Fishing is Special

In pursuit of the Wild Salmon (not hatchery stuff)


"A River Never Sleeps"

"I still don't know why I fish or why other men fish, except that we like it and it makes us think and feel. But I do know that if it were not for the strong, quick life of rivers, for their sparkle in the sunshine, for the cold grayness of them under rain and the feel of them about my legs as I set my feet hard down on the rocks or sand or gravel, I should fish less often. A river is never quite silent; it can never, of its nature, be quite still, it is never the same from one day to the next. It has a life of its own beauty, and the creatures it nourishes are alive and beautiful also. Perhaps fishing is, for me, only an excuse to be near rivers. If so, I'm glad I thought of it."........Roderick Haig Brown, 1946 [More]


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[PICTURE] I am not really much of a fisherman, but the passionate enthusiasm of the rest of my Norwegian family on the part of my brothers and father more than makeup for my failures. I do however like to fish for Chinook and Silvers once a year in the salt water. Though I have tried river fishing a couple of times, it doesn't appeal to me. Oh I know the beauty of sitting beside a ribbon of water, watching it's ceaseless flow and listening to its salmon wend upstream, but to fish I like the salt. Its great body varied in moods, rimmed by islands and its depths filled with mystery and life. Mentally, I find fishing very restful. Physically, I think its a disaster - rocking in a small boat for more hours than I care to remember and certainly for longer periods than I would tolerate any other activity with only sporadic bursts of energy. This is not good exercise. But like childbirth, the occasional moment between the strike and the landing are indeed exhilarating enough to put aside all the time between. The sport is called fishing, not catching.

My favorite fishing proverb (ancient Chinese):

	"If you want to be happy for a moment 
               get drunk.
           If you want to be happy for 3 days
               get married.
           If you want to be happy for a week
               kill your pig and eat it.
           If you want to be happy for life
               learn to fish."
[PICTURE]


Reel Adventures

For those interested, my brother Richard and a fellow contracting friend, Terry Deeny, guide and put together fishing trips. They do a nice job in scouting sites and organizing trips. They can be reached at 1-206-483-1971 (Rick Egge) or 1-206-722-0633 (Terry). They're not into computers, so more primitive communication methods must be used. Any E-Mail inquiries will be passed along.

Places I have fished

Pacific Salmon

[Chinook] [Coho] [Chum] [Sockeye] [Pink] [Steelhead]

There are six species of Pacific Salmon indigenous to the Western Coast of North America. This was recently revised through a decision by the American Fisheries Society from five to include Steelhead (now designated as Oncorhynchus Mykiss) in recognition that there is no generic differences in the species from previosly grouped Pacific Salmon. Unlike their relative, the Atlantic Salmon, a Pacific Salmon returns only once to breed and die (the Steelhead is an exception to this behavoir and some of the species return to spawn more than once). Salmon turn reddish in color (the Steelhead turn blackish) when returning into fresh water, and males develop hooked noses. From their exact redd, where they hatch in the many rivers of the West Coast ranging from Alaska to California, the Pacific Salmon goes to sea and returns, traveling thousands of miles, to renew and die in predetermined life cycles. It is one of the wonders of nature.

I owe the revision to include Steelhead to Barry M. Thornton, a fisherman and author, who lives on Vancouver Island. Berry is new to the internet but not fishing and I have included his new two books below for those interested. He also writes articles and three columns: a local weekly 'Outdoors' column for the Comox Valley Echo , a monthly 'Flyfishing for Steelhead & Pacific Salmon' for the Island Angler magazine and the 'Canada West' column for Western Flyfishing . His EMail address is thornton@mars.ark.com.: Barry's post on the change goes like this:

           "Recently, steelhead lost their unique North American
            nomenclature (Salmo gairdneri Richardson) as a result
            of a decision by the American Fisheries Society's, Names
            of Fishes Committee. They concluded that the Asian name
            Mykiss historically applied earlier to the Asian (Kamchatka)
            steelhead race, will now take "nomenclatural priority"
            and will be the "proper scientific name for this species."
            Also, this committee concluded that there was "no biological
            basis" for distinguishing rainbow trout from Pacific salmon
            at the generic level hence all trout and salmon "of Pacific
            lineages" are now considered to belong to the single genus,
            Oncorhynchus, originally used only to refer to Pacific salmon.
            As a result, steelhead now come with the scientific label,
            Oncorhynchus mykiss! I have a new hunting dog which I named
            "Mykiss" just to remind me that nothing remains the same."

