Every Fall the citizens of Port Hope are treated to the Salmon Run up the Ganaraska River.
Just at the start, downtown Port Hope
Now for all of you Pix of Canada readers who followed our coverage of the Spring Fanny on the Ganny Festival, you know the Ganaraska runs downstream for about 12-16 kilometers before decending rapidly through Port Hope . And you also know that Fannny on the Ganny riders get to portage around the Salmon Ladder just at the outskirts of town. In contrast the real salmon get to power up up and away for the full trip.
Beside a few mooching gulls looking for a free lunch, the powerful spectacle captures a curious cross section of viewers. Mom and child in stroller stop to watch at bridge side – and the little one does not fail to follow the action. Its especially nifty when two salmon dare to whip saw their way through the rapids and 8-12 inch drop-off near the bridge. “Wee – look at them go Mom!”
The salmon look like boxers, ever wary, ever waving their tails in the river, lest a quick slip tide draw them back. And in their primeval brains they must know there are at 30 to 50 more falls like this to clear let alone the big Salmon Ladder. So they have to husband their energy lest they end up as Gull meat well before reaching their spawn site.
Getting ready to Power Up
There are two of us “senior observers” – that means we have been following the Salmon Spectacle for at least an hour more than any body else – we exchange views. “Those light coloured salmon seem trimmer and less fat laden. They seem to be able to speed up and get over the falls a bit quicker.” “Well yeah, but they defer to the bigboys when queuing up to make the big jump. And boy those are real bigboys – easily 12-20 pound salmon.” Being ignorant of the facts, I nod in agreement because those salmon are much bigger than any fish I caught on the Muddy Mississippi or out at Pere Marquette Park.
But both of us are taken how spawning and some deep embedded drive for survival of the species distinctly propels these Salmon on. And there is even beauty in momentary defeat, as a golden Salmon falls back into the stream.
Golden Salmon falls back into the stream
“Ohhh he just didn’t quite make it” And indeed He didn’t for I must again defer to seniority and assume that He is that sex even though just as many She salmon make the up migration. Except for the curved kype of the mouth of some senior males – I really have no way of telling male from female. But both I and my senior fellow watcher are drawn in by the sheer single-mindedness of this spawning spectacle. A life lesson at the brink of the Beatle’s When I am 64.