To the Salmon, with hope …..

Jay Nicholas Chinook buck IMG_2618
We find ourselves living in a time when there are legitimate questions regarding the salmon’s future in a world where climate and oceans seem to be acting in ways unlike they have in at least the last few thousand years. Maybe I have the time scale right and maybe I’m off. Without belaboring who did what and what should be done at this point in the earth’s evolution, I’ll simply say that the next twenty or forty or sixty or maybe even ten years could hold some unpleasant surprises for salmon and for us humans who are affected by weather around the world.

I always always always loved to fish when I was a kid, and I still do to this day. I never doubted that fishing would be part of the future of the citizenry of North America. I never considered the possibility that rivers in Oregon might not always provide a home to salmon in the future – at least I thought the rivers where I’d always found salmon would hold salmon in perpetuity.

Now I’m not so sure.

Please don’t get me wrong. This is not a doom and gloom prediction. But my sense of confidence isn’t what it once was. My role in fisheries management seemed to require that I put on a public face of confidence in the future of salmon and salmon fisheries and wild salmon and hatchery programs and science and managers, and so forth and so on.

For me to have been a half-full thinker was, it seemed, untenable. I had to have genuine hope and optimism and confidence. If I, the salmon guy, wasn’t confident, who else should be, after all.

So I exuded confidence in the ecological system.

Confidence in people and government and anglers and management plans and environmental laws and law enforcement and all that.

And confidence in the salmon too.

I did.

At least I think I did.

Now I’m not so sure.

Jay Nicholas Chinook 2019

The salmon have been a vital part of my life. Of course there is much beauty and meaning in life without salmon. Of course there are more important issues to humans on this planet than the health and the future of salmon. Perhaps salmon are a placeholder of sorts, an iconic representation of uncountable matters, good and ill, that people will encounter in the future.

Still . . . . .  while the 2019 salmon season draws to a close. I’m pausing to reflect on our shared history, rocky as it has been, and express my hope for our shared future, whatever that may be.

Jay Nicholas



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2 Responses to To the Salmon, with hope …..

  1. Sam Wilkes says:

    After 50 years of being with the salmon it is a heart breaker.

  2. Scott Lightcap says:

    Thanks for sharing those thoughts Jay. As a fellow Fish Bio, these thoughts have been weighing heavy on my mind as well. Maybe it’s a self preservation tactic, but I find myself reflecting back more on great memories and times spent on the beach with friends, than on looking forward to what’s coming.

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