Long Live the King (Salmon)

I have been watching fly fishing videos while I work out on the elliptical at home (thank the Lord for nap time). Yes, some of us that enjoy this sport, and have young kids, only get out on rare occasions…or if you are like me you get out about 2-3 times a week for about 15-20 minutes at a time! There is a reason my daughter always says: “Oh no mom, don’t even look over there at that river”. So while I am waiting for my next big fishing adventure (hint hint to anyone that wants to go), I enjoy watching these videos!

This one came across my news feed somewhere and I can’t stop thinking about it. When I fished in Alaska in 2004, we were catching 45-80 lb Kings. It was the thrill of a lifetime to land such huge fish- we caught our limit and then released the rest of them back to their spawning adventure. Unfortunately, we kept the monsters for bragging rights (and the freezer) and I wish I could have experienced catching my biggest fish of the day and releasing it back on its way….something that gave me goosebumps while watching this video.

I remember flying over lake Iliamna and seeing hoards of dead salmon, all kinds, just floating and bobbing in the water as if the entire Bristol Bay had been lit up with dynamite. It  was an eerie, yet heart-moving,  sight to see all of those huge fish who had made it back to their birth place to spawn and then to die shortly after. What an amazing process- a built-in natural cycle of life that was balanced and dependent on the salmon being able to spawn. Back then, I thought there was no way this population would ever be on the decline- there were so many!

I can’t imagine Alaska without the fish magically appearing on schedule to make this journey….and the decline is happening unfortunately.

One of my favorite quotes from this short film is :

“Step into these Alaskan waters for reasons beyond catching fish”.

This sounds like an oxymoron- but what I think it is getting at is to advise people to stop going to Alaska to take, but go to experience. The film talks about everyone making an effort to stock their fridges with the sockeye salmon or the silvers versus “knocking a king in the head”- in order to help the population catch up with the massive amounts of over-harvesting (which they are guessing is the problem).

The other quote that stood out to me as so true is:

“Humans in general tend to be reactive versus pro-active”.

The older I get and the more I learn about all of the ‘upper management’ involved in making sure the planet is functioning, the more I realize that there really are not many people that know what they are doing, and the ones that do know what they are doing are not communicating with each other. Not only that, but the little fish in the fish school just follow along, assuming the older ones know what they are doing (I am talking about humans, not real fish here). I would hate to see ‘The Man’ get involved in manipulating this fine balance of the salmon run in Alaska- because just as I have experienced from working on the stream survey crew in North Idaho, humans tend to mess it up. I will also say that humans have done some wonderful river and creek restoration for fish habitat in order to recover lost populations of trout, which I have been able to be a part of and I encourage families to get involved in this process.

I dig that these people are trying to educate others on the declining salmon population and I also appreciate that they are willing to let a King go for the sake of future generations. The bigger moral of the story, however, is: lets be more careful with what we have now, so that we can have it later! Remember I am whispering thoughts into my children’s heads at night of fishing with their wacky mom in Alaska…. a dream I want to come true someday, for everyone who wants to see this amazing part of the world!

Besides this video, I have seen several other fly fishing videos recently. I just love the people that are careful with the fish and release them back into the water and appreciate their beauty (similar techniques and love for the water across cultures actually). I have also seen some real idiots that throw them around and kill them just to show their mama how many fish they caught. Why do some people think that we can just use up and take all that has been given to us with no consequence?

With every thing we do, eat, take, look at, read, throw away, or catch…there is a decision and a consequence that most of us never take the time to realize. This is just a small issue in the big picture…I’m not trying to start a global warming debate here- but this is evidence that I have witnessed first hand of a beautiful population of life-breeding fish that bring so much to this part of the world- culture, way of life, animal habitat, nutrition, and balance, being taken away. It will start with the Kings and move on to the other species if we are not careful.

Don’t even get me started on the Pebble Mine proposal- such a horrible idea. Who ever thought of that one should be tied up and given a one way ticket to the moon!

It reminds me of the  kid movie, The Lorax, which I am sure most of you have missed unless you have wee little ones. I think all of the adults should see it. Here are a few words from the song “Let it grow”- (side note, this song always makes me get a little misty-eyed, but don’t tell anyone).

Let it grow
Let it grow
You can’t reap what you don’t sow
Plant a seed inside the earth
Just one way to know it’s worth
Let’s celebrate the world’s rebirth
We say let it grow

*WE SAY LET IT GO*- (my really crafty way to say let the kings go). *snicker*

Long Live the King!


KING SALMON by Ricky-Roo302

Art By: Ricky Roo Deviant Art

 I am curious if anyone has further information about this topic? Post on here or send me an email. 🙂 Check with your local Trout Unlimited group to find out where restoration projects are going on in your area! Link to TU: www.tu.org/


2 thoughts on “Long Live the King (Salmon)

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