••• Friday, October 15, 2004

Who You Callin’ a CoHo?
Last weekend(up north), we had a chance to get over to the river and check out the running of the Coho. ::Fish, not job sharing hookers.::

I don’t know if the life and sex and death halibuts habits of the Coho Salmon are common knowledge or regionally specific, so I’ll proceed as though you know not much, but wish ya did.

Coho are born in the tributaries of Lake Michigan, where they hang out for a few months before heading to the Big Waters. When Coho are four years old, they get a call. The Call of the Wild, if you will, or better yet, The Call of the Nasty.

The Call for Coho is the irrepressible urge to return to one's birthwaters, hookup with a little tunatang, and die. The Call always comes in the fall, which causes the streams and rivers to be overswum with trolling fish.

Cool story, eh?
Not quite. Enter Man.

Our visit to the river included a stop at the local weir*, which is a structure that blocks the river and allows the fish to be captured. Note: I forgot my camera that day. This story really needs pictures, so please bear with my primitive attempts at Natural Resourcefulness.

At the weir we visited, the fish are diverted into a little waterway, under which is a huge french-fryer-basket-like contraption.

The fish don't know they are in the frytraption, until the thing is unceremoniously hoisted out of the little canal, allowing for the fish to be drained, sorted and put into iced trash cans.

These tasks are all performed by Northern Michiganesque guys, who look a lot like this one, who I've named Dewey:

::I wonder if every small town in Northern Michigan has a guy named Dewey?::

Most of the unrequited Ho’s are next sent to a nearby cannery, where they get, well, canned. Some of the Coho are handed over to the DNR, who harvest and hatch the 'ho roe, at the state run hatcheries. The baby fish (called fry) born at the hatchery are eventually transferred to riverbeds, allowing this miraculous cycle to begin again.

When I visited the weir, I had no idea I would be so affected by the disturbing images. For days after, I couldn’t shake the impression of hundreds of tired, horny 'Hoes, lining up outside that fry contraption. I think the worst part for me is knowing these little buggers believe they’re linin' up for some Funky Cohomadina.

I floundered all week with writing this post and almost threw it back a couple of times. But now that I've fin ished, I feel much better. On a scale.

*that's not "our" weir. Our contraption is to the side, as illustrated.

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