Column: Mooching mallard spurs amusing animal anecdotes

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

Many folks are concerned about our salmon stocks and what is happening at the Big Bar slide on the Fraser River.

It’s a very urgent situation. Updates indicate a holding pen is under construction. Chinook and sockeye, now in the hundreds, will be airlifted upstream by helicopter.

Both species of mixed stocks in the thousands head to many streams, from Ft. St. James to the Chilco country. Our chinook for the Seymour, Adams and Shuswap systems come later, except for the Salmon River. A quick phone call to the (Eugene) Puetz residence, who for 34 seasons ran the counting fence/holding facility in Silver Creek, indicates a good run is expected because of cool river temperatures and high water lake side. Many times in the past volunteers/Salmon Arm Fish and Game members sandbagged and dug trenches so the fish could migrate upstream. For Shuswap sockeye that enter the Thompson at Lytton, it’s an early run migrating into Scotch Creek in early August. Shuswap River chinook migrate in August heading to the Shuswap Falls, Lumby end.

Read more: Column: Fraser River fish ladders and the mystifying determination of salmon

Read more: Column: Deer’s legendary sense of smell challenges hunters

Read more: Emergency size limits coming to protect at-risk chinook salmon

Animal stories always lighten our lives, and while anchor fishing on White Lake last week, a mallard hen and her two babies paddled around our boat mooching. The hen then jumped into our boat intent on getting a handout. Not to be outdone, a friend who worked at Twin Anchors’ houseboats for years said Windsor, their small dog, loved swimming in the channel – much to the annoyance of the local mallards. So they ganged up on it by pecking its head and grabbing the dogs ears. A very large sucker fish lived under the dock there. The husband who worked and helped clean houseboats always found burgers, etc. in the fridges. He would bang on a garbage lid and the large fish would be fed pieces of hamburger. When the ducks were fed, there would be a heck of a squawk as the sucker fish would swim under the ducks, pulling at their webbed feet. In later times they ran a cedar shake operation in the Ratchford, near Seymour Arm. There they had encounters with wolves, charging bull moose and a pet Canada jay with one leg who could imitate their dog’s bark for food.

Next week it’s all about our forest and trees.


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