20140930-IMG_8171I’ve been having a few problems with my engine,or I should say…………engines!
I have two outboards. Both are 15hp. One is a Mercury & the other is a newer Yamaha. Both of them need some work,so I decided to bite the bullet & buy a new one! A Mercury 20 hp 4 stroke.
I go by myself out into spots very remote & need to know I can get back safely! It was ordered right from the factory in Japan,so it took almost 6 weeks. I’m kind of under the gun for time right now. The salmon are beginning to spawn & I don’t want to miss the action! Bears grabbing salmon etc! I use to go down to Thornton Creek Hatchery,but it’s become way too crowded! I use to go down there in the nineties & be the only soul there all day! Just me & my furry friends! …………..not dozens of people watching me.
I go out onto the estuary with the bears. Everyone else stays up on the bridge area. Your not going to get a good shot from up there. I learned many years ago that I had to be eye to eye with them,so I went out onto the estuary.
People who don’t have a clue about bears were telling me not to go out there & not to bother them. (As if 50 people on a bridge,all staring doesn’t stress them out!)They have zero experience with bears but know better! What do I know?
So I decided to get rid of the pseudo-environmentalists/crowds & go up into Tranquil creek. It’s very remote & more importantly……people free! I have never seen a single soul up there……. except once! The guys who work down at Thornton Creek Hatchery! They were tagging & taking salmon (eggs/milt) for the Hatchery.

The best time to get shots of bears grabbing salmon is at low tide! Getting into the system at low tide is difficult & down right dangerous in spots!
This a normal shoot for me.
Once I arrive at the estuary, I have to beach the boat & get into my neoprene chest waders/felt booties. It’s way too shallow in spots,so I have to walk up stream pulling my boat along behind me. There are 5 sets of washboard rapids I have to get over. Once past that point,the water narrows & speeds up! (There are large trees snagged here & there) I have to get the engine back down,start it up & jump in very quickly! Once I jump in the boat,I’m swept backward towards a very large tree root. If I got pinned up against it,my whole boat could flip & I could be pinned underneath & drown!
So I gun the engine & surge forward clear of that very dangerous spot! Once into the system,I go as far as I can ( shallow) & tie the boat up along the shore. I than walk upstream with all my equipment. This area I call the “Gauntlet”! Why?……………because there are almost always half a dozen bears waiting beside the rapids to grab a salmon! I need to get past them to another spot further upstream! As I walk forward,it’s like parting the red sea. All the bears walk or run away from me like I have BO or something! Bears are very shy,timid creatures & do not need much to make them go back into the forest.
This year I’m going to take a folding chair & park myself just downstream from the rapids! I’ll wait for one of my furry friends to grab a salmon! Or thats the plan at any rate. Good light only falls onto this spot for a few hours each day,so I need the low tide to coincide with that time window………….in theory! Each year I try to figure things out better!
Wish me luck but I don’t need it for my new engine!