The Beaver

April Doornbos By April Doornbos , 22nd Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>United States>Oregon

there is more to fishing in Oregon if you open your eyes and see

While Fishing

As a lazy relatively windless day in the Columbia Gorge I went out to the entrance to the boat launch where the once mighty Celilo Falls existed and for thousands of years Native American tribes lined these dangerous rocky cliffs to catch the salmon that returned every year swimming and leaping against the strong current with their traditional hoop nets scooping up the salmon as they leapt through the air in an effort to swim up stream to their spawning grounds, at the boat launch this is where the water deepens and have caught an assortment of different fish patrolling the rocky banks for food when a beautiful black head and necked loon caught my attention, as soon as it caught my gaze it slipped under the water swimming about energetically after the plentiful numbers of small mouth bass that live among the rocky shores of the Columbia, still only fingerlings, meaning they are only the length of a persons fingers, hatched the previous summer they are still pretty small but millions of eggs are born and eventually many reach spawning age and begin to reproduce with a frenzy as all the fish do on this river. I only learned this year that the hatchery fish return to spawn but in actuality they have no traditional spawning grounds because of the many dams along the river, their streams and creeks no longer exist and if they did their eggs would die from run off from the logging that has felled trees to close to their intended spawning grounds and the silt that floods those streams suffocates and destroys the eggs. I found this immensely sad to learn the awful truth that thousands of salmon just go to waste and can no longer spawn naturally in the wild anymore and after their epic journey out to sea and back only for the females to have their bellies slit open and their unfertilized eggs extracted and placed into large plastic bags where a male Chinook is then milked of its sperm that is then added to the unfertilized eggs mixed then eventually the eggs is fertilized and begin to grow, you can even see their eyes through the transparent sack the contains them until they are ready to hatch, sounds like a bunch of mad scientists at work here, Frankenstein messing with and altering nature to meet our own means.

As the Sun Set

There was still an hour or two before the sunset where the temperature drops quickly and a cool crisp refreshing chill fills the air which is also a perfect time for some evening fishing, the fish come in closer to the shore line then and also the rocks are still warm enough to sit on heated by the sun if you are lucky enough to have a sunny forecast which is often not the case, depressing for some but after living in southern California for over thirty years well frankly I am sick of the sun and the damage those UV rays have on your skin, after a time I noticed that busy loon popping up here and there but all I could think about was the movie "On Golden Pond" where Katherine Hepburn talks about the loons but I always remembered that part of the movie because even back then I loved nature and seeing animals in the wild so when I saw this bird I knew immediately that it was a loon, gracefully swimming after its dinner in that frigid water.

The Intruder

As I walked along the shores in this grassy park so near the river that is invaded yearly in all season for one reason or another but in warmer weather the wind surfer ascend on this location mainly because of the abundant windy days but also because you can camp there for up to two weeks each month for free, closer to Portland all the state parks can be rather pricey even with the train blowing their whistles at all hours of the night so don't forget those ear plugs. So last year I wondered just why many of the trees had cages around the bottoms of them, we don't have much of a beaver problem in New Jersey, my home state and never saw them with my own eyes just how big a tree these small creatures can tackle with those enormous wide incisors, huge chunks of wood were bitten out of the bottoms of these large Aspen that dot this small park, they had been very busy since last year nearly girdling several large trees the will eventually kill the trees in not caught and stopped in time. However what food are then supposed to eat, with the exception of the trees in the park there were know trees suitable for food and shelter for the beavers use and survival.

Treading the Shoreline

Still engrossed with the attics of this loon I sat on my rock not really caring if I got a bite or not when something caught my attention, hardly any wake as it swam close to the rocky shore line along the entrance to the boat launch I saw it, the beaver and guilty party of making a meal out of those big Aspen that were so close by and with a lack of humans invading the area in the colder, windy months of fall and winter the beavers were left alone to attempt to topple these giants but the rangers contained the problem post haste with the metal fencing wrapped around the base of each tree trunk that these beavers had selected for food and denning materials. I watched it intently as it swam to the end of the shore line where there were several logs and other wooden debris that formed the den of this small mammal. It swam around to the front of it and with a slap of its large round flat tail disappeared into its submerged entrance but shortly afterwards a second beaver followed the first, it's mate I am assuming or perhaps one of its kits on the way to adulthood. The previous I was shocked to see this small mammal swimming directly in the main current in the middle of the Columbia, I was walking out on one of the bridges and looked down and it was right below me just swimming along, beavers were in serious decline for awhile in the United States due to trapping and loss of habitat since the eradication of the wolves the elk have eaten all the aspen the grow along the shores of most of the mountain streams but there is hope, since the beneficial reintroduction on the wolf the trees and on the comeback trail and so is the beaver since it now has a source of food and denning material to create dams and more important new habitats for juvenile fish that seek places to hide and an escape from the current.

Keystone Critter

This ambitious rodent creates habitats where there was once none and all that it encompasses benefit from its herculean efforts sadly this animal has all but disappeared in the drought ravaged state of California that now it facing historic records. Once abundant across America they were hunted to near extinction but times have changed and the mighty beaver is recovering in numbers. As I continued to fish and explore the lush state of Oregon I surprised to observe my first beavers in the wild swimming in the open fast moving waters of the Columbia river probable in search of its own territory and a future mate, not all beaver build there lodges in ponds they have created but often in nooks and crannies along the banks of swifter rivers but in desert areas they can block a often dry creek bed providing water at drier times for all wildlife in the immediate areas. They dig deep in their watery homes reducing evaporation and remaining safe, also they excavate channels connecting everything for easy transport of trees and food stocks also providing wetlands for birds and fish. As the drought worsens perhaps California's fish and Game should consider reproducing these handy critters back into the landscape ensuring water for all including man who would also benefit from this rodents immense efforts.


Celilo was not the only place I saw evidence of the beaver, there is also another boat launch I frequent and have taken many walks and that is Rowena which is less developed and left to grow wild and it is in this location the beaver topples small aspens for their needs and survival, I stopped and looked closely at exactly how they chew through these trees trunks and then chew off the branches eventually dragging them into the water and towards their denning sites for repairs or new aquatic homes. I watch endless shows about this type animal activities but to actual see it happening is quite wonderful and worth all the fuss and expense to see these little engineers at work in their natural environment.


Beavers, Conserve Water, Habit Formation, Habitat Destruction

Meet the author

author avatar April Doornbos
In my younger days I exercised famous racehorses until I injured my spine since then I have traveled to Europe many times and all over the Unite States.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

I love living rurally and seeing so much of nature.

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author avatar April Doornbos
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

I know it is a treasure

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