Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fish Tales

Oct 18:  
        Umpqua National Forest:  I’m sitting next to a tributary of the North Umpqua River.  The stream runs clear and somewhat high for this time of year thanks to early fall rains.  Most of the stream is shallow.  I think I could wade it. Here is a magical spot:  a quiet pool 15 feet deep. The water is lazy, clear, and green.
For much of the day this portion of the stream lies in cool shadow.  A little after 2 PM the sun reached the canyon bottom and now tickles the backs of a thick gathering of steelhead.  The steelhead rest in this pool for weeks, waiting for even more rains to bring the creek up and allow the fish to reach their spawning grounds farther upstream. Steelhead are closely related to Pacific salmon.  Both are anadromous, i.e. they are born in fresh water, grown up in the ocean and return to fresh water to spawn.  They are different in that they don’t die after spawning.  
Salmon and wren -- you will have to look hard to find the wren.

Oct 9:
      Marster’s Bridge / North Umpqua River:  Cool.  Crisp.  Damp.  Shadows grown long.  Big-leafed maple have 14 inch platters of bright yellow.  A winter wren bounces from one moss covered boulder to another in the late afternoon sunshine.  Two common merganser fly low and fast, just skimming the crystal clear North Umpqua River waters as the river rushes to the Pacific.  
       I see glimpses of Chinook salmon in the shallows on the far shore.  The salmon are in no hurry.  They have come to the end of their journey.  Four to six years ago, sometimes a little longer, the salmon hatched in this very area; they slowly made their way to the Pacific; spent a few years growing up in the Pacific; and now have returned to the stream of their birth. Here they start a new generation and die.  


  1. Fascinating as usual. Love the art work too. I always thought that steelhead were trout and really boney. Learn more things here.

    1. Steelhead are also considered a trout, but one that goes to the ocean and gets quite large. It is rather confusing.

  2. Beautiful, Elva! (And I found the wren right away.)

  3. ...interesting, Elva! I loved your sketch...and I saw your little wren right away!


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