BC Words…and fish.

I’ve been reading Wet Coast Words, which I unearthed while cleaning up the books in Dad’s attic. Here for your linguistic delectation:

pecker pole: a small tree hardly worth logging.
hoochie: a soft plastic lure with tentacles, imitating a small squid. They come in psychedelic colours and patterns to attract skippers shopping for tackle. Invented in Japan, they were originally named hootchy-kootchies for their resemblanceto Polynesian girls in grass skirts.
MonkeyNote:Damn, I miss hoochies.
shagpoke: Great Blue Heron. MonkeyNote: It sounds dirrrty to me.

And all the kinds of salmon:
Sockeye: Our best-known salmon(Oncorhynchus nerka) have a superior taste and colour. The word is a corruption of a Coast Salish name, suk-kegh, meaning ‘red fish’. MonkeyNote: Sockeye Fever is still what I’m going to call my band, when I have one.
Pink: The Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) also known as a humpie, or humpback, from the humps which males develop in the spawning season. They are the shortest-lived (2 years) smallest BC salmon, and average about 2.2 kg in weight. MonkeyNote: Many people disparage pinkies, but they’re absolutely fantastic fresh out of the water and grilled with a little bit of lemon.
Spring:This species (Oncorhynchus tschawytscha) is our largest salmon, often weighing over 45 kg. They’re called ‘chinook’ on Oregon and Washington, ‘kings’ in Alaska, and tyee. Evidently the name comes from the fact that they have spring, as well as fall, spawning runs. MonkeyNote: I didn’t know that! Cool. Okay, so they come in white and red subspecies. My Uncle Don set up a lucrative market in Japan selling White Springs. Because they were unusual, the Japanese paid more for them. Also, really, really big springs are called ‘smileys’ because fishermen smile when they catch them.
Coho: Known as silvers to Americans, these salmon,(Oncorhynchus kisutch) are second in importance to Sockeye for commercial fishermen. During the spring of their last year of life, Coho are sometimes called Bluebacks because their backs go, well, blue. Coho must weigh under 2.25kg to be called Bluebacks. MonkeyNote: I didn’t know that either! What a great book!
Chum: This salmon, (Oncorhynchus keta) was formerly called dog salmon, prompting oone BC biologist to name his canine Keta. The origin of the word is uncertain. MonkeyNote: I think the origin might have to do with the fact that ‘Fall Dogs’ as they are sometimes known, are not considered to be really valuable fish, and are therefore usable for bait for other animals like sharks or crabs or whatever. Incidentally, it is a little known fact that Chum are the best fresh-cooked fish of all the salmon. I know because Uncle Don once did a test where he got one of each species of salmon except Pink, and cooked them up, straight from Seiner to oven to table. Chum was the best. My dad just confirmed it via telephone interview.

Atlantic Salmon: These (Salmo salar) do not escape from fish farms and wreak havoc on native salmon populations, according to the DFO. They simply cannot exist in BC’s waters without special care from fish farmers. If you see an Atlantic Salmon, you are hallucinating and probably a communist. (If you do catch one, they’re much milder in flavour than BC salmon, and not very good smoked, but pretty good barbecued.) Of course, you couldn’t possibly have caught one, since they never escape from fish farms, and they can’t survive anyway and the DFO knows best so shuuut up.

Thank you. This has been vastly entertaining for me. Any other salmon questions? Feel free to ask. Now that I have this book, the world is so much brighter!

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