Carp are beautiful

July 3rd, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Hooked! The metallic scales shine in my camera's flash at night

There is a general perception that the millpond’s carp are slimy, filthy bottom feeders. One of the pond’s devout carp fishermen caught this guy. I took shots while he was landing it to show how its metallic scales interact with ripples in the water and the flash from my camera. Admit it. Carp are beautiful photographed in these conditions.

The blue-gray haze is a protective coating on the fish's body

A millpond fisherman removes the hook from the carp's mouth before releasing it back into the waterThe blue-gray sheen seen on the fish when it is above water is fish slime. Think it’s yucky? Scientists disagree and hope to utilize its medicinal properties for healing human wounds. Fish slime is actually glycol-proteins mixed with water. It protects fish from fungi, bacteria and ectoparasites and has other important benefits to fish.

The scales on carp are huge compared to those on other millpond fish so their beautiful patterns are more visible than those are bluegills, bass, and other pond residents.

The golden pattern of the scales along the flanks of carp

A carp convention near Main Street

June 24th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

A dozen carp arrived all at once near Main Street

Small groups of carp (3-5) frequent the Main Street area of the Brighton millpond every night after dark. They vacuum the bottom of the pond consuming the excess food tossed to the ducks during the day. Last evening, however, more than a dozen arrived all at once. It’s a mystery what attracted them. Too bad no fishermen were there to enjoy the spectacle.

The first carp of the season

May 3rd, 2015     0 comments     permalink

The first carp seen was on April 13 this year

April 13: Once spring breaks, it’s remarkable how quickly the animals re-establish their routines. A few days of warm sun elebated the Brighton millpond’s temperature enough to rouse the carp. I saw this beauty rooting in the silt after dark, the first fish of the season. It was easily 30″ long and I can’t accurately estimate its weight. It’s probably north of 10 pounds, maybe fifteen. The millpond isn’t especially deep but the carp lie low all winter waiting for the sun to warm them enough to go searching for vittles in the shallows again.

Road Trip: A carp culture note

November 15th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Carp wait for a handout at the edge of the pond next to the nature center at Kensington Metro Park

The Brighton millpond’s carp have all but vanished now that the water has cooled. About a dozen of Kensington Metro Park’s lunker carp, on the other hand, were waiting for a handout at the shore of the pond next to the nature center (above). Carp are never seen loitering for a handout at the millpond. They are more wary. Brighton fishermen have probably caught each of them at least once so they think of humans as a foe instead of a food source.

First dibs on upstream goodies

October 28th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

A large carp feeds neara the headwaters of the Brighton millpond

Carp can sometimes be seen searching for food in the swallow water directly in front of the culvert that brings water into the millpond. This 10-12 pound fish was spotted well after dark this week as it vacuumed the bottom of the pond. Its scale gold metalic scales catch the light from my flash. The blueish haze around its body is the flash interacting with the layer of slime on the fish. Body slimes are important for survival of most fish species for many reasons.

Fishermen: Carp are active again!

May 10th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

With the warmer water, the carp are active again

Carp fishing is big game hunting at the millpond now that the water has warmed. Some lunkers are 3′ long and weigh 20 pounds or more. These two are about 30″ and 12 pounds. There are several regulars who catch-and-release just for the thrill of landing whoppers. I met a chef fishing last year who says they are superb eating if properly prepared. He brines the meat for 24 hours and then marinades it. I imagine there are some recipes online.

I think it’s more fun to chum the water between the cemetery and Stillwater Grill with bread. Within a few minutes, lunkers will arrive to gobble it down. You’ll find the bread brings in painted and large snapping turtles, too. If you’re lucky, a carbohydrate loving muskrat who doesn’t fear humans will join the party. Evenings are best for the show.

The carp have risen

May 26th, 2013     1 comment     permalink

The fish can reach 3 feet in length

May 23: The Brighton millpond isn’t very deep, but the carp spend at least 6 months in its dark depths. Once the dyas get longer and the water warmer, they start to become active again. A few carp sightings have happened in the past month, but they reappeared in larger numbers only this week.

They vacuum up the scraps the ducks miss The carp travel in what appears to be family groups

Considered a “junk fish” because they are bottom feeders, they play a pivotable role in keeping the pond clean. They vacuum the bottom of the pond devouring anything that’s edible including vegetation and carrion. At night, they cruise the shores of the Main Street area to obtain all of the tidbits tossed to the ducks and geese by park visitors who have poor aim. On Thursday evening, a family group of seven carp up to at least 30″ long posed for me.

Janitors at the Brighton millpond are back! They clean up after the ducks.

Ryan and Bubba land a lunker

September 9th, 2012     0 comments     permalink

The most dedicated fishermen at the Brighton millpond are after carp. With the exception of one gourmet chef I met, they are catch-and-release sport fishermen. It’s the thrill of the hunt that brings the adrenalin rush. Ryan and Bubba (aka Daren, 2008) have fished together for years. It’s a friendly competition each time they get together. September 9th, it was Daren’s turn to hook a lunker, about 3-feet long and unusually fat, between 20-30 pounds. Bloodied by the hook, it will heal quickly. It was quickly released (lower right) after bragging rights were established with cell phone cameras and me.

Fins and feathers together

August 19th, 2012     0 comments     permalink

The millpond ducks and carp have an interesting relationship. All day long, people toss tidbits to the ducks and they miss about half of them. Those morsels usually sink to the bottom of the pond. Carp are essentially bottom feeders and scour the areas where ducks are fed vacuuming up all of the leftovers. Normally, the carp do their clean ups after the sun has set, but when the water is warm in mid-summer, they are active enough that their hunger brings them into public view at midday.

The fish and birds ignore one another since neither is a danger to the other one. But it’s sometimes comical when they unexpectedly bump into each other. Birds will head for the sky or the fish will zoom into the weeds.

