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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Pacific flyway

The storms of autumn bring us one of the greatest gifts of nature, the Pacific flyway. 
For us sensitive bird-watching types, the North American continent is divided into three major flyways, the Atlantic, Central and Pacific. 
These are like highways in the sky for birds migrating from their summer homes before winter. The mass migration down the Pacific flyway represents one of the largest movements of life on the planet. OK, I made that up, but I once saw an incredible migration of whale birds that flew past LaPush in a solid line for three days.  
Just recently we saw a mass migration of buzzards that was creepy. 
You want to be careful when you're bird watching for buzzards. If they are circling your driveway, you may want to consider going to the dump more often. 
If you are fortunate enough to see a buzzard, be sure to keep moving. Don't fall asleep on a gravel bar while watching buzzards. 
Remember, buzzards find most of their rotten offal through their incredible sense of smell so you may want to consider bathing once in a while before watching these fascinating birds. 
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. The same autumn storms that caused the bird migration has brought the salmon back from their northern homes. 
The salmon wait for the rain to raise the river so it is safe to swim back up into the mountains. 
The harsh demands of salmon fishing often require you to sit and wait for the fish to swim by. Which can often cause our sleep-deprived angler who smells like the cross between a 3-day-old sardine and a tub full of rotten salmon eggs, to slump into a coma? 
The first rule of guiding is that you won't get paid if the buzzards get your clients still; it's sometimes preferable that they are asleep when a fish bites. That is because most people's first inclination upon getting a bite is to rear back and set the hook like they saw on a bass fishing show. 
Which can cause our angler to fall over backwards and severely injure me?  
I used to say you could tell when you got a fish on because that's when the screaming starts. Now I gently wake our angler with a cup of coffee, a smoked salmon croissantwich and a newspaper and ask them if it would be convenient for them to reel in the fish on their line, sometime today. 
This gives our angler an opportunity to adjust to their new surroundings and remember why they agreed to go fishing in the first place. Sometimes, by gently reeling in just enough to keep your line tight you have a better chance of landing the fish than if you jerk on the line and hurt the fish. 
This can enrage the salmon that has every rock and stick in the river memorized. Chances are that fish will jump around until they break you off.  You want to take your time playing a fish. This can take hours. 
You might as well be bird watching.
Many people enjoy bird watching until I tell them I charge $5 a bird and $2.50 for ever bird call I think I hear. Others enjoy viewing wildlife until I charge them $10 to see an otter, $20 for an elk herd and $100 for a Sasquatch sighting. 
Then there are the beautiful fall colors of the autumn leaves which are free for the viewing for a limited time offer. 
Meanwhile, you want to keep reeling in the slack. 
The buzzards are circling. It is good to be alive.  

1 comment:

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