This section is from the book "American Game Fishes", by W. A. Perry. Also available from Amazon: American Game Fishes: Their Habits, Habitat, and Peculiarities; How, When, and Where to Angle for Them.
The wily scoundrel carried his point, for in his speech he had revived the memories of one whom to remember was kind even of this reprobate. So, dismissing the Indian, I walked across the valley to the house of my friend Nattrass, "he of the strong arm," and told him of the promise I had made to Skool.
"But how shall we catch them?" he asked.
"Oh, that's easy enough," said I; "we will take our 22-cali-ber Winchesters and shoot them."
"But what if some eastern sportsman would hear of this and go for us in the papers?-it's not sportsman-like."
Then I told him that if some eastern chap should give us a roasting, it would do no harm, for nothing would be easier than to explain that these were Keta, or Dog Salmon, who yearly follow up the migration of the Kisutch Salmon and destroy the spawn, and when that is accomplished, eat up all the Trout in the brooks for amusement; that the Dog Salmon, except for fattening hogs (for which purpose it is much used by the ranchers), and for food for Indians, was worthless.
The next morning, as soon as the sun had risen, we were on our way to the rancherie of Skool. The distance was only two miles, which we speedily passed over, and when we arrived near the rancherie we were greeted by a pandemonium of noises. The young bucks were evidently not sobering off. They peered at us from the openings in the tents, but made no remarks. Perhaps they had reason to remember that they had seen one of us before.
We found Skool and a band of squaws ready to accompany us. They were all armed with gaff-hooks such as I have described. Hearing some murmuring among them, I asked them why they did not want to go, and they told me that a great cultus bear (cinnamon) had chased them away from the fishing-grounds the day before, and that was why the young bucks would not fish-they were afraid of the bear. Just then Skool came back, having overheard the conversation, and struck one of the squaws in the mouth with all his might. A moment later he was lying on his back with the blood flowing in a stream from his nose. Evidently the white men expected to receive no presents from Skool.
When we arrived at the falls we witnessed a sight almost beyond belief. The falls were more of a rapid than a fall, having a descent of ten feet in twenty-five. The stream was about eight feet wide and two feet deep, and was one living, writhing, struggling mass of Salmon. They were passing up in a continuous body. It was a continuous run of Salmon from the Frazer River, six miles away, to the mountain lake, three miles beyond. Nattrass stood like one petrified, and gazed on the scene in astonishment. So much noise did they make that, combined with the roar of the mountain stream, we could scarcely hear each other speak.
I looked at Skool, who stood holding his swollen nose, and saw that he wished me to begin operations at once; so, taking my rifle, I fired the twenty-five shots that it contained into the struggling mass that was forcing its way up the rapid. Nattrass did the same. Soon the living became entangled with the dead, and the whole mass came to a stand-still. Hastily reloading our magazines, we awaited the result. Soon the jam was broken; the living forcing themselves up the stream, and the dead ones floating back. Skool and the squaws, wading into the stream, caught the latter and threw them on the bank.
Again we emptied our magazines, with like results. The excitement became great, and the heap of Salmon on the bank became large. Again, again, and again were the magazines filled and emptied, until our supply of cartridges was exhausted; but that did not occur before there was at least a ton of Salmon lying on the bank. Then, at a word of command from Skool, each of the women, slinging fifteen of the fish on a bark rope (they would average about twelve pounds each), threw the bundle of fish over her shoulder and ambled off down the path to the rancherie.
Asking Skool why he did not use the gaff-hooks, he replied that the hard rocks that bordered the stream would ruin them, and that not more than one or two fish could be caught before the gaff would be broken. Asking him if he was satisfied with the number of Salmon caught, he replied that he was not. He said: "Many, many people; all the Salmon twelve women can carry not much." By this time some of the young bucks had partially sobered, and came staggering up the path. As soon as they arrived they began to strip themselves naked, and, taking the gaff-hooks, waded into the stream. They caught but few Salmon before either the hooks or the handles were'broken. Then they began to search with their hands under the bowlders and shelving rocks for fish. When they felt one they would slip a hand in his gills, seize him by the tail, bend his body so he could not struggle, and then throw him far out on the bank.
The school of Salmon had (as always is the case in the middle of the day) ceased to run. So it was only stragglers that were now caught. Skool proposed walking over a low ridge and reaching the stream above. The stream is crooked, and by walking a few hundred yards we would reach it at a point where we would meet the great school of the morning. When we arrived at the place desired, we found the stream three times as wide as it was below, and but few inches in depth, with a white, sandy bottom. It was literally filled with Salmon. The Indians at once stripped themselves nude, and, entering the living mass, began throwing them on the bank. We walked along the bank, and, seizing a fish that ventured too near the bank, would throw it on the shore. But we were losing the great excitement the Indians were having, as they ran laughing and splashing in the water. Besides, every fish we caught would splash us from head to foot.
We could stand it no longer. I took my hunting-knife and cut two vine-maple clubs. "Back to the Stone Age!" I shouted. "Away with civilization!" and we were primeval men once more. Stripping ourselves to the red flannel, we leaped in the brook, brandishing our clubs, and for half an hour waged a war on the poor old Dog Salmon that was never excelled by starving red men for ferocity or destructiveness. The clubs fell with a pendulum-like regularity on the heads of the Salmon. They butted their rough noses against us, and tried to force their heads beneath our feet. When we stooped they would leap over us. It was a scene of grandeur as well as of carnage. Above us frowned the eternal snow-capped mountains; below slept the flower-decked valley of the Sumas; beyond, the great Frazer, glittering in the light of the noonday sun, swept onward to the ocean. Around us were the nude red men, short of limb and long of body, whose bronze skins contrasted strangely with the small, broad-shouldered, slender-waisted wrhite men. It took but a glance to remind one of the change that food, shelter, and civilization wrought in the white men. They were much the smaller, but in a battle without weapons there would have been a sure victory for the whites, even if they were but two to eight.