By far the favorite fish, or else the most plentiful. Reported to be tasty by fishermen but also to be avoided by humans in quantity due to contamination. One wonders how that affects the ospreys. 254 brought in by Richie and Rosie this season. This is only those fish brought to the nest or crane, not those taken elsewhere to eat.
Almost as popular as the bass, the jack smelt is not a true smelt. It is atherinopsis califoriensis. There were 238 of these brought in this season.
By far the most interesting and controversial fish of the year. Used by bait by fishermen. There is a great video on Youtube explaining the intriguing characteristics of the midshipman. Ugly as it is, it glows and hums. The male takes care of the babies. There were 30 of these strange fish brought in this year.
Other fish brought in include starry flounder (7) and surf perch (4), as well as unidentified fish.
In 2020, Richie discovered a new fish. The San Pablo Reservoir over the hill to the East was stocked with trout and Richie began bringing those back to the nest. It is assumed that he is flying to the reservoir and fishing there.
That is the science. Now for the fun:
Richie's Fishing Song
You get a fish and I'll get a fish, Rosie.
I'll get a fish and you get a fish, Richie.
I'll get a bass and you get a sole,
We don't need no fishing' pole,
Rosie, Richie mine.
You get eel grass and I'll get sticks, Rosie.
I'll get eel grass and you get sticks, Richie.
We'll get eel grass and we'll get sticks,
We'll build a nest for our chicks,
Rosie, Richie mine.
You get a hat and I'll get a snake, Rosie.
No, no hat, no, no snake, Richie.
But my dear, the snake is fake,
Cindy says nothing fake,
Richie, mate of mine.
Then I'll get something real, Rosie.
I'll get something real, Rosie.
How about a harbor seal,
Or a big slippery eel,
Rosie, mate of mine.
I'd rather have a great big fish, Richie.
I'd rather have a striped bass, Richie.
Then I'll bring you a fish,
And whatever else you wish,
If only you'll be mine.
Rosie, mate of mine.
Craigor's Fishin' Blues, a favorite
used by permission
Plain Finn Midshipman
Once there was a young boy whose family emigrated from Finland to the Great Plains of America. The summers were hot, the winters long, and the work hard. When the boy came of age, he decided to leave his family to seek adventure on the high seas. He took the train to the West Coast, where he found a work on a ship. He was but a lowly midshipman but he was happy to be at sea. He had worked hard all his life and did not shirk his duties. When his shift was over, he retired to his bunk to read. He did not engage in the other men’s drink and song. Since he was so young, the other men left him alone and did not make him join them. They soon took to calling him Plain Finn.
Plain Finn, the Midshipman, worked on this ship across the ocean and back. He had always liked to sing but was too shy to sing in front of other people. He soon discovered that when on night duty, he could sing in the wind and no one would hear him. He began making up songs and sang night after night. He asked for the night shift, which the other sailors gladly granted him. He sang plaintive songs to the wind, angry songs to the waves, joyful melodies to the porpoises that frolicked around the ship, and silly songs to the fish. His favorites were the flying fish, that glowed in the night as they jumped into the air.
Since he had grown up on the prairie and had no siblings, Plain Finn was used to being alone and used to large open expanses. Nevertheless, after a few journeys on the ship, he began to feel lonely. He wished for human company and especially began to think that he might like to find a wife. But how could he do so when he was on a ship with a bunch of rowdy sailors? And he was not a handsome fellow. He knew he would be a good husband and father. But what woman would want him, plain as he was? As he brooded, the melodies he created became dark and moody.
One day, when his ship landed in a far off port, Plain Finn went ashore with the other men. He did not want to go to a bar with them, so he sat on a bench by the shore, looking out to sea. As he was gazing and thinking dour thoughts, a woman sat down by him. She was a young woman, dressed plainly but with a pretty face.
“Why is a handsome man like you sitting alone?” she asked.
Well, Finn had never been called handsome. That just wasn’t done where he grew up and the sailors called him Plain.
“I have just come ashore,” he answered, pointing to his ship.
“Would you like me to show you the town?” she asked.
Finn readily agreed and they spent the day walking around the shops, then hiking up the small hill behind the town. The woman told Finn about her life in the town. She had never gone farther than the next town and oh, how she would like to sail across the sea that she watched every day. If only she could be a bird-or a fish. Finn, in turn, told her about the prairies, the hard life there, the fun they had as well, and of his life on the sea.
All too soon, it was time to part, Finn to his ship, the girl to her home. But they made plans to meet again the next day, while the ship was still in port. And so passed three glorious days. Finn had never known such happiness. Talking, sharing, just spending time in silence together. Always, there was the sea before them, beckoning.
When the time came for him to part, Finn brought the girl a shell he had found on a far off beach.
“Take this as a token of my love,” he said. For indeed, in three short days, he had fallen in love with this woman. “And of my pledge to return. As soon as I can, I will give up my life as a sailor and return to you.”
