Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Right Time For Salmon

This is a column I had published in the October 25, 2011 edition of the Kings County Record.  On the day described I was at my full time job as Project Manager for the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee and I can't tell you how excited I was.  After the fact I was a bit embarassed as I thought how I must have looked to my coleague, Tanya Dykens.  Tanya actually provided me with the picture below and I thought it was kind of funny and would add a laugh to the blog.  This is made more likely by the fact that I couldn't get a picture of the two adult salmon swimming in the pool.
I was trying to catch an Atlantic Salmon here.  I obviously needed to practice my technique a bit more as I was unsuccessful.  At the time I blamed the camera...LOL


Fall is an impressive time of year with so much to witness and observe.  Obviously there is the changing of the leaves from the rich greens to the burning oranges and reds.  Look harder and you can see the geese flying overhead.  The tell tale "V" formation giving them away instantly and as they get closer the loud honking and black and white colors solidify your initial guess that they are indeed geese.  Sometimes when you're looking the other way, Mother Nature offers you up a true gift.  Recently, that is what happened to me.


My job requires that I spend a good quantity of time outdoors.  A majority of that time I am in chest waders wandering up and down rivers and sometimes into a local coffee shop.  Earlier in the summer I had placed a number of devices in area streams to get water temperature data.  The other day I went to retrieve them with a colleague from Agriculture Agri-Food Canada and after I collected one near a nice gravel riffle I thought I would wade downstream to check for Atlantic salmon redds.


I treaded carefully downstream on the gravel and boulder river bottom which was slippery.  The fall colors reflecting off the sun dappled water made the rural setting look like a tourism ad.  I struggled to see the bottom of the river which would have been impossible without my polarized sunglasses.  As I scan the river bottom looking for the subtle difference a Salmon leaves when it leaves it's approximately 25cm redd, my coworker starts to holler at me from a deep pool back upstream.  She is motioning emphatically with her arms, moving them in and out and then pointing into the pool.  I thought "No way?"


I stumbled as quickly as I could back up the bank opposite my coworker and looked into the pool.  She stated that she just saw two large fish but was uncertain as to what they were.  I couldn't see anything even with my sunglasses on.  I slowly crossed the river to the higher bank for a better look.  Just as it looked like they had been spooked off, suddenly they appeared again in the pool.  Two large, long, and healthy looking Atlantic salmon were swimming in a river I have worked to improve in hopes that trout and salmon numbers would improve.

Many times I have walked this same river when the conditions were right looking for Atlantic salmon and never have I seen one.  I felt like I had finally attained a clear identifiable picture of Bigfoot.  I was excited and felt so rewarded at that moment.  We tried to photograph the prize fish a number of ways but to no avail.  As I looked around and took in the whole scene, I once again came to appreciate how truly blessed we are to live in this country.  I gained a whole new appreciation of the fall season and what it has to offer.
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