Saturday, March 8, 2008

Herring run

Down south of Nanaimo this afternoon there is a Herring run in progress. Forty plus commercial fishing boats are busily netting and long lining for all they are worth. I could clearly see and hear all the activity down in the Narrows from my kitchen window as seen below.

The sea by the western edge of Mudge Island, all the way down to Link and Round Island is a pale pastel milky green band rich with Herring roe. Long slicks of Roe and spawn leave fifty metre long trails of white surface scum on the surface of the water, spreading along the current lines. The Harbour Patrol, in a small cabin cruiser with an outsize outboard motor are out checking fishing licences. Even a senior couple in a small white dinghy who have brought out their rods and lines to see what they can catch.

Gulls sit on the water, too gorged to move, while the local Bald Eagles swoop lazily in a perfect blue sky, looking for the odd careless salmon feeding on the glut of Herring.

In and under the water, massive shoals clearly visible, are buffeted and herded by several Sea Lions, their three and a half metre long pale brown bodies clearly visible from our vantage point above. As the Sea Lions moved down southwards, two Common Seals took their place, feeding in a leisurely fashion.

On the other side of Mudge, someone is blasting. Each heavy thump, sounding like heavy logs sharply hitting concrete from this distance, is heralded by a number of toots from one of those little compressed gas horns, and followed by one longer morselike dash sound. Toot-toot-toot-toot-toot (Bam) toooot. Dog is currently trying to hide under my chair. Poor animal. He does so hate the noise.

Despite all the blasting, fishing boats are coming and then leaving an hour or so later, their bare alloy hulls riding visibly lower in the water as they struggle up the narrows against the flooding tide. The run continues. For hours, maybe a day. Then all the excitement will die down. Until the next Herring or Salmon run comes to Dodds Narrows.

There is warmth in the early March Sun, the breezes are soft and forgiving for this time of year. I live in a small piece of Paradise.