Fishing is an important year round activity at the Falls of the Ohio. When the right conditions are present (and this is best known by the fish) the fishing can be excellent. Such was the situation this past weekend. It was unbelievably hot and humid, but the fish were in the shallows and everything that fishes was out here. Lining the more accessible banks and from boats, anglers were throwing both natural and artificial lures into the riffles and coming up with some nice stringers of fish. On the less accessible fossil banks on the Kentucky side of the river and from strategically placed rocks in the flowing water, herons and vultures were waiting.
While the herons were actively fishing, the resident colony of Black vultures were doing their part by scavenging on dead fish. I came across this one bird dining on this fish head from a large carp. Their sharp beaks have no problem picking out the best morsels.
The human fishermen were catching a variety of big river fishes. I watched one angler land a large Blue catfish that gave him quite a fight. He placed the big catfish in a wire mesh cage which kept it fresh in the swiftly moving water. Large rocks stacked on top of the box anchors it in place.
Among the other fish being caught included striped bass hybrids, channel cats, drum and more. It is still not recommended to eat the larger bottom dwelling fish for fear of toxins in their tissues. The smaller fish supposedly are alright if you don’t eat too many too frequently. With the economic conditions as they are, I know there are many people out here augmenting their diets with these fish. It’s not just about sport anymore. The top two bass in this photo are about 3 or 4 pounds each.
I was doing my own brand of angling but not for fish! I walked the riverbank and collected as much Styrofoam as I could find and carried it to my studio spot under the willow trees. This is what it looked like when I posed it all for a photograph. Until the next bout of high water, I’m going to try to use as much of this material as I can for my sculptures.
I have some large chunks in here, but the heat prevented me from getting too ambitious with it. After drinking much of the water I brought with me, I did make one modest figure and moved it around the different contexts presented by the Falls of the Ohio on this very hot and sticky day.
Here’s the nameless figure with the dark eyes standing in what was its nursery. This guy has walnut eyes and his nose is a plastic strawberry. I’m guessing that this figure is about 3 1/2 feet tall, but truthfully, I don’t pay much attention to scale out here where everything is as big as life to me. Most of the time, I prefer you gauge scale by comparing it to what else is present in the context that you may be able to recognize. Not knowing also lends some mystery that I find appealing.
First, I posed this figure near the spot where I made it. I found a plastic flower and placed it in his hand. This area is cool and shady, but the mosquitoes are also waiting for any passer-by pumping blood through their veins! I quickly picked this piece up and ventured to the riverbank where the insects aren’t as bad. The soft mud makes it easier to stand this figure up, but traction out here can be a slippery affair.
So far, it’s looking like this June will either be the hottest on record or second hottest. The difference between the two is about a degree. The final place I photographed my newest figure is by this improvised child’s fort. This is the kind of activity my two sons enjoy doing out here. My sculpture looks at home and is enjoying a respite from the oppressive heat. The shade does look inviting! I returned “dark eyes” to my outdoor studio, collected my belongings and trudged back to my car.
Today’s final image came from this morning’s adventure. I saw this trumpet creeper vine growing on a tall tree and thought it attractive. When I got home and downloaded my pictures I could see that many small bees were swarming around the blooms pollinating the plant. This is what I like about the Falls of the Ohio. In a relatively small area, you can see so much life going about its business.