The answer seems way too obvious. A baby catfish is a kittyfish. I’m predicting a lot of kittyfish will come to life this year because Cachuma Lake filled with water, as did our other southwestern reservoirs.
When winter rains are heavy and tributary streams keep flowing because of ongoing wet winter weather, various fish species come from around lake and take up feeding stations where streams flow into the lake carrying grubs, worms, a multitude of insects, mice, spiders, etc.
The inflowing water may be muddy, but it is full of food, and fish don’t miss such opportunities. Our kittyfish will grow quickly this year. They may not yet be ready for entry into the Neal Taylor Nature Center’s fishing derby in April, but they will be of sufficient size for next year’s derby. I recommend attending this fun event each and every year.
Pretty much every fish species in Cachuma benefits from heavy rains. Shad (a small forage fish) populations will explode like crazy. Bass will have access to areas which have been above the waterline for years and now have tall plant growth which serves as foraging and protective cover.
Some of the bigger bass were fingerlings in these areas during the last big wet winter. Their babies may have asked their parents to show them where they were raised. The parent bass would have to tell them, “We can’t, because we would need legs.”
I predict lots of baby bass this year, thanks to lots of food in the water and great nesting areas.
Perch and crappie (pronounced kroppy) will be in full-on gluttony and reproducing mode. These fish eat smaller foodstuffs, which are plentiful in the water pouring into the lake and are a blast to catch. They make for fine meals around the lake’s many campfires after the rains subside.
I am painting a word picture of a massive life bloom in the water. As all those various fish species have a multitude of baby fishes this year, other critters who depend in part on fish dinners will have opportunities to feed heartily and have lots of babies themselves. The food chain will rattle loudly this year.
The first beneficiary will be the bigger fish that will gobble up a portion of the little fish from other species. Then, bird species like cormorants, seagulls, herring and others will be delighted with the variety and quantity of menu items. Coyotes, raccoons, skunks and numerous other smaller hunters will benefit from abundant food sources.
This year will be a real boom year for our critters that I love so much. It is a welcome relief after some bust years when they had to be tough and crafty just to survive and produce limited offspring.
All of us critters, from the tiniest on up to us humans have much to celebrate thanks to a wet winter and full reservoirs.