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Fish of the North: Salmon - Fauna
Written By: Elizabeth Barrette (Writer)
Salmon form a vital part of the Northern diet and influence summer activities.

The Torn Tongue name tarn equates to 'salmonidae' and covers both salmon and trout. The most important fish to Northerners is salmon, of which the major species are listed below; there are others as well. The species have different life cycles and habitat preferences. All are anadromous; they reproduce and hatch in freshwater rivers or streams, but spend most of their lives in the saltwater sound or ocean. They migrate to their original hatching place to mate, after which the adults die. Many salmon never make it back, due to the arduous journey and heavy predation.

The summer gathers are timed and positioned to allow villagers access to one or more salmon runs, where they can gather a great deal of nutrient-rich food in a short time. Salmon runs are usually fished with large walking nets and gig-spears. Some people also take salmon by fly-fishing or tickling. During winter, ice fishers in the sound sometimes catch salmon by line fishing. The moist flesh takes wonderful when grilled or roasted. Smoked salmon is another favorite.

Species of Salmon

Blackmouth salmon or debirv resemble the Terran chinook salmon. The name comes from de (black) and birv (mouth). In fresh water, they are dark blue to blue-green on top, fading to aquamarine or white at the belly. In the ocean they are a paler silvery-blue. Black spots cover the back and sides, with fewer on the fins; these are more visible in the ocean phase. Blackmouth salmon have black gum lines, hence the name.

These fish live about 7 years. They measure 2-6 feet and weigh up to 130 pounds, the largest of the salmon species. They typically spawn in Kethimev and Fimimev, peaking in the last tenday of Kethimev and first two tendays of Fimimev. Their flesh has the highest oil content, giving it a rich flavor and dense calories. Blackmouths are the most valued type of salmon.

Lake salmon or kokarn is a landlocked version of redside salmon. They are much smaller, rarely reaching a foot in length, and they only weigh a few pounds. They are somewhat easier to catch by fly fishing than other salmon. They also respond to spoon lures. Lake salmon spawn in Fimimev, peaking mid-month.

Mountain salmon or tarn baarn arya resemble the Terran pink salmon. The name comes from tarn (salmon), baarn (mountain), and arya (like). In fresh water, they are brownish-gray shading to a white belly, with streaks or spots on the fins and back. In the ocean, they are a paler silvery-green. This species is named for the distinctive dorsal hump formed when it returns upstream to mate.

These fish have a 2-year life cycle. They measure up to 2 feet and can reach 5 pounds. Because they do not tolerate warm water as well as other species, they spawn in cold mountain-fed rivers or streams. They are the smallest oceangoing species, but also the most numerous. They spawn from the end of Doshimev through Kethimev, typically peaking in late Jumimev. The meat lacks the strong flavor of blackmouth or redside, but unlike them, accepts other flavors well so is often used as an ingredient in fish cakes or fish soups.

Redside salmon or fubarorg resemble the Terran sockeye salmon. The name comes from fu (red) and arog (side). They live about 5 years. They measure 2-3 feet and weigh 10-20 pounds. In the ocean they are blue and silver, flecked with black, although they lack spots on the tail. This species is named for the vivid red color it sports when breeding, and for the way its flesh retains an appetizing red as well.

Redsides spawn in Jumimev and Kethimev, usually peaking in the last tenday of Jumimev and the first tenday of Kethimev. The body is slender and agile, making this a challenging fish to catch; they can travel over the worst terrain and are prodigious whitewater leapers. They like to spawn in rivers or creeks with many waterfalls that few other fish can traverse, which cuts down on competition. The oil content of redside meat is second only to the blackmouth, making redsides quite popular.

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Fish of the North: Overview: Fish are an important food supply in the North. Here is an overview of major fish types and detailed descriptions of some individual species.

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