Refracting a carp

July 5th, 2012     3 comments     permalink

Thanks to my friend, Josh, who is one of the consummate carp fishermen at the Brighton millpond, I got these night shots of a circa 30″ carp being reeled in. Unfortunately, this lunker broke the line before he could be landed.
As an artist, that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that the water refracted my camera’s flash in such a way that the carp isn’t even recognizable in the top picture. He’s become totally abstracted.

In the other shots, at least parts of him can be identified as a fish except for the water splash shot. I like that one just for the action of it all. Water and my camera’s flash react to create these wonderful tortoise shell textures. I can’t get enough of them.

Dancing of the carp

June 18th, 2011     0 comments     permalink

Last year, I created a duck ballet and a shot of the croppie school of ballet, but I might need to consider a future endeavor with the millpond’s carp. I like watching them in the shallows at the north end of the pond. There’s almost always a small school of them there searching for tidbits in the waving weeds. It’s peaceful to watch.

The Internet tells me carp spawn in 63-78 degree water. I doubt it’s reached that temperature yet so I’m not sure if I photographed a spawning ritual or just carp being carp. The large fish rolled and weaved near the surface and close enough to the boardwalk so my flash provided just enough light to photograph them.

These photos are more artistic statements than descriptive of carp. I like the top image because the steel grays of the fish mixes so well with the golds created by my flash. The smaller shot (right) needed help from Photoshop to pull the fish from the murky water. The photo below shows the graceful sweep of a carp’s tail and an interesting pattern of light in the rippled surface. All can be seen better (but they are grainy due to the low light) if you click on them to download the larger versions.

The Nighttime Cleaning Crew

June 3rd, 2011     0 comments     permalink

Just after sundown is the best time to observe wildlife at the millpond. A 25″ carp emerged from the depths (above) and began to search the shoreline for things it could eat. Their mouths are like vacuum cleaners. They suck up sand and muck to find morsels to eat in it. How they sense what’s food with their mouths is a mystery to me. Once they’ve sorted out the edible from the inedible, they spit out the muck (left) and move to the next likely dining spot (below).

We often think of carp as lowly creatures, but they provide a valuable service . They clean the ponds and lakes even though they churn up silt while doing it. Without their help, there might be a lot of rotting dead things in the pond.

Painting with Carp

May 26th, 2011     0 comments     permalink

I mentioned the Carp Convention at the Brighton millpond dam on a previous post. It was fascinating to watch and I took several dozen photographs of the event. In the small shallow pool near the dam, I counted as many as nine from time to time that night. When they would leave the pool periodically, their wake would distort the light from my camera and obliterate their bodies.

These three shots (and more to come) are quite painterly. The fish are secondary to the ripple patterns and how the water creates intricate textures with my camera’s flash. The scales on the fish and their reflective eyes add more detail to the pictures. Don’t look at these shots as descriptive of the fish. View them as artistic explorations.

A carp convention

May 22nd, 2011     1 comment     permalink

Perhaps it’s related to their annual spawning and I’ve not noticed it in past years. I attribute it to the high water levels due to a couple of inches of rain this past week. Whatever the cause, carp have gathered near the millpond dam and they are fascinating to watch at night. There were at least thirty all facing upstream and seemed to be vigorously swimming for the pure joy of it. The water level is very high level and rushing over the dam on it’s way to the Huron River. There is a shallow pool beside the dam. For a few minutes, it will fill with carp and then they will return to deeper waters for a while.  I took lots of pictures of this dance and will post more soon. These carp are all in the range of 18-24 inches in length.

The Waning Summer

September 12th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

Two Carp in Morning Light

Not much is new at the millpond these days. Summer is winding down. Most of the wildlife youngsters are grown, the flowers have bloomed, and the seeds/berries have matured. These two carp reflect this lazy period where nothing is hurried. They may look like they are playing “Follow the Leader,” but they aren’t exerting that much energy. They’re just searching the bottom for morsels to eat as they put on weight for the winter ahead. The morning light is nice, and the water is clearer than usual because rains haven’t stirred it.

This Carp Isn’t Carping

September 2nd, 2010     1 comment     permalink

A millpond carp surfaces to catch the morning light

As morning light entered the millpond, this 24″ carp came to the surface to float in its warmth. As a verb, “to carp” means “to find fault in a disagreeable way; complain fretfully.” Not this guy. He couldn’t be more content. He has few enemies and plenty of food on this cloudless summer day at the millpond as a patch of sunlight comes through the trees and paints him with gold.

A Lunker Lurks

August 8th, 2010     0 comments     permalink

carp_0322_600

At the northern end of the Brighton Millpond, the water enters through a narrow culvert and moves quickly. This seems to attract fish that wait for tidbits coming from upstream. This Common Carp basking in the late afternoon sun is one of the largest I’ve seen in the pond, probably measuring 30″ long. They grow larger in other states including these whoppers in California, but Michigan carp bring hours of entertainment to fishermen at the pond. While I don’t usually alter image colors very much on Words4It, the strong blue surface reflection of the sky required it on this image. I wanted you to see this 20+ pounder clearly.

Allen: Fish in Your Future

July 7th, 2010     1 comment     permalink

3 Carp in Brighton, MI Millpond

I met Allen two summers ago while he and his friends, Josh and Tyler, were fishing at the millpond. I ran into him again on July 4th and learned he’s been in the military for the past 15 months. At 20 years old, he has a great outlook on life, and I’m glad we had a chance to talk about his service to our country. He deploys to Afghanistan on July 10th and expects to be in the Kandahar area. These three lunkers, each more than 10 pounds, are dedicated to Allen to remind him the millpond carp will be waiting for his safe return. Best wishes, Allen!

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