Of course there are all the curmudgeons like myself and Bob Stappler who aren't convinced by this scientific voodoo. As Bob put it:

"I am somewhat skeptical about the reasons behind the reclassification . I know DNA similarities have been cited to substantiate this matter. I never have seen any comparison of the DNA of Salmo Salar (Atlantic Salmon), Salmo Trutta (brown trout) or Salmo Clarkii(cutthroat) and the Pacific salmons. Unlike the Pacific salmon, steelhead don't die when they spawn. They go back to the salt chuck where about 5% survive the rigors of the open ocean and return to spawn a second time. Also, as I recall the upper jaw of Onchorhynchus becomes hooked at sexual maturity while in the steelhead it's the lower jaw. Bright mature buck steelhead entering the river to spawn have the distinct red gill plates and lateral red stripe typical of the rainbow trout. How significant were the similarities between the DNA structures of these critters? After all the DNA of chimpanzees is supposed to be at least 95% similar to human DNA. No one would argue we're the same species. I can't help wonder if any commercial fishery concerns had a role in this change. I think Salmo Gairdnerii is getting a bum rap. But then what do I know about Ichthyology? I'm just a retired Boeing engineer."

You and agrue this with Bob at: bobs@accessone.com or just enjoy and go fishing like I do.

Spawning behavior of the six species are similar. The female digs a redd in a riffle that is usually below a pool. Although several males are around, one is usually dominant, and keeps the other suitors at bay. The female swims across the redd and lowers her anal fin and on cue the male swims along side and quivers. This behavior prompts the female to lay her eggs. She then digs the gravel to cover the eggs with her tail and the process is repeated until her supply is spent.

