Sometimes it happens—a river becomes too crowded with fish for fish to survive, for sportsmen to catch them and even for biologists to count them. It has been happening this summer on the Dungeness, a pretty little alder-lined stream that forms in Washington's Olympic Mountains and flows 35 miles north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
In 1959, when the Washington state fisheries department began counting the humpback salmon that spawn in the Dungeness, there were 40,000 of them. This summer it was obvious by the end of the second day of the month-long run that there would be many more than that: counters near the mouth of the river had already ticked off 16,000 fish. If the rush continued, late arrivals would destroy the beds where the early comers had spawned. "A crisis was developing," said Earle Jewell, a state biologist, "so we decided to charter purse seiners on an emergency basis. We got fishermen out of bed on a Friday night and managed to have seven of them fishing the outer bay on Saturday and Sunday."
But the commercial fishermen hauled in only some 4,000 fish over the weekend. And by Sunday the counters had registered more than 70,000 swimming up the Dungeness. Humpback salmon, oncorhynchus gorbuscha, are small as salmon go, and they went around, under and through nets intended for bigger sockeye salmon. Next the fisheries department used beach seines manned by department personnel, but that did not work either. At last, five miles of the lower river were opened to sport fishing with hook and line.
That worked. For two weeks some 15,000 men, women and children were up to their icy kneecaps in the swift water of the Dungeness, feverishly taking salmon. By 6:45 every morning fishermen were lined up in front of the Tom Tom Grocery in nearby Sequim to buy tackle, and they were still buying at 10 o'clock each night. While the rush was on, stores and restaurants did an unanticipated $100,000 in business.
Some families canned their fish on the banks of the river. In all, the fishermen took at least 15,000 salmon, and probably assured the success of the next run, which will come in 1969.
When the fish and the fishermen left, Jim Minty, a skin diver, went on an underwater search and came up with 200 lures in one short stretch.
NO CAUSE FOR ALARM
Kentucky will be the first Southeastern Conference team to have a Negro on its varsity this fall. So promised Wildcat Coach Charlie Bradshaw in listing his tentative lineup for Kentucky's opening game against Indiana Sept. 23.
Nat Northington, a 5'11" 170-pounder from Louisville, will see action as a defensive halfback and safety for Kentucky, and another Negro player, Greg Page, was down for second-string defensive end duty but got hurt.