In the early days of my Pennsylvania youth, I thought that a salmon was a salmon was a salmon. That’s generally the way they were presented back then – in texts, on restaurant menus, in other contexts. Salmon. Gradually, (in large part thanks to outdoor sporting magazines given to me by my grandfather), I came to understand that there are seven species worldwide, and that’s not including the many genetically distinct races within those species.
As fascinating as this genetic plasticity is, the changes salmon undergo throughout their life cycle are equally captivating. On October 9, 2020, the Coho in the above photograph was no longer feeding. Her stomach and digestive track had atrophied to almost nothing. The salmon intercepted Barbra’s streamer for reasons fly anglers have long puzzled over. Meanwhile, day by day her roe sacks were swelling, her scales were being absorbed into skin which was becoming thicker and more leathery, the tip of her jaw was developing a distinctive hook known as a kype, and the silvery sheen along her flanks had begun taking on a pallet of color worthy of fine art. (Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8, 1/50, ISO 250)