Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Lonely River

The rocks on the stream bank are wet as I walk along this small coastal river. They never seem to dry this time of year as a matter of fact. The river is a lonely place now and even though the semi-busy highway 6 is just a few dozen yards above me I feel alone. It's not like I miss the crowds of years gone by but these days it's like fishermen have resigned themselves to their angling fate and moved on to other pursuits.
An angler could expect, in years past, to be greeted by the pungent smell of rotting salmon carcasses but the salmon aren't here. The wild steelhead weren't here last winter and the wild cutthroat trout weren't here this summer and fall. The best days of the Pacific Northwest anadromous fish runs are long gone and like some said recently we are fishing on the crumbs or even worse the crumbs of the crumbs.
We can look to ocean conditions and El Nino as the culprit to this latest salmon drought and be optimistic in knowing this is just a cyclical thing and it indeed is. The comeback or rebound seems to be smaller and smaller every cycle though.You will hear us old guys talking about the "Good old days" of the 70's and compared to what we have now I guess there really were the good old days. Have we passed the point of no return? I certainly hope not but how can one be optimistic? Can we point to an ecological breakthrough that will restore the status quo? I've not read of any.
Where does our optimism, if any, lay?
Will I continue to spend lonely days along the rivers that I learned to love because of not only the angling pleasure I derived from them but the vibrant life that always sustained my well being? Yes I will keep coming back for as long as I am able to. As the years go by the rivers seem to be less alive than they were in the past although the evergreens flourish along the hillside of this lush rain forest. The river seems to die just a little bit more as if mourning the loss of it's children...the salmon.
If I were a religious person I would certainly pray for the restoration a natural resource we took for granted for far too long.
I would also pray that there would be a collective awakening of what is at stake and what we are on the verge of losing that is if we have not lost it already.
The river that once sustained life just weeps now. On going but devoid of what made it unique.
I'll still walk along the lonely river as long as my legs allow me too. I'll be that old gray haired guy with his old bamboo fly rod that wistfully reminisces about the good old days.
I'll wonder if future generations of anglers will talk about these days as the good old days...I wonder

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