BEAR/SALMON CAMERA SET UP

The salmon are beginning to stage in their natal streams! So this year I thought I’d try to do something different. Obviously I cannot hang around my favorite stream day after day, week after week.I’d like to…… but cannot.

So I have set up a Trail camera to catch the action. I placed it in a spot where the salmon are forced to expose themselves. They must move upstream to spawn! I picked this spot because they move from a deep pool to another pool above but have to swim over some washboard rapids exposing themselves.

Of course the bears are smart enough to know where the best spots are! The bears wander along the river banks each day searching and hoping that they are in the right spot when one of the salmon makes a break for it!

I too try to be at the right place at the right time but as I’ve said,I cannot be up there all the time. So I’ve set a trail camera up. I will collect the SD card after a month. Wish me luck! Its taken me years to figure this stuff out…….. or maybe I should say “think” I’ve got it figured out. This kind of stuff doesn’t come with a  manual.

“I’M FEELING FINE”!

When a salmon comes into a river system they are full of energy.They’ve come here to party like its 2018! They have this very strong primordial desire to mate! Once they do, their energy levels begin to drop fast.(kind of like human males)  Basically they begin to die & they know it.

When they get weaker they cannot swim out in the middle of the fast moving river.They come into the shallows to get out of that strong current. It would be similar to you running a marathon & there is a strong head wind against you! Getting out of that wind is all your thinking of!

Once they move into the shallows they become easy prey for the bears! The bears patrol the banks of the river each day.One might go upstream in the morning & maybe come downstream in the afternoon.

They are looking for salmon like our friend here.If a bear comes along,it’ll invite Mr.Salmon to dinner.They then will go for a short walk into the forest.

“COME WITH ME”

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Her patience was rewarding by finding a tasty salmon for dinner! She slowly walked off into the forest to enjoy her salmon dinner in private.Most of the time the bears do not finish their salmon. They eat the best parts & leave the rest.This salmon will now decompose & act as fertilizer for the forest.The trees surrounding a salmon bearing stream grow larger as a result!

All the nutrients the salmon gathers over its 4 years while out in the open ocean are eventually brought back to the forest.

“I SEE ONE”!………………….”RATS,MISSED ANOTHER”!

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Catching a “fresh” salmon is very hard as they are full of energy & quick! After a few weeks……not so much.They grow weaker & so get out of the rivers current by going close to shore.Thats exactly where the bears grab them!

They splash about seemly teasing the bears most of the time.

YOUR DONE CHUM

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This is a male Chum salmon.After a few weeks in fresh water their bodies start to break down.The first thing to go is usually their skin. They get skin rot.They loose scales making them turn whitish in colour.When you see that they are getting close to checking out.

I found this guy in the shallows. When they first come into the river system,they are full of energy & very active! They can swim against the current no problem.After they spawn their bodies become weaker,so they cannot swim against the strong current anymore.They prefer to swim/stay in the shallows where the current is weaker. Notice how this guys dorsal fin is exposed.This is exactly what the bears are looking for! A bear will walk along the shore searching for these spent salmon. They’ll grab it & hurry off into the forest to enjoy their salmon dinner.

This is a recent video I shot up in Tranquil.It shows Chum salmon doing their dance of life! Once I let the “drift rig” go,it points where the current takes it.(the “Drift Rig” I made is three feet long.If the depth gets less than three feet it’ll drag along the bottom)This footage has not been edited.

PARTY TIME

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The starting gun for this years salmon run has gone off! The rains have started.The salmon are on their way to their natal streams.Each will sniff out their natal stream.Each stream has many soluble minerals in it. Each stream has a unique mineral finger print.

As a parallel each key has a unique cut to differentiate it from another. The same with each stream.Each stream has unique trace minerals in it. This unique mineral marker was imprinted into the salmon when it was born in that particular stream. Each salmon is like a blood hound sniffing it’s way back to it’s natal stream. Think of it like a huge highway with millions of salmon all swimming together.When the salmon smells it’s stream It simply ramps off!

