Monday, November 19, 2012

Biggest secret EVER!!!

We heard something about a week ago that exists here in Colorado.  I couldn't believe it.  I would often sit in front of the tv watching shows about Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, pining away about this certain something.  Living here for the majority of my life, I just now found out that here in the landlocked state of Colorado...we have salmon!  Isn't that unbelievable???  Apparently, they are a landlocked, freshwater species that is a cousin to the sockeye. It's spawning time, and the department of wildlife nets a ton of salmon to collect eggs and puts them in their hatcheries so that in the spring they can be released. Once they do that, then they open up what is called snagging season (will discuss this in a bit).  They are called Kokanee, and this lady was very excited.  So I got myself worked up into a very fishy frenzy and we got ready for our adventure.

First issue we had:  the reservoir is over four hours away.  No problem...we just did some forward planning and woke up at four in the morning (not pleasant).  With four kids (between ages 10-17), that was fun...but they made the most of it and it turned out to be the most gorgeous day.

Second issue:  we do not fish.  We didn't even own one fishing pole.  This is where you can laugh hilariously at me!  My husband and son are hunters, but there is not one fisherman in the family.  So why even attempt this?  Well, snagging is a different kind of fishing.  You don't use a lure or a fly or bait.  You use a snagging hook, which in technical terms is a weighted treble hook.

You basically are trying to "snag" them in their body and drag them in.  Why allow this?  Well, during spawning, the salmon aren't going to go for any lures, and once spawning is done (you've seen the shows), they die.  So they allow snagging only on the salmon during this time period so that there isn't a horrendous amount of dead fish floating in the reservoir or the small little river and tributaries leading to the hatchery.  So, in my mind, no true skill is really involved.   Ahem, well, we had a few things to learn.

Issue number 3:  I was thinking this would take no real skill.  With six of us, we could all get our limits and bring home 60 salmon.  Well, that didn't quite happen.  First of all, we have very little fishing knowledge, so it took a while before we had our gear ready to go.  My husband was the only one who knew how to tie the hooks onto the line.  As we got going, almost everyone around us were catching things left and right, and we weren't getting anything. I would sit and watch to see what they were doing and learned some good things.  We talked to some of the guys around us and they told us what to do.  I felt like I had a groove going, but the day was almost done.  This is probably the last good week of snagging because we caught some salmon that had already started their decay (yes, they are still alive...they have tell-tale signs like yellowish spots of missing scales and tails that are yellowish and partially missing).  You can't eat those.  Our grand total of fish: three!  I don't feel horrible because some of these guys had tons of fish and were fishing all day, but by the time they were going home, they only took three.  They were beautiful fish, though.  We caught two males and one female.

We ate them yesterday and they were very delicious.  I wish I had more!  The eggs from the female went to our chickens, along with any stray scraps we had.  The heads are going straight into my garden bed for tomatoes...that will be wonderful fertilizer.  I had considered making my own fish fertilizer (like you buy in the store) but I read on someone's blog how he made it in Florida and a neighbor almost called the police because of the horrendous smell (they thought he had a dead body in his backyard).  Since I live in the burbs, no thanks!!! Hahahaha!

Lessons learned:  1) more fishing rods!  Because of budget, we could only have two.  That was a bit of a bummer.  2) Everyone learn to tie their own hooks!!! 3)  We did have plenty of hooks, which you need for snagging, but next time, I need smaller snagging hooks.  We had size 5/0, when really we needed size 4/0.  That's all they had in the stores around here so I have to find the right size on the internet.  

Would I go again?  You better believe it.  When you can see the salmon swimming, you know the water is ripe for the picking.  I have much more knowledge now and I am so excited for next year.  Living in the suburbs, sometimes you have to find resources that are outside your immediate community.  Take advantage.  Find some farms for produce, find some lakes/reservoirs/rivers to fish...the possibilities are endless.  I had no idea we had salmon, but now, it's on my yearly to do list!  

It was something we had NEVER done before. Sometimes you have to step outside the box.  I tell my kids, always try to learn something new.  We had a good time!  May you find a lovely adventure where you live!

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome! Who knew! We moved to Alaska a few years ago and went from no fishing knowledge to doing quite well for ourselves. I'm bummed to leave, but glad to know that if we end up in Colorado that we'll still be able to get some! :)