Chinook:
(Oncorhynchus tshawytsha: King, Spring, or if immature, Blackmouth) The largest and most prized of the five species. It is also the least abundant. King Salmon can weigh up to 125 pounds, though the average is about 22 pounds. A Chinook of thirty pounds or more is known as a Tyee and is every fisherman's dream. My largest is 39 pounds, though I netted a 52 pounder for my father off Kelpie Point, Hakai Pass, British Columbia. The larger of this fish generally come from specific rivers like the Kenai in Alaska and River's Inlet in British Columbia. Washington's prize river, The Elwha, was lost to a dam in the early 1900's. A female Chinook averages five thousand eggs. The eggs take about 2 months to hatch depending on the river temperature. Good river gravel is essential to salmon spawning. The young remain in the gravel 2 to 3 weeks after hatching. Juveniles remain in fresh water from a few days to 3 years before heading to sea where they will spend 2 to 8 years feeding. Spring runs tend to stay in the streams longer than fall runs. A mature salmon is a virtual eating machine whose diet consists of over 90% fish, herring and anchovies. Because the Chinook are most abundant in large rivers, they have suffered the most from dam construction, particularly in the Columbia and Snake Rivers systems.
Coho:
(Oncorhynchus kisutch: Silver) Along with the Chinook, the Silver Salmon, is a favorite with fishermen. They tend to jump and dance across the water when hooked, unlike the King which uses its weight to stay deep. They can weigh up to 31 pounds, but average between 8 to 12 pounds. More numerous than the Chinook, Silvers are only the fourth most abundant of the Pacific Salmon. The average female carries 3,500 eggs. When young, they are very aggressive and quickly become widely dispersed in streams where they spend 1 to 2 years before migrating to the sea. The silver spends an average of 1 to 2 years in the ocean before returning to their redd. In sport fishing in Washington State about 2 Silvers are caught for every Chinook. It is common for Silvers to be found in small streams and creeks spawning even in the highly developed areas. Thus the impact of man's civilization is diminishing the numbers that existing streams can support.
Chum:
(Oncorhynchus keta: Dog) The third most abundant of the Pacific Salmon, accounts for 13 percent of the commercial catch, but is rarely caught by sport fishermen and can weigh up to 45 pounds, with the average weight of 9 pounds. Dog Salmon have always been important to the Indians for food, and derive their nickname from the propensity of northern tribes to feed them to their sled dogs. They often spawn just at the head of tidewater in the rivers, and the adults generally die within a week of spawning. The female averages 3,000 eggs. Fry, upon emerging from stream gravel, begin to migrate immediately to the ocean and spend 6 months to 4 years at sea. The adult Chums diet is 50% fish.
Sockeye:
(Oncorhynchus nerka: Red) The second most abundant of the Pacific Salmon, accounts for 25 percent of the commercial catch. Sockeye can reach weights of 16 pounds. Most adults average between 3.5 to 8 pounds. Unique among the Pacific Salmon, the Sockeye require a lake environment for part of their life cycle, living there for 1 to 2 years before migrating to the sea, where they live for 1 to 3 years. About 90% of returning fish have spent 1 year in fresh water and two years in salt. Populations of Sockeye Salmon in landlocked lakes exist and are called Kokanee. Spawning occurs in streams and rivers that are tributary to lakes, but can also occur along lake shores. The female lays as many as 4,000 eggs and Fry move quickly from streams into the adjoining lake. At sea, Sockeye feed mainly on planktonic foods such as crustaceans, and in particular, shrimp.
Pink:
(Oncorhynchus gorbuscha: Humpy) The most abundant Pacific Salmon is also the smallest, but accounts for 52% of the commercial catch. Pinks can reach 9 pounds, but average 4 pounds. They have the shortest life span spending 1.5 years of their two year life cycle in the sea. There are two major runs. The northern run in even-numbered years and the southern run in odd-numbered years. Areas in Canada have access to both runs. A female Pink averages 2,800 eggs and there is a 75% mortality rate from eggs to Fry emergence. Fish food makes up 14-20% of the adults food intake. From experience, pink salmon do not freeze as well, but are wonderful fresh. The males develop large humps on their backs, hence the nickname humpy.
Steelhead:
(Oncorhynchus Mykiss) The Steelhead (the sea-run form of Rainbow Trout) is the prize delight of all West Coast river fisherman and the official state fish of Washington. A Steelhead of 35 pounds was caught in the Snake River, but most average from 5 to 10 pounds. They generally go to sea (some Steelhead never migrate) at the age of two (some at one) and return after one to four years. In Washington from 5 to 14% are repeat spawners. Unlike their brethren the Rainbow Trout which usually has a reddish stripe along their sides, Steelhead are uniformly silver until they darken on spawning. A female Steelhead averages 2,000 to 5,000 eggs. This number is dependant on strain and size. The number of eggs can increase to 9,000 and a selective bred Rainbow Trout was found with 27,000 eggs. 65-85% of the eggs survive the embryonic stage. Most Steelhead spawn between December and February (winter run) but some streams host runs that spawn between August and September (summer run). In larger rivers, like the Columbia, Steelhead can be found migrating up stream every month of the year, and summer spawners outnumber those of the winter. Surviving spawners return to the sea within a few months.

Note: Like all things fishing nothing is without controversy. While the above description is taken from "Inland Fishes of Washington", Jay Munney recently put in his two-bits worth, and a nice picture of his catch. As Jay said... "Yes they [Steelhead] do winter over in the streams, but that is not the time in which they are breeding. the fish do not have strong runs until march, which by then the streams are warmer and there is more runoff for the fish to move upstream. The small percent that do stay over in the winter are too lethargic to consider spawning, not to mention there are considerably less fish in the stream. They were leftovers from the fall run in which they were only there to get a quick meal from the spawning of the salmon. the spawning then gets underway in early march and lasts until maybe mid-may...depending on weather conditions, and water temperature. at higher elevations such as Alaska....it may go right through June. Again, this depends on weather and water conditions at the time. This information is coming from a guy who is constantly on the streams....