Once it finds it’s stream It’ll “stage”.All that means is it’ll stay out front of the stream breathing in that fresh water. The fresh water coming from the stream begins to change them.This triggers hormonal changes.The male salmon will grow large hooked jaws.They change like Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde. They change into Mr.Hyde! Once they begin to change they go upstream to check things out.They head to the salmon party!

They move upstream during high tide & hunker down in the deep pools during low tide.They know it’s dangerous to move from hole to hole during low tide.The bears are waiting to pick off the dumb ones.The ones who try to make a run between deeper holes during low tide are invited to dinner. Once they get above the tide line they are on their own.No more protection.They want lots of rain so the streams fill with lots of water.Lots of water means deeper waters. Which means protection from the bears grabbing them.

One of the problems bears have is seeing the salmon.So they like these pedestal like rocks to stand on.They can look down & see the salmon swimming.A rookie bear will jump in when he sees the salmon swimming about.A smart bear will wait for low tide when there is less water around.That way the salmon has fewer options to escape!

The male salmon begin to fight with each other.They will find a female & swim beside her.If another male comes too close,that male will attack! I once let a underwater camera go downstream to record the spawning salmon.A male didn’t like the looks of my camera & attacked it.

Once the female is ready she’ll dig a rut (red) in the gravel.She’ll lay her eggs & the male will release his milt from upstream.The eggs are than covered back up with the gravel.The eggs have a semi permeable membrane that allows oxygen to pass through.During the winter the fresh oxygen will keep them alive.This is when they are imprinted with that streams unique mineral signature!The eggs are vulnerable to many factors.Other fish coming into the stream for a snack,temperature,PH,DO (dissolved oxygen).

Streams that have been logged down to a streams edge will have lots of sediment being washed down the hillsides into that stream.That sediment settles on top of the eggs, cutting off the oxygen. Which in turn kills the eggs.

So……..say instead of 100,000 salmon heading out of that stream to that big highway out to the ocean,there may only be 10,000.So in 4 years time that returning population will be far smaller than normal due to that sediment. Thats why clear cutting should never happen near a salmon stream.

Btw,that 10,000 will be reduced even further by predators while they are out in the ocean for 4 years & remember that when they come back fully grown they have to get through that bruin gauntlet as well!

Life as a salmon is tough! Once they lay their eggs & release their milt,they die.They fall like snowflakes to the bottom.This is when bears reach under the water (like a racoon) & grab leftovers. When the first big rain happens all those dead salmon carcasses are swept downstream by the increased current.All the birds & crabs are waiting out front with smiles on!

 

SALMON VIDEO

20121002-20121002-IMG_703020081014-20081014-20081014-IMG_6616I want you all to watch a short salmon video that was uploaded to YouTube recently! I’ve been working on this technique for several years now!
The trick is to get close to the salmon but not to spook them! After trying many ideas & getting mediocre results,I created a filming device I call a “Drift Rig”! I basically used a 2X4 with two “ready rod” going down the centre. At the bottom of this ready rod is a small wooden base & that is where I secured the Go-Pro.
I go upstream until I find a school of salmon. I than slip further upstream of them & release the Go Pro! I call it “Salmon Curling”.
Once I release the Go Pro,it’s at the mercy of the current! I have no control over the speed,direction or orientation! It’s a “by guess By golly” hold your breath kind of thing! If I’ve guessed right,I can usually make the camera go right through the centre of the school!

At any rate check out the video. You won’t be disappointed! http://youtu.be/Geuhjp_r1lI

Oh,btw,these are “Chum” salmon,except at the end there are a few bigger darker salmon & they are Chinook…….plus, one lonely Cutthroat trout!

AHHHHH…………….THERE YOU ARE!!

At first I thought this was a female Chum salmon but now realize that it is a male! I thought what was squirting out were the eggs,but the colour is too white! Eggs should be orange! So this must be a male & his “Milt”!
This bear got his/her Thanksgiving meal! ……….I wonder if there was Pumpkin pie after??