Alabama Coastal fish Identification

Fish ID

I grew up in the Alabama foothills, landlocked by red dirt. My ancestors cussed their lives away in that soil, following a one-crop mule. My mother dragged a cotton sack across it, and my kin slaved in mills made of bricks dug and fired from the same clay. My people fought across it with roofing knives and tire irons, and cut roads through it, chain gang shackles rattling around their feet. My grandfather made liquor 30 years in its caves and hollows to feed his babies, and lawmen swore he could fly, since he never left a clear trail in that dirt. It has always reminded me of struggle, somehow, and I will sleep in it, with the rest of my kin. But between now and then, I would like to walk in some sand.

I went to the Alabama coast, to the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, to find a more forgiving soil, a shiftless kind that tides and waves just push around.

I found it in a town called Fairhope.

I never thought much about it, the name, till I saw the brown sand swirling around my feet under the amber-colored water ten years ago. A swarm of black minnows raced away, and when I was younger I might have scooped one up. This is an easy place, I remember thinking, a place where you can rearrange the earth with a single toe and the water will make it smooth again.

I did not want sugar white sand, because the developers and tourists have covered up a good part of the Alabama coast, pounded the dunes flat and blocked out the Gulf of Mexico and a large number of stars with high-rise condominiums. You see them all along the coast, jammed into once perfect sand, a thumb in the eye of God. What I wanted was bay sand, river sand, colored by meandering miles of dark water, a place tourists are leery to wade. I wanted a place I could rent, steal or stow away on a boat.

A town of about 17, 000, Fairhope sits on bluffs that overlook the bay. It's not some pounded-out tortilla of a coastal town—all tacky T-shirt shops, spring break nitwits and $25 fried seafood platters—but a town with buildings that do not need a red light to warn low-flying aircraft and where a nice woman sells ripe cantaloupe from the tailgate of a pickup. This is a place where you can turn left without three light changes, prayer or smoking tires, where pelicans are as plentiful as pigeons and where you can buy, in one square mile, a gravy and biscuit, a barbecue sandwich, fresh-picked crab­meat, melt-in-your-mouth beignets, a Zebco fishing reel, a sheet of hurricane-proof plywood and a good shower head.

"Now, you have to look pretty carefully for a place on the coast to get the sand under your toes without somebody running over you with a Range Rover, " said Skip Jones, who lives on the same bayfront lot, just south of Fairhope, his grandparents built on in 1939. "We may be gettin' to that point here, but not yet."

It would be a lie to say I feel at home here. It is too quaint, too precious for that, but it is a place to breathe. I have a rambling cypress house five minutes from the bay and a half-hour from the blue-green Gulf—even a big cow pasture near my house is closer to the waterfront than I am—but every day I walk by the water, and breathe.


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Catching WHITES -2

2004-12-18 13:02:57 by WHites

Lake whitefish generally spawn in the late autumn just prior to freeze-up in shallow water (often less than 25 feet), usually over a hard or stony bottom, but sometimes over sand. Spawning can occur under the ice in some lakes, however. What does this tell you? Well, like most fish, spent adults are hungry following the spawning season. Often the best lake whitefish catches are shortly after they spawn in the month of December, just when the ice is safe to travel on. Use caution on ice and always test the conditions. Never walk on ice that is less than four inches thick and don't drive on ice that is less than 12 inches thick


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