Fishing | Voices from the river

Birding while fishing

Sometimes it’s tough to fish when the scenery is so gorgeous

One of my favorite parts about fishing is the spectacular places it takes you. From high mountain streams with peaks towering overhead to desert rivers with cliff walls reflecting the day’s heat, there are hardly any ugly places to fish. Sure, there are the occasional honey holes with a nearby power plant or apartment complex in the city, but when fishing, you can nearly always find beauty in your surroundings.  


Lately, I’ve been noticing smaller bits of beauty: like the colored roots flowing with the current from a plant on the streambank or the birds soaring across the cliff bands. I also love to check out what bugs are crawling around – both on rocks under the water surface as well as on shrubs on the bank. Some of the bugs I can identify, and some I commit to memory so I can look them up later. (I often think, if only my entomologist friend Maggie were with me to help with identification) These visuals are just one more thing that make outings on the river special to me.  


In addition to these sites, I try to be aware of all the sounds that come along with a day of fishing. Of course, the flow of riffles and churn of water over rocks and around bends is one of the main sounds that anglers’ attest keeps bringing them back to the river, but other sounds intrigue me, too. The calls of birds, the spin of a reel, line shooting through guides, boots scrambling for a foothold, curses from a missed strike all come with a good day on the water.  

Who can tell me what type of birds these are?

When working with our partners at Audubon on projects across multiple scopes of TU work, I find myself wishing for (in addition to Maggie) a birder to stand alongside me while fishing. What bird makes that call? Which species flies in that motion? What birds call this river home and find lunch? Sure, I know the usual suspects like osprey and their piercing squeal, dippers and their pumped-up quads from all those squats, kingfishers and a few others, but I yearn to learn about others.  

Willingness to learn

With water, comes birds – in droves and multitudes of colors, sizes, calls and ecological importance. I certainly can’t see myself taking time out (at least not too much) from fishing to study them, so if any birder wants to join me for some quality time on the water, let me know. I’ll ask a million questions while my eyes are trained on the water looking for risers, while you identify calls and tell me about how each species plays a vital role in the area’s ecology. I’ll maybe even pass the fly rod over for a few casts if you’d like, just maybe.