Bolgosphere Questions & Answers from the Netherworld May 2010 Part 5

Bolgosphere Questions & Answers from the Netherworld May 2010 Part 5

This is part five of five. Ain’t done yet folks.  The fascinating questions keep pouring in, and I’m gonna try to answer to the best of my ability, so help me . . . . . ..

Q:  Strike indicators bells

A:  These are large (5 – 7”) bells attached under the left arm-pit of Spey fishers.  The purpose of said bell is to announce to God and one’s angling companions that one has received a pull, grab, yank, tug, or bite.  This is accomplished by rapid waggling of one’s body in a rotational fashion such that the “strike indicator” bell flops against the anglers chest and back, alternately, in concord with the body’s rotational motion.  Strike indicator bells are very important, because they usually signal the best part of the day.  This is because most fish are lost promptly after dealing a fly fisher a strike and if it were not for the strike indicator action, one would be left wondering, “did I get a strike?”

Q: Tell salmon issues

A:  Where to start?  Salmon need whole ecosystems, from the mountains to the far oceans.  They need places to spawn, for their young to shelter and feed.  They need unpolluted, free passage to and from the ocean.  They need protection from over fishing.  They need to avoid predators that have little else to feed on these days.  They need not be exposed to adverse ecological interactions with hatchery fish – competition, disease, predator attraction, direct predation, and so on. They need not be ground up in dams when migrating downstream, and need not be delayed by dams on their upstream migration.  They need spawning gravels not too compacted or sullied with silt.  They need shelter and food when they first emerge from the gravel.  If any link in the ecological chain from birth to death is broken by human activities, the salmon are at peril.  Guess what?  That is what people, humans do best.  We humans take great pride in messing with Mother Nature.  We think we can re-arrange the chain of ecosystems that salmon depend on, taking out some water here, cutting a few extra trees there, building a road across a river bend, throw in a few dams, dump a few tons of Prozac down the toilet, fertilize the crops, spray the bugs, stock hatchery fish, drill for oil (it can be done without risk, I assure you), dike the wetlands, run drain tile across every field, put our homes and businesses right on the river banks, sell twelve million drift boats and jet sleds and gummy worms to anglers, and  — and the list goes on and on.  Salmon issues?  Where should we start?

Q:  Red kelt

A:   A kelt is a post-spawning steelhead or Atlantic Salmon.  Females very quickly silver up as they migrate towards the ocean.  Males, because they will mate again and again and again (did I note that males are not a do-it-once-and-get-back-to-the-ocean fish), retain their spawning colors for a very long time.  In male steelhead, these colors are dominated by a reddish stripe along the length of their body.  A “red kelt” would likely be a male steelhead.

Q:  Wild hatchery steelhead the same

A:  No, wild and hatchery steelhead are not the same – ever.  A hatchery steelhead may be the first generation product of taking wild broodstock from a river and raising the young in a hatchery.  They are not the same critter when they return to the river.  Ask hatcherymen (hatchery-persons?) if the offspring of wild parents behave differently in the hatchery.  The usual answer is – yes – the offspring of wild parents behave much differently than the offspring of hatchery parents.   Some hatchery steelhead are able to reproduce fairly well almost as well as wild fish spawning in rivers.  Some hatchery steelhead reproduce  very poorly in streams or reproduce successfully only once in a while depending on river flow conditions, for example.  Hatchery fish, even highly domesticated hatchery salmon and steelhead, have been able to establish “natural” runs of fish in south America and far off regions where no salmonid fishes were present.  This is true, also, for hatchery rainbow becoming established in the Eastern US, where brook trout were native, and for transplanted brook trout establishing “naturally reproducing “ populations in the West.  That said, it is unusual, at best, for a transplanted steelhead or salmon stock to “replace” a native stock.  I can not think of a single example where this has occurred.  Elk and or Chetco River Chinook were transplanted to the Alsea, in hopes of producing a late-run Chinook to spice up the recreational fishery.  That was in the days when fisheries agencies commonly transplanted fish around, hoping to improve on nature.  Didn’t work.  It turns out that wild fish native to specific rivers tend to have very specific genetic traits that give them a strong survival advantage in that basin.  This is not to say that a salmon or steelhead stray from one basin to another will not survive or could not provide a beneficial addition of genetic diversity to the local native population.  This is simply to say that, on the whole, salmon and steelhead are best adapted to their local rivers, and that similarly, hatchery salmon and steelhead are best adapted to early live in a hatchery environment.  Ahhhhhh. I am sure I have erred more than once in this make a complex issue simple.   Forgive me or not.  I ask that you consider these ideas as starting points for constructive discussions, not as the final word.  Thank you.

Q:  Wooly buggers tied on octopus hooks

A:  Never heard of this.  The result could be interesting and might set of a frantic feeding frenzy at Diamond Lake of one were to chuck one of these flies into the water and strip it in over the weed beds.  But I need to enquire – would this be a Waddington Shank Wolly Bugger with an Octopus stinger, or would it be fully loaded on the Octopus hook and look like a big fuzzy scud?  Would you want to tie on red Gammies?  Nickel black?  Ooooooooh, how about Damsel fly olive on a green Gamakatsu Octopus hook, maybe a size 2?  Deadly.


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