Archive for the 'Salmon' Category

In Search of King-Size Salmon

giant75lbking.jpg…Two boats spiraling into the eye of a maelstrom; one of them is being toed to the sea by a Skeena river king determined to ignore the minor discomfort of a heavy rod, reel, and hundreds of yards of 40 pound test… Just another day at the office for veteran guide Noel Gyger of Terrace, British Columbia. We had been anchored side by side with his nephew’s boat when they hooked into the `screamer’ that nearly stripped them before the anchor buoy could be tossed. Not wanting to miss any of the action, Noel and I decided to join in the chase.The Skeena’s glacial current is swift and unforgiving. Our boats finally drifted towards a sharp river bend where the flow intensified into a whirlpool. Of course, of all the miles of river to rest, the salmon decided to choose the whirlpool! In between the sudden bursts of engine acceleration, Noel managed to meet my gaze and whisper: “it’s a big one.” So there we were, under a snow-peaked horizon, circling the whirlpool… and somewhere deep below in the dark green water, the king lay resting… waiting…

In the last century, the pursuit of trophy salmon has fuelled the hearts of countless anglers. Yet, as we enter a new millennium, the realm of the trophy salmon hunter has changed considerably. What can today’s angler expect in terms of size on the West Coast and in the Great-Lakes? Has overpopulation killed the golden age of trophy king fishing, or is there still much to look forward to?

The Great-Lakes

a28.jpgIn the Great-Lakes region, the introduction of pacific species has caused the sportfishing industry to boom. These stocked salmon, however, do not reach the size as some of their Pacific Coast cousins. Although some rare forty pounders have been landed, fish over twenty five pounds are considered trophies. To compensate for such shortcomings, researchers such as Dr. Don Garling and Dr. Howard Tanner of Michigan State, are conducting triploidity research to produce monster-size Chinook in the Great-Lakes. By heat-shocking salmon eggs, sterility is caused in the majority of adults, and it is believed that this negation of the reproductive urge in salmon will enable them to live longer and grow larger.

This preoccupation of engineering a salmon paradise, however, is not going unchallenged. Great-Lakes biologists are confronted with the delicate task of monitoring how stocked fish affect the fragile baitfish/predator balance within the ecosystem.