I was reading an article in Fly Rod & Reel about steelhead fishing in BC’s Queen Charlotte Islands last night. Imagine that. Me. Reading.
Oh well. There was a photo of the author, Greg Thomas, proudly showing us a steelhead he caught. And there, smack dab above the pectoral fin, were a set of golden arches. I’ve seen these many, many times in recent years on Chinook salmon. I never really noticed them before my friend Jack, who knows far more about such things than I, pointed out these little scratches some four or five years ago.
These, he explained, are made by the claws of harbor seals, when they’re trying to grasp the fish. They’re nicknamed golden arches because, well, you can see the resemblance, right?
Since then, I see these golden arches a lot. A Lot. I have seen many other more serious wounds in salmon that I believe have been inflicted by seals or sea lions. Usually, I avoid these wounds as subjects of photography, because they are pretty ugly.
Some folks tell me that seals, especially, are not effective predators on salmon and steelhead. Without data to support my assertion, I say Hooey to that. Maybe it depends on how one defines the word effective.
Enough for now. In time, I will comment on how frequently I see these and more serious predator wounds in salmon and steelhead; hook scars; watching harbor seals hunting salmon in packs and in the dark; how one can detect de-scaling and scale regeneration in salmon and steelhead; comparing the appearance of hatchery and wild salmon; and other matters that roll around in my head while I’m on the water, hoping for a grab.
By the way, this observation is just a snippet of a larger picture and is not intended to be prejudicial to marine mammals and harbor seals.