October was a month of heavy rain events, which resulted in streams running fast and deep. This was ideal for the returning Salmon as they could enter most streams and proceed directly to there place of birth or as close as they can get to spawn the next generation. This made for very difficult conditions for counting returning fish, as the water was sediment laden giving the fish lots of cover. Consequently there were very few carcases from the Bear down at the estuary and not much opportunity to see the live ones. I guess the Bear felt the same and wandered off upstream where pickings would be easier though Bear is not shy of jumping right in and swimming along the bottom to grab a fish, like us humans he looks for the nice easy spot usually sitting on a log across the stream so he just has to swing his arm down and he has one, bites the head and throws the rest on the bank for later or his missus or kids.
Rocky Raccoon is also out looking for a nice fresh fish to eat and will often sneak up and steal the Bear’s stash. In the estuary the gulls flock around dead carcases all the time crying mine, mine, mine, mine, with the odd Crow grabbing what they can, now I say Odd not because there are few but if you spend any time out in nature you will invariably notice how odd Crows really are. Crows are considered to be one of the smartest birds around. With November comes some cold weather and the remaining Chum before the very late runs of Wild Coho as is the case with Knarston and Bloods creeks whose runs of Coho can be as late as Xmas. Next spring when we do our early walks to look how many fry are present we will get a more accurate account of how many fish have survived the emergence from the gravel.
Closing comment by Jim Lichatowich one of the northwest’s most informative biologists on the issues around the decline of our wild Salmon. As he says, take a walk and sit by a stream and watch it in all its magnificence:
“Some ecological relationships are visible, but they require that we spend a lot of time around salmon rivers and really pay attention to what is going on in and around the river. One that comes to mind is the relationship between salmon and the 100 plus animals that feed on salmon carcasses. It can be seen directly but requires quality time spent near rivers paying attention to what is going on. Other relationships are observed indirectly, for example, the relationship between salmon and the trees growing on a river’s bank. You cannot see the tree taking up the nutrients released from the salmon’s decomposing body, but there are chemical analyses that allow you to detect those nutrients in the tree and from that information infer the tree’s relationship to the salmon. The best way to start understanding the salmon’s relationships to their environment is to get outdoors and spend time near streams and simply pay attention.” (Jim Lichatowich)