Anglers gathered on the edge of the bridge by the fish hatchery on Creviston Road at Minter Creek searching the moving water for signs of chum salmon they expect to arrive any day now.
Except for a handful of lifeless carcasses that littered the bronze-stained creek bed, there were no fish to be found. Many of the fishermen could hardly conceal their disappointment, regretting the drive out to the Key Peninsula.
“Wait another two weeks,” said a bear of a man who said he lived just down the road and would only give his name as Carey. “The fish will be swarming these waters.”
I asked him if the fish caught off the creek were still edible. He said sure, “most people smoke them.”
Chum salmon are the least sought after because its flesh is considered lesser in quality than the other five Pacific salmon species, according to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website.
“Because of this, smoke curing and kippering are often a preferred choice for preparing sport-caught chum salmon,” according to wdfa.gov.
Chum mature rapidly and are near spawning by the time they get to the hatchery on Minter Creek. This means its flesh has already deteriorated.
This is “why many sport-caught chum are not of the same quality as ocean fish,” the web site says.
Somehow this knowledge is not enough to disabuse fishermen from gathering on this lovely spot on the Key Peninsula. Anglers love this spot because the creek mouth is only a couple of miles downstream. Fishing can be good.
With our weather clearing up for at least a day, it was a great day to be on the creek. The maple trees on the bank exploded with color, the air warm for this time of year.
I spotted a family of five decked out in camouflage gear headed for the hatchery. Drivers slowed down, giving the anglers lugging their poles a little time to cross the road.
A gorgeous fall day indeed. It is currently 50 degrees and sunny.
Good day Longbranch.