Here are some videos and images of salmon when they come home to their rivers, in this case the Nitinat. For those who don't know, the bar on the outside in the ocean can be spectacular for fishing in the summer (accessed from Port Renfrew and Bamfield, with a few hardy souls launching in the lake, zipping through, fishing and zipping back) but is someplace that you need to arrive early, fish and then leave, because the afternoon winds, particularly with an outflow from the lake against an inflow tide, create huge, ugly, dangerous seas.
The Nitinat Lake is 20 kms long, tidal and the river of the same name flows into the lake at its farthest point from open ocean. The bottom of the river is tidal and somedays adds a foot of water to the bottom end - Gary's and Sturgeon pools - which you notice as a wet line on the opposite shore once the tide has ebbed.
This video shows a school of 50, 20- to 30-pound, chinook under the Little Nitinat Bridge, near the hatchery. It is about 2pm in early September, hence why it is in clear sun, me directly above, shooting down 20 feet to the water, and the water is about 12 feet deep.
(Please excuse the camera pops, and shaky video. I was trying to learn Movie Maker at the same time as uploading these, and found it was too difficult to do both things in the time I had; hence, I uploaded the raw video).
You can blow these videos and images up to full screen size to view.
Typically, when fishing in a river, you would target a school of several thousand fish because there is only a small percentage that will bite. The fish are beyond feeding, and thus you must target them with different tactics. Larger schools of chinook are black, in ruffled water or in shade and, of course, always on the other side of the river.
This next video is harvesting chinook broodstock in Red Rock Pool. At the boat launch, the hatchery boat is launched and it tows a net in a circle, ending back at the boat launch, and thus both ends of the net are in one place, fish inside the net. Then the net is slowly pulled onto shore, shrinking the water and concentrating the fish. Once the fish are easier to grab, they are picked out, deposited in bags that are then uploaded into a truck with water tanks and oxygen. Once full of fish, the truck zips to the hatchery, a five minute drive, where the fish are unloaded into a raceway. As they have several trucks, one pulls in as another leaves, and so on, speeding up the operation at both ends.
I chose this video of the half dozen I took because of how many times the staff are given the old face wash by the fish, something that happens far too frequently to me in the fall, fishing for salmon.
Here are a few images of loading at Red Rock, to put the video in context.
Dumping the bag into the metal tank on the truck.
Netting piled on shore after pulling it in to cinch the knot around the fish. You'll notice that the Diet Coke were running at the same time as the Chinook.
Heave ho to the next truck.
... and grabbing the bag full of fish.
Now some photos of loading chum at Nitinat Lake near Ditidaht. A net surrounds the fish, it is put in a structure, and the net is slowly made smaller. At the top end, a screw of six feet in diameter slowly turns. There are fins in the screw and all the way up the 3.5 foot diameter pipe. At the top, the fish plop into a conveyor belt that moves them down to where they plop into a tank on the back of a truck.
The covered structure, showing the conveyor belt on the left, and the top end of the screw on the right.
Taken from the structure in the lake, with its net that is slowly made smaller by hooking it over the iron railings on the sides and end. Looking back to the screw in the water, and the pipe that takes the fish up into the structure in the first photo.
The top end of the screw where the fish plop into the conveyor belt.
A shot of the conveyor belt and the tank into which it drops the fish, in this case handsome 10- to 15-pound chum.
A bucket of fish eyes looking at the camera.
This is the context for the screw seining. The residents of Ditidaht were doing a lake net-fishery for chum, at the same time.
A couple of shots of chum, moving into the screw as the net area is made smaller. Very handsome, good sized fish in these.
Copyright DC Reid.