Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Odd Jobs (10/22/09 - 10/28/09)

"Turtle rescue" isn't on the official list of duties for Salmon River Stewards, but when covering an area as large as the Salmon River, sometimes unexpected tasks come our way. For me, Salmon River Steward Greg Chapman, the normal walk along the train tracks on my way into the Schoeller fishing access site got pretty interesting when I nearly tripped over a large snapping turtle that had somehow gotten itself hung up on one of the tracks.

This turtle got more than he bargained for when he tried to "ride the rails" near the Schoeller fishing access site on the Salmon River. Photos by Salmon River Steward Greg Chapman.

I can't fathom how this turtle got itself into this predicament, but it didn't appear able to move itself off of the track. These are active train tracks, so as much as I don't normally seek to place my hands near a large snapping turtle, I did feel compelled to move him off of the tracks. I learned a great deal about how far snapping turtles' necks can extend, and just how quickly they can lunge when they feel threatened; not to mention the size of their claws! However, after carefully assessing the situation, I did manage to move the heavy, slippery and ill-tempered turtle successfully, and I lost no fingers in the process.

The snapping turtle was successfully transferred to the side of the train tracks, after taking time to pose for a few close-up shots. Photos by Salmon River Steward Greg Chapman.

Elsewhere on the river, things are a bit quieter than they have been in recent weeks with salmon season continuing to wane; although salmon continue to be sought and caught on the upper river (including some beautiful coho salmon), many anglers on the lower river are reporting good things about the increasing number of steelhead and brown trout to be had. After the hectic pace of peak salmon season earlier this month, the more relaxed atmosphere on the river is a welcome change.

Watching the trains cross the bridge near the Schoeller fishing access location. Photo by Salmon River Steward Liz Wolff.

However, even with fewer people on the river, some problems have been observed. Particularly, the recent cold snap has made the idea of a warm fire appealing to some anglers; both myself and Salmon River Steward Liz Wolff witnessed open fires along the riverbanks this past Friday. Open fires are not allowed along the banks of the Salmon River, for several reasons: First, much of the public fishing access is accomplished through easements on otherwise private property, and fires and their remains are not appreciated by the private property owners. Second is the danger of an unattended fire spreading quickly because of the abundance of downed leaves, branches and pine needles along the river.

Though many of the birds have moved south as the weather chills, their nests, such as this one near Compactor Pool, remain. Photo by Salmon River Steward Liz Wolff.

When visiting the Salmon River you will most likely see signs posted in parking areas that describe the regulations which apply to most areas of the river. Anglers should always check the regulations before using each site, in order to better understand how they can responsibly use the site and minimize their impacts. These signs can also provide information about other important regulations, such as seasonal tackle restrictions in the fly fishing-only areas upstream, and the daily catch limits elsewhere. These regulations are also available for review in the current year's Freshwater Fishing Regulations; be sure to note the special sections regarding Great Lakes tributaries and the Salmon River specifically. Nobody wants to end their fishing day by receiving a ticket from a Conservation Officer. Regulations are created and enforced with the needs of the fish and the fishery in mind, to help keep fishing great now and into the future.

Dead salmon are a fact of life along the banks of the Salmon River at this time of year, as Pacific salmon die after spawning. Photo by Salmon River Steward Greg Chapman.

And, of course, if you ever have any questions about regulations on the river, or any other aspect of the river and its inhabitants, feel free to ask us if you see us!

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