Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fish, Fish Everywhere and Not a One to Catch

  Remember that saying, water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink? Well it's been kind of like that in the fishing realm here this past few weeks. The troll fleet from Sitka, Wrangell, Ketchikan, Yakutat and other spots around Southeast Alaska have amassed here in anticipation of the June run of Chum Salmon that normally makes there way through Icy Strait on their way to the hatchery from which they came some years back, but so far it's been a dry run. I keep hoping that they'll get discouraged and leave and then the run will show and I and my fellow Hoonah fishermen will clean house, smiling all the way to the bank. So far though, no one is smiling, well, except maybe the eagles. It's really kind of hard to tell if they are or not. They're pretty intent birds. They should be happy though. As you can see, the herring have moved in to the harbor en mass. Every stall has multitudes hanging around, as well as under the ramps that  lead to the floats. They aren't spawning, just hanging out. It was probably a necessary move in order to preserve their lives. For the past few years the Humpback Whales have been congregating in the bay chowing down on them. One whale can engulf hundreds of the little tykes in one fell swoop, and they never stop at one mouthful. When there is a whole pod of whales present Lord knows how much herring is consumed, but it's a lot! I know that a lot of folks really get into watching the whales and sea lions and sea otters, but things are out of balance now. The animal rights groups have raised so much havoc with lawmakers that now all these predators are protected and running amok. Similar to the same types of groups who oppose any logging, they are short sighted, not realizing that what they think is a good thing is to the detriment of the resource. Out west where large swaths of government lands were off limits to logging, there have been terrible wild fires, causing much more damage than if logging had been permitted. I'm not advocating the large scale removal of entire hillsides of trees, but a balanced approach where areas are logged. It's good for the economy and good for the forests. If a fire breaks out it will run out of fuel if it runs into a clear cut area and only part of the forest will suffer instead of losing tens of thousands of acres at once. It's the same with the whales and sea lions and otters. They're nice to see if you're a tourist, but left to their own devices, they'll eat themselves out of house and home.  People who come for a visit don't realize that it can happen, but it can. It wasn't all that long ago, just a few years ago, that when I passed by Point Adolphus on my way to the outside coast, the color video sounder would show feed, probably krill, from the bottom all the way to the top, solid. I would be in thirty fathoms of water, one hundred and eighty feet deep, and it would be hard to tell the bottom from the top because they were so thick. The whales have congregated there for years, but now when I go by, no sign of feed. The whale watch boats are having to go much further to sight any groups of them even though there are more whales now than ever. Eventually nature will thin out the herd. If there's no food, there will be no animals. Personally, I'd like to see hunting of some of these marine mammals so that the herd stays healthy. Of course that will be an uphill battle. Hopefully those in control will come to some degree of common sense and find a balanced approach in dealing with the predator population before it's too late.

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