Conservation, for Fish’s Sake
One of my favorite childhood memories was visiting my Uncle Bill’s farm on the upper reaches of the Choptank for a day of exploring the woods and fishing. I can distinctly remember sitting under the shade of the trees along the bank with a little green box of grass shrimp, filling a stringer with perch as the day passed by. When I had my fill of fishing for the day, I would scare all the fish away by jumping into the river for a swim to cool off before heading to Mom Mom and Pop Pop’s for a fish fry!
Memories like these are what bring me fulfillment for the work that we do here at ESLC. Our work may be focused heavily on the impacts to the lands of the Eastern Shore, but it has a significant influence on the adjacent waterways that fish call home as well.
One of the key conservation values that ESLC evaluates when building a conservation easement is the impact the land has on water quality. Where appropriate, ESLC requires naturally vegetated waterway buffers which act to capture sediment and nutrient runoff. In addition, tall vegetation like trees provide shade for the waterways, helping to create localized cool water temperature zones along the banks of rivers and streams. These effects are drastically magnified through concerted conservation efforts, with extensive buffering along both sides of the river leading to improvements in water quality. Controlling water temperature, dissolved nutrient concentrations, and sedimentation all encourage the growth of submerged vegetation. These components all factor into the population dynamics of fish species, especially in spawning grounds where eggs and fry are most sensitive to environmental conditions.
This spring, I challenge you to find a place to sit under a nice tree and while away the day catching a few fish. For those willing to brave the lingering winter temperatures, Yellow and White Perch have already begun their annual migration from the Bay to their spawning grounds in the furthest reaches of the rivers of the Eastern Shore. If you decide to keep some, I recommend breading them with your favorite breading mix (mine is Washington Chicken Breading Mix with Old Bay added) and giving them a light, shallow fry. Trust me, you won’t regret the decision.
If you are a landowner wondering how you can play a role in improving aquatic habitat and water quality by implementing conservation practices such as waterway buffers, wetlands, or grassland habitat, ESLC is here to help you. Please contact us at email@example.com or 410-690-4603 to learn more.