Friday, September 3, 2010

Catch as Catch Can

Recently I have gotten it into my head that I want to catch a Sockeye Salmon. Last year the news was all bad, very grim information out of Canada. The Sockeye fishery was in serious trouble, the number of salmon returning from the ocean was at an all time low. This wasn't surprising to me, ocean temperatures are rising and the water is more acid making it tough on the phytoplankton which these particular fish feed on. Lo and behold this year there is a bumper crop, somehow no one predicted this, in fact the crop outnumbers the entire population of Canada. The run is estimated at 34 million so I says to myself, I want a piece of that action.

With Mark at my side we paid a visit to the local sportsman's shop. I was extra happy about this as I had asked Mark where we might go to get some info about fishing for salmon, somehow going to Sportmart in the mall seemed wrong on many levels. A malcontent mall rat is going to know nothing about what I was thirsty to learn. Off we went to the LOCAL sports store in the historic part of town, wouldn't you know it. It was nirvana. First of all there were 4 parking spaces out front so we were able to easily park Mark's giant convertible. It was a classic shop, loads of rods, guns, gear and requisite stuffed game heads.

Because I am a non book learner and am gregarious by nature I began speaking to a man who was buying some fishing gear and an employee, a youngish asian girl. He was speaking some crazy foreign fish language and I could see I was losing Mark. The girl on the other hand was clearer and had more practical advice. She gave me the low down on the fishing license we would need. Three-day tidal would do us. We would fish downstream of the railroad trestle on the Fraser, I knew where that was. The fish aren't hungry so you don't need bait, you need floss aka wool, and I have that in spades, and a weight called a bouncing betty. Mark has those.

Mark took me aside against a wall of florescent lures and pointed out that for the $40 dollars we would potentially spend to augment his ancient sockeye-less east coast fishing gear we could get a sockeye at the grocery store for a fraction of the price. I was undeterred and got the stores hours for the next 3 days so I could keep all my options open. When we got home I called my brother. He told me to buy a salmon, it was cheaper than fishing. I was shocked. Wait a second I said, you love fishing. Yes, he agreed and said that he pays about $5oo per pound when he fishes. Mark gave me two thumbs up. Ian exaggerates, but I knew there was some truth to what they were saying, bastards I thought.

The reality is that I just want to try it. It's a record year and I want to get out there and feel the excitement, it's like the Olympics. When something big comes to your town you want to chase the parade. Because this run is so huge there is a danger that the spawning grounds will be over-run and this will cause problems with eggs being safely laid and fertilized, and in 4 years we will experience a real collapse. If this does come to fruition I want to be able to look back and think about the winter we feasted on salmon that we caught ourselves.

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