The Lulawissie Salmon
It wasn’t many days ago that Sammie and I sat down to a sumptuous fare of fresh wild-caught salmon. This time of year you don’t see much fresh wild caught salmon in the markets, and if you want a wild caught fish out of season, it is usually found in the frozen seafood section of your grocery store. But this was a fluke. I caught this small leviathan in Lake Lulawissie while trolling for trout, which are in season. I was amazed at how strong this beast was; as I had never caught this extremely elusive fish before, nor have I fished exclusively for them. I think that I may begin doing so.
They say that there is only a handful of Lulawissie Salmon in the lake, but those of us that have lived here on the water for a number of years have realized that there may be more of these fish than we realize. In the early morning hours, you can see these behemoths gliding lazily through the shallows, waiting for that minnow or yearling fry to stray too far out into open water then gobble it up without a thought. Many times you would see the water churning with giant tails breaking the surface as a pack of these voracious hunters trash a school of shad out in the open lake. It is a sight to behold for the avid fisherman.
But alas, there is no open season on them except for two days a year: the first Wednesday after the first full moon after the autumnal equinox and the same with the vernal equinox. On these two days, the Lake is nearly unmanageable. The rules for catching these fish are very simple and rigidly enforced. No fish under 8 lbs. or over 12 lbs. may be kept. It is strictly catch and release for those sizes and only one fish per boat is allowed, with no fishing from shore. On those two days, boats can only be launched from the ramp at the South End Marina, and all gear will be inspected coming and going. No live bait is allowed, only jigs and lures with a single barbless hook. Game Warden and Ranger patrols are stepped up to ensure rule compliance. Only 50 fish are allowed to be caught per day, and once this quota is met, a horn sounds from the marina calling all fishermen in, much like in a tournament. Once a salmon is caught, it must be brought to the check in station immediately for verification. It is actually a lot of fun.
The Lulawissie Salmon (Salmo Lulawissidae) is a landlocked species that was trapped in the lake and the Lulawissie (Neenach) River when the dam was built back in the 30’s. Originally the salmon migrated down the Neenach into the Chattahoochee River then out to the Gulf of Mexico, around the Florida peninsula and up to the cold waters of the North Atlantic. Since the species became landlocked and were forced to mutate and breed in the lake, they have flourished incredibly. The average adult Lulawissie Salmon breeds twice a year and out of the hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of eggs laid annually, maybe 10,000 fry will make it the first year. It is estimated that 50 fish make it to 5 years, but by then, they are well within the 8-12 pound range and have mated at least twice. Generally by fisheries estimates, 3.6 fish per year make it beyond the 12 pound weight limit and live out their days in the lake and upper Lulawissie River. A Lulawissie Salmon’s lifespan is about 15 years. They can grow as large as 45 pounds.
I normally would have thrown my fish back, a handsome 9 pounder, but I hooked him in the gills and he was bleeding profusely and would have died. The rules say that if you inadvertently hook a Lulawissie Salmon, you must return it to the water immediately in an unharmed state. I was not able to do that, so again in accordance with the rules, I put the fish in an ice chest, and carried it up to the Fish and Game office at the Lulawissie County Court House and there is was weighed and examined and the catch was recorded in the county logbook. Once the fish was verified as an accidental/fatal catch, it was mine to do with as I pleased, basted with butter and olive oil and fresh dill and lemon slices on a bed of rice. It was incredible. Sammie is a great cook. She made a delightful watercress salad to go with it.
Another day has come and gone here in Lulawissie. Although it is starting to rain, it is a welcomed relief to the dry weather we have been enduring. The fall of the year is just around the corner, and perhaps the early signs of its approach are a foreboding to another harsh winter. Let’s hope so, Sammie and I really do love the snow.
Remember to always do great things for other people, especially if you don’t know them. Say your prayers and be thankful for everything you have in life, it could be worse! And always be safe. On this wonderfully soft Lulawissie evening, I bid you peace.
Thanks for stopping by.
©2011 by Del Banks