Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Episode 571 (4-5-21): Spring Signals for Fish and Those Who Would Catch Them

Click to listen to episode (3:47)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 4-2-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of April 5, 2021.  This revised episode from April 2016 is part of a series this year of spring-related episodes.

SOUND – ~7 sec - Kayaking on the Appomattox River, recorded from underwater.

This week, those sounds above and below the surface of the Appomattox River open an episode about spring signals on and in Virginia’s water bodies. Have a listen for about 10 seconds to the following mystery sound, and see if you can guess what group of water-resources users this signal is designed to alert.  And here’s a hint: it’s a powerful signal, for reel...and rod.

SOUND - ~11 sec

If you guessed, a signal for people fishing, you’re right!  You heard a June 2013 recording of a warning siren at the Claytor Lake hydroelectric facility on the New River in Pulaski County, Virginia.  The siren was being used to alert anglers and any other nearby river users that a power-generating unit was about to start operating and releasing more water.

While that siren sounding was a human-generated signal to stop fishing in that location, spring in Virginia sends out plenty of natural signals that serve to start or increase fishing activity.  Anglers follow fish, and fish follow various environmental and biological cues, such as temperature, daylight, sources of insects and other food, predator behavior, and life-cycle demands.  Spring brings significant changes to those fish cues, and as a result, gives many anglers their cue to resume trying to outwit the finned inhabitants of the Commonwealth’s ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and coastal waters.

Thanks to Raven Harris for the Appomattox River sounds.  We close with some music for Virginia’s anglers.  Here’s about 25 seconds of “Bass Fisherman’s Reel,” an adaptation of a traditional tune called “Fisher’s Hornpipe,” done by Williamsburg musician Timothy Seaman on his 2004 album, “Virginia Wildlife.”

MUSIC - ~28 sec


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode revises and replaces Episodes 208, 4-7-14, and 311, 4-11-16.

The opening sounds were recorded by Raven Harris, of Newport News, Va., on the Appomattox River in Petersburg, Va., on April 18, 2014; used with permission.

The warning signal was recorded by Virginia Water Radio near the Claytor Hydroelectric Facility on the New River in Pulaski County, Va., on June 30, 2013.

“Bass Fisherman’s Reel,” from the 2004 CD “Virginia Wildlife,” copyright Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.  This music was previously used by Virginia Water Radio most recently in Episode 241, 11-24-14.  More information about Timothy Seaman is available online at http://timothyseaman.com/.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.


Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF; now the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources) sign indicating a trout-stocking area on Cripple Creek along Rt. 641 in Wythe County, Va., February 22, 2014.

Fish nest in Toms Creek in Blacksburg, Va., (Montgomery County), May 8, 2010.

A signal for fly-fishing anglers: adult mayflies swarming around a ballfield light in Shawsville, Va. (Montgomery County), near the South Fork Roanoke River, May 12, 2014.


Used for Audio

Information on the warning signal at the American Electric Power (AEP)/Appalachian Power (APCO) Claytor Hydroelectric Facility, located on the New River in Pulaski County, Virginia, was provided by Elizabeth Parcell, a process supervisor at the Claytor facility, in a 7/16/13 e-mail.  More information about the Claytor Lake facility is available from AEP’s Web site for the facility, at http://www.claytorhydro.com.

Traditional Tune Archive, “Fisher’s Hornpipe,” online at https://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:Fisher%27s_Hornpipe.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at https://services.dwr.virginia.gov/fwis/.  Fish found in Virginia are listed at this link. 

___, “Fishing,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/fishing/.  This source has information on kinds of freshwater fish, places to fish, fishing seasons, and regulations.

___, “Fishing Forecasts and Reports,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/fishing/forecasts-and-reports/.

 ___, “List of Native and Naturalized Fauna in Virginia, April 2018,” online (as a PDF) at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/virginia-native-naturalized-species.pdf.

___, “Virginia Fishes,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/fish/.

Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), online at https://mrc.virginia.gov/.

For More Information about Fish in Virginia and Elsewhere

Paul Bugas et al., Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md., 2019.  Information is available online at https://www.vafreshwaterfishes.com/2019/05/field-guide-to-freshwater-fishes.html.

Chesapeake Bay Program, “Fish,” online at https://www.chesapeakebay.net/discover/field-guide/all/fish/all.

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, “Animal Diversity Web,” online at https://animaldiversity.org.  “Rays, Sharks, and Relatives” are online at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Chondrichthyes/classification/; “Ray-finned Fishes” are online at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Actinopterygii/.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Fish” and “Recreation” subject categories.

Following are links to other spring-themed episodes.

Eastern Phoebe – Episode 416, 4-16-18.
Frog and Toad Medley – Episode 408, 2-19-18.
Rhododendrons – Episode 574, 4-26-21.
Spring arrival episode – Episode 569, 3-22-21.
Spring forest wildflowers – Episode 573, 4-19-21.
Spring Peepers – Episode 570, 3-29-21.
Spring reminder about tornado awareness – Episode 568, 3-15-21.
Spring sounds serenades – Episode 206, 3-14-14 and Episode 516, 3-16-20.
Virginia Bluebells – Episode 521, 4-20-20.
Warblers and spring bird migration – Episode 572, 4-12-21.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs 

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs 

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
1.5 – Animals, including humans, have basic life needs that allow them to survive.
3.5 – Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems support a diversity of organisms.
4.3 – Organisms, including humans, interact with one another and with the nonliving components in the ecosystem.

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
1.7 – There are weather and seasonal changes; including that changes in temperature, light, and precipitation affect plants and animals, including humans.
2.7 – Weather patterns and seasonal changes affect plants, animals, and their surroundings.
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
1.8 – Natural resources can be used responsibly.
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.
4.8. – Virginia has important natural resources.

Grade 6
6.9 – Humans impact the environment and individuals can influence public policy decisions related to energy and the environment.

Life Science
LS.5 – Biotic and abiotic factors affect an ecosystem.
LS.7 – Adaptations support an organism’s survival in an ecosystem.
LS.9 – Relationships exist between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science
ES.8 – Freshwater resources influence and are influenced by geologic processes and human activity.
ES.10 – Oceans are complex, dynamic systems subject to long- and short-term variations.

BIO.8 – Dynamic equilibria exist within populations, communities, and ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.

Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.

Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.

Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.

Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.

Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.

Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.

Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.

Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.

Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.