Sunday, December 25, 2005

Cell phones on salmon?

This article on tracking salmon on their high seas journeys is just what the doctor ordered. Actually, the results from Ocean Census will be. Here's what the article on the 10 year long Ocean Census by 73 different countries says about salmon. I like to keep my eye out for the interesting new fish topics and two pieces showed up on the Ocean Census and one on a new trout. I had to go to a Christmas Eve function to get the trout story (at the end of this post) from the "party of the first part."

A sea-run brown trout, caught by Sonja Nisson of the Rogue River Flyfishers in 2005 in Tierra Del Fuego.

The senior scientist for the Census of Marine Life, Ron O'Dor, said, "We're sending animals out with the equivalent of cell phones and they're telling us where they are." You can go to for the straight scoop.

"Apart from adding to our knowledge of the oceans, the census will allow better management of commercial fishing. US scientists electronically tagged 2700 salmon to track their migrations across the Pacific Ocean from 16 river systems."

I blogged about this last summer when various runs of reds and chinook up and down the coast failed to show up. Then I blogged about a fish tracking device the English had been working on for 20 years. So, take heart, we should know one of these years if someone is jacking our fish or they are just running into a wall of predators or other literal or figurative hot water. I'll keep you posted.

The Census has been going on for five years now. They have found a lot of new species, and a lot of bad news about the health of many stocks of fish. To put this in perspective, the new specie include a tiny sponge that eats like a pac-man. Probably won't take a bait. Most of the rest are little jelly fish and such. But they've tracked tuna all the way across the Pacific and back again.

The Story of the Sea-Run Brown:

I ran into a fisherwoman Christmas Eve who had a fish story from Tierra Del Fuego. She got in on a trip, by a real fluke, that had been in the planning for five years. The rest of the expedition was making a video of a couple of master fly fishermen and women in action in waters that have produced five world record trout. They were on a 28 day expedition to Patagonia and surrounding areas. Sonja has been fly fishing since her grandad started taking her out when she was 12 and now is a pharmaceutical executive and still loves a fly fishing trip. So she went off on her own one day with a Spanish-only speaking guide to take her out for sea-run brown trout.

She hooked onto a 22 pounder using a wolly bugger, got the picture and let it go. Took 23 minutes to land. Those sea-run browns are real fighters, just like steelhead, apparently. I know about steelhead because one broke my pole in three places once. And we thought Alaska had big trout. Actually I saw a picture recently of a real lunker of a steelhead caught just downstream from Niagra Falls. That's the biggest trout I've seen. Even though I've seen a lot of seine caught steelhead in the thirty pound range in Alaska.

The above picture is one she caught the same day that was a couple pounds smaller. Just before she fell over the waterfall. The next fish she hooked after the 22 pounder, she was walking downstream with it and didn't see the waterfall. Over she went and hit her head on a rock (she didn't let go of her rod). The guide fished her out and offered her a bottle of brandy to warm up. The air is cold enough down there without falling in. After signaling back and forth for awhile, trying to tell the guide that she couldn't drink alcohol, the guide drank the brandy and gave her his dry clothes! They came through not much the worse for wear. Sonja had to have eye surgery though and uses an eye patch now, but it hasn't dampened her enthusiasm.

Maybe I can get these folks up to Alaska sometime to make a video, and learn a few of their tricks.

Some whimpy grayling I caught along the Tok Cut-Off in 1970 on my way back from Bristol Bay.


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