“Fish Tales 1”

A friend of the family likes to fish, and it began reminding me of the many times in my life I have been fishing. I thought I would post a few of these as a great distraction from the insanity now raging in my nation as a tyrant tries to overturn our legal Presidential election by pulling out all the stops he can invent each day.

Above you can see the smelt run on the Sandy River in Oregon in spring of 1949. When the call went out that “the smelt are running,” crowds of people took their nets, drove a short way out of Portland and hauled them in. On the left you can see our friend Dick wading in the river and on the right I am either admiring or being horrified by the haul. My attitude towards fishing has often vacillated between the two reactions.

Curious if this still occurred, I consulted the internet only to learn that the last significant smelt run took place in 1980. Not only that, but in 2010 they were listed as an endangered species. Apparently that halt on their capture has led to a modest rebound of the smelt, though clearly nothing like the runs in the 1940’s.

I have no memory of eating smelt. But I am in awe of the plenitude of fish just there for the netting. In 1949 it didn’t occur to anyone that this tradition would ever end.

22 thoughts on ““Fish Tales 1”

  1. This is a wonderful photo. Of course no one in 1949 knew the species would be at risk. What I love most is your memory, and you swing both ways on the haul. When I was 3 or 4, before my father died, our family went to Nags Head, as they did every year. He had trapped lobsters, and my mother was boiling them. I begged to look into the big lobster pot. Those animals clawing to get out out and turning red is an early memory. I still have a hard time eating lobsters. You must have felt the same way with smelt.


  2. Wonderful story and remembrance. Sadly, it’s a very common occurrence. Once, there were so many cod fish in the oceans, it’s said that you could walk to shore in their backs from your boat. Countries fought wars over cod fishing rights (The History of The Cod). We used to cat h striped bass till the cows came home, then they became scarce, primarily due to pollution in their breeding grounds (Hudson River, Chesapeake Bay). Now, rightly so, there are limits. It happens.


  3. Like you I also have 2 opposing reactions to fishing. Good memories of dropping my line off the dock in Hood Canal. But not of having to bonk them on the head afterwards. Now I like to take pictures of the scenery while my husband fly fishes. And yes, we really do need diversions these days from the unsanity.


  4. Mankind has done a lot of damage to the environment, mainly because of overpopulation. It is a great shame for the natural world and our children and grandchildren. The political situation in the USA is rather strange. I’ve never heard of election results being contested to such an extent.


  5. Such a lovely photo of a more innocent time. It’s hard to imagine that the smelt would be endangered by “weekend warrior” fishermen. I suspect commercial exploitation? None of our natural resources would be in grave danger if man cared as much about them as exploiting them for money. Cherish this photo!


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