Fish Books I recommend

A special acknowledgment for information lifted from Inland Fishes of Washington listed above and the revision for Steelhead by Barry M. Thornton

To see a large (100k) but cool picture of a Chum Salmon run Click the Sign!

The Stuff of Fishing

  • "He that hopes to be a good angler must not only bring an inquiring, searching, observing wit; but he must also bring a large measure of hope and patience." Izzak Walton, "The Compleat Angler", 1653

  • "The Salmon run is a moveable feast, predictably annual but with no better sense of timing than any other birth. Neither an exact point nor specific interval, it is at best a distributions of statistical likelihoods around the nucleus of autumn. If the rains com, salmon - Silvers and Chinook - may enter the bay as early as August; if not October may come and go without appreciable numbers of fish in the river... You can rely, really, on two certainties: starting point and direction. From there, you either take up a vantage point ands wait for the run to come to you, which is more reliable, or you try to hit a moving target, which is decidedly more interesting." - Ted Leeson, "The Habit of Rivers", pub 1994. Oregon Coast.

  • "Soon after I embraced the sport of angling I became convinced that I should never be able to enjoy it if I had to rely on the cooperation of fish. Fortunately, I learned long ago that although fish do make a difference the difference in angling, catching them does not; so that he who is content to not-catch fish in the most skillful and refined manner, utilizing the best equipment and technique, will have his time and attention free for the accumulation of a thousand experiences, the memory of which will remain for his enjoyment long after any recollection of fish would have faded." Alfred W. Miller, "Fishless Days, Angling Nights"




    OF INTEREST Last December my wife and I watch four large otter at play around our dock on Cottage Lake for about fifteen minutes. One had a five pound spawned salmon (probably a Sockeye) in its paws for a feast. In living here for twenty years, we had never seen a similar sight. I had occasion to see some large migrating salmon some years ago under the bridge on Cottage Lake Creek below the lake. That salmon migrate the obstacles of civilization through Cottage Lake will always be a source of wonder to me.

    [PICTURE]Fishing Links

    Things I found

    local
    UW Fisheries Dept.
    The Salmon Page- Many links by an obvoiusly well educated elementary school class
    TROUT TIPS - Trout Lakes in Washington
    STEVE'S Washington State Fly Fishing List - Listen for the stream
    Alpine Flyfishers - A FF club that meets in Sumner
    North America
    J.P.'s FISHING PAGE- Top 5% of the Web Award
    Anglers Online- Top 5% of the Web Award
    TROUT TIPS - Trout Lakes in Washington
    Fishing Reports - Activity across the US
    Anglers, Fishing, B.C. - covering my fishing area of choice
    Sporting Adventures - Fishing Hunting and Outdoors - great resource for links and info (Thanks Shawn)

    Great folk who found me and people who FISH

    international
    FISH NEW ZEALAND - by Bruce Gordan, a Kiwi Fisherman and a great fishing site
    Fishinternet Australia - by David Dryden, a smorgasbord of Aussie fishing and international sites
    local
    FISHING THE NORTHWEST - by Dan MacNeil, a fellow Prodigy member
    FISHERMAN'S HEAVEN - by Kevin Erickson, Well worth a visit with good fishing links
    The Northshore Chapter #220 Trout Unlimited Homepage - lots of Salmon info too!
    WintersHope Flyfishing- a fellow fisherman at accessone
    Tu Tu Tun Lodge- Lots of Oregon Coast and Rogue River tips by Dirk VanZante
    USA
    Capt. Ron's Site- Florida fishing at it's best
    Ziggy World - Zig's only been fishing once, but her web-page is zany enough to qualify for her for us boneheads that do


    Fisherman always welcome! thanks, Jon Egge
    You can reach me by e-mail at:
    jegge@chenowethsite.com

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    Last Revision Thursday, June 16, 2003