They More Than Grist For The Mill?
A four part series by Mark Bachamnn
As you are reading this letter, there are thousands of Chinook Salmon on the move in the Pacific Northwest. There are many indications that in the past, the Sandy River and other rivers like it hosted huge runs of Chinook salmon. Of the five species of Pacific Salmon, Chinooks are the best equipped to exploit highly fluctual, glacial/volcanic watersheds like the Sandy River basin.
salmon populations have to be pivotal to the over-all fishery management
scheme in this river system. Spring Chinook are the largest spawning
biomass in the upper basin. Fall Chinook are the largest spawning
biomass in the lower main stem. Therefore they are potentially the basis
of the food chain for both trout and steelhead.
Chinook spawn and carcasses provide
|| nutrients to the system, both directly and
indirectly. Chinook eggs are ravenously consumed by all sizes of
salmonids, cotids and minnows--- whenever they are available. Salmon
carcasses are prey to all kinds of beneficial insects and plants, which
are also consumed by other species of fish, of many sizes.
fry are some of the earliest to emerge from the gravel. This emergence
provides an early spring meal for trout and steelhead juveniles, which
are two or more years older. Chinook fry are consumed by all fish that
are large enough to eat them.
Peterson who is a fishery tech for the Mt. Hood National Forest has been
much in charge of the Still Creek fish trap. This trap is placed to
capture down stream migrating fish. Most of the fish that have been
caught in this trap are juvenile salmon, trout and steelhead. A small
sample of each specie is killed for scientific study. These studies
include stomach autopsies. John reports that most of the wild steelhead
smolts are gorged on Chinook fry. No doubt resident cutthroat and
rainbow trout partake of this same feast.
Spring Chinook fry emerge January through March. Fall Chinook fry emerge February through April. They are about 1 1/2 inches long when they become free swimming. Many Chinook salmon rear in the stream for less than one year before going to sea. Some start to out-migrate immediately upon emerging from the gravel. Most are about 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 inches long when they enter the salt. By comparison, the average out-migrating steelhead smelts are usually 5" to 7" and may be over ten inches. Chinook fry emergence is perfectly coordinated with the peak down stream migration of juvenile steelhead. Juvenile steelhead consume large amounts of Chinook fry on their way to the ocean. Chinook fry are large food whish permit the steelhead juveniles to grow Very quickly and enables them to compete better. Since the Chinook and larger steelhead are outmigrating together, this symbiotic relationship may continue for a while at sea. However, ocean rearing Chinooks tend to feed at much greater depth than steelhead and the two populations are soon parted.
Since Chinooks out-migrate at a comparative small size, they probably don't compete much with other species for food or space while in the stream. They are a wind fall profit in the food chain department. Basin populations of every other wild salmonid specie are probably highly dependent on very large healthy populations of spawning and emerging Chinooks. If we have more Chinooks we will probably have more of everything else.
were the most abundant salmonid in the Columbia River basin. They were
also the most desirable salmonid for table fare. They were highly
exploited by indigenous populations of humans for thousands of years.
They were soon over exploited by the present civilization to the point
of near extinction.
happened very early in our history. Records show that in 1877 there were
over a thousand 1200' long gill nets and many fish traps working the
Columbia River. All of the larger tributaries also had nets and traps.
Most of the Chinook runs were on the brink by 1885. This is long before
we kept records of wild fish populations. I think that all of the west
slope rivers were much richer in all of their fish runs before the
Chinook populations were reduced. The catastrophic reductions in Chinook
runs probably brought a biological collapse to much of the Columbia
River basin, both east and west of the Cascades.
River Chinooks were some of the first to be heavily targeted by
commercial fishermen. The mouth of the Sandy is in close proximity to
the largest population area. Nets and fish wheels probably killed most
of the Sandy River Chinook runs before 1880.
Fox River Outdoor Socks
We have worn these
socks in the field and sold them in our store for the past 18
years. They are still the best boot and under wader socks
available. They are a wool/nylon blend with loop pile inside the
foot. This gives them tremendous insulation, cushion and absorbency
to keep you comfortable all day.
TMC 9394 #2
|Try this fly for Chum Salmon, Coho Salmon and Chinook Salmon throughout their range. To Top|
|If you would like to read a detailed Deschutes River Fishing Report, click here.|
Fly Rod Test Drive - Winston LTX896
(9 1/2' - #8 - 3 piece)
A brief fishing report from Vermont
By Barry Mayer
The trout season in VT closed Sunday, but I had been fishing 3-4 times a
week in the local streams. When I say local I mean within 15-25 minutes
of the house. The NY section of the Battenkill is open all year, but I
think it will too cold most days to get out. It is about 35 minutes
away. The closest river, the Walloomsac has been the most productive for
me. I was going out at 3 or 4 o'clock and fishing until dark, most days
getting from 3-12 fish/afternoon. The rainbows and browns are all
planted but there are a few wild brook trout in every stream. Largest
bow was about 15" and largest brown 16". Lots of fun on 6x and #22
midges and BWO's. Had a ball one day with same sized Adams. In one run
fish are rising all day long, but I have never determined what turns
them on. I seined the water and pumped the stomach of one. Most of the
aspirated stuff was little dark worms, one small reddish worm and a lot
of nymphs I couldn't identify. Rise forms look like emergers but didn't
find anything particular in the seining. Need a bigger net and leave it
there longer. They seem to rise in bursts with quiet time between.
Hardly ever see another fisherman! Of course, this is all after Labor
Day when most of the tourists are gone. The locals likely fish the lakes
or go over to the Hudson or Mohawk Rivers where there are striped bass
and smallmouth. To Top
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The Fly Fishing Shop, Welches, OR