Normally, I only write about issues related to fish and rivers, but the recent noise coming from electronic devises around me has me frustrated. Following the recent mass shooting in California, the noise reached a ridiculous volume. The last straw was some junk email that said I needed to go watch a video on the NRA site titled “Demons at the Door”. I had to unplug and remove myself for a while. I went fishing and gathered my thoughts. Below is what I came up with.
The 2nd amendment of the US constitution states “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. Our supreme court has determined that there are limits and regulations attached to that right. And most states have taken additional steps as well.
Last weekend, Lori and I made the trek to Maupin, Oregon for the Native Fish Society annual River Stewards Gathering. As a newbie to the program, I was there to learn as much as possible from the group of stewards and presenters gathered from all over the west coast.
We arrived late on Friday night due to Portlandia traffic and missed the opening night dinner. I ran down to the after-party for a bit to say hello to a few of the folks I know in the organization.
One of the coolest events in nature is happening now. The pairing up of Spring Chinook Salmon in their native habitat, preparing to spawn. This is the end of the life cycle for them and the beginning of the life cycle for the next generation.
Admittedly, the video quality is lacking. You’ll find much better elsewhere on the web without looking to hard. This was all I got before the battery died.
I watched this fish, presumably a female, at a very close distance, for about an hour. So close, that I was able to see that she had an adipose fin intact. This indicated to me that she was a wild fish, born in this very river 4 or 5 years ago. She likely hatched from this very same patch of gravel, just east of Gates, Oregon.
This is the time of year when Spring Chinook Salmon in the Upper Willamette Basin begin to build redds and spawn. On my way to the Upriver Celebration this past weekend, my wife Lori texted me a picture of an expired fish she and our daughter Hadlee found floating in the swimming hole directly below our home. With white sores and blackish body, it was obviously a Springer. Not unusual this time of year, and entirely expected in light of the warmer than usual water temperature.
This past evening I walked downstream to see if the area where prior years redds have been were showing any signs of spawning activity. I was also curious to check on progress of October Caddis in the area. It’s also this time of year that the big bugs seal off inside their cases and begin the process of metamorphosis, turning into winged adults.
When the trail to the river opened up, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Just downstream from the gravel bed was a crude rock dam from one side of the river to the other! It had an inch or two of water flowing over it’s top.
How could this happen right under my nose, literally! The dam is less than 100 yards from our house. It’s construction likely occurred slowly over the summer as recreational swimmers attempted to hold more water in the “deep hole”, as we refer to it.
Now I don’t want to be hypocritical about it. We often (annually) make some minor in-stream modifications of our own. We move some big rocks between the main channels to create an easy wading path across the river to avert stubbed toes, twisted ankles, slips and falls. But we don’t block the entire width of the river!
This is the time of year when many fly anglers start to feel overwhelmed. Fly anglers with ADHD can be found curled up in a ball under their desk, rocking back and forth and mumbling. Why? There are just too many options and the clock is ticking.
October Caddis are sealed off now and will begin hatching soon. Big trout all over the west will be feasting on this bug to bulk up for winter. Hope you’re stocked up on Yak Caddis.
Steelhead are moving into the “dry side” rivers in good numbers. The Dechutes River fish are in and it won’t be long until runs start in the John Day, Grand Ronde and move on up to Idaho’s Clearwater River.