The woman, Leila was her name, hugged him and kissed him.. “But it will be so long and I will miss you,” she cried.
“Just keep busy and it won’t seem so long,” he said. “And listen to the sea. Listen to your shell. For I shall sing to you every night as I stand watch. “
She promised. And he parted amid many tears.
Finn boarded the ship, his heart full. The other sailors noticed and laughed at the change in him. “Finn found himself a girl,” they said. “But hey, Finn, don’t worry, there will be more in the next port.”
Finn ignored them. Again, he requested night shift, which was gladly granted him. Every night, he sang to the wind and to the stars—and to his love. He just knew she was standing at her window looking out at the sea and listening. As soon as they reached the home port, he decided, he would sail back to her. There he could find a job and they could raise a family. He dreamed of the children they would have. He knew he would be a good, caring father. That was in his nature.
One night, the captain came up on deck. He watched Finn without the other man noticing. It seemed to him that the midshipman glowed. Such happiness, he said to himself. He hoped the young sailor would reach home safely and go back to his love.
But the captain was worried. He knew a storm was coming. A big one that they could not go around. He wished he could put the young man ashore before the storm hit, but they were in the middle of the ocean, with no land in sight.
The storm hit the next morning. The sailors were all kept busy battening down the hatches and didn’t even have time to eat. By sunset, there was nothing more they could do. “One man will keep watch,” the captain said, “and the rest of you may stay below. But you must be ready at all times, in case we capsize or see land.”
The men readily agreed. They drew straws to see who would keep first watch. The captain retired to his cabin to chart their course and keep his log. As soon as he did so, the men went wild. We have spent all day without food, drink or fun,” they said. “Now we will party.” And despite the rolling of the ship and the crashing of the waves against the empty bow,they pulled out the kegs. Soon they were singing bawdy songs and drinking as if tomorrow would never be. And well might it now.
Poor Finn was miserable. He did not drink and all he could think about was his Leila back ashore, watching and probably worrying. She was a child of the sea and well knew its dangers. Finally, Finn crept up on
deck. He had to crouch low under the wind and he grabbed the rail to keep from slipping. A wave washed over the deck, but he held on tight. He went to the wheel and told the tired watchman to go down below. “I suggest you find a quiet corner,” he said. “Otherwise you will not get much sleep tonight.”
The other man thanked him and headed into the hatch. Finn took his lone watch. It was a position to which he was well accustomed. He even enjoyed the lashing wind and waves, wild as they were. He sang at the top of his voice. Songs to the wind and the waves, songs to the weather gods, and a sweet plaintive song to his beloved, telling her how much he loved her and not to worry.
All through that night, Finn watched. No one ever came to relieve him. The other men were drunkenly asleep. Even the captain, who trusted his men, had shut his eyes for a few minutes of much needed rest. He saw from his instruments that the storm would be over soon. But then the captain rose with a jolt. A huge wave had just washed over the ship.
He ran into the room where the men were and cursed when he saw them lying around the floor, snoring noisily. Then he rushed onto deck. Just as he did, another large wave came up right over the bow of the ship. The captain saw Plain Finn standing there. He was holding the wheel tightly, singing loudly, calling to Aegir, the god of the seas, and it seemed that he glowed with a light all his own. But the wave crashed down and loosened his grip. And as the captain watched aghast, unable to move, Plain Finn was washed overboard.
As soon as he could, the captain ran starboard, but all he saw was a head. He heard a faint voice call out “Tell Leila I love her. And I will still sing to her from the sea.”
The head vanished and all that was left was a sailor’s cap floating on the waves. The captain knew from vast experience that it was useless to try to rescue the man. So he took the helm and steered the ship away from the storm, which was now abating, after its last big wave gasp.
The next morning, the sailors awakened with groggy minds and aching heads. Ashamed, they set to work. They were even more ashamed when the captain told them what had happened to the youngest sailor Plain Finn. That afternoon, they took a moment to pay their respects.
That night, the man on watch saw a glow in the water. This was not unusual. There were all sorts of plankton and animals that glowed. But this glow seemed different. And it sang. Sang? Yes, the man heard a human voice singing a song of love and yearning. He did not tell the others as he was sure he must be imagining it. The next day, they reached shore, and all was forgotten in the joy at being home again.
But on a far off shore a woman stood by the sea watching. Watching for her lover whom she knew would not return. For she also saw her shell glow and heard the songs when she held it to her ear. And Plain Finn? Well, the fishermen soon reported that they had found a new fish that lived in the shallows. Over the next year, they reported that the fish was rather ugly, but it glowed with an eerie light. The male fish helped raise the babies and he sang to them. And Leila knew then that this was her Finn. When she told her father, he told the others. These were people of the sea and they believed her. So they named the new fish the Plain Finn Midshipman in his honor. And every fisherman raised his cap to the Midshipman whenever they encountered the fish. So Plain Finn was not forgotten.