Tag Archives: fish

“Spawning Suckers” – Duffins Creek

“Spawning Suckers” - Duffins Creek

“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.”
― David Brower

Amidst the exciting rainbow trout run at Duffins Creek, other species of native fish are also in the spawn, including the White Suckers, pictured above, which are mixed among the trout as they work their way upstream.

As I was walking the shore, enjoying and photographing the trout, I came across this group of suckers as they hovered above the stoney creek bed. The water was crystal clear and offered a nice view of the suckers in an interesting formation. The slight distortion of the water made this an interesting composition for me.

I always find it awesome that this beauty is just outside my doorstep, yet some people I meet locally have no idea it even exists. This is among the reasons I make photos, to prove to others that the things I experience daily are real and more than some embellished memory.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/200 sec, f/2.8 ISO 200

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“Mating Pair” – Rainbow Trout in Duffins Creek

“Mating Pair” - Rainbow Trout in Duffins Creek

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John Lubbock

When time allows, I like to visit Duffins creek and stroll the riverbank, especially at this time of year. The narrow wooded trail follows the shoreline, through grand cedar stands, into deep gullys, along the creek, with its variable structure of rocky sandbanks, deep holes, and fast flowing rapids.

At this time of year, new growth is slowly emerging. Splashes of bright green dot the forest floor. Spring plants such as Coltsfoot, Bloodroot, Trout Lilies, and violets dot the landscape, welcoming the warmth of spring. Fiddleheads, the young growth of ferns, sit in tight knots, not quite ready to open, and the trout start their annual run up the creek to the dam at Whitevale, a small hamlet north of Pickering, Ontario.

At the right time of day, the trout try to leap up the fifteen foot high concrete dam, designed to keep the introduced steelhead trout from migrating further upstream. On this visit, the trout were not jumping yet and were pooled just beneath the dam. Many rested in the shallow pools just above the last set of rapids, including this pair, in full breeding colours. The shallow water allowed me to get a clear image from slightly above. This pair will breed and shortly thereafter, follow the creek back to Lake Ontario, where they will remain till the instinct to migrate up the creek returns next spring.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/125 sec, f/5.6 ISO 200

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“Upstream” – Rainbow Trout in Duffins Creek

"Upstream" - Rainbow Trout in Duffins Creek

“No one is without troubles, without personal hardships and genuine challenges.  That fact may not be obvious because most people don’t advertise their woes and heartaches.  But nobody, not even the purest heart, escapes life without suffering battle scars.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich

The dark shape hovers, just below the surface. Defying the rush of the frigid spring waters. Moving neither forward, nor back. Fixed in it’s intent, it’s goal. Progress from this point seems improbable. Then, with a flick of it’s tail, like liquid lightning, it darts into the depths ahead, resting and awaiting the next challenge.

I stand on the shore, watching this drama played out, time and time again. Beneath cold, rushing waters, in currents that would sweep us off our feet, the rainbow trout, in their annual spring migration persevere against the elements. They hang, suspended, seemingly motionless, as the waters rush around them, for longer than seems possible.

These are the early migrants, having already travelled many miles up Duffins creek, from Lake Ontario, through deep, calm pools, shallow, rocky rapids, barely deep enough to cover their hulking masses; across clay bottoms and sandy shoals. These are not small fish. Many are over two feet long and weighing close to twenty pounds (9 kg). Yet they get through waters that barely cover them.

This is the Duffins Creek Migration, an annual spring event that is just starting out and at it’s peek will see trout in vast quantities, ‘stacked’ in certain areas of the creek, awaiting their turn to run further up the creek, following these early venturers.

I chose this particular image since this is how the trout often appear from the shore. They are just a shadow, suspended in the water, defying the current.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/10 sec, f/16.0, ISO 200

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“Duffins Creek Rainbow Trout”

“Duffins Creek Rainbow Trout”

“I could wade into this river, let my sins drown to the bottom, let the waters carry me someplace far. Someplace with no ghosts, no memories, and no sins.”
― Khaled Hosseini

In what has become a springtime ritual for me, since discovering the phenomenon, some 20 years after living here, is walking the shores of Duffins Creek, near the town of Whitevale, and enjoying the annual trout run from Lake Ontario, to the Whitevale dam, where I have had some success photographing the trout trying to scale the ten foot tall dam.

