Salmon is a special type of fish (anadromous) that live in the oceans but most are born and only reproduce in freshwater. Different species of salmon can be identified by unique coloring and marks on their bodies, which often change as they move from salt to fresh bodies of water. Salmon is an interesting type of fish that attracts many foodies, scholars, and hobbyists.
Salmon has been at the heart of people living on the Pacific Coast for centuries. People often caught salmon as they run up a river to spawn. Local tribes held elaborate ceremonies to celebrate the first return of every year. These fish are the subject of many myths and legends - some of which might be true, like one where salmon famously saved many hungry troops in 1778.
Biology and life cycle
Salmon makes a long trip from the ocean to spawn in freshwater locations. Most species return to the spot where they were born. On arrival females make depressions on the river bed where they deposit their eggs and wait for males to fertilize them. Unfortunately, many salmon die soon after spawning but those that hatch must make the dangerous and long journey back to the ocean where they will live till it is their turn to spawn.
Wild and Hatchery Salmon
The annual migration to fresh water locations to spawn exposes salmon to great dangers which contribute to the rapid decline in their numbers. To counter this problem, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established and operates the Hatchery System to support the protection of many fish species including salmon. Such hatcheries hope to foster and sustain chances for commercial and sport by conserving native fish populations. This decision is informed by the fact that salmon that are hatched in a controlled environment stand a better chance of surviving than those that are born wild.
The first hatchery can be accredited to Seth Green who developed one in 1864 hoping to feed the growing number of hungry people at the time. Being an entrepreneur, Mr. Green was enticed by his success at salmon hatching that he started to try with other species including trout and shad.
In places like Oregon avid anglers have a chance to fish for salmon all year round but as with any other sport, there are rules.
According to the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, one needs a fishing license and a combined angling tag before they can go for sports salmon fishing to any zone.
The Columbia River is a favorite spot for seeking salmon anglers. This calls for strict regulation to protect the species.
One form of control involves allowing sports fishing only in certain seasons to allow for spawning and preserve young salmon till they can grow into adults.
The Spring Chinook season, for example, is open from March 1 to April 9 and allows anglers to catch two adipose fin-clipped adult salmon or steelhead but you cannot carry more than one Chinook.
Other than securing a license to fish, anglers have to buy a Combined Angling Tag for sturgeon, salmon, steelhead, and Pacific halibut. They can also buy a Hatchery Harvest Tag that approves the harvest hatchery salmon and steelhead.
Harvested wild adult salmon or steelhead must be recorded on the Combined Angling Tag. Hatchery salmon or steelhead can be recorded on the Combined Angling Tag or a Hatchery Harvest Tag. Anglers can purchase only one Combined Angling Tag per year and as many as needed Hatchery Harvest Tags.
Fishing Rules and Regulations
You need to check the fishing rules and regulations for your zone. The rules clearly state what species you can take and retain, what fish is not allowed in the area at that time. You should also note that there are specific lengths allowed for various species.
Once you have decided on a fishing site with fast current, depth, and distance from shore, make sure that your tools are in order and get started. Remember that salmon are feisty and do not go down easily, so make sure that you have a firm grip so they can't get away.
Sport Salmon Fishing is a wonderful sports activity but we must also be able to have fun responsibly for the sake of the species. This is only possible by learning as much as possible about salmon, steelhead, or other species that we wish to catch for fun.