Monday, March 16, 2020

The magnification of Lake Tahoe

That is all very well, except the “clear” part of the lake. It certainly is clearer than a great many lakes, but how dull its waters are compared with the wonderful transparence of Lake Tahoe!

I speak of the north shore of Tahoe, where one can count the scales on a trout at a depth of a hundred and eighty feet.

I have tried to get this statement off at par here, but with no success; so I have been obliged to negotiate it at fifty percent discount.

At this rate I find some takers; perhaps the reader will receive it on the same terms—ninety feet instead of one hundred and eighty. But let it be remembered that those are forced terms—Sheriff's sale prices.

As far as I am privately concerned, I abate not a jot of the original assertion that in those strangely magnifying waters one may count the scales on a trout (a trout of the large kind,) at a depth of a hundred and eighty feet—may see every pebble on the bottom—might even count a paper of dray-pins.

People talk of the transparent waters of the Mexican Bay of Acapulco, but in my own experience I know they cannot compare with those I am speaking of.

I have fished for trout, in Tahoe, and at a measured depth of eighty-four feet I have seen them put their noses to the bait and I could see their gills open and shut. I could hardly have seen the trout themselves at that distance in the open air.
Source: The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

Twain also explained, “Tahoe means grasshoppers. It means grasshopper soup. … People say that Tahoe means ‘Silver Lake’—‘Limpid Water’—‘Falling Leaf.’ Bosh. It means grasshopper soup.”

Later, while near the Sea of Galilee, he wrote, “I measure all lakes by Tahoe, partly because I am far more familiar with it than with any other, and partly because I have such a high admiration for it and such a world of pleasant recollections of it, that it is very nearly impossible for me to speak of lakes and not mention it.”

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