Leaping Coho

I had a few minutes to kill before a dental appointment. A city river beckoned, a river that flowed under an underrated Conde McCullough bridge.

My mind relished a little river time. Interesting thoughts always seem to arise within me when I visit a river.

I parked, got out, and made my way to the river. An astonishing number of fishermen lined the bank or stood in the gravel bar. It was eight thirty in the morning. Doesn’t anyone work in America anymore? Slackers. Wastrels. Layabouts.

It brought considerable elation to my heart that this many men (and a couple of women) were fishing on a weekday morning before or after work or when they were supposed to be working. It occurred to me that men and women still do this sort of thing in Oregon and when they stop, Oregon is truly dead.

My course paralleled the river. Some motion in the channel caught my eye. A fish jumped! It was undoubtedly a salmon heading upriver after recent heavy rain.

Then another fish jumped, clean out of the water!

I’ve seen salmon in the wild three times in my life. Each time it was totally unexpected and magical moment.

But those were sightings of salmon swimming underwater. I didn’t even realize salmon jumped like this outside of trying to scale a small barrier blocking their way upstream.

I stopped walking to watch the show. A fisherman below me turned my direction. Our eyes met.

“I’m seeing salmon jump!” I rhapsodized.

“I know. It’s insane. I can’t believe it,” he said.

“Are they Chinook?”

“No, coho.”

He turned around to get back to it.

I kept watching.