Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jigging for Herring

Jigging for herring with my children on the Tillicum bridge and the Bay street Bridge in Lotus City was an easy and productive activity in the 70's. The herring spawn in the spring was up the narrow ocean inlet called The Gorge. The Gorge narrowed at the Tillicum Bridge causing crowding of the herring on the way to spawn, heading into the Gorge Lagoon. A lovely spring afternoon with the jig dropped into the current and teased up and down was simple and effective. The tiny hooks were beautified by little yellow and red flies. The line was weighted by a small round lead weight at the end, to counteract the current and 5 to 7 tiny hooks spaced up the line. We were after bait for our salmon fishing activities and cut herring strips from the herring ,froze them, and then used the herring strips as bait fish. The strips were cut in the prescribed fashion to resemble a crippled herring when trolling. Apparently the salmon thought this an easy prey, though I confess, I was never privy to their thoughts. We were often crowded together with the Nordic bunch,mostly "old boys" who were jigging for herring to pickle, make rollmops and eat fresh and they were even keener than we were. Now there seem to be fewer herring around. I don't know if anybody jigs any longer on the Gorge bridges. It may be a thing of the past. The main use for herring these days seems to be obtaining roe from the spawning herring for the Asian market. Huge numbers are caught by seine netting including all the males, of course. It may be economically sound but it seems an awful waste of a species that is an integral part of the food chain . Moreover, also a food source for people of a certain European custom that made good use of the fish. Now they are just rendered after the roe is extracted from the females, or discarded. Oh well, progress I guess! The whole business seems less intimate and more wholesale now. The assembly line and the food chain are not the same: they just sound the same! One is a creation of man and the other of Mother Nature!

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