Sunday, September 02, 2007

Here They Come

Do you feel that crispness in the evening air? Here it is the first of September and we wonder where the summer has gone! All those fishing trips we wanted to do this summer just didn't come to pass and now we are in the unfortunate side of summer...Yes Fall is in the air.
I really don't mind the coming of fall that much because some of my favorite fly fishing happens this time of year. With the fall rains the coastal cutthroat trout will be following the fall salmon into the north coast rivers and it will make for some very nice fly fishing.
The summer steelheading on the Deschutes will be foremost in many a fly fishers thoughts and dreams including my own.
Perhaps the biggest event in many anglers lives will be the annual fall chinook salmon runs. The Tillamook basin is home to some of the biggest chinook salmon this side of Alaska and although they don't compare to the "pigs" that spawned in that region of years ago you can still run into some very large fish.

I enjoy watching them plow through the shallow riffles of the still summer low streams with their backs out of the water on their fatal journey to their spawning grounds.
It's is an amazing sight for those that are unfamiliar with nature in action.
Unfortunately it's also a time of ugliness and greed. It's a time to see people at their absolute worse. The sight of these huge fish in a small pool of a small river is apparently too much to take for some.
Armed with their lead weighted treble hooks these "sportsmen" literally rip these salmon out of the river. Most of these fish are really not very good table fare but the bounty of salmon eggs is just too much for some people to resist.
They will disdain the hooking the male salmon, whose flesh is much better, in favor of the near useless pale meat of an egg laden female.They will retain the eggs but the carcass will be wasted. It's illegal, of course, but it's very wide spread through the pacific northwest.
With the seemingly ever increasing angling population competing for fewer fish the urgency of these knuckle draggers to fill their freezers with meat and eggs is a sight to behold.
Fist fights, knife fights and even shootings are a not uncommon occurrence on our northwest rivers in the fall.
This year will mark a sharp downturn in returning chinook salmon in the coastal rivers of Oregon. We began to see the signs last fall and with the Columbia river chinook salmon runs being dismal so we can just imagine what chaos awaits this fall.
If you want to see nature at it's best however just find an out of the way area of any coastal river with a good vantage point to watch these magnificent fish in their mating ritual.
To watch them is like watching some kind of natural ballet. Several male salmon move around and vie for position along side the female. They ram each other with their exaggerated "kyped" jaws with several males being able to "service" one female.
When their one purpose in life completed the spent warriors wait for their inevitable fate.
Their rotting carcasses will provide much needed stream nutrients for the emerging off springs to repeat the cycle again.
Friends this is something that cannot be duplicated in the concrete environment of a hatchery. We cannot improve upon the perfection of nature now can we?

1 comment:

  1. Your post reminds me of a trip I made to BC,Canada a few years back. On my way in from England I met some fishermen from Texas who had just completed a week at a "fly fishing camp" north of Vancouver. They showed me their "spoils" - 70 boxes of frozen Salmon at 4 per box.

    I nearly wept. They just didn't get it. Put me off fly fishing camps for good.

    Nice post.