Waiting for Salmon

Thursday, September 22, 2016, 7:15 am

By the time I arrive at Fair Oaks Bridge at 7:15 am, the sun has already risen high above the trees, glowing yellow and hot in a cloudless sky.  The bridge is already filled with sunlight.Fair Oaks Bridge, shadows, American River, American River parkway, water, sunlight

Morning walkers pass by. We exchange good mornings and smiles. Garage doors lift and shut as residents of the village drive on to the street and away to begin their workday.

A young boy alongside in a boat struggles with his fishing pole sitting in one of the boats alongside two men who are also fishing. The boy gives up, tosses the pole and begins to explore the boat, walking back and forth, checking its bottom for something interesting to examine

Five boats filled with fisherman cast their lines into the cloudy green water. The boats sit at some distance apart on the east side of the bridge. Thousands of salmon will be arriving  soon, jumping randomly out the water. They have not yet arrived from their long journey from the Pacific, through the Delta sloughs, up the Sacramento River and into the American River. Many will end their journey near the Fair Oaks Bridge.

fishing, fisherman, Chinook Salmon, American River, American River Parkway, spawn, Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Nimbus Dam
Chinook Salmon, photo courtesy of AmericanRiverWildlife.com

Others will swim upriver another two miles until they are stopped by the weir at the Nimbus Dam, intuitively swimming up the fish ladder at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to spawn. Salmon are truly amazing, navigating the entire journey using their sense of smell and genetic code to direct them back to their home river.

Heavy land moving equipment a few miles down the river have been working several weeks each weekday to move tons of gravel to reshape the river bottom. They create shallow areas where salmon can lay eggs and bury them in gravel as protection from predators. I can hear them half mile away as I approach the area riding my bike. The grinding sound of moving gravel and rumble of their engines drowns out the sound of rushing water over the San Juan rapids.

salmon, fishing, fisherman, bird, singing, Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks, American River, American River Parkway, waterThis tiny bird sits in his usual place on the upper frame of the bridge calling “Ti Too…Ti Too.” I watch its whole body shake and tail flutter as speaking its good morning call. I  wonder if it is saying good morning or scolding me for invading its privacy.

I wonder why do the birds return to the same spot on the upper frame of the bridge? Is this like our returning home to sit in the same comfortable chair? Do roosters and chickens fly to the same tree branch to hide and sleep for the night? I wonder what are they saying to each other? Are they speaking to the people they meet on the bicycle trail?

Early morning the roosters are busy waking up the village. By day, they roam village streets searching for food and often trouble! They cross the streets avoiding car traffic, and seen in noisy squabbles and fights as they dash through Fair Oaks Village parks.