Talk about holding the future in the palm of your hand… If another salmon had not riled up the gravel in the stream, this little thing could (with a lot of luck) have made it back here in a few years… It’s been an epic Coho run this year. All the reports say so, but all I have to do is step out on the back porch and listen. It sounds like a water fight at the local pool. Typically we see salmon in our creek from about Thanksgiving till now, but this year, they started rolling in about a month early, and they are still thick. New ones showing up every couple of days to take the place of the ones that are spawned out and dying. And getting hauled up on the bank to be munched on by other critters. Yep, the lab figured that one out, and he’s now on a short leash. Yuck.
I contemplated fishing REALLY close to home, but I have not seen one yet that was not a fire truck (full spawning color, and soft squishy flesh). I was able to get a few out of the river before the river got high and wild with the winter rain. I like a float trip as well as the next guy, but not in my waders, in November.
So back to the egg, salmon lay their eggs in redds, a spot in the gravel where the salmon lay on their sides, and thrash to clean the gravel, so their eggs don’t get smothered in the silt that’s on the bottom of the river. Here’s a great overhead shot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Salmon_redds.jpg. When they are pinched in a creek that’s only about 6′ wide, and stacking up like firewood, they will build redds on top of each other, and the later salmon will end up inadvertently kicking eggs out of redds as they clean a spot for their own eggs. Makes me wonder if over time, the run will shift later in the year, as the fish pre-disposed to early spawning don’t have the high survival rate that the latecomers do.
Either way, it’s cool to be able to walk the kids (and adults too) back to see how it works. Nothing like learning about everything from ecology, to biology, to physiology in your own back yard. Even if it does stink.
Little nugget of life, found high and dry in a gravel bar, thanks to a neighbor hen’s redd making.