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Thursday, October 15, 2009

SPYING ON SALMON IN ANCHORAGE'S SHIP CREEK




After leaving the Market, Rob and I meander down to Ship Creek, an important older part of the city. Ship Creek is sometimes called a place for “urban combat fishing.” The term may even include other anxious anglers when the salmon is running. That means there can be a sizable crowd two hours before or after slack tide when fishing is good. Ten minutes from the office, a fisherman can battle a feisty ten pound salmon! I bet you can check a lot of office “attendance” by reading the tide tables! I don’t think there are too many places around the country where this kind of outdoor recreation is possible.

Where we cross the river are the fish ladders that help the salmon get from the lower river level to the higher level. In Seattle, WA you can stand fascinated and watch through windows as the salmon use the ladders, but here we are only able to watch them emerge at the end of their climb. The silver salmon are running this time of the year, and we watch them struggle against the strong current, sometimes pooling together to rest and “catch their breath” before continuing their quest to reach their spawning sites. We watch them, mesmerized. We slowly move across the bridge stopping every few feet, and then we descend some stairs on the other side to be closer to the water. The fish are exhausted as they emerge from the ladders, and they stop again to rest before battling the current once more. Some are already battered and torn, and some just die in the river. Birds are waiting at river's edge to peck at the dead and dying fish. In nature, these losses are part of the cycle of life, and nothing goes to waste. Other stronger salmon continue their journey eluding the fisherman casting into the stream. The strong do survive. Rob and I move from place to place changing our view but remain fascinated.

We also continue to meet friendly, garrulous people. EVERYONE we meet is outgoing and friendly. I think this is part of the Alaskan make up. The weather is lovely, the company is lovely, and the sun is lovely. In a short time a long, tough, cold, and dark winter will arrive. Now it is time to enjoy! While we watch the salmon, a man, formerly Air Force, stops to chat with Rob about the fish. We end up talking for 45 minutes! Each year he comes to Alaska from Houston and spends June, July, and August here. He loves it! But his wife stays home! When we ask about places we must include in our visit to Anchorage, he says without missing a beat, “Have you been to Humpy's?” Cool.


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