Published Nov 13. 2004 - 19 years ago
Updated or edited Sep 13. 2015

Book review: Biological Time

Bernie Taylor
The Ea Press
Publishing year: 
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About a month ago, a friend and I fished NY's Salmon River and enjoyed a day of continuous action. The pool we were fishing was continuously being refreshed with fish as they moved upriver from the rapids below, their tails spraying water behind them as they swiftly through the currents. As they saying goes, it was a day of tight lines and screaming reels. We left more than satisfied, with sore arms and smiles on our faces.

The following weekend, my friend went back with his brother for a repeat. Unfortunately, the fish did not cooperate. He reported a long day of casting and drifting and no hookups. Same spot. Same water conditions. Same weather. What happened? Tough luck, right? Are there any conclusions we can draw about the weekend coming up, or is it really a crap shoot?

Anybody who fishes the Lake Ontario tribs, or indeed any other water that has runs of migratory fish, are constantly on the lookout for clues that will help them time their fishing so they arrive at the water when the fish are most vulnerable.

We hear so often the conventional wisdom of "fish after a good rain", that we are lead to believe the leading factor in these migrations is water level. Is that the whole story? What if it doesn't rain? What about a river like the Salmon River, which has a flow regulated no so much by Mother Nature but by the power company that owns the dam from which the river flows? While extremes of water flow will indeed have an affect on fish movement, as Mr. Taylor states, "water flow (and temperature) is too variable for the synchronization of important events" such as migration and spawning.

So, if rain and water level is not the best indicator, then what? Have you heard the phrase "as dependable as the rising sun"? That should give you a clue.

The major theme in "Biological Time" is that the cycles of the sun and the moon can be used to predict all sorts of natural events, from the migration of salmon to the ripening of grapes-on-the-vine. By studying different cultures and civilizations, Bernie has been able to find the common threads that allow these otherwise un-scientific people to be able to accurately predict natural events that are so critical to their survival. If they can do it, so can we.

Some of us are content to keep an eye on the internet boards to know when the fish are on the move. We keep the vest packed, the rods strung, and our waders and boots loaded in the trunk, so we can bolt at the first reports of fresh fish. That works. If you are the curious, sort, on the other hand, and want to learn more about the biological clock of these wonderful fish, then give Bernie's book a try. No, you won't be able to flip to the index and find "best time to head to the river", but you may be able to tune your trips a little more, to be more predictive rather than reactive.


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