Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
My buddy and I caught a 33 inch keeper below Cottonwood (Salmon River) on the 19th of Oct. He (the fish; not my buddy) had a little pink tag stuck to his dorsal with a plastic thingie like your tags on new clothes. Bill (my friend not the fish) called the hatchery at Rapid River I think, gave them the info. They said it was an Oregon fish, and referred him to the Oregon fish people. They asked for the tag, and he asked that they would, in return, share the scoop with him.
They called back yesterday and said the fish was caught in a trap 46 miles up the Dischuttes (sp) on the 22nd of Sept. They somehow knew it was an Idaho fish (I don't know how) so they tagged it and turned it go. In retrospect, I wish we had let it go in hopes of seeing where else it turned up. They also said this happens regularly. They had a fish a couple of years ago that hung around the North Fork of the Clearwater for three weeks before backtracking to the Salmon River.
Another buddy of mine (also a Bill) has a relative that works at the hatchery in Orophino who said for grins, they had hauled a big male down to the confluence in Lewiston three times, and all three times he was back in their ladder in less than a day.
When I lived in Elk City, I talked to the kid that was tagging the smoltz (sp) caught in the giant cement mixer looking trap half way between Elk City and Red River. He said they had only a few years earlier identified a Jack that never goes to the ocean. Since the beginning of time, folks have been catching them; thinking they are trout. (Ever caught a pink meated trout and wondered?) He only gets to about a foot long, and that they figured one in about fivehundred do this. He lives his entire life waiting for a hen that has no mate, and he fills the bill (not my buddy).
The Oregon fish people said the big fish we are catching on the Salmon this year (mid thirties average) are actually B run Clearwater fish. He didn't say how he knows that, but it begs some questions.
1) If they are Clearwater fish, are they going to end up there or are they going to populate the Salmon with some bigger genes?
2) Are all these fish in the wrong rivers just socializing? Do they have a crush and are just chasing the girls? The enviro's have been saying for years that if there was some catastrophe in one of our fragile rivers (I hope not) that the "run" would be gone for ever ---- yet:
3) Does this data mean that we would sooner than later have a run restored regardless?
This whole thing fascinates me. I used to marvel at the trek these fish make as a bee-line. But how much more spectacular to think of all the sight seeing they do?
4) Did this evolve; or are all these just Failsafes by an Awesome Creator?
5) Do we finally have a handle on it; or is there infinitely more we don't understand?
In the interest of full disclosure, I donít really wonder about #4; I know the answer.