Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Fishing . . .

A few weeks ago, when Pater and I were paddling our kayaks 'round the island, we hit a long stretch where the water was seething, boiling around us with salmon (pinks, he thought) just beneath the surface, occasionally rising above the surface and plopping back under with a splash.

Then this weekend, we woke early Sunday morning to see several gillnetters anchored just off our bay, and before long, they were setting their nets. Not pinks, though -- the salmon they're fishing for are probably chum salmon. In the photo above, you can see, to the right of the fishboat, the float that marks one end of the long gillnet, and you can just make out the line traced by the net right around to the boat's stern.

Below, two boats reflect the early morning rays as they approach each other for a little conference.

Later that day, the sky's a little bluer and the sea's picking up and intensifying that colour, and the boats are still setting nets and then pulling them in, full of chum salmon. Again, if you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can make out the net stretched out between the float on the left and the boat at the far right.

I'm not naïve about problems with fisheries, techno-industrial harvesting bla-bla-bla, sustainability questions, distribution, etc., but I nonetheless feel heartened every time I see a scene like this. As I do when the flickers work their way up a tree in my back yard, or I startle a great blue heron away from my backyard fishpond as I did a few weeks ago, or when I spot a mink racing across the beach, or even a raccoon checking whether there's any food left in the cat's dish on the front porch. I feel blessed seeing evidence of abundant wildlife around us even, sacrilegiously perhaps, when what I'm witnessing is that wildlife being scooped up for food. (This may have something to do with my current reading: Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma!)
In other breaking news: I got to my car this morning to find that someone had left a note on my windshielf directing my attention to an almost-flat rear tire. A very helpful someone, as I'd surely otherwise just have driven away, gradually realizing from a thumping ride that something was wrong, but only after having damaged the wheel. I cabbed up to a meeting, and now have to figure out when to wedge two hours into my schedule to get BCAA down to put the spare on, drive to a tire place and get the problem fixed. Which rather negates all the benefits I got from fall falling back this weekend, damn it!! My whingeing was halted, though, when the cabbie mentioned that he'd just got his layoff notice -- nothing like having one's problems put in perspective!


  1. Few would have the window you have on the state of Canada's fish stocks! Pollen's book was important to me and I was thrilled to lead a discussion of it with the (mostly) young techies I worked with last year- and it changed the way I think about food.

  2. Again I say "what a view"
    Cornwall too has managed to revert to smaller fishing vessels, this allows the stock time to replenish whilst providing a living once more moew to the fishermen.
    If the rest of the world could wake up to the fact that by taking what we need rather than what we can profit from, we might not be in the mess we are in.
    I too despite how I feel am always grateful for the stability my job has given me.

  3. Duchesse: That would have been a great discussion! I thought about having 1st-years read it as something to respond to in their composition class, but it's a bit too much book for that, sadly. I'm going to try his In Praise of Food for that next.
    IndieAl: I would love to visit Cornwall one of these days -- it's always interesting to check out other shores -- that relationship between sea and land -- and see what's constant all over and what changes.

  4. You live in such beauty. I am always so pleased when your share some of your view with us.

    Speaking of Michael Pollan, did you see his PBS documentary, "The Botany of Desire"? It was fascinating. I wish it was a long term series and not just a two hour special.


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