Amazing Algonquin Catfish Encounter
Initially shared this 'Catfish Tale' with the well known owner of Mochulla's Gas Station/Auto Repair Facility in Whitney - Richard Mochulla. Good Guy with Nice & Dry Hardwood Firewood/Snacks/Drinks/Fuel/Auto Parts and just about everything else dedicated traveller might need on their journey.
Known at the A.W.R.S. also for his love of Turtles, covering any reported Whitney Turtle egg nests with a strong wire mesh, in an effort to prevent 'Turtle Nest Predations'.
'Ritchie' is how locals and so very many faithfully returning customers refer to him . Some are Algonquin Park Enthusiasts travelling in from as far as the other side of the planet, renting backpacking or Canoe & Interior Tripping Equipment, plus Supplies from extremely experienced Local Outfitters.
Some, however, preferring the comfort & ease of air conditioned convertibles, Motel Rooms or Motorhomes instead. Either/Or, there's a good chance one may happen upon Mochula's Service Center in their quest for a personalized Algonquin Experience.
|She Keeps A Close Watch||Kids Not Camera Shy||Mom and Dad Together||Stands Her Ground|
Yet Another Lucky Discovery
'Ritch', as I called him, seemed surprised upon viewing the photos and videos of these Whitefish Lake Catfish. The viewsceen of this Brand-New 7 Mega-Pixel Sony Camera was as large or larger than anything available, back then (2006). Parent Catfish gently raising hatched offspring?? Hmmm ...Who knew ?
Later that week at the Whitney Library, Google provided info on Catfish Species doing just that ... very bravely providing tender loving care for dozens upon dozens, during that crucial/critical beginning of a considerably daunting life cycle. (a more detailed Wikipedia link).
Was wondering ... had I possibly stumbled upon something, not commonly known to the area's outdoors people? Was more than happy to direct him to the exact location, but sadly, a powerful Thunder/Wind Storm struck the Park just 36 hours later. This very friendly (by now) Catfish Family had completely disappeared to another location.
The Whole Story
this Catfish Tale a bit ...
Gazed way out on the lake hoping to see that familiar, narrow 'Chevron' wave, (wide 'V' shape) out upon the normally calm, protected surface of the Whitefish Lake. This indicator may eventually reveal a friendly, curious Beaver or two, swimming towards. It's another hungry mealtime and Lunch Is Being Served . Tasty locations around and beyond this Wooden Bridge area.
Dem Bugs ... Dem Bugs ...
Bugs were there a'plenty that day, no doubt, so stopping at any of the Park's Outlets to grab a can of bug spray is a 'Must-Do' before proceeding, regardless if it's canoeing or hiking or trail riding . My Extra Strong Bug Lotion was very effective, so no major worries (besides being down to this very-very last bottle of 100% D.E.E.T. Insect Repellent.
No idea what made me walk down to the rocks along the shore where these Catfish were . Perhaps to enjoy the antics of 'Jumping Spiders' , hopping from rock-to-rock with ease. Even jumping in & out of warm outstretched hands !
Maybe I had looked to see if the Swallows had returned to that nest under this Bridge. Last year I'd stumbled upon Swallow parents zipping under, then out and up, then back under the bridge at high-speeds.
Back & forth capturing, beakfuls of bugs to feed ever screeching, demanding hungry young. It had been raining a bit that day and I decided to shelter, and so under I went. Swallows came to an abrupt stop as I tried to quietly enter. So then sat and feigned ignoring them until they slowly resumed their amazing aerobatics.
Eventually could actually observe away as they ignored me ... ! So remarkable ... almost ridiculous agility at such blinding speeds.
Well, whatever 'rhyme or reason', standing there at water's edge, something caught my attention, and sure enough there seemed to be underwater movement in the shallows close to shore. Moved to a better spot to reduce surface glare and clearly two fish are just lingering.
Patience Slowly Quietly
I freeze, trying to determine what is attracting them and keeping them hovering here in this one area. Must be feeding on something ... water plants, perhaps ? Carefully move closer and with a quick surface tail break, they move off. Oh well. So I move closer and more freely now that they are gone, just to try and see what the heck they were enjoying. Managed to get very close and low to the shore and thought I spotted some frog tadpoles...
What??? These fish were eating the tadpoles?!?! Oh no ... they're doomed! Then one of the fish reappeared, seemed to want to come closer. I just stood still in order to see just how brave (or hungry) this small fish really was . Then the bigger one joined the smaller. I remained motionless. Well, only after several minutes of fish darting off only to return and get closer and closer each time, did I realize that they were not feeding but protecting, watching, interacting with this big swirling black ball of tiny fish.
When the light bulb finally came on and realized I'd stumbled upon something interesting, something also worth sharing via Parwild (.com/.ca) , also came the desire to capture as much video footage as I could before the batteries/bug spray ran dry.
Did manage quite a bit but sadly, a significant storm struck the Park 36 hours later. After that this Catfish Family was nowhere to be seen. Probably shifted to a more protective area, or, washed elsewhere with a current or swell, or well, who knows? The opportunity to do an elaborate documentation was gone. However still, keeping my eye's pealed wherever I go inside Algonquin, and basically anywhere I travel now, looking for the unexpected.
Perhaps this short, but sweet! 'Catfish Encounter' taught me a little about Catfish, and a whole lot more about paying close, quiet, attention, while enjoying the beautiful scenery along Algonquin's O.R.B.T. ! (Cue the Music, Run the Credits ...)
Videos Tell The Tale
One truly should have, just a quick look at these videos to really appreciate what may happen, any day, for anyone, biking or walking or hiking or canoeing within these 'Wild and Gorgeous' Algonquin Park Boundaries. It is all right there ... but maybe an adjustment, learning to slow it down a gear or two, in an effort to find it for ourselves.
|CATFISH PARENTS||BLACK ROILING MASS|
|MOM HOVERS||FEET IN COLD WATER|
|HER AMAZING EYES TELL ALL||PARENTS ON GUARD|