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Spring Lives in a Salt Marsh

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Video produced by John V. Turner

The sun dips and the wide salt marshes that border the Connecticut River near its mouth take on a sharpened look. The head-high grasses, brown from winter, suddenly turn tawny in the changing light.

It is a world of silhouettes.

Small boats move with the current, their occupants casting to sod banks washed by the high water. In the channel, tug and barge proceed without fanfare.

Fishermen drift their nets in the freshet for shad, a silvery harvest moving upriver to spawn.

In the distance, where the Lieutenant River nudge the Connecticut, a man fishing with a surf lure fights a striped bass, which he releases.

The first cast of this new year yields a strike. The second produces a fish. Honest.

It is early in the season and the fish are spirited, showing little hesitation in striking a swimming plug moving slowly across the current. The bass are small, less than 2 feet, but what they lack in size the make up in pluck. They are also plentiful.

Spring is special for the angler; it holds more promise than fall. Evenings are lengthening and everything good is still ahead. There is not the urgency that one senses in November, with shrinking light and cold northerlies.

Now is the time to explain to the child the movement of tides, to point to the osprey overhead and to run the small fingers along the side of fish before it’s returned to the currents.

Trout fishermen may disagree, but is there a better fish than the striped bass – or a better place than an awakening salt marsh – to symbolize spring?