When I was young I swam with many siblings. Shallow weedy areas, the fallen tree, and a large rock, were all home. I grew quick but many siblings fell victim to alewife, waterfowl, and larger fish predation. As a school we wandered in search of the many delicious insects Lake Wallenpaupack has to offer and I grew to about 5 inches long in my first year.
My second year of life was traumatic. 3/4 of my siblings have fallen victim to predation and I am very vulnerable to many species of fish as well as birds. Most of my time is spent deep around submerged timber and I am rarely seen. Mainly I forage on small fish but still eat alot of insects. I am 8 inches at my 3rd birthday and because I am a male I am sextually mature.
In our fourth year of life my sister is now outpacing my growth, but we are still vulnerable to attack from larger fish such as pickerel, bass, and even Fallfish. We still utilize the darkness of the depths for cover and feed on smaller fish including the abundant alwife.
My sister is now an adult at age 5 and is slightly larger than me. I am about 14 inches and I weigh close to 1 pound. I am a feeding machine with razor sharp teeth and a slender profile for high speed short bursts when ambushing my prey. My school is down to a dozen individuals from 150,000 and the eagle just got 1 more.
At 10 years old I am a fearless eating machine. I am just under 20 inches and have been through alot. My school is down to 6 and seldom see one another except after the spawn when we get into a summer pattern and again in the winter.
When I am 23 inches long I am 15 years old. My sister is slightly bigger. Life is good. Rarely do I have to travel far for food in Lake Wallenpaupack with the abundant baitfish population. We hunt in packs at times and gorge ourselves for short bursts in warm water.
My growth has basically stopped at 15 years, but my sister at 20 years is putting on the pounds and is 27 inches long. We may live our lives out to about 25 years old (30 inches and 10 lbs) if not harvested or die from disease. I worry about the next generation. My ecosystem is complex and without proper management can easily become unbalanced!