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Part 2, Trouble In Paradise;

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At the mid point of June Mt brother Tom arrived from Pennsylvania and was our guest through the third week of July. Trips taken during his visit were not fishing oriented (not too much) because he doesn't fish, go figure. I tried to get him involved back in the late 60's and early 70's but he became frustrated easily. He was always a results sort while I was a little more pragmatic about what really equaled results. He quit and still holds to the story that he did so because his brother (me) seemed to be able to catch as many fish as were in the stream while he could catch none. In hindsight I must admit he went fish-less a lot, and my let's see how this might work better approach gained steam with every outing. Anyway the entry 'Short Runs and Season Closures' covers the trips and sights from the mid June till mid July period.

Back to the rest of the fishing; there were a few nice trout that I blundered into during the spring. Maybe I didn't really blunder into them because with the poor return on Kings and hardly a Sockeye to be found I was hunting for them. I fished alone most days so the pictures are few when it comes to the fish themselves but I got a few.

By the time Tom had left the Department of Fish & Game had erected a wier on my home river. The poor returns over the past couple years made it clear that my little river was in trouble and so they came.

A wier like this is a hand count device. There is a 3 person crew (mostly fisheries students) who live on the river and man the wier 24/7 during the time when it does not get dark here. They work in shifts and punch the various species of salmon into an old fashioned analog counter as each fish passes through the gate. While small fish can pass through the aluminum bars that make up this sort of dam, large species like salmon and steelhead trout can not. They have but one way to pass and as you can see they are readily visible to the F&G staff as they do.

Out there at the far side of the wier you'll notice a low point in the barrier. That is a boat gate which is controlled by a little motor and it lowers just enough to allow flat bottom river boats with jet drives to slide slowly over the wier.

Fish can go back down over this gate but due to design they don't often get over it. That dark spot out there near the boat gate was a large Chum salmon who was intent on going back down river to see his friends left behind. When they spot a downer, the fish is accounted for by skipping a passing Chum. The purpose for this particular study was to count and identify various species of salmon moving up the river. Of specific interest were pacific Silver (Coho) and Sockeye Salmon. When a silver was spotted in the bin moving through the little gate a F&G staffer would close the gate and net out a salmon for tissue samplings and measurements.

Here you see a fresh black backed Coho ready for a checkup.

It all goes quite quickly and within a short while the fish is plopped on the upstream side of the wier and on its way.

The scales are tested and can reveal the age and genetic lot of the individual it was taken from. As for accuracy of the count, I spent quite a bit of time with the staff here to the extent that they looked forward to my stopping along with Boss who gets the Rock Star treatment everywhere. What I learned was that when viewed from directly above, the backs of the fish give away their species. Coho & Sockeye are close in appearance but are still able to be differentiated. The staffers were very serious and doing a great job out there. The wier will be present until there is a clear picture of what is happening with the rivers and our salmon stocks.

In case this is your first visit to these writings, this is Boss, taken on one of the trips above the wier.

On this day we had a mixed bag of chum salmon, trout and these!

You could look at that fish (like I did) and wonder, what the heck is that. Then go home and consult a book to be sure and find that you inadvertently caught a whole bunch of king Salmon Smolt headed for the sea by way of stopping for lunch. I was swinging a Jock O' Dee behind the beds of spawning kings to pick up the trout that are waiting to pillage the eggs and started getting those little cannibals.

Here's one of the chums that got hold of the same fly;

And another of the trout, I didn't catch the monster trout that haunts my dreams but I got quite a few nice ones.

That's going to wrap up this entry and I'll start Part 3 now.

Updated 11-23-2013 at 03:58 AM by Ard



  1. mcnerney's Avatar
    Ard: That was great info on the wiers and what the Fish and Game folks are trying to understand. Thanks!
  2. Ard's Avatar
    I hung out there every time I was on the river Larry. Like I said they got to know us, There is one up the Deshka also and that is another troubled watershed for King & coho returns.