Fish & Feathers: Crow had its own Fourth of July blast

<I>RON MALAST photo</I><BR>This picture shows two nesting sea gulls in the house next door.

The Ocean Bay RV Park had a private fireworks display this past week, when a crow (as in bird), landed on one of the three power poles located in the park. The crow, intent on committing suicide, landed on a high voltage transformer, which lit up like a Christmas tree and also managed to short out the other two power poles. The crow was only a shell of himself when he hit the ground. Power to the residents of the park was off for most of the day.

Salmon FishingPrivate and charter boats fishing the ocean (Marine Area 1) are returning with limits of salmon. The salmon are growing in size with each passing day as they feed ravenously for their final spawning run upriver. Salmon will put on weight at about a pound a week, and naturally as we get deeper into the season, the fish get bigger. Salmon feed on a wide variety of prey organisms, including marine invertebrates and smaller fishes. Most Chinook salmon spawn in large rivers such as the Columbia, although they will use smaller streams and rivers with sufficient water flow. They like the water flow to be high. Because of their size they are able to spawn in larger gravel then most other salmon.

Chinook salmon spawn on both sides of the Cascade Range, and some fish travel hundreds of miles upstream before they reach their spawning grounds. Because of the distance, these fish enter streams early and comprise the spring and summer runs. Fall runs spawn closer to the ocean and more often use small coastal streams. All chinook reach their spawning grounds by fall.

Coho salmon spawn in small coastal streams and the tributaries of larger rivers. They prefer areas of mid-velocity water with small to medium-sized gravel. Returning coho often gather at the mouths of streams and wait for the water to rise, such as after a rain storm, before heading upstream. The higher river flows enable the fish to pass obstacles such as logs across the stream or beaver dams. Coho have a very regular life history. They are deposited in gravel as eggs in the fall, emerge from the gravel the next spring and in their second spring, go to sea.

Salmon TermsAnadromous - Fish that live part or the majority of their lives in saltwater, but return to fresh water to spawn.

Emergence - The act of salmon fry leaving the gravel nest.

Fry - A juvenile salmonid that has absorbed its egg sac and is rearing in the stream; the stage of development between an alevin and a parr.

Kype - The hooked jaw many male salmon develop during spawning.

Parr - Also known as a fingerling, one between a fry and a smolt.

Smolt - A juvenile salmon that has reared in-stream and is preparing to enter the ocean. Smolts exchange the spotted camouflage of the stream for the chrome of the ocean.

Sea gull NeighborsFor the first time in the 10 years that we have lived in this house, we have two pair of sea gull families nesting on the house next door. They have selected a domed house and picked the uppermost window, above and in front, for their nesting sites. Will keep you updated with the growth of the "little ones."

When was the last time you saw a baby sea gull?

Ron Malast is operator of the charter boat Big Dipper at Sea Sport Fishing Charters in Ilwaco. 360 642-8862

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