08 January 2022

O. Apachex


Illustrating a freshwater fish in its natural habitat, in a natural pose other than the usual water splash caught in mid-air from the muscle-arched body lunging toward a mayfly, mouth agape; the fisherman's wet dream of a perfect strike. This pose presented an exciting challenge of depicting above and below water landscapes in the same piece.

Small canyons with streams and cool blue-green pools do exist in the Sonoran Desert. The endangered Apache Trout thrived here, but interspecies competition with the Spotted Trout, stocked by humans, has reduced its domain to 25 miles of the Gila River, smaller tributaries, and adjacent parts of New Mexico. A fly fisherman in my past life, I like to spend time with good fishing spots, although these days it's with a sketchbook and camera. I try to spot what I can through the ripples, but the real telltale signs of trout are tiny fly lures and the glisten of fishing line in unreachable branches of trees around.

The trout is a notoriously difficult catch for a fisherman due to the miracle of its vision. The trout eye is engineered to deal with light refraction through the water's surface and is sensitive enough to see insects above water by the dim light of the stars. The trout can also see you unless you are crafty enough to be outside of its wide cone of vision.

Although the Apache Trout is not a current resident of the Sonoran Desert, I felt it appropriate to include it in my series considering the conservation efforts to restock this rare and wonderful inhabitant of our desert.

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