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Page 28

How Big Fish Make Little Fish.

Bony fish reproduce by the female discharging eggs through her vent into the water, where a male releases milt, or semen, from his vent to fertilize them. (If you turned to this page first in hopes of finding some NC-17 material, sorry, that's it, the show's over.) Spawning, as fish reproduction is called, is an instinctive rite for fish and not much is known about the actual triggers for it, although experts in the field agree that water temperature and light have something to do with it. Some fish species will change hues and color patterns during the spawnsome turn bright, others go dark.

Various species go about spawning in slightly different ways. The brown trout and the largemouth bass, two very popular species in the United States, provide two good examples of the differences.

The brown trout spawns in the fall or the early winter, depending on the region. Brown trout in streams will deposit eggs in redds, or a shallow depression on the gravel bottom dug by the female trout with her tail. The male and female will lay side by side over the redd, depositing eggs and milt. After fertilization, the female covers the eggs in the redd with more gravel. The current holds the eggs, which number from 500 to a few thousand, depending on the size of the fish, in place in the redd. The male and female browns then leave. The eggs hatch the following spring.

Largemouth bass, however, spawn in the spring. The male (not the female, as with trout) prepares a nestagain a shallow depressionin a sandy or gravelly bottom of a lake in only two or three feet of water. The male then tries to attract a female to spawn. If successful, the male and female lay eggs and release milt over the nest. This may happen several times in one nest, with the same or a different female. The eggs hatch in a week or two, during which time the male guards the nest, defending it from all real and imagined predators, including lures cast by fishermen.

Although the reproductive habits of the brown trout and the largemouth bass differ, both speciesas well as hundreds of other speciesare very successful spawners in the U.S., enough so that natural propagation keeps thousands of waters filled with fish.

Fish Recipes

Fish Recipes

This is a great collection of delicious fish and shell fish recipes that you will love.

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