To my observations, the run is not triggered by a particular week in the calendar, water temperature, or how clear the water is. The ‘run’ seems to to triggered by some combination of the hours of sunlight and daytime temperatures. Only the trout know what causes this urge to migrate upstream.

Along the shores of this creek grows a plant known as coltsfoot. It’s a small yellow flower, resembling a stunted, thick stemmed dandelion. The first blossom of this spring plant coincides perfectly with the trout run. We’ve had a mixed bag this spring, with temperatures early in the month above normal, yet the coltsfoot was not blooming, until recently. Low and behold, the trout have returned to the river for their annual pilgrimage to the dam. As noted above, the dam is ten feet tall and designed to keep this introduced species from migrating up the river and feeding on the native brown trout.

While they had not made it to the dam yet, I certainly enjoyed seeing the flashes of colour in the water as they fought their way past the current. I’m hoping to get back in the next few days to photograph the jumping.

The trout pictured above was hovering in the current in a relatively shallow part of the creek, providing me the opportunity to make a nice image, showing all his bright colours and patterns.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/50 sec, f/3.5, ISO 250

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Kill Plate” – Atro Gallery of Gems, New York

“Kill Plate” - Atro Gallery of Gems, New York

“As I see it, life is an effort to grip before they slip through one’s fingers and slide into oblivion, the startling, the ghastly or the blindingly exquisite fish of the imagination before they whip away on the endless current and are lost for ever in oblivion’s black ocean.”
― Mervyn Peake

A “Kill Plate” is the geological term of a particular strata in which numerous fossilized animals can be found. In this case, a large number of fish, each about two inches long, all died and were preserved as fossils in a narrow layer of sandstone. We will never know what event caused this mass death to happen, perhaps a big wave deposited the fish to die high up a beach somewhere and subsequent waves buried them? Or, a river dried up, with the same effect. It leaves us with an unanswered story to ponder, but the end is written in stone.

I should have written down more of the details about this particular artifact. The primary reason I made the photo was that I saw this as a piece of art and have neither the space, nor the funds for the original, though I am fascinated by the details and wanted to spend more time looking at it. It’s a bit like a large stenciled drawing, with the same shape repeating randomly over and over on a carefully textured background.

I can picture the person who first saw this slab, peeling back the top layer and revealing the scene above. I also imagine this is a small portion of a much bigger slab that was divided and sold off to galleries and collectors.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 80 mm
1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250

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“Bronze Fish”

“Bronze Fish” - by artist Jean Horne - Canadian National Exh

I love fine details and textures. It’s especially those little details I notice after having walked by something dozens of times and I find myself wondering, “Why did I not notice that earlier?”

One of the joys of photography is being able to capture those moments and reflect on them later. Above is a bronze statue of fish outside the Food Building at the Canadian National Exhibition. I’ve been going to the “EX” since I was a kid, and spent a fair amount of time inside the food building. In that time, I suppose that I have never exited via the west-facing doors? Not sure, but I certainly never noticed this interesting statue by Jean Horne. It has a very Art Deco look and I like how it’s installed over a small reflecting pool. How many other have walked past this statue and never noticed it? It is incredible, in  our busy world, how we can miss so much. I’m just happy to be able to slow it down for a moment, to enjoy that moment, and to be able to take it with me, as a photo.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-2000mm @ 80mm
1/250 sec @ f/8, ISO 250

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“The Struggle”

“The Struggle” - Rainbow Trout run at Whitevale, Ontario

On the spring theme of the Rainbow Trout spawn that occurs every year in this area, here’s a slightly abstract image of a trout mid-run up Duffins Creek, near Whitevale, Ontario. The image above is a time exposure of a single trout swimming against a particularly strong current at a point where the clear water in the foreground is mixing with water contaminated with clay, caused by the spring melt run-off from an adjacent bluff.

The dark and barely discernible shadow of the trout hangs suspended above the rocks as the water flows rapidly around him. He appears, for the moment, to be running against the odds. The reality of the image is that the fish is actually ‘stuck’ as the world around him rushes by; neither progressing nor loosing ground. He’s in a transition between clear and murky, movement and stasis.

In the end, he broke though and continued his journey up-stream, though that outcome seems uncertain at this moment in time.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 125 mm
1/8 sec @ f/4.8, ISO 250