Castwell and I took a little scouting trip mid-week.
One of our 'on-line' friends and his bride are
heading our way this week, and we want to take
them salmon fishing. Logic ruling this household,
the natural thing is to check out the known streams
and estuaries which should have salmon at this time
We didn't do this exactly blind
either. For several years Castwell has kept a
journal of our fishing in our TideLog. Here is
an unsolicited plug for what we both think is the
very best tide book we have found. There are several
others available here on the west coast, none in my
opinion as good. This one is published by Pacific
Publisher in Bolinas CA. Most of the better fly
shops in this region have it - but if yours doesn't
it is available by mail order on a 24-hour toll-free
They publish an Edition
for Northern California, Puget Sound, Southern
California, Chesapeake, MidAtlantic-(N.J. and south
L.I.), Northern New England-(Cape Cod and north
through Maine), Southern New England - (Narragansett
Bay, Block Island Sound), Long Island Sound, and
Southeastern Edition -(the Carolinas and Georgia.)
For you flatlanders who haven't
yet fished the salt, tides can be every important-
(multiply that a couple of times by the fact the tide
locally can rise and fall 13 feet or more, and does
that twice a day here on the Pacific.) So if your
fishing success depending on fishing where the fish
need to get to or up a stream or river, you do need
to be there when there is water. Or enough water at
least for the fish to be able to swim.
Another important factor is the
speed of the incoming or outgoing tide. In between
the high and low tides is a period known as slack
tide. That occures when the tide really isn't either
going in or out. Fish behave in predictable ways
depending on the tides!
Back to the tide book. It also
shows the speed of the tides. Which is also relevant
to which flies and lines are used. By the way it has other
neat stuff, like lunar eclipses, meteor showers, and
placement of the planets as part of the pages.
There is also enough empty room to write a line or
two about that days fishing.
So after checking 4 years worth of
tide logs, we head for one of the more productive local
estuaries. And as expected via the previous records,
we have salmon!
But it is just at low tide, and there is
hardly enough water in the creek for the salmon to make it
upstream, as you can see in the above photo. Along the
way are a few deeper pools and runs, allowing
the fish to rest before continuing upstream.
Walking out to the end of the creek
bank we only saw a half dozen anglers. None had fish.
We chatted with some and were told the fish were mostly
making their runs late afternoon or evening. And the
numbers of salmon then were substantial. Good news,
since salmon there last year were very sparse. If
you plan on fishing chum salmon this fall, be sure
to tie up Castwell's
Chum Fly. And don't miss "how to fish"
Finally walking back, we saw a kid
probably 15, with a spinning rod, trying to 'catch'
a captive salmon. The salmon was trapped in a puddle
of water slightly larger than a bathtub.
Castwell asked if he could take
his picture. The kid said, "Sure" but wasn't pleased
when Castwell told him he didn't have a picture of
someone snagging. The kid protested, saying he wasn't
snagging, and if he was he "would have a really big one."
Opps. Wrong thing to say with me
standing there. I asked the kid why he thought what
he was doing, (which was casting a hook and corkie just
past the trapped salmon and retrieving it through the
fishes mouth or as close to it as he could) was
sporting. I also asked if he was fishing to keep fish.
He told me he never kept fish, especially salmon, and
"it's not illegal!"
He also explained there
weren't any fish coming in right then, and he thought
he would just 'play' with this one.
What happened? The kid, Dave, got
a lecture. I can't believe a kid, (who told me he had
been fishing there for five years) never had anyone
explain to him that just because something might not
be 'illegal' it doesn't necessarily mean it is proper!
Or right, or moral or ethical.
In some circles, and some countries
what the kid was doing is illegal - and
what it amounts to is harrassing the fish. Tacky at
the least, certainly unethical. The bottom line is the
kid left heading for the end of the creek bank. I
watched for a long time. Long enough for the incoming
tide to flood the trapped area. The kid did not return.
This is not about me standing up and
saying what someone was doing is wrong. It is about the
sad place we are when a kid with some fishing experience
thinks if it isn't illegal it's ok. And no one has given
the kid any frame of reference or moral, ethical base from
which to function.
I am eternally grateful for those who
took the time, set the rules, and steered my development as
a fly fisher and person.
Hopefully the kid, Dave, got the
message. It matters.
~ Deanna Birkholm
For even more on ethics, what is legal and
ethical in other countries, read Mike Connors
on Fishing Ethics.