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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Fish Stories, Weirs and Ladders

I had a great fish encounter today. I took an 18 mile bike ride from my place to Jim's Bridge. I am trying to start from home instead of driving the two miles to the nearest trail access. That adds a little more than 4 miles and about 20 or 30 minutes to the ride. When I rack up the bike on the car and drive, it probably takes just 5 or 10 minutes less than riding from home. As long as I can avoid streets with serious bike-crushing traffic, I guess that's OK.

I talked to a guy who was standing astride his bike watching the river flowing under the bridge, I could see a narrow stream of unusually dark and murky water flowing from the upright just under the water-gazer.

I asked him what he was looking at. He pointed out a lot of big chunks of algae,sticks and other river junk floating on the dark stream. He said he thought they must have just cleaned the fish ladder at the Nimbus dam upriver from us. He probably really meant the weir, but that's not a big deal.

He said, “The fish will come soon.” He was absolutely right. I saw several fish swim under the bridge, a few feet below the surface. These were giant fish. They looked like sturgeon to me. Big and ugly. I expect all really big fish to be sturgeon, since the American River Salmon have almost disappeared over the last 10 years. I remember hiking by the river in late spring of 2003 and seeing at least two or three dead spawned salmon every mile. I don't miss that,but their absence seems unnatural.

My erstwhile buddy claimed they were giant bass. He called them “Stry-ped bass” in his unusual Southeast accent. In any event,these fish were huge and looked pretty ugly to me. It was cool watching the fish swim by. They were as big as these monsters. They really were.

Anyway, it was another perfect morning by the American River.

That's my story or I'm sticking to it.

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