Our Echo
Title, story type, location, year, person or writer
Add a Post
View Posts
Popular Posts
Hall of Fame

Swim On

Story ID:8999
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell ID USA
View Comments (5)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors

It was a warm spring night in Nova Scotia in the late 1980's. I went for my nightly
walk. The still night air carried the sweet scent of ocean salt. At the foot of the hill, below
our home, the cove reflected a beautiful full moon.

Something was wrong. Although there was no wind, the water in the cove
moved. It bubbled with activity. I crossed the road which bordered the shoreline and
walked out onto our neighbor's short dock. My feet were inches from the bubbling water.
I pointed my flashlight into the black churning water and saw the light reflected
off the scales of hundreds of smelt as they darted about, often breaking the surface to
splash back below the surface. They shattered the moon’s reflection into thousands
of diamond sparkles.

Smelt are a small fish, typically seven to nine inches long. Larger ones may
reach thirteen to fourteen inches. They live along the east coast of the USA and Canada.
Their meat is white and very tasty.

I came home from work one cold February morning. The temperature hoovered
around zero degrees Fahrenheit. A mist hung over the frozen cove. Fishermen sat on
plastic buckets in front of the hole they'd cut into the ice and pulled the lively little fish
from the water.

In late spring, when the water reached the correct temperature, the smelt rushed
up the small streams running into the cove to spawn.

That was what I witnessed that night. They spawn when the moon is full, the tide
is high and the water is the right temperature. The smelt were excited and ready to spawn
a new generation.

I've seen many pictures from friends during the last few weeks, showing their
proud daughters, sons and grandchildren graduating.

These young people take the next step in their lives. Their full moon is high in
the sky. They're graduating, ready to swim to upstream to the next level and create the
next generation.

They're the human smelt. We're proud of them.

Swim on, kids!

Michael T. Smith

Smelt on their spawning beds


Dipping smelt – my dad did this when I was a kid.