Juneau Travel Blog› entry 6 of 9 › view all entries
After our four hour hike up the Perserverance Trail (still don't see how the earlier settlers did it, and that was without a trail) we drug ourselves back to the car literally falling in our seats eagerly (YEAH RIGHT!!!) looking forward (panting more like it) to our bird watching escapade down at Eagle Creek.
We had to plan most of our daily activities in accordance to the low tides of the day (twice daily) where we could actually walk out on the shoreline to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. I guess it would probably be quite the experience during high tide (if you can manage holding a camera while treading water). Most days there can be an eight to 10 foot difference in the water levels at high and low tides.
Once we made our way down the muddy slope to the creek bed below the allure of the "Dog" (nickname for one of the five types of Salmon) struggling to survive in the streams forcing their way upstream trying to avoid either the fisherman trying to practice their fly fishing techniques, or three different types of scavenging birds looking for an easy lunch.
"The men were astonished at the numbers of salmon in the river, mostly dying after the spawn and therefore inedible. The water was so clear that, no matter how deep the river, the bottom was plainly visible."
From the Journals of Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (October, 1805)
Apparently for the newbie Alaskan tourist (or Salmon fisherman) the life cycle of a salmon is an interesting and tragic one. Their heralded journey begins being spawned in freshwater streams where they live for three or four years (the lucky ones). After reaching maturity in the springtime the adult returns to their native streams to start the spawning process all over again. During this time (for reasons only known to the Salmon) they stop eating, while their sole purpose is concentrated on repopulating the species (sounds fishy to me) and making their way back to the exact spot where they started their journey, only to die in the streams of their birth (maybe that's how we got the term "Birth Canal") for our women readers.
These salmon will literally leap over any obstacle in their way, braving dams and surviving waterfalls sometimes jumping several feet out of the water until it either overcomes the road block, or dies trying. As to the female salmon, she dies during the spawning process.
Along with salmon, we watched as both immature and mature eagles glided gracefully over the waters eventually coming to rest on a hollowed out log, or a rock, or just plain landing on the ground.
As mentioned above for the newbie or just plain avid salmon fisherman, the five types of Salmon are the Chinook (King) which can live up to seven years and get get up to an incredible 120 pounds (no wonder they live so long after they stop eating). These are the largest species of salmon, and the best catch for sports fisherman because of thier fighting spirit. They are easily spotted because of their Light spots on their Blue/Green backs.
The Chum on the other hand are not as lucky with only a lifecycle of up to five years, and weigh in at a somewhat respectable 10 pounds. These fish have black specs over Silvery sides, and faint grid like bars on their body.
The CoHo Salmon live for up to three years getting up to 15 pounds with bright silver markings.
Pinks are the smallest salmon only weighing up to five pounds with spotted backs on silvery bodies (sounds like catch and release to me).
And last but not least is the ever popular Sockeye (Red) which can be around for up to five years, and weigh in at seven pounds. These are the most sought after type mainly because of their deep rich flavor and deeper red flesh.