This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

October 28th, 2002

Fish School?

We are proud to welcome to a new voice at Fly Anglers OnLine this week, the Stream Doctor joins us with a Question and Answer column about your waters. What goes on under water, who lives there, and how one affects another is all fair game. Doc says he's not politically minded and would prefer not to answer questions about stream management - or the powers which control those things. This is just a down-home way of addressing all the 'how come' questions we all have. We hope you enjoy this new feature, read it and feel free to send your questions directly to Doc. His email is given on the column.

I hope you know your ideas and suggestions are always welcome here, I won't say we can do everything, but we will sure listen and try to provide you with the best information we can. If you have an idea, please let me know. (Email me at:

We had a suggestion recently about putting a 'Commercial' listing of things for sale on our Bulletin Board. This was brought up since another website which had such a section no longer has it, and the writer thought it had been well utilized by readers. We do have a 'For Sale' section on the Bulletin Board now, and we did give the new listing serious thought. We aren't going to add it, we have several companies as Sponsors who supply just about everything a person would need or want, and opening up a cheap method of getting rid of unwanted merchandise on our Bulletin Board doesn't seem fair to those who have paid to support FAOL. Yes, I do understand there was a small charge for the "commerical" listings, but since our staff is very small, we just don't need to be adding more bookkeeping or collections. We appreciated the idea, it just doesn't work for us. If you really are a bargain hunter, you might ask the companies who are Sponsors if they would put up a "close out" or "sale" section on their own website. Each FAOL Sponsor has an email contact listed on their Sponsor Page.

On our Bulletin Board today is a question regarding teaching kids about fishing, the outdoors, nature - all very important things. In this week's Readers Cast is an article about a program started by one guy in Oklahoma who felt kids should be fishing. A very simple concept which works. You might give that a read as well, and see if you can't do something in your local area which would work too.

In the same vein, our local newspaper, The Sun ran a very nice column by Sam Holcomb, about the Kiwanis Salmon in the Classroom project. There are also Trout in the Classroom projects across the country, started by the late Joan Stoliar, (Folstaff) which has been very successful in the eastern United States. My point here is that I believe every state Fisheries Department in every single state in this country would be thrilled for the positive publicity in promoting this kind of a classroom project. It gets the kids involved, their parents as well, and plants not only tiny fish - but the seed which can influence kids for a life time. "If you have water, there should be fish," - as HillFisher says, "if you don't, we've done something terribly wrong."

Here's the article, do you think it works?

Salmon in the Calssroom gives students a stake in conservation

A fourth-grader named Cindy stands on the edge of a stream in Kitsap County.

In her hands is a paper cup containing two live juvenile salmon. She eyes the stream with reluctance, not sure she wants to say goodbye to her tiny friends. But it's time to send them "home."

What has brought Cindy and her classmates to this point is a program sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Central Kitsap, called Salmon in the Classroom whereby about 6,000 fish have been raised by children.

The youngsters have learned that salmon hatch from eggs, eat bugs and worms, then migrate hundreds of miles, only to return to their birthplace.

It's an old story, but it's happening right here, all around us. And these students are a part of it.

They now know that in the wild, salmon are born in a nest called a redd. They hatch with a yolk sac attached to provide initial nourishment. When a young salmon leave the stream bed, it's called a parr. And when it starts it's long migration, sometimes more than 2,000 miles, it's called a smolt.

During the salmon's three-to five-year journey, he or she may reach 5 feet long and weight up to 100 pounds, though most are abut 15 to 25 pounds when they return to their birthplace.

While at sea, the salmon feasts on small fish and other marine creatures, staying alert for predators. For every 50,000 salmon that hatch, only 50 will return to their place of birth. That's one in 1,000! People are one of their biggest predators. Why? These hapless creatures simply taste too good.

Once the salmon has return to the home stream, the female digs her nest and lays up to 2,000 eggs. A passing male fertilizes them, and she carefully covers them with gravel. This is called spawning, the salmon's last act before dying.

Salmon travel in schools. Under Kiwanis' sponsorship, some of the salmon returning to Clear Creek, which runs through Silverdale, [WA] have literally BEEN to school, where Cindy and other students cared for the eggs in an artificial redd, kept the water in their aquariums clean and cold and tried hard to duplicate natural conditions for the salmon until the parr were ready to smolt.

Last year more than 800 students came to Clear Creek. I watched as Cindy carried her small salmon, whom she's named "Finny" and "mike," to the stream, talking to them quietly, reassuring them that they would soon be "home." Gently lowering her cup into the stream, she let the tiny salmon swim out. She waved goodbye, and I think I saw a few tears.

The future of salmon is up to us all. But for my part, I'll leave it up to Cindy and her classmates.

Want to know what your schools are doing? Are they involved in such programs? Could they be? Maybe you could help? Make some phone calls? Get involved!

Oh yes, and don't forget to vote next week! ~ LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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