem to be able to learn and adapt their behavior to new repetitive situations like the virus.  Maybe it is just not what they want.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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