Three generations – Meat fishing on the Sacramento

Somewhere in my genome is the genetic code of  a hunter gatherer.  I admit it; I love to meat fish (within legal limits of course). As Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma eloquently points out, if you are going to eat fish, the best fish you can eat is wild fish that you have caught vs sketchy store bought mystery farmed fish  sources. And to address those who insist that killing a limit of fish is some sort of conservationist sin, I could easily go all marine scientist on you and drop a 150 pages of jargon, data and technical innuendo, defending the science that sets limits that are non detrimental to renewable fisheries. Remember, its the water flows and not the fisherman that will destroy our California Salmon Fishery. All these years of denying this inner joy has made me feel pretty guilty,  aside from spending oodles of disposable income donating to various fishery conservation causes  my entire life.  Guilt in my teens drove me to studying marine biology at Davis for several years.   My dad, when he was alive,  loved our annual trips to the Sacramento River to stock up on river salmon.  It was a family affair with Wayne, Me, my dad and his brother Yun.  Alas, who knows how long river salmon will survive with the possibility of a second peripheral canal in the legislative works.

This past weekend, marked the first time I have fished for river salmon since his death 6 years ago.  There were those three years in between when the river was closed to salmon fishing, plus it just wasn’t the same without my dad and his three large ice chests to fill.    Last weekend,  my Uncle Yun flew in from North Carolina to meat fish what has turned out to be a pretty good salmon season.  He ended up mailing his clothes home so he could carry on as much fish as possible.    A couple funny stories about my dad came up as we back trolled flatfish on the Sac with Wayne’s twin boys.   I remember a day when my dad and Yun took turns playing this 30 lbr  till they were both  exhausted  finally ending up snagging  the flatfish on a stick and loosing the fish.  They didnt realize what had happen.    I recall my dad played that stick for 10 minutes as Wayne and I smirked at each other knowing that they had lost the fish.  My dad was still thrilled at the pull on the line and  Wayne would  speed up the motor and the stick would take line like a fish!   Those were fun days back around 2003-2008 and my dad’s favorite days.  He talked about them near the end in the hospital.   I miss him.

The Sac is fishing great.   We landed 4 fish the first day and 3 fish the second day bringing the total to 7 fish around 120 lbs of fish!   So what do you do with that much fish?  You can it in jars,  fillet it for BBQ,  smoke it and vacuum seal it.    We also caught two hens and I processed the roe.   Red Salmon Caviar is expensive in the Russian Market and more valuable that fillets;  to think we use to cure it all and use it for bait!     All in all,  we stocked the freezer with a season of fish and had a great family reunion on the river.    The twins caught most of the fish and were relentless in their pursuit for top-water stripers all the time we were back trolling.   Uncle Yun at 82 with CHF, a bad back and a hernia,  still managed to out fish everyone without dieing.   I don’t think hes got another year in him,  but I have been wrong about that for the last 5 years.   It was like watching my dad fish with Yun’s mannerisms, grunts and groans just like his older brother. 

Wayne turned me on to a recipe for Fly floatant–abolene and lighter fluid.   Abolene contains mineral oil, petrolatum paraffin, ceresin and beta-carotene.  The Lighter Fluid of choice is Ronsonol.   Ill have to make some but Im not sure of the ratio. Wayne’s kids, Emma, Michael and Matthew, are the best.  Wayne and his wife Muffy,  treated us to a Crawdad Boil on Saturday night.  Joining us were the Leonards.  I missed Jon Leonard this year in Alberta but the lucky dog was in Kamchatka exercising those 30 inch rainbows with Mike Mitchelak of the Redding Fly Shop.  The rice fields of Sacramento are rich with Crawdads and they are commercially harvested and sent to places like New Orleans.  Besides being a secret weapon when fishing for Salmon,  they tasted great!   Its nice to know that the bait taste as good as the fish.

On a final note,  I managed to loose my last fish to the prop on the trolling motor.  Not only did I loose the fish,  I lost the magic flatfish.  Each flatfish has hash marks for every fish they have caught and that on had alot of points.    Sorry Wayne for that,  how lame to have made such a rookie